Thursday, May 31, 2007

On Breastfeeding

I believe in breastfeeding. Thus, I have to write this.

I saw one mom in kindergarten last week. She just gave birth, a few days ago. Her breast was so full, as if it would burst with milk. Then I happily told her, 'Oh, it's good. You have a lot of milk to give.'

And then she said, not with regret mind you, but with a full smile,' Oh, I dont breastfeed. I dont have time to take care of a 4-year old kid and then breastfeed a baby at the same time!' Ganon!

My surprise rendered me speechless for a moment. I felt sad. I was so disappointed. That poor baby. I had to take my leave early so as not to howl in grief and shake that mom. Or squeeze her milk out of her.

There are plenty of moms who wanted to breastfeed but cannot. And here she is, breast full of milk and she simply wont. Because she dont have time. Time!!! As my husband always says 'if you dont have time for your kids, then why did you have them at all?'

She is still lucky as she's got her mom who's house is just in front of their door step. And she's got both her in laws living with them. What else does she want? She's got help! I didnt have those warm bodies to help me when I was breastfeeding. And I have two daughters.

Babies get hungry every three hours. In between those times, you can always choose to express milk, then refrigerate or freeze it. When refrigerated, breastmilk can stay fresh for three days. When frozen, until three months. Meaning, you dont always have to be there to give mom's milk.

It is healthier. It is better. I dont need really to discuss the advantages of breastfeeding to the babies and to the moms, right? Basta! When it is good for the babies, I am for it.

I breastfed my eldest daughter until she was 18 months old. I only stopped because I was already three months pregnant with my second. It was not easy to eat for three, I tell you.

My second daughter clung longer on my breasts. She was around 32 months when she finally stopped. Actually, I still wanted her to drink until I am all dried up. That was also her pedia's advice. But we had to slowly wean her as she must start in kindergarten.

So moms, when you can, and it would not be a threat to your health, please breastfeed!

Nanay and Tatay

Photo: In La Union with Nanay and Tatay

I am fair. After an oma and opa story, it is best to come up with a nanay and tatay blog, too.

I know, lolo at lola, we call them in Tagalog. But since they considered themselves too young to be called such (my younger sister presented them with their first apo when they were in their late 40s), their apo's just got stuck calling them nanay at tatay, too. I wonder if they now missed being called lolo at lola, huh?

Tatay just turned 70 and nanay is in her mid 60s. Both have had health challenges behind them. And we are robustly rallying behind them. Meaning, now they are taking good care of themselves, supposedly.

Late in his years, we discovered that my father is diabetic. Runs not in our family, mind you. But if the oma have sweet tooth, my father have sweeter tooth. He cannot finish his meal without a sweet dessert. Talagang maghahanap. I cannot attest if this is true, but I heard that he would even ask the apo's for the half of their portion. Funny, but knowing tatay, there could be truth in that. Baka nga he would take it all for himself pa e. (Love you, tatay) He managed to kick his sweet tooth, slowly, and hopefully, surely! He's living on a diet now. I cannot say 'strict' diet' though.

He is also suffer from something or the other. But his steady supply of medicines are helping. Some even coming from so far away as Germany. His regular visits to the doctors are also a boon for him. Oh no, he is not sickly as you would think. He's got energy to jog in the morning pa nga e. And he would be our 'runner' in the family when there's nobody to do errands. He has enough goodie juice flowing in his oldie. That is because, he has his sense of humor in tact. No matter what! A corny joke is always ready to be blurted out. When his joke get laughter in response, his most famous reply would be 'At least masaya tayo, kahit mahirap lang tayo!' (At least we are happy, even though we are poor!') But he is a strict believer in keeping your word. Honor is tops for him.

That's my dad, the gentleman joker.

I consider my nanay as the real head of the household. She's a strong one. Something that does not really show in her personality, but she is. She is stronger in her silence. Because you know that she would be there for you. To listen. She's a good sport, too. She knows when to be a mom, a lola. Like oma, she's another wizzard in the kitchen. I wont compete with her cooking. And she's a great seamstress. She can do magic in her sewing machine. She's a tender lola to her apo's and a steady hand to her children.

