Archive for June, 2007

The Graduate, His Awesomeness

The day before graduation, Reggie picked up his cap and gown at school. When he brought them home, I checked them right away to make sure that they are in good condition and that the gown is not too long nor too short.  He said that they were fitted weeks before and the garment bag actually has a sticker with his name on it.  I checked the tag on the gown and, of course, it was made by Gaspard & Sons.  I used to work for this garment company and if I’m not mistaken, they are one of the leading suppliers of graduation caps and gowns here in Canada.  They also make church vestments, by the way.

I was still working there when Reggie graduated from kindergarten.  Actually he didn’t have a graduation.  And I wanted so much to have a picture of him in a graduation outfit, so I asked my supervisor if I could borrow a set of cap and gown so I could have his picture taken at a Wal-Mart.  She asked management, and not only did they let me borrow, but they gave me a set, for keeps.  I picked the colour white because that’s what I wore when I graduated from kindergarten.  Doesn’t he look so adorable in this picture?

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And look at him now after twelve years.  He’s practically a grown man.  Ah, it makes me feel nostalgic and old.

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When he was five years old, he would watch Home Alone over and over again.  He actually knew the movie by heart that he would narrate to me what would happen next.  He was sitting on the shopping cart I was pushing at Superstore when a lady asked him what his name was.  He said, “Kevin.” And my mother blurted out a laugh.  We then explained to the lady that Kevin is the name of the kid from Home Alone and that wasn’t his real name.

Now, he assumes the persona of Barney from How I Met Your Mother.  Barney has a penchant for suits and is famous for the line, “Suit up!”  I just hope Reggie doesn’t follow Barney’s ways of picking up women.

Reggie asked me to buy him a new pair of suit at Moore’s last November.  The boys in jazz band wear black suits at their concerts.  But this year, Reggie had also been suiting up in different occasions, like going to school parties and his friends’ birthday parties and just any special occasions at school.  He even suited up on the last day of school.  His brother, Ryan, has been telling me that his kuya has been acting weird this year.  He has been going to a lot of parties, and suiting up and there was a time when he’d wear his trademark red scarf.  But that was last winter.  He had since put the red scarf away.

Have I told you yet that he’s popular among the senior students at REC?  Yes, he claims that everybody knows him.  Unlike at home where he’s usually quiet, he is very friendly at school.  I just learned recently that the boy’s got a blog.  After a little snooping around, err, I mean, investigating, I found out the URL.  But don’t tell him.  I can’t share with you the URL though.  I think it’s intended to be read only by his friends.  I can tell you this – the blog has AWESOMENESS written all over it.  And I mean that literally.  That awesomeness is also attributed to the character of Barney.

graduate1.jpg 

On the day of graduation, the students were asked to be at school at 10:00 a.m.  They were then bussed to the venue of the graduation.  The ceremony wasn’t until 12:30 p.m., but they still needed to rehearse, the only one rehearsal they actually had.  They were also asked to bring snacks to tide them over the lunch hour because ceremony was expected to last two and a half hours long.

His two brothers weren’t able to come along as the youngest one still had school and the middle one decided at the last minute to just stay home.  I invited my mother and also my husband’s uncle, his only relative here in Winnipeg, to Reggie’s graduation.

graduate2.jpg 

A few important people, including the principal, delivered their speeches.  And then the valedictorian also delivered his speech.  We were expecting Reggie’s friend, Sam, to be the valedictorian, but it was a different student who stood there and delivered his speech.  I learned this when Reggie graduated from ninth grade, that unlike in the Philippines where it was the teachers who pick the valedictorian, here in Canada, the valedictorian is voted by the student body. 

The jazz vocal choir then went up the stage and sang their beautiful rendition of Cindy Lauper’s True Colors.

Awards were then handed out to different students.  There were a lot of awards and scholarships given out.  The awards have monetary value and are intended to help the students in the pursuit of college and university studies.  Sam received the most awards, seven, I think.  She was president of student council and she had just been a leader and mentor throughout her three years stay at REC and maintained excellent grades at the same time. Reggie told me later that she actually declined to be valedictorian because she just had too many things on her plate.  My niece was also telling me that students choose the student that most represents them as valedictorian, an average student. Not everybody is like Sam. 

