Archive for May, 2006

Going back to the office

I’m going back to the office for a three-week training in our new system.  Then I’ll be back at home. 

Once in a while, the Work-at-Home Staff are invited to come to the office for meetings or luncheons but this is the first time that we are going to be there the whole day working for three weeks.   

I think I am more anxious than excited.  Although I have been preparing my three kids for the changes that will be happening, I don’t look forward to getting up at 5:30 in the morning and dragging them out of bed.  One of the reasons I signed up to work at home was to avoid that rush in the morning.  It could be really stressful. 

But perhaps I am worrying too much.  The kids are all five years older now.  We just have to go to bed earlier, have a good sleep and hopefully there will be no tantrums in the morning. 

No more leisurely breakfasts that takes time to eat.  We usually have hot noodle soup and croissants or rice, eggs and hotdogs.  And forget about pancakes.  I won’t have time to cook.  We’ll probably just all have cereal in the morning.  But we’ll see. 

I also had my hair cut shorter to have less time blowing it dry in the morning.   

One other thing I had to do to prepare was to go through my closet and find out if I have enough work clothes to wear.  I had to try clothes on to see if they still fit, even ones that haven’t seen the light of day in five years.  It was like déjà vu all over again of that time when I was getting ready to come back to work after my last maternity leave.  That time, I needed a whole new wardrobe.  I let myself go after I had the third baby.  I frantically exercised just to get back to my previous shape.  But it didn’t work.  I had to buy new clothes.  I didn’t want to do that now because I’ll be there for three weeks only.  I am lucky this time, I can still wear some of my clothes.  Although they fit quite just snugly.  I may have to buy a couple of new tops and pants.   

And I also wonder if I’ll have time to blog and bloghop.  Now that I have to get up early, I can’t go to bed at 1:00 a.m. anymore, right?  We’ll see.

May 28, 2006 at 10:41 pm 21 comments

My Life’s Simplest Pleasures

I’ve been tagged by Jane.  I’m to describe 10 of my life’s simplest pleasures, try to be original and creative and not repeat somebody else’s answers.  

1.       Having my daily dose of M&M’s or any chocolate bars.

2.       Watching The Ellen DeGeneres Show.  I love watching her dance and she just really cracks me up.

3.       Listening to my mixed CDs of 80’s songs.

4.       Smelling Ryland’s (my 8-year old son's) newly washed hair.

5.       Talking about sports and the news with my 11-year old son, Ryan.

6.       Listening to Reggie (my 16 year-old son) play the flute.

7.       Watching my kids in their sleep.  (Yeah, I still do.)

8.       Watching my husband play ball or board games with the kids.

9.       Finding a book that I like on sale.

10.    The sound of birds chirping outside my kitchen window.

I'm tagging domesticrat, hsin, ange, and sesame.  Or if anybody else is up to it, please share with us your simplest pleasures in life. 

May 27, 2006 at 9:15 am 8 comments

Getting to know me

A few weeks ago, I was out with my kids and my youngest son, Ryland, begged that we drop by the Dollarama store so he could buy me a present.  So I obliged.  He was worried that I would know what he was gonna buy.  “That’s okay, Ryland,” I said.  “It’s the thought that counts.”  When we got home, he told me not to open them until my birthday. 

Today is my special day, and I got to open my presents this morning.  They’re only a dollar each, but he picked them out himself and I think they’re cute.  And isn’t he just the sweetest thing? 

Also, in my inbox, I received a video-clip from my oldest niece, Agnus.  She strung together pictures of my family and accompanied it with the song “Good Mother.”  I’ve never heard it before but I was touched not only by the lyrics but also by the gesture of my dear 18-year old niece.  This is my favourite  stanza: 

I’ve got money in my pocket
I like the colour of my hair
I’ve got a friend who loves me
Got a house, I’ve got a car
I’ve got a good mother
And her voice is what keeps me here. 

Sis also bought me a DQ ice cream cake and her kids brought it to the house singing me a Happy Birthday.  Later on I heard Ryan singing Happy Birthday softly while I was cutting the cake. I don’t usually make a fuss about my birthday and I don’t usually get gifts (except my big one last year), but it’s simple things like these that mean a lot to me.  By the way, my nephews and nieces call me Tita (auntie) Irene. 