About three years ago, she went underwent a difficult surgery. She said she is now celebrating two birthdays. Her real one and the day when she almost left us because of aneurysm. She was in the hospital for a few weeks, banging for life. On their way to the hospital on that fateful day, she still managed to utter words pertaining to the wellfare of her youngest son.

And from the stories I heard about this day, she was really a fighter. Although already so weak, in pain and almost gone, she resisted the doctors and nurses who wanted to plug her into all those machines in the hospital. And during her recovery period, she missed all of her therapy sessions. Never attended one of them at all. Even the doctors where amazed. I dont know where she got her energy, really! Her need for laughter could have helped.

Or maybe, I know. And it goes for both of them.

My parents have both their strong faith in God. They are regulars not only during Sunday services but also on religious and special occasions. And they are really practicing Christians.

They are both very generous. Kahit wala na, bigay pa rin. (Even if there's nothing to give, they would still try to give something away).

Loving and nurturing parents. It was later in life that they both managed to be more vocal and demonstrative about it. Still, we knew with their words and actions, just the same.

Maraming salamat, Nanay at Tatay! We love you both!

Get Caught Reading

This is dedicated to ani h.

As said in her blog 'in helping the national book development board in their GET CAUGHT READING campaign. This was based on the american association of publishers' literacy campaign in the states. And now they are doing an active campaign in the Philippines, too.

I support this campaign. Let's support it!

I love reading. I am alive when I touch a book or a magazine or a pamphlet or even a calling card, the instruction booklets, the choco wrapper, etc. I just needed to linger on the words. Read, read, read. Aside from my bag being loaded with mom necessities, there is always a space for a mag or a book in it.

I am glad that my kids are into books, too.

So, here they are, getting caught.

Oma and Opa

Photos: 1 - Opa on his treasured motorbike 2 - Opa with the kids 3- Oma with the kids

Introducing, our grandma and grandpa - called oma and opa respectively here in Germany. Both of them are in their mid eighties but they are still full of energy. What they cannot believe is that at this age, they can still play heartily with my two very active kids. They always say that, not me.

What I know for a fact is that, having the kids with them gives them the adrenaline needed to play and be young again.

Our opa even drives up to his veggie/fruit garden in the mountain, which he still lovingly tills, with his motorbike. Can anyone beat that? Through roughed terrains and hills. Oh, I wont even try. Of course, he still has his driver's licence. Both of them actually just came back from a vacation, driving long roads together. I admit, driving the autobahns on short drives makes me already nervous. Takot ako :-) Oh, he's a bit hard on hearing but he doesnt let that slow him down.

Our oma, meanwhile, is a frail but a tough and gentle lady. She's plagued with forgetfulness but she's taking it in a relaxed way. She's a wizzard in the kitchen. She's got the best recipe for a simple tomato sauce with pasta topped with fried bread crumbs, yum! We tried, but cannot duplicate it. As you can see, she's still as pretty as she was when she met our opa. She's got a sweet tooth that's why she's a winner with the kids. And for me? Let me just tell you what happened while cooking together for lunch today. She paused while stirring the sauce and took a quick glance around. When she saw that all is free, meaning, the opa is not around, she gave me a piece of ham in the hand. And giggling, took another piece for her. With big smile on our faces, we both savored our pre-lunch treat together. Isnt it sweet?

I really wish we would grow old gently as these two.

Cherry Earrings

Photos: Fresh new earrings for the kids!
We had lunch at opa and oma's. Then opa slipped out for a few minutes to visit his garden.

He came back with a basketfull of cherries.

The kids just cannot resist it. They grabbed onto opa's basket. And took off with a handful of cherries.

Nope, the bunch landed not on their mouths, but on their ears! Just look at them. Having fun. As oma later said, 'all the girls are the same. We also used to do that when we were kids.'

Hmm, yes, I also had cherries dangling on my ears. I wanted to have fun, too.

