Category: Parenting

Dad Dear and the Big Bad Tech Monster

My dad is a septuagenarian. He turned seventy last year, and while at times I feel that my age is catching up with my parents, when he hit his 70’s, I realized that the age gap is greater than ever, our differences punctuated by technology. He says things like, “Maan (my pet name), kunin mo ang Facebook ko” (translation: “Please get my Facebook”). To which I reply, “San ko dadalhin?” (trans.: “Where do I bring it to?”). It’s my fault, really. I bought him the iPad that is causing him so much distress. He feels that every time someone messages him, he is required to message back (meaning, I would need to type and edit what he wants to say). He’s quite popular in his circles, being an educator for decades, and when he celebrates another birthday, a ton of people will most likely greet him. This guy might actually need a media manager! Another thing that changed for my dad is that he loves to have lots of pictures taken using his phone. He would then ask, “Paano ko makikita ito sa Facebook?” (How will I see this on Facebook?) To which I reply, “Upload mo” (upload it). Which results to him giving me a perplexed look. (Translation: I, or one of my siblings, should do something so that his friends could see his pics).

My daughter is most patient with him, connecting him to Youtube, messenger and Facebook whenever she can, but even her patience runs thin when he continues to badger her on things he had already been taught. And while I am mildly amused at his attempts to understand technology, it does get me thinking when I will hit my “technological learning barrier” (copyright Anj CP). You know, that ‘virtual wall’ where no new learning will want to penetrate my brain. I already see glimpses of it as I watch my daughter do her programming. Will I be my dad someday and simply not understand how the new world works? While I hope that I will not lose my willingness to learn, historically, it’s not looking good for me. My hope is that I will get a patient grandchild to help me grapple with technology. Karma, please be kind 🙏

Good Deeds and Life Lessons

Once upon a time, when we were college students, my group of friends organized a Christmas outreach in CRIBS, an orphanage for newborns and babies. It was a great experience for us, caring for the babies, singing to them, and even carrying some in our arms. Now, ehrm, about 17 years after, with most of us having had babies of our own, we repeated the experience, this time in Bahay at Yaman ni San Martin de Porres in Bustos, Bulacan. And we brought our babies along as well to share in the experience. 
While some orphanages fare better than others, with this one in particular looking very well-kept and managed, the format is that normally, the kids in the orphanage would have a short program, which begins with a prayer and then maybe a short introduction of the orphanage, plus a song or dance number. The kids of St. Martin did not disappoint, with a complete program of songs and dances. We, in turn, brought food to share and some games to play. In the end, everyone came home with a lighter heart, having been blessed with the experience of sharing.

But more than the good feeling that we brought home that day, I do hope that the experience taught my daughter a few things about life.

1. The most obvious takeaway is that she is a very lucky girl indeed because she is growing up with both parents who love her completely and unconditionally.

2. While these kids may lead very different lives, interacting with them on a firsthand basis shows that they also have a lot of similarities, i.e. they’re not so different after all.

3. Serving others, especially those who need help the most, is our responsibility because we have the means to help.

4. Trying new things, even though they are out of your comfort zone, makes you a more well-rounded individual.

5. Every little bit of help counts. Even the simple task of serving food, giving out straws, etc. is an act of love.    

And yes, every time we do an outreach, I do feel that it is a little bit unfair because I take away more than what I give. May the new year give us more opportunities to share!

I WANNA BE A SUPERMOM

I have a household issue that has been bugging me for several months now.

You see, our four househelps are going on a vacation, all at the same time, come December 17.  Why are they leaving all at the same time, you may ask.  Well, because they’re all related to each other.  A big no-no, I know. But that time I hired them, I was heavily pregnant with my third, and that was my only option. I assumed that they would all have to leave for vacations at the same time (I was right), but that they would have a bit of malasakit to leave kahit two lang behind to help me out (wrong, wrong, wrong).  They did it last summer, and they’ll do it again this Christmas.  They go on vacay, while I go insane.

BUT, I have a back up plan.  Plan B is to ask my mom to send over someone from her household to, you know, save her daughter from insanity. Like how we did it last summer, when she sent two.  But one had to go home immediately because, uh.. she needed to make sure my mom’s dogs are doing well.  So she upped and left, and left me with a newbie. Let’s save that story for a different post.

What is plan A?

Plan A is for me to savor this (house)helpless time with the kids – to enjoy every second of the chaos and the mess, to bond with them over nonstop Sofia the First marathons or Full House episodes, and to answer their never ending questions about life and religion and who is the more loveable child. And I plan to do this – alone.

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Look at her.  Doesn’t she look dazed and confused? Probably how I will look like in about three weeks. Yes, I will be cleaning our house in a Sofia the First costume.  