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We had a wonderful surprise.  Reggie received one of five musical awards.  So we’re happy about that.

After the awarding of scholarships, the students were called one by one on stage to receive their diplomas.  Before the graduates come up the stage, they hand over to the announcer a paper where they have written their names and how they wanted to be introduced.  For example, “Kayla Gail Jones. Lions Club awardee. Thank you mom and dad for putting up with me these last three years.”  Or “James Joseph Smith.  Whew!  Who would have thought, I’d graduate.  Thank you to my teachers and friends.  I’ll miss you.  I love you mom and dad.”

So Reggie’s turn came up.  I saw him from a distance hand in over his paper to the announcer.  And this is how she introduced him.  “Reginald S– M—–.  Come on down.  You’re the next contestant to the price is right.”  And of course, he had to insert there his “Ph. D. in Awesomeness.”  The crowd loved him.  The lady sitting next to my mother knows Reggie and said that he’s got a sense of humour.  If you watch How I Met Your Mother, you’ve probably seen that episode when Barney went on The Price is Right Show and met Bob Barker.  

After the ceremony, the graduates had to return their gowns right away.  We looked for Reggie and grabbed him so we could take a few snapshots of him while still in his graduation outfit.  I’m actually not that tall.  I was wearing my four-inch heels.  That was a bad idea because my feet were already hurting by that time. 

graduate4.jpg 

And here’s another scoop.  Instead of dressing up that day, some of the graduates wore only shorts or jeans under their graduation gown.  We saw students walk up the stage in flip-flops and runners.

After the ceremony, we all headed back home and enjoyed a small feast in celebration of this special event.  It hasn’t been an hour since we got back and Reggie already asked to be excused.  His friend, Clay, called and they attended a workshop at the Conservatory of Music downtown.

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Just a reminder:  If you are in Winnipeg and have nothing better to do on this weekend,  Sunday, Canada Day, is the wrap up of the Jazz Festival at the Old Market Square at the Exchange District.  Celebrations start at 11:00 am and ends at midnight.  Reggie will be performing with the Manitoba High School Honour Band at around 3:00 pm.

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June 30, 2007 at 8:39 am 26 comments

Garden and Dinner Parties

garden1.jpg 

The REC graduates had a Garden Party on Tuesday on the lawn of the school.  This event is held annually to give families and friends an opportunity to photograph grads in their formal attire.  It’s a good thing it didn’t rain.  Otherwise, it would have been held in the school gymnasium.  And it would just be too cramped in there.

It was a good day, but the grass was wet.  Not only were there were many people, but there were also unwelcome guests, them pesky mosquitoes.  It wasn’t too hot either but the temperature was just comfortable for the girls who wore their sleeveless gowns.  Oh how lovely they looked in their pretty dresses.  A few weeks before this day, I asked my son, Reggie, if he wanted to rent a tux or buy at least a new shirt or tie.  He said, no.  He’d just wear his suit.  The one he asked me to buy at Moore’s last November.  The same one he’s been wearing to his band concerts.  Boys are a lot easier, aren’t they?  I’m sure the parents of the girls spent a lot on their dresses.  But I think it would have been nice to buy something pretty like a fancy gown for your child.  I don’t have any girls, so I’ve never experienced shopping for pretty dresses for my children.

Well, anyway, an arc was set up at the entrance of the school.  The grads were called one by one, alphabetically, while live music played in the background.  It was already 40 minutes into the celebration when Reggie’s name was called.  He gave a piece of paper to the announcer and he added the title, Dr. Awesomeness after his name.  I know.  He calls himself awesome.  He stood up under the arc and was joined by her friend, Rachel, and they then walked on the red carpet.  Before his name was called, I squeezed my way into the front of the crowd so that I could get good shots of him.

garden2.jpg  garden3.jpg

This event was two hours long and I mostly just followed him around and took pictures of him and his friends.  He didn’t want to be photographed under the arc, nor on the nice garden furniture, nor on the bridge, nor on the motorcycle.  We just took pictures of his friends as we came across them on the lawn.

garden5.jpg  garden6.jpg

garden7.jpg  garden12.jpg

garden11.jpg  garden8.jpg

Before they had to leave for their dinner party, I asked if I could get a few more pictures of him and Rachel.  I took this shot. 