In Darmstadt

Photos: 1- That's me at the Mongolian Grill 2 - In Thalia 3- Mcdo 4- Inside the old train.

Escaping the confines of home, we took off to Darmstadt yesterday. We always call this outing as a visit to papa's office. This is where he works, yes. But we don't really go to my husband's office. We simply spend time wandering about town.

We took the Deutsche Bahn (the train). This is usually the highlight for the kids. Commuting. But we were not lucky this time. As we caught the much hated old train. I hated it because the door is not so easy to open. The kids hated it because it is so noisy, and it smells moldy.

Ayan na nga. The train stopped. I tried to open the door. Pulled once, pulled twice, pulled thrice. Nothing. Uh-oh! Must we wait here another hour just because I didnt manage to open the door? A good samaritan to the rescue. He pulled open the door from inside.

I could kiss him. But I didnt because we needed to find seats. The train was already moving.

What I usually do, before the train comes, is ask fellow passengers to help us open the door. But this time, we were the only boarding passengers. Anyway, we were on our way.

We followed the usual routine. Reaching our stop, we got freshly baked pretzels in the bahnhof (train station). The kids got to munch on them while riding a bus to the city. The rest of the pretzels they shared to the birds.

Since it is already noon time, papa got to meet with us. The kids are supposed to get Barbie accesories today as a reward (the reason would be discussed in another blog). Off to Galeria Kaufhof's toy area. Michaela took off with a Barbie Vespa and Isabela with a Barbie pool. Then he got to bring them back to the office so I dont have to drag them all over.

My turn to shop. Simply because I saw some items on sale. This visit to the city is one of the few times that I got to shop with live persons. I am hooked with online shopping!

Another highlight -- lunch at Mcdo! My husband loathes fastfood. So this is just a thing for me and the kids. Yummy!

Playtime. And down time for mom. We know where to go. To Thalia Bookstore cum cafe cum playground. The kids got busy playing, listening to the music, reading books, etc. I found a new book from Mary Higgins Clark from the English section and settled down to read.

That took most our time. I got to finish the book in more than two hours. Am satisfied! The kids enjoyed themselves, too.

Of course, toilet stop! Thalia is a new store so the toilets there are clean. Need I say more?

We capped off the day with a Mongolian Grill buffet dinner. Another good day ends!

Cherries and Raspberries

Photo: Raspberries and Cherries!

'Was out with the kids the whole day yesterday. We took advantage of the sunshine after being closeted at home for two days due to continuous rain.

When we came back, around 8 pm, a few surprises were peeking at us in our backyard green house.

A bowl of cherry and a smaller bowl of raspberry. Meanwhile, the strawberries in the garden were waiting to be picked, too.

It turned out that the opa (grandpa) came over to bring his first harvest of cherries and raspberries.

Despite being so tired, the kids got to clap their hands in delight in seeing the fruits. Oh, they do love cherries. But like me, they are not an enthusiastic raspberry eaters.

What caused the happiness is this: climbing the cherry trees! Unlike strawberries who thrive on the ground, it is always an adventure to harvest cherries.

It brings me always back to lovely childhood memories. Of climbing guava, mango and starapple trees. Not to forget the bruises and scratches as testimonies!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Pan de Sal Recipe

(Using a Bread Machine)

500 g. all purpose flour
1 pack powdered yeast (equivalent to 25 g. fresh yeast)
5 tbsp. brown sugar
1 tsp salt
270 ml. fresh milk

2-3 tsp. cooking oil
some bread crumbs


1. Put all ingredients, except the cooking oil and the bread crumbs, in the bread machine tin. Choose the program for kneading.
2. Do not close the cover. Check the dough during the kneading process. Add more milk if the dough is hard or add a little flour if it is too soft.
3. After 5-10 mins, add the cooking oil. Then close the cover.
4. When the bread machine peeps, signaling that the kneading is finished, preheat the oven at 50 degrees.
5. Form the dough into one inch balls and roll them into the bread crumbs.
6. Place them on the non stick baking sheet at least one inch apart.
7. Let your dough rise for at least 20-30 mins, still at 50 degrees.
8. Then switch to 200 degrees and bake for 15-17 mins. Until goldern brown.