Can you see it happening? I can!

And I’m terrified.

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And I don’t know what is going on and why my logical reasoning isn’t working.  But this is the plan I’m leaning towards.  A big part of me wants to maybe prove to myself that I can do this – I’m a SUPERMOM.  The other part is in denial.  When I try to bring it down to reality, it feeds me with visions of myself cooking dinner while my eldest plays with the baby,and the middle one quietly engrossed with some artwork or book. With a catchy Christmas song going on at the background. For two weeks. This is the same part that thought the ates will have malasakit for me and leave two behind.  Medyo slow ang learning curve ko eh. 

So, wish me luck! And keep me sane by sharing your horror stories of your househelp issues. Just so I’d feel better that I went with plan A instead of the convenient plan B.

 

 

 

 

 

The Thing about Mothers

This is a question I’m throwing out to to the world–Is there any daughter out there who has zero hang-ups with their mothers?

Mothers hold that unique position in our lives– we love them, but we also love to hate them for one reason or another.

Judging from all the people I’ve spoken with, it seems that this experience is not mine alone. My mother, bless her, can single-handedly shred my confidence with a lift of an eyebrow! I can recall countless incidences where I’ve shown what I’ve thought were superb works only to be told, “It’s okay.” (With a sniff.)  And she’s not even a Tiger Mother! (Or maybe Asian moms are a little bit like each other…another topic for another day).

So this is my theory (and yeah, feel free to negate my point of view)—Just as daughters will always have this fear of living up to their mother’s expectations, moms too are always going to be a little bit fearful of their daughters (hence the unintentional hostility).

Ok, before all the mothers out there bring out their pitchforks and suggest that I be tied to a burning stake, let me just say that I am not qualified in any professional way to back my thoughts up with research. I am not a psychologist. But, as I am a daughter, and a mom to a daughter, I am basing my theory purely from my personal experience.

As a daughter, I have always looked up to my mom. She is, in my opinion, the embodiment of a strong, successful woman. She cared for all four of her kids (and still does) as she ran her own business (which then became businesses). She writes books, gardens, cooks—plus she deals with my father on a daily basis (which is a feat in itself).

And so, as a daughter who idolizes her mom, I am naturally drawn to what she does. I started my own business, I wrote books, I cook and bake, and just recently, I have started caring for plants (just succulents though, nothing too crazy). Here’s the rub though. Every time I ask her to read one of my stories, she comments that my Filipino grammar is bad. When I started to take gardening lessons (for the succulents), she scoffed at me for paying for lessons when it was so simple to do. I even got laughed at for taking a parenting seminar (“Why did you take that class when you could have just asked me?!” Mom said).

This bothered me for a long time, until I stumbled on my theory–could it be that my mom was a little bit scared of me? Was she looking at me as a possible de-throner? To an aging queen (sorry, mom), who was used to leading her queendom uncontested, did I really pose a believable threat?

Now that I have a daughter, as early as now, I already think she will exceed me (and of course, that is my hope for her as well). Am I a little bit hostile at times because of this growing reality? Methinks it’s still too early to tell. I am still better at her at most things (except maybe in reading directions—she gets that from her father). Maybe when she starts outwardly negating me, then the hostility will surface. Or maybe I will have chosen what I am imagining myself to be when I grow old—a wise and gracious sage-mother who will willingly part with her throne, accepting and embracing the next queen, merely passing on the wisdom of my years. Maybe, but someday, I think I will struggle with it as well.

A mother-daughter relationship is definitely a complex one, full of twists and turns. But at the end of the day, it is also possibly one of the deepest connections that I will make with another human being.

Belated Happy Mother’s Day to all you mothers out there. Here’s to exciting adventures with all your children!

How Would You Describe Your Feelings Without Using the Word “LOVE?”

I like watching videos on Facebook. Especially heart-warming ones.  They always make me cry but give me a different kind of high at the same time.  I like sharing them, too, coz I want others to feel good about it and perhaps, make their day?

So, since Valentine’s Day is fast approaching, I am sharing this video I found to honor our significant other.

May we all be like Bob and Kim, who, after 56 years of togetherness, still look at each other with so much love and respect for each other.

Note: I think it is good to try this exercise with your partner 🙂 I am sure their answers will surprise us!

Enjoy the video!

 

Have Kids, Will Travel

Trips aren’t just for the young (and single!) ones. As Titas (and Tito), the call of adventure still beckons. Even if it means towing everything with you because the baby *might* need something!

Let us share some of our tips when traveling with babies, toddlers and kids.

Val’s plane tips:
1. Bring extra clothes for you and your baby in your hand carry bag.
Surely you’ll remember to pack extra clothes for your kid/s, but, remember to bring a set for you, too! One time, my baby vomited and who do you think still smelled of it all throughout the flight?