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I wanted another one.  And then Ron Paley came by.  Reggie asked me to take his picture with him and she had to step aside.  Oh I think she felt left out.  But she didn’t mind.  Ron Paley, by the way, is the pianist for the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra.  The school hired him to play with the band at this event.

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At around 5:00 p.m., the grads started leaving for the Dinner and Dance Party at the Winnipeg Convention Centre.  In accordance with the Safe Grad program, the students were asked not to bring liquor or cigarettes to the Dinner Party.  The Convention Centre is a no smoking facility and it is illegal for students under 18 to consume alcohol anyway. A designated driver was also asked to sign the Safe Grad Designated Driver Contract before this event.  The students were expected to depart at 2:00 a.m. with their designated driver.  The goal is to have the students have an enjoyable experience and arrive home safely.

dinner1.jpg  dinner21.jpg

My husband drove Reggie and Rachel to the Convention Centre and he came back at 2:00 a.m. and drove them back home.

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Reggie brought home this luggage and cooler.  He won them at a silent auction.  Lucky guy.  I never win anything at raffle draws and silent auctions like this.  He said they were given fake money and there was a casino-like thing.  He used all his fake winnings to buy tickets for the auction.  He distributed his tickets to only two items and he won both of them.  Smart guy, eh? 

Graduation’s tomorrow.  We have a big day ahead of us.

June 27, 2007 at 11:57 am 17 comments

Manitoba Summer and Mosquitoes

mosquito 

Summer here in Manitoba is almost synonymous to mosquitoes.  I grew up in the Philippines where mosquitoes are a-plenty, but the skeeters here are big, as in huge.  Summer last year was very dry and hot and I hardly noticed them skeeters.  But this summer, it’s been humid so far and raining a lot.  I guess standing water is being left in everyone’s yards – perfect breeding ground for these West Nile virus carriers.

Last week, my nine-year old son, Ryland, would come home from school scratching from his mosquito bites.  I think it was on Tuesday when he asked me to put cream on the bumps on his legs.  The following morning, he was still itchy and the bumps were a little bigger and he came home that afternoon with more mosquito bites.  Then I remember that it’s Vicks Vaporub Ointment that works best on mosquito bites.  Ryan, my 13-year old, was laughing at me.  But it’s true my dear readers.  Vicks Vaporub is not just a cough suppressant.  When I was still in the Philippines, I would apply Vicks Vaporub on my bites and they’d work.  It worked on Ryland’s bites, too.  His bumps had decreased in size even before he went to bed that night.  But those pesky mosquitoes kept biting him and he’d always come home with bumps on his legs.

Vicks Vaporub Ointment 

I remember when he was two years old.  I used to bring him to daycare.  The caregivers would bring the kids outside to play and Ryland loved going in the bushes and he’d always be covered with mosquito bites.  One time he was bitten on the right eye and it got swollen.  His eye was shut close for a few days.  Of course I didn’t want to apply the Vicks ointment on his eye.  I brought him to the pediatrician and that’s when I learned that he was allergic to mosquito bites.  Benadryl did the job.

The houses here in Winnipeg are built with screen windows and doors.  So we don’t really need to put up mosquito nets at night like we used to do in the Philippines. 

These past two days though, we’ve been seeing a few mosquitoes in the house.  I don’t know how they managed to get in.  Upon inspection, I saw a couple of tiny holes in our screen windows.  But they could also have sneaked in through the open doors when we come in and out of the house.