Around 24 pcs.

Thanks to Joanne T. for the recipe tip!

Pan de Sal

Yipee! Pan de sal is on the menu for today.

Actually it was an unplanned addition to today's meal.

I just had to bake them. To add up. Coz I just noticed that our supply of food and snacks at home are slowly withering down.

Why you ask? Because it is the first day of the kids' one week school (kindergarten) vacation. Because it just wont stop raining today. Because we are simply too lazy to go grocery shopping after a long weekend. Because we got busy playing and blogging and playing and blogging...

Having the kids for the whole day today is like having a food binge. They cant stop munching on something. Despite having a big breakfast and eating pasta for lunch, the in-betweens were just a lot. Cookies, joghurts, nuts, gummi bears, candies, lollipops, chocos - I cant keep up anymore because they just kept finding treasures everywhere. I dont know how they managed to hide them and find them all at once!

The rain. We've been staying inside the house since yesterday because of the rain. The kids wont even change their pajamas. I cant blame them. Outside is wet and cold. From last Sunday's summer weather, it became almost as cold as autumn. Crazy!

We really need to go to the grocery. We ate most of our supplies away over the long weekend. Oh, we have enough on the freezer. And the fresh veggies in the garden. But I am comfortable with visiting stores to fill up. Especially since I just started with having a menu plan for the week. Plus, Tuesday is always market day for us.

Oh well, playing and blogging are the best options to stay at home. The pan de sal is our bonus!

For Papa

I was busy blogging. The kids were busy with their drawings -- pasting and cutting artworks, too.

Then came my eldest daughter to me with a paper in the hand. 'Here mami,' she said. 'This is for Papa.'

'Oh,' I asked her. 'What is this?'

'Crosses for Papa. That Jesus would take care of him,' she explained.

She showed me the big cross, she used a tape done horizontally and vertically to create one; and the small crosses which she did with crayons.

I said thank you and placed it on papa's tray. But in my mind, I am wondering, where do they get their ideas from?

My Philippines

Photos: 1 - Buong Baranggay at La Union Beach 2 - Swimming Pool at Astoria Plaza

We plan to go back home next year for a five-week visit. We are not so sure of the date yet. Maybe early next year.

Since knowing this (around Feb this year), I've been busy browsing the web. Checking out hotels within Manila. Clicking resort websites. Tracking good restaurants and kid-friendly adventure parks. Even taking notes on house and lots for sale! Para namang...

I also renewed contacts with friends and acquiantances esp. in the hotel business. I wouldnt mind getting discounts, sempre.

Maybe we would stay again at the Astoria Plaza in Mandaluyong. We are hoping to get the same price or better a discount. (Hilig talaga sa discount ano? Sempre, money saved would mean more shopping!) The staff are friendly not only because I used to work with some of the people there. It helps to get something moving faster, though!

You can walk to the malls around Ortigas and Mandaluyong or you can use their free shuttle service. The rooms are clean and well maintained. And the services within and around the area are simply the best.

What I am busy with is looking for a beach resort. Located near Manila. Around Batangas, Cavite, Bataan or Zambales. We want one with a pool and a wadding pool for the kids. Preferably located in front of a nice private beach. With good food, excellent service and kid-friendly. Of course, the price should be reasonable, too. Meaning, reasonably cheap :-) O sige na nga, basta reasonable.

The last time, we chose La Union. We stayed in Bali Resort. White beach (but not so white like Boracay), pool and a wadding pool and nightly entertainment pa. Plus, we get to drive to Baguio. I cant find fault on the food, the services, and the rooms (even though they are really old na); but my Isabela was a food for the ants. We even had to call the doctor because she's got angry welts all over her. She got creams and antibiotics. That was the only 'nightmare' in an otherwise wonderful beach vacation.