I’ve seen this tag/meme on a few blogs that I visit.  I thought I’d give it a shot.  I have been thinking of doing a list of 40 things about me anyway.  This is easier and a lot more fun.   

Here are 20 random facts about me: 

1.       I was named after the hospital where I was born.

2.       I have lived in 12 different addresses.

3.       I have attended ten different schools.

4.       I gave my High School crush a record of the song “When I’m Gone.” 

5.       I’ve always had a perm throughout my college years that my classmates thought I had naturally wavy hair.

6.       I had a disastrous perm just before I got married.  That was the last time I ever had a perm.

7.       My first job in Canada was at McDonald’s Restaurant.

8.       I had a 24-inch waistline when I was 24.  Not anymore.

9.       I have been mistaken for a Vietnamese a couple of times, by of all people, Vietnamese.

10.   I can’t talk on the phone and watch TV at the same time.  I can only pay attention to one.

11.   I love chocolates.  I always have some stashed in my desk drawer.

12.    My middle son always corrects me when I say the words toboggan, stadium and insulin.  I always forget how to pronounce these words correctly.

13.   I like mushy movies and I cry watching them.  That’s why I like watching them alone.

14.   I fell in love with Russell Crowe on The GladiatorJoshua Jackson (Pacey) on Dawson’s Creek, and Tom Welling on Smallville.  I have gotten over the first two, but not Tom because his show is still on.

15.   I have a poster of Ricky Martin in my workstation.

16.   I usually go to bed at 1:00 a.m. 

17.   I sewed our sofa covers (3 sets) and dining chair covers (2 sets).

18.   I try not to judge a book by its cover.

19.   I think that we should always count our blessings.

20.   My most memorable birthday so far was last year’s, when I turned the big 4-0.   

Wanna give this a try?

May 24, 2006 at 11:14 pm 15 comments

My Love Affair with Books

The Da Vinci Code is not the kind of book I would usually buy and read.  I was tempted to buy it last year when my girl friend bought the illustrated edition.  But a $30.00 book doesn’t really appeal to me.  So when it came out on paperback a couple of months ago, I couldn’t help but get myself a copy.  I got it for $10.99. 

I wasn’t much of a reader when I was in High School.  I can’t remember how I passed English in my third year when I haven’t got a hold of a copy of The Merchant of Venice.  And in my fourth year, instead of reading a book, I bought a ready-made book report like some of my classmates did.  I know. I am embarrassed to admit this now. 

My love for books started when I was introduced to World Literature in college.  I discovered the literary classics of the world.  I studied the works of Rabindranath Tagore and The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran. I enjoyed reading mythology and The Iliad by Homer. I even wrote summaries of the chapters of The Iliad.  I read The Gift of Acabar because it was recommended by my Psychology teacher. 

When I started earning my own money after college, I bought book after book.  Sometimes I would sacrifice my lunch time just so I could go to the nearest National Bookstore to buy the next book that I wanted to read.  My co-worker once teased me that I was having a lunch date with Thomas (Hardy).   

I was never interested in romance novels. I always bought the classics.  I thought they were worth spending the money for and worth keeping them, too.  I bought books by Shakespeare, Dickens, Hugo, Hawthorne, etc. I read Romeo and Juliet and wrote a summary. I also read the other works of Shakespeare and wrote summaries. I sometimes re-read my books, but poems and plays were a pain to read. That’s why I wrote summaries.  

When I migrated here in Canada, I brought all my books with me.  But soon after I came here, I had my first baby and the books were neglected.  I’ve also stopped buying and reading books when I started having kids.  I got busy with family and there just wasn’t time to read.   Whenever I was on maternity leave, I would re-read my favourites while nursing my baby.  