It’s a good thing that the City has started night fogging.  City crews get on their trucks and spray the insecticide malathion around the city at night when people are asleep.  And although the amount of malathion being sprayed is not large enough to affect organisms much bigger than mosquitoes, there are always protesters to fogging.  A couple of years ago, folks in the Wolseley area put up a barrier to block the fogging trucks.  Now, Winnipeggers who don’t want their homes fogged can call the City and ask for a no-malathion buffer zone.

I personally want to have my neighbourhood sprayed, because those mosquito bites are annoying.  I also want my family to be protected from the West Nile Virus.  Although, I learned that it’s only the Culex mosquito that could carry this virus.  I also learned from this website that “Most people who are bitten by an infected mosquito do not become ill and for those who do, the symptoms are usually mild. In some cases, the virus causes serious illness and sometimes death.

OFF Skintastic Insect Repellant 

I was talking to my friend Dorothy last week and she said she knew somebody who died from West Nile Virus last year.  Alright, the guy was in his 80’s and he was also diabetic.  But I think it wouldn’t hurt to take precautions, right? So I better make sure that I spray the kids (that goes for me as well) with OFF Skintastic Insect Repellant before I send them off out there in the battlefield of these blood-sucking creatures.

June 24, 2007 at 11:50 am 19 comments

Pay phone rates increase

 MTS pay phone

Manitoba pay phone rates have increased from 25 cents to 50 cents this week.  That means I had to put in another quarter when I phoned my husband from Superstore to come and pick me up after I had done my grocery shopping this morning.

As I have mentioned a few times before, I don’t own a cell phone.  You may call me a dinosaur when it comes to all these technological gadgets, but I haven’t really found a reason to buy a cell phone.  I work from home and my family knows where to find me if ever they need me.  Whenever I want my kids to call me from school, I make sure they have some change so they could call me from the pay phone.  Whenever Reggie goes downtown by himself, I give him at least a couple of quarters just in case he gets lost or needs to call home.

The spokesman for MTS-Allstream said that they had to increase the rates because more and more people have been carrying cell phones over the recent years and fewer people are using the pay phones, but the cost of maintaining them continue to increase.

The last time pay phone rates increased was in 1983.  People find this increase quite dramatic.  If they had increased the rates bit by bit, let’s say, a nickel over five years, it wouldn’t be such a shock.

I don’t really mind the increase that much.  Fifty cents per call is still cheaper than buying a cell phone.  But some people are not too happy about this increase.  Some think that it’s too much for senior and poor people, and those with fixed incomes.

Related news link:
MTS pay phone calls to cost 50 cents

June 23, 2007 at 9:49 pm 16 comments

Jazz in the Courtyard

It’s summer once again here in Winnipeg and there are free outdoor concerts here and there.

jazz in the courtyard

One of this is Jazz in the Courtyard every Friday noons starting June 1 to August 24 at the CanWest Global Place.  This concert series will feature musicians from our local high school jazz bands.  The River East Collegiate Senior Jazz Band performed in one of these concerts two weeks ago. 

noon hour jazz 

Of course, I invited my friends who work downtown so that they could see Reggie play.  They were teasing me and calling me a stage mother.  That’s okay. I guess I am. 🙂

jazz in the courtyard

reggie with clay and sam

Aside from the local jazz bands, there are also two special professional performances on July 6th and July 13th.

There are hotdog stands nearby, so you can eat your lunch while enjoying the live music.

Jazz in the Courtyard

From Friday, June 1 2007 – 12:00pm
To Friday, August 24 2007 –  1:30pm
Friday of each week
   
Location CanWest Global Place
Address 201 Portage Ave.
Tickets Free

Reggie has also auditioned and made it to the Manitoba High School Honour Band.  He is now busy rehearsing with the band in preparation for the Canada Day Wrap-up weekend of the Jazz Festival at the TD Canada Trust Stage in Old Market Square at the Exchange District.  If you are a music fan, you can check out the list of performers on this link.

Also, the recordings of the finalists to the 12th Annual Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Band Competition and Festival are now up on the Jazz at Lincoln Center website.  You can listen to the three selections each of the 15 band finalists played at the competition, including River East Collegiate.