This time, we are looking for another location. We wanted to explore together the wonders of the Philippine islands. I would have creams and medicines with me, just in case.

Batangas seems to be the winner here with such lists:
Laiya Cocogrove
Solana Diving Resort
Esther's Beach Resort
La Luz Beach Resort -- they dont have a pool though
Punta Fuego
Verde Island
Bonito Island

Cavite offers the old tested Caylabne and Puerto Azul. 'Been there, though.

Zambales have White Rock or Palmera. Would the beach area be fun for the kids?

I wanted, needed first hand reports about the resorts, though. Any suggestions?

Strawberry Filled Meal

Photo: Strawberry all over.

Too much strawberries. You cant keep them too long, even in the ref. What to do with them?

Put most of them on the table.

The kids eat them heartily. But stuffing themselves with strawberries everyday could be boring to the palate. It would be shame to just let them rot, though.

Super mom to the rescue! For Papa, a side dish of strawberry with greens topped with slices of boiled egg and some crushed pistaccio nuts in vinaigrette sauce. And for the kids, strawberry on joghurt with melted white and dark chocolates.

That is meal time for today. But what about for tomorrow? Super mom needs help!

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Sweets for Free

Another story in Worms.

After finding my brain and my balance (read the last blog), we took off and joined the throng going in and out of the big tents housing some exhibitors. We must go in. Because it started pouring again.

Although my husband had specifically said, we are not going in there. He rightly surmised that he cannot hold on to his money in there, with me!

But hey, the extra t-shirt I packed is not enough to give warmth to the kids. (They had to put it on top of their t-shirts. Every ten minutes, the ownership of that t-shirt changes. That is sharing, double time.) In that guise of 'for the benefit of the kids', we peeked in.

We found interesting things. Number one, a steam powered vacuum that we have always longed for. But it is really too expensive. Even though the man would throw in a steam iron for free. We hold on to our wallets then. Almost gave in though. Maybe, next time.

I saw a range of cheap but branded sunglasses. I urged my husband to buy one. I took one, too. I needed no urging :-)

Then we discovered the freebies. Got bites of very yummy Italian sausages, took slices of great smelly cheeses, picked on juicy crepes, (had to ignore the offered wines though), joined some games and got candies for the spent time, were offered chocolate bars and then, the highlight for the kids -- sweets, sweets, sweets. Of all colors, sizes, manifestations (what is manifestations, nothing, just wanted to add that word) -- they simply stopped in that stall and stared. If only their eyes could eat!

I had to urge them to go and try them. Other kids were simply grabbing and stuffing sweets in their mouths. But my kids just stood still. In shock, maybe? They cant believe it would happen to them, right then and there. Loads of sweets, all at once. I took a piece of gummi bear. They still just looked. Hey girls, where are you?

Finally, the owner of the stall took pity on them and told them to grab their share. Indecision is now written on their faces. This, or this, or this? So I told them, one by one. They started with gummi bears. Then off to the butter cookies. Then to the choco cookies. Then the licorice. Then the gummi worms. Then the pretzels.

Happiness, sugar, and sesame seeds are now pasted on their faces. Papa is waiting. We must go to other stalls.

Found other interesting stalls, but we cannot shake of the taste and smell of that sweets stall, the Italian sausage stand and the cheese tent.

When I decided that I cannot take it anymore, we traced our steps back. Bought a big chunk of cheese. Two bundles of Italian sausages. A package of choco cookies and two lollipops.

Plus, two freshly baked vollkorn and bauern brot (wholemeat and brown bread). Because the smell assaulted our senses, too.

Time to go home. Enough packages in the hands. But wait, I smell doughnuts. Another small detour and we are all happy to go. I am happy to go, with sugar in my mouth!

Sunday in Worms

Photos: 1 - Rainbow Travel 2- Lustige Seefahrt (Amusing Sea Ride) 3- Musik Express 4- Märchenbahn (Fairy Tale Train) 5- Entering the city of Worms

What do we do today? It is Sunday morning. And we have no plans yet.