My interest in reading was sparked again five years ago when I started working at home.  This opportunity has given me more time, and since the kids were also older and needed less attention, I found more time for myself.  From watching, Oprah, I have heard about Fall on Your Knees, which was written by a Canadian author, Ann-Marie MacDonald.  This is the first contemporary book that I have bought and read.  I’ve enjoyed it because it deals with family secrets and suspense.  My family has a lot of secrets too and it was the first time I thought about writing our family stories.   My oldest son, Reggie, was in sixth grade then and begged me to buy the Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.  I also read it and got hooked.  I read Frank McCourt’s memoir, Angela’s Ashes, and was amused by the way he wrote about his hardships in childhood. There are quite a few similarities in our background and that made me want to write my own memoir. I want my kids, and also others, to know about my experiences and maybe learn a few lessons from them. 

Whenever we are at the mall, I’d make sure that we would drop by the bookstores and browse through books that would tickle my fancy.  I’m now mostly interested in contemporary coming-of-age stories with a tinge of mystery.  Some of the books I read are also influenced by Oprah or other people.  And some by the cheap prices.  Once in a while, I’d find Classics that are on sale and I’d still buy them.  But I haven’t really read them yet.  They’re collecting dust in my bookshelf.   

I started reading Pride and Prejudice but was so confused with the introduction of the many characters that I dropped it.  Later on, I had the chance to watch the BBC version of the movie and enjoyed it.  So I don’t think that I’ll ever read the book.  What for?  I already know the story.  I’m like that.  Once I’ve seen the movie version, I am not motivated to read the book anymore.  I’ve never read Anna Karenina since I’ve already seen a movie version of it.  But I did see movies of A Tale of Two Cities, Great Expectations, Les Miserables, The Count of Monte Cristo, Jude, Wuthering Heights, Lady Chatterley’s Lovers and of course the Harry Potter series because I was curious to see how the words of the authors are played out on the silver screen.  

There was one book that I lost in the Philippines when somebody borrowed it.  And boy, did I pine for this book for a long time.  I asked my cousin to look for this book in the bookstores there but to no avail.  Then one day, I went searching on the internet and I found a few copies that were being sold on Amazon.com.  It turned out that this book was already discontinued and there were no more publishers that are printing it.  There were used copies on Amazon.com being sold at discounted prices.  How lucky was I! I felt like I was reuniting with a long-lost love when I held in my hands a hardbound copy of Without Seeing the Dawn by Steven Javellana.  This is the same book by which the Philippine TV series Malayo Pa Ang Umaga was based on.  The TV series also popularized the song of the same title. 

Lately, I have been busy with work and my children’s activities and the books that I want to read are piling up high.  But when I got hold of The Da Vinci Code, I had to read it right away.  I wanted to finish it before the movie comes out and so I gave myself a reading schedule.  With 105 chapters, I figured that I needed to read at least three chapters a day to have it done by the movie release date of May 19.  What I didn’t know was I didn’t have to worry about not finishing it before watching the movie because I got hooked right away and couldn’t put the book down. I read it every minute I got the chance.  I read it during lunch break, while waiting at the doctor’s office, at the bus stop (I can’t read in a moving bus.  It makes me nauseous) and made sure I read a few chapters every night.     

That’s what “couldn’t put the book down” for a busy working mom like me means and not reading it in one sitting as some people do.  I couldn’t comprehend how that is done.  Even before I had kids, I would stay up late at night when I was engrossed with a book that I was reading but never really read a book in one sitting.  So, people who read books in one sitting, please help me out.  Do you just breeze through the pages and read random chapters?  As for me, I like to savour every single word on each and every page. 

What about you? What kind books do you read? 

You can view a list of the literary books in my bookshelf here and pictures of some of my books on Flickr.

May 21, 2006 at 10:06 am 19 comments

The Price of my Vanity

cc22.jpgI used to have these two moles on my face.  One beside my mouth and another one under my chin. I’d have them ever since I could remember.  They didn’t really bother me before.  I liked them.  They were my distinguishing marks.  I sometimes even considered them as my beauty mark.  He he he.  You know, like Cindy Crawford’s is hers.  And of course Ate Guy. (Nora Aunor who’s a famous Philippine actress.)