June 20, 2007 at 9:59 pm 14 comments

Father’s Day at The Ex

 bumper cars

My nine-year old son, Ryland, received another Read & Win Pass again from his school.  This pass entitles him to a free admission and three free rides on the Red River Exhibition.  The Ex, as we simply call it, is an annual fair that comes here in Winnipeg around the third week of June.

It’s good that we decided to go last Sunday, Father’s Day, because admission for dads were only half price.  My two older boys didn’t want to go, so we asked their cousins if they wanted to come with us since I knew that they also had free passes.  The more, the merrier, right?

glass house  cuckoo haus

mardi gras  slide

If you had read my post last year, Getting dizzy at the Ex, you’ll remember my note to self: Don’t ride the Tilt-a-whirl, because it made Ryland and me dizzy and it gave me a pounding headache.  It’s a good thing that the kids also didn’t want to go on the extreme rides.  They went to the kiddie rides: the Glass House, The Cuckoo Haus, Mardi Gras, the Carousel, and the Bumper Cars.  My six-year old nephew wanted to ride by himself but he couldn’t reach the pedals.  He had to ride with Ryland.  But then Ryland had a hard time maneuvering the wheel, so they were mostly stuck in the same place.

Well, anyway, the kids had fun.  And before we left, we dropped by the petting zoo.  And we saw these baby chicks, baby cow, and newborn piglets and the kids got to touch them.

baby chicks  piglets

And of course, we brought home mini-donuts and cotton candy even for the big kids that were left at home. 

The Red River Ex is in town from June 15 to 24, 2007.  If you are here in Winnipeg, you still have time to go.

June 18, 2007 at 9:59 pm 13 comments

Summer Solstice

sun

It was a sweltering day in June.  There was no wind at all.  It was very muggy and sticky hot.

Isabel was walking home from the supermarket, carrying a bag of groceries.  She came home early from work and dropped by at Superstore to check if the store already had the Gameboy Advance Pokemon Emerald that Archie, her ten-year old son, was asking for his birthday.  But it was still out of stock.  So she just picked up a few items instead.

She looked up as she wiped the sweat from her forehead and saw the beautiful fluffy cloud formations in the sky.  She realized that today was the summer solstice, the longest day of the year.  She was reminded of the fable about the wind and the sun.  The one where the wind and the sun had a dispute claiming that one was stronger than the other.  When they saw a traveler walking, they agreed to have a contest to see who could make him strip off his cloak first.  No matter how the wind blew harder, the traveler only wrapped his cloak tighter.  But when the sun shone with all its might, the traveler took off his cloak. 

That was what Isabel wanted to do while walking that afternoon, was to strip off her clothes.  The heat was so unbearable and she couldn’t wait to get home, or for this day to be done.  Little did she know that the mood at home would just be as hot as the temperature outside and tempers would flare.

When Archie came home from school, the first thing he asked was, “Did you buy the game?” When Isabel told him, “No, it’s still out of stock,” the boy was upset.  “But I bought you a binder for your Pokemon cards,” she said trying to console him.

Archie had been whining about the GBA since that weekend after his birthday party.  “I don’t have a birthday present,” he said.  After all the presents he received from his friends, he still wanted a present from his mother.  “But your party is my present for you,” explained Isabel.  This boy doesn’t realize how much I spend on these parties, Isabel thought.

After they had snacks, Isabel lay down on the couch and turned the TV on Oprah.  She had been exhausted recently due to the boys’ basketball rehearsals and games.  And her husband, Hector, had also been irritable, crappy, and snapping at her and the boys.

So there she was lying on the couch and Archie was by the door of the TV room whining on and on.  She was trying to ignore him as she was so tired and she just wanted to take a nap.   Hector shouted from downstairs, “Hey, what are you whining about there?”

He then came up the stairs and yelled in that thunderous voice of his, “Hoy, what are you crying about, hah!”

Archie ran to the bedroom and Hector chased after him.