Papa asked the question. And supplied the answer, too. Off we go to the Wormser Pfingstmarkt (Whit Sunday Market in Worms).

The kids does were not really enthusiastic about it. They were already busy playing with their Barbies. But when they heard that fun rides and sweets are involved, they were ready to go in a jiffy.

It is warm but rain was a forecast for today. Should I bring jackets or no? That was my mom question. Papa said, no need. Although I felt otherwise, still, I didnt bring no jackets. I insisted, though, on huts and managed to fold an extra t-shirt in my bag. I also have the packs of juices and
cookies in my bag. And the extra goodies always ready in the car.

All packed. All dressed up. Off we go. Kids immediately got busy singing in the back seat. Good thing, too. Or else Michaela would already complain of having stomachache. Her way of letting us know that she's got motion sickness.

So, despite their noise, we drove happily. After a 25 mins drive, we reached Worms. Found a parking space. And walked. Or correctly said, we were dragged by our kids into the Market.

We looked around. The kids searched for the kiddie rides. Oggled the sweets. Circled the huge, threatening hunted houses. Followed the crowd. And surged with enthusiasm. And their mom? I compared the clothes of the other people from what we have. And discovered, I should have brought the jackets. Plus the umbrellas.

I dont know what made me convince my husband and the kids to join me in a rollercoaster ride. It was called 'Musik Express'. It is a ride that goes boringly round and round. But it can go so fast that you really need to hold on as if your life depended on it. Despite knowing that, we waited for our turn.

Please note. It is my first roller coaster ride in at least 10 years! Nyaaa! Of course, I screamed only in my mind.

Around we go. I was a bit afraid for the kids. Hoping that they would not bang their heads. But they had fun. I cant barely hold on to my seat. But they both just smiled and cheered on. And when the crazy ride operator asked if we wanted more -- oh yeah, the kids raised their hands and shouted for more. What can I do? I screamed then. For I cant simply jump out and find an umoving seat. So, another long round we go.

The only consolation on that ride? It rained. And it really poured during the whole ride. When we finally staggered out of our seats, it was only drizzling. Thanks a lot for small wonders.

I need to stop now. Let me find my brain first.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Friseur Test

Almost everyday is a hair challenge when you have two growing up girls.

With my three years old, she can be easily appeased. As her favorite hair style mirrors her favorite character, Pippi - with her two pony tails.

But with my eldest, at five years old, it is becoming a big hurdle for me. It is always a big discussion. More than not, ending in tears (my girl) and in frustration (me). Or the reverse!!

Michaela's letting her hair grow (she hasnt had a hair cut for more than a year now). And she's got locks, too. It is really not easy to just let her hair down.

Every morning, the question would be, what style would you want? And the answering question would be 'would we need huts/caps today?' Not so easy, right?

Thus, we deviced a call card for the styles - Ate Chacha is named after their cousin, and that would mean a bundle of hair tied behind; Roxana involves a bunch of hair tied in front (named after seeing their playmate wearing that style). Pippi is as explained. Pony can be divided into two categories Pony Down - meaning done so low and Pony Up, done so high. With locks, then I would add locks. Braided? Then braids. Only Hair Band, would involve just combing the hair as they would put on theri hair bands alone. Such is also with Only Hair Clips.

A bit easier now perhaps? Not yet. Because my five year old has discovered a way to really give me more headache. She would want to have her hair done, before putting on her tops (t-shirts, blouses, etc.)! I mean, can you imagine the result?

We just agreed to a hair style, found the right accessories, combed the hair, the style is done and then she would put on her t-shirt? Edi gulo ulit. Do you think we would redo the whole process again. Uh-oh, no more.

Because almost always, she's dressing up alone. I would be waiting at the door, ready to go! Pabilisan lang, hehe!

Hand, Mama!

Our sleeping time ritual.

We have loads of rituals to choose from. Either done one by one or when there's time, done all at once. The most constant would be praying. The list includes reading stories, telling stories, playing card games and singing together.