2. Never use the water from the toilet for anything.
Not even to wash their toys with. Ask the flight attendant for some bottled water.

3. Never mind the other passengers.
You paid for your tickets, too. Just help your kid. I used to feel guilty but most people understand specially if they are parents themselves. For those annoyed people, just chill and ignore. Karma has a way to get back at them.

4. Bring a carrier and or stroller.
Life savers for non-walkers!

5. Pack snacks.
While traveling, it’s difficult to know when hunger will strike. Flight attendants usually serve the kids first. But, you never know! Better to have snacks ready so the kids won’t be h-angry.

6. Wipes are handy.
Use them everywhere! Wipe down the plane seats, tray, remote control. Little hands, faces, bottoms.

IMG_0841Val started traveling with Little A when she was barely 3 months old. They both wish to travel more often!

Od’s tips:
1. Have medications ready and on-hand.

Store medicines like paracetamol, antibiotics, antihistamines in your carry-on luggage. You’ll never know when you might need them. Just make sure you store them in ziplock bags and that they are not more than 100ml in size.

2. Antihistamine is your friend.

When all else fails, a little antihistamine  will go a long way. Especially for long-haul flights.

3. Info-ready

Put all your family’s passport information in one place. You can have it printed out in a small paper or on the notes in your cellphone. So you don’t need to take out all your passports when filling out immigration forms.

4. Carry-ons

US domestic flights charge an arm and a leg for checked-in luggage. So have all your stuff in a carry-on luggage. I discovered most hotels have laundry rooms where you wash and dry your clothes for a few cents.

5. Disposable Bottles

For small babies still bottle-feeding, use disposable ones. I used Playtex. That way, you won’t have to bring a bottle sterilizer which is too bulky. I just wash the non-disposable parts like the nipples and bottles with dishwashing liquid and boil them in hot water in electric kettles provided by hotels. Then just throw away the plastic bottles.

6. Small Formulas

When using baby milk formulas, just bring the small tetra-packed ones that come in boxes. Avoid bringing the large cans. That way, when you finish with one formula box, you can just throw that away and you don’t have to lug the big can with you all the time. Plus, you’ll have extra luggage space.

7. Clothes

Packing cubes are the best. I have packing cubes color-coordinated for each one of us. Pack socks and underwear in one cube, sleeping clothes in a cube,  and going-out clothes in another. Keeps all your belongings organised. To lessen luggage space, repeat sleeping clothes. You can use them twice or thrice, so you don’t have to bring much. You just use them for sleeping, anyway.

8. Huwag Maselan!

Don’t be overly picky or sensitive when it comes to our kids. They are more resilient than we think! It’s okay to get a little dirty sometimes, desensitizes them even! A little dirt doesn’t hurt.

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Od is a courageous mom who travelled to the US alone with 3 kids. The youngest was just 15 months old then.

 

 

Freya’s Tips:
1.  If you’re traveling with a kid on stroller, always remember that Elevator is your friend too. Make sure to look for them in malls and train stations. In Japan, all train stations have elevators. Use them.
2. Make sure to bring enough milk and diapers.
3. Bring toys and things that can distract them when they’re not in the mood. This comes handy esp. during long haul flights.
4. If you are traveling with more than 1 child, talk to the older ones to help take care of the little one. Or get them to agree that they will behave and will not add to the stress.
5. Pray for patience. Everyday.
6. Make sure you have a day that is light and not full packed so u and the kid/s can rest.
7. Baby carriers and strollers!
8. Take Vitamins and energy drink for you so you can last!
9. Bring a yaya if you have budget!

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Freya, a mom of 3 girls aged 8, 7 and 3, travelled recently to Osaka.

So, go travel! It is one of those few things you buy or pay for that makes you richer– and your family closer 🙂

To My Most and Least Favorite Child: An Evaluation of Year 8

I’ve begun following a blog named My Least Favorite Child, and it chronicles the life of a father with twin boys. It is obviously written with a lot of wit and humor as the dad relates his everyday experience with his twins. At the end of his blog, he will always say who his least favorite child was for the week. The reasons are often hilarious, and written with much concealed fondness for both kids, but I can relate even if I only have one child.

Many parents would vehemently deny, even under oath, that they do in fact have a favorite child. And I would say to those parents: “Liar, liar, pants on fire.” Maybe your favorite child changes from day-to-day, or from season to season, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have one that you rely on when you’re in a bind, or a particular child that makes you laugh your socks off whenever you come home defeated from work.

So like I said, I have one child and even if she is my one and only, there are days when she is an absolute angel, and then there are days, though few are far between, that she is very, very human. Someday, maybe I will let her read this, and hopefully, she will see the humor in it (or not, depending on her mood for the day…hehe).