About five years ago, the one under my chin started to grow a hair.  I once worked with this lady who had a hairy mole and I didn’t think it was a pretty sight.  So when the hair on my mole got longer, I cut it.  Then the hair grew back and I started cutting it every time it would grow.  Then more hair grew, even gray hair.  It has become my habit to cut it everytime I would go out of the house or if I would be around other people.  Which isn’t a lot since I work at home. 

One day, I cut too close.  I accidentally cut the mole itself.  I got nervous.  What if it now became cancerous?  I went to see a doctor and told him that I wanted to have it removed.  He said that he could cauterize moles but since it was on my face, he didn’t want to touch it.  He recommended me to a dermatologist who took a look at it with his magnifying glass.  He also said that the one beside my mouth has tiny hairs.  I told him that he might as well remove that one too.  He set up an appointment for me to have the two removed. 

So the day came and I lay there on the doctor’s table.  First he gave me local anaesthesia.  Oh, that stung like a bee.  I thought that he was just going to zap the moles out with a laser.  That’s what I heard people say.  That doctors just use laser to remove moles.  And that was my mistake.  I thought.  I usually ask doctors how and why.  But it didn’t occur to me to ask any questions when he examined me before.  I just assumed.

I was surprised when he snipped the first mole with scissors.  But I dared not protest and move my mouth for fear of bigger damage.  He also cut the second one with his scissors.  Then he told me to close my eyes and he began stitching them up.  When he was finished, he put band-aids on them.  He told me not to make them wet.  "But what if they get wet," I asked.  Then he applied a set of clear bandages on the them.  "But what if they still get wet?" I asked.  "They’re water-proof now.  They won’t get wet," he said. 

He told me further not to move my mouth too much so there would be less scarring.  I would heed that advise, I thought.  I just won’t talk if not necessary.  Easier said than done.  The moment I got home that day, my two younger kids were bickering and I was alone in the house with them and I couldn’t help but yell.  Ouch! 

At supper, I made myself instant noodle soup.  I needed something soft and easy to eat.  The bandage was preventing me to open my mouth wide.  "They won’t get wet," he said.  They did when I ate my soup and had a drink and when I brushed my teeth.  The next morning I tried to take a shower without getting them wet but they still did.

This is the good thing about having a brother-in-law who’s a nurse.  I asked him to come over and change my wet bandages.  Isn’t that nice?  He told me to change them whenever they got wet to avoid infection.

I also refrained from carrying heavy stuff.  I learned my lesson when I had my first C-section and carried a pail of diapers soaked in water.  My stitches got infected.  I won’t let that happen this time.  I dragged my husband to the grocery store to carry the heavy grocery bags.  And I told Ryland that I couldn’t carry him anymore in the morning when I bring him downstairs.

For ten days, I walked around with band-aids on my face.  There was a point when I asked myself, what have I gotten myself into?  My youngest son was going to be celebrating his First Communion and I might end up with these band-aids on my face on that special day. I wondered what people thought.  But nobody asked what happened to my face except for Wanda, the catechism coordinator.  I told her that I had my moles removed.  “This is the price of my vanity,” I said.  “No,” she said.  “It could be malignant you know.”

But no, it wasn’t.  I came back to the dermatologist’s office after ten days.  He told me that the biopsy results were good.  Then he removed my stitches.  I thought it was going to hurt.  But it didn’t.

On the bus on my way home that day, I sat behind this lady who had a hairy mole on her face.  And her mole was even bigger than the one I had.  I still thought it wasn’t a pretty sight.  But some people may think otherwise.  I was glad I got rid of mine. 

My mother gave me a very good tip.  She told me to ask the dermatologist to write me a short note, a proof that he removed my moles.  It will be very helpful when the time comes that I need to show my passport or citizenship card.  My mole was very noticeable on my pictures on both.

The price of  my vanity?  Cdn $100 (US$120) and two additional (small) scars on my face. Not bad. 

Once in a while I’d glance in the mirror and look where my moles used to be.  There’s just a tiny speck of pinkish area beside my mouth. And the one under my chin doesn’t look that bad either.  They’ve healed pretty well.  And yes, the bandages came off before Ryland’s First Communion.

Do I miss my moles?  Maybe the one that was beside my mouth.  Just a little bit.  But I certainly don’t miss the hairy one.