Isabel heard a commotion.  She heard something striking against the wooden post of the bunk bed.  Then she heard her 15-year old son, Gerry, said, “because you’re always shouting at him!”

Uh oh!  Isabel got up because Gerry said it in the same tone as he did that Monday night when Hector also snapped at Archie. 

After supper on Monday, Archie asked if he could go outside when he saw his friends still out there playing.  Isabel said, “Okay, after you had a drink first.”  So he drank his Kool-Aid and got ready to go.  Then Hector, who didn’t see him drink, said in that same thunderous voice, “Hoy, you drink first.”  Gerry was still on the table and he said in that irritated voice, “He did!”

When Isabel heard Gerry answer his father in that tone of voice again, she quickly went to the bedroom.  Gerry was sitting at his desk.  His father was looking angrily at him.  He said, “Did I spank him?  I struck this, didn’t I?  Not your brother.”  He was pointing at the leg of the bed.  He must have thought that Gerry was questioning him about hitting his brother.

Isabel sat down on the bed beside Archie who had his face down his pillow.  She said to Hector, “Why were you shouting at him?  He wasn’t even doing anything to you.”  Hector said, “Because it’s annoying.”  She said, “Was he whining at you?  And what?  Everytime you get annoyed, you will go on a shouting fit?”  Gerry was looking at his father now.  But she couldn’t see Hector’s expression as she was behind him.

Then Hector said to Gerry, “Why do you talk to me like that?  Don’t I feed you and provide a roof over your head?”

Isabel couldn’t take it anymore, “Shh!  Stop it! That’s enough!” 

She wanted to tell Gerry not to answer back to his father anymore.  She was relieved when he didn’t utter anything else and when Hector went back downstairs.

She stroke Archie’s back and said, “I’ll buy your Gameboy on Sunday.  Stop crying now.”  She was so tired and just wanted a good nap.  And this was what happened.

Isabel hated it. She hated the whole situation.  Gerry was usually a good, obedient and quiet son.   It broke her heart to see her son go through this conflict with his father, and at such a young age. She knew that Gerry shouldn’t have answered back at his father.  And yet she couldn’t tell him that he shouldn’t have done that.  Because what her son said, that was also what she had been always telling Hector.  Lately, she had been ignoring his snappiness because she was starting to get hurt by the things he had been firing back at her.

She could only take his shouting at her up to a certain point.  She has already told him not to shout at her in front of the kids.  That was not setting a good example.  What did he think that shows the kids, that he didn’t respect her?  That that’s the way you treat your wife?  And she also couldn’t take him shouting at the kids unreasonably.  Yet she knew that she would also snap at him once in a while.  Snap, not shout.

wind 

Was he venting out his frustration and anger towards the wrong person?  Isabel knew only too well why her husband was cranky.  It wasn’t because he has been out of work for a few months now or that he has been tired in bringing the boys back and forth to their basketball rehearsals and games.  It wasn’t that.  It was because she had been sleeping on the couch for quite a while now.  He could serve her with both hands and feet, he could even feed her with a spoon in her mouth, but if he still shouted at her like he was her slave, she couldn’t force herself to lie in bed with him.  And just like that wind in the fable, the more he continued blowing off steam like that, the more she couldn’t stand to be in the same room with him, not even let the hairs of his skin touch her when she was that upset with him. 

The next day was even hotter than the day before.  But you could sense the very cold feeling in the house.  You could cut the tension with a knife.  Just before lunch, Gerry told Isabel that he was going out with his friend, Scott, downtown, on their bikes.   She asked Hector if he could let his son use his bike and helmet.  When she saw him fixing Archie’s helmet, she asked him, “Why that one?  That would be too small for Gerry.”  He snapped, “My helmet is too big for him.  His head will shake inside that big helmet.  This one actually fits me so it’s good enough for him.”  Whoa!  I was just asking, no need to snap, she thought.

She felt relieved though.  At least she knew that he still cared for his son.

June 17, 2007 at 12:39 am 12 comments

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