And so Bumbum, this is how I have assessed your 8th year with us.

Travel Companion

(+) I have often said this—you are an ideal travel buddy. Because you have experienced being left behind on business-related trips, you are always very grateful when you are included in our travel plans. The minute we find our plane seat, you obediently buckle yourself in and proceed to reading the safety instructions of the plane. (-)You could do away with collecting barf bags because frankly, you and I rarely barf on planes, making our already growing stash of barf bags unnecessary. But, as your father would point out, I collect paper cups from the plane lavatory, so he knows where you’re coming from.

(+) You walk without complaining, and rarely do you ask to be carried. You still walk, even with eyes closed from exhaustion. (+) You don’t like to bring and buy too many things, which is a plus for me because I need your luggage space to fill with my own shopping stuff.

Student

(+) You have excellent memory most of the time, which makes it quite easy for mom and dad to review you. This results in other parents complimenting me for my parenting and training (which I accept, even though you did most of the work). (-) However, dear daughter, you do forget at times so please utilize your homework notebook. We are not mind readers. (-) And can you please make room in your brain to remember your pencils and other school stuff as well? It feels like you think we own a National Bookstore the way you run through your school supplies.

(+)(-) You have obsessive-compulsive tendencies, which is tricky. The (+) of this is that you will want your schoolwork to be done immediately. The (-) is that you would also want us to accomplish things as quickly even when the deadline is oh, maybe still a full week ahead. Remember honey, mommy works full time.

(+)(-) Because you feel good when you volunteer, you always volunteer, even though your parents are not as willing. (-) Even when I do volunteer, I still receive a sarcastic remark from you (Bumbum – “Oh mama, I’m soooo glad you finally volunteered to do something for my school). Harrump.

Daughter/Relative

(+) Literally, you are so easy to please. We recently moved to a very small one-studio room temporarily while our new home is being built, and my daughter said with genuine delight, “I love our condo! It’s so small!” You are enjoying the fact that your bed is small enough that you can actually fix it on your own. You even wash your own cup right after you use it because you know we can’t crowd the sink.

(+)(-) You’re quite the smarty pants. (+) You can carry a lively conversation even with adults, which allows mommy to not participate as much. (-) However, you have a tendency to scare people when you talk about your love for Science, like when you quiz them on the Elements Table, or when (gasp!) you remind them to protect their sex so as not to get the HIV virus.

(+)(+)This gets two positive points because it’s that positive. You make your grandparents very happy, which means they let us off easy on many counts just because you’re our daughter.

For that last point alone, we have decided to keep you with us for another year =) I think Santa has very generous (and nerdy) plans for you this Christmas.

“I wish I was like you”

My two daughters, 7 year old grade 2 student, Nykola, and 6 year old grade 1 student, Calista, recently had their exams.  While Calista had high scores, Nykola’s were not really high and I was a little disappointed.  In a stern voice, I told her I was not happy and she should study harder. I hired tutors for her and her sister so I was expecting higher grades.  She said “yes, mom” very softly with her head bent down.

Just this afternoon, I heard Nykola reading a letter from her classmate. According to her, this letter came from her second BFF, Catalina.  They used to be groupmates but last Friday, Nykola was transferred to a different group.

To Nykola From Catalina
To Nykola
From Catalina

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Awww.  This letter reminded me that I have a great daughter who is “funny, nice, brave…”  Someone actually wants to be like her! These things, I oftentimes take for granted.  I had to be reminded by someone young, someone innocent of how special my daughter is.

All else comes secondary.

One for the Books

Since it’s Thursday, allow me to “throwback” with you the 3-week long “field trip” I went on with my three boys  Zaq, Ben, and Achi in 2011.

To celebrate Zaq’s grade school graduation, our family decided to go on a vacation to the United States in the summer of 2011. Prior to purchasing our tickets, my husband said he would not be able to leave his work for a long period of time. But since the trip has been planned and the kids were excited, he told me to go through with it. Yes, just me and 3 kids aged 12 and 10 years old, and 15 months. Kidding, right? I seriously did not know why I agreed to do it. Until now. Really.

The day of our flight, we had to go back to the house 3 times because I keep forgetting something. Was this a foreboding perhaps? In the airport, even before we entered the main gate, I was crying, like I was migrating to another country and never coming back. Then I saw my kids, and reined it all in and I thought to myself – I can do this.

We were flying Emirates, and I thought, why not stay over in Dubai? And so we did. We stayed 4 days at Hotel Rotana just off the main highway near Dubai Mall. What amazed me about Dubai is the sheer amount of Filipinos working there. Literally, everywhere we went, there was a kababayan always ready to help.

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Desert Safari

Continue reading “One for the Books”