May 17, 2006 at 11:45 pm 25 comments

Welcome to my new home

May 14, 2006 004b.jpgI've been wanting to migrate my blog from Blogger to WordPress for a while now.  I finally did!  Except for a few boo-boos (just to be expected from the technically-challenged me), the migration was successful.  My May posts weren't transferred though, so I had to re-post them including the comments from same posts. 

As with any move, it may take a while to organize everything.  So please bear with me. 🙂

Thanks to Bing and DR for answering my questions.

May 16, 2006 at 12:06 am 16 comments

Secrets of Mother/Daughter Relationships

Originally posted on Saturday, May 13, 2006

A few months ago, ABC’s 20/20 featured a show titled, Secrets of Mother/Daughter Relationships. It discussed the most complex female relationship.Here’s an excerpt:

Mothers and daughters have a special bond with all its complex emotions – anger, resentment, competition and of course, love. But every son will also hear echoes of his own life with mother.

Mothers and daughters – sometimes they’re enemies, sometimes best friends.

You love her, sometimes you hate her. Sometimes she’s the last person you want to see. But she’s the first one you call for advice. That is the seesaw of feelings between mothers and daughters.

I think every daughter can relate to this.

I’d like to think that I have a good relationship with my mother now. But it hasn’t been always like that.

I remember being labeled a Papa’s girl when I was growing up. I’m not really sure how it started. And by the way, my sister, who always wanted to contradict me back then, was a self-proclaimed Mama’s girl. So you see, the complication started early on. But as far as I’m concerned, I loved both my parents equally. And I’m sure that each one of them loved both me and sister just the same.

And then my parents separated. I can’t really understand why I became loyal to my father even though I chose to stay with my mother. I think my mother resented that because my father was abusive to her. But he was my father and nothing could change my love for him.

I experienced that seesaw of feelings with my mother. One minute I was telling her everything that was happening in my life, and the next minute, I was sneaking out and hiding the truth.

My father has long been gone and my mother and I get along pretty well now. I confide in her and run to her when I have problems. We see each other at least once a week. We go to mass together, that’s because my family doesn’t have a vehicle and she gives us a ride to church. And she insists. She wants to make sure that we go to church every Sunday.

Sometimes she would volunteer to give me a ride to the grocery store. But I have learned that my closeness to my mother should have boundaries. I know she meant well when she didn’t want me to buy those tomatoes because they were so expensive. And my “But Ma, I need these tomatoes for the dish I’m making” isn’t acceptable to her. When she asked me how much those Asian pears and guavas were, I just ignored her because I didn’t want to argue with her. When she asked me to call her the next time I do my groceries and give her the taxi fare instead, I almost did because I knew that she could use the extra money especially now that gas prices are skyrocketing. But thanks, no thanks. And no offense please Ma. I’d rather do the groceries myself.

Here’s some more excerpt from that 20/20 show, Secrets of Mother/Daughter Relationships:

Deborah Tannen, author of the best-selling “You’re Wearing That?” explains why mother and daughter relationship is so complicated. She says, “Mothers and daughters talk more, talk about more personal topics. That means they may be closer but they also risk offending each other much more.”

There are four flashpoints in the mother and daughter relationship:

1. Appearance – Clothes, weight, hair. Women are judged by how they look and mothers are judged by how their daughters look.
2. Control – Mother sees daughter as a little girl.
3. (Motherly) Advice – Everytime mothers offer advice or suggestion for improvement, there’s an implied criticism. Mother sees it as caring. Daughter sees it as criticizing. If mothers can’t learn how to bite their tongue, daughters need to learn to use humour to diffuse tension.
4. Secrets – Daughters keep secrets from mom if they sense disapproval. Withholding information is a daughter’s way to gain power.

Tannen says that there is no magic formula to the perfect mother-daughter bond. But there are ways to make it work.

1. Bite your tongue.
2. Use humour.
3. See it from their point of view
4. Use praise. It’s also a form of power.

Read more at ABC News Love Her or Hate Her- She’s Still Your Mom.

May 15, 2006 at 11:37 pm 38 comments

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