But one of them is something special, only for their mom. Being used to me bringing them to bed, the kids now cannot go to sleep unless they both have my hands holding their hands.

'Hand, Mama,' they would say. That would mean, they are almost in the border of dream town.

What sweet words to utter, knowing that they needed and wanted mom's presence, even in sleep. Thus, I savor pressing their hands into mine. Giving them small kisses. While wondering, until when would they need my hands?

Very Strawberry

Photo: 1- The harvest 2- Isabela picking strawberries
3- Michaela showing off 4- In our garden

The kids are fruit eaters. And strawberries are one of the favorites.

It is now strawberry season. They are eager for the taste.

They are so happy to see it growing all over, too.

Because we can harvest in our lawn garden. Or up in the mountain in Opa's (Grandpa) vegetable/fruit garden.

The first few strawberries from our garden went straight into the mouth of the kids. They were so small like buttons but so juicy, too. The initial harvest from Opa's garden was a basketfull. The kids ate them like popcorns. Shoving them in their mouths, one after the other. The basket was empty before reaching our car. That was only a 2 mins walk!

Almost everyday, they visit the garden to look for ripe strawberries. And every other day, we drive to Opa's garden to look for more. You think we would have enough? Hmm, not yet, at least.

Aside from having a steady supply of these sweet and juicy fresh fruit, we get to eat strawberry salad, strawberry cakes, strawberry with ice cream, strawberry joghurt, strawberry with cream, etc. Oh, I simply check in the web for another new recipe with strawberries to experiment on.

The only thing that I hate about this heart shaped fruit? The stain it leaves on clothes. But I already learned my lesson. When it is strawberry season, I just pull out the darkly printed clothes out of the closets. That goes not only for the kids, but for me and my husband, too.

Tantrums at Bedtime

What do you do when you are confronted with tantrums during bedtime?

This question is a bit tricky. Sleeping time and tantrums. Equals tired moms and very, very tired kids. Includes impatience. Frustration. A dash of urgency. A fervent prayer. For a quick compromise. Or else, explotion. Screams. Cries. Frustration, again. From both the tired mom and the very, very tired kids.

At least, tonight, I got to hold on to my patience. But my very, very tired kid continued her screams. Crying, and hurling her demands to hear another story ( I already read two books and told one extra story) before sleeping. And the tired mom? I let it go. I pretended to sleep beside her. Though inside me, I am ready to burst. It was not easy. Really!!

It helped to repeat a prayer. To do a bit of breathing exercises. To just relax. Because I know, in a few minutes, she would be asleep. Oh yeah, after 20 long minutes! I didn't know she still have so much energy after spending the whole day outside playing.

But, I also didn't know I would still have the patience not to give in to my temper. After a long working day! I deserve a pat in the back for that, huh :-)

Friday, May 25, 2007

Stir-fried Pork with Asparagus

(Photo: Stir-fried Pork with Asparagus)
I love Thailand. I used to work there. For a total of at least 5 years, Thailand slowly creeped into me. Until I am hooked.

Especially when talking about food. Spicy food? Nope, I cant take it. When ordering food, I always say, 'Mai pet' (Not spicy). Then it became, 'pet nidnoy' (a little bit spicy). I cant believe it would go as far as 'pet' (spicy), but yes, I can take it now. Uh-oh, 'pet mak mak' (very spicy) is not for me, that would be for my husband.

Anyway, I had a craving for Thai food yesterday. Good thing I have with me a Thai recipe book. Bought on my first visit back to Asia after getting hooked in Germany. (That would be another story!) Checking first the inside and the nooks and crannies of our refs, I found our dinner.

'Stir-fried Pork with Asparagus'
Yield: 2 Servings

200 g. pork, cut into pcs.
1 1/2 cups asparagus, cut into 1-inch pcs.
1 tsp. garlic, finely chopped
3 tbsp. vegetable oil
1/2 cup chicken stock

1 tbsp. oyster sauce
1 tsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. sugar

1. Heat the oil in a pan, fry the garlic until fragrant.
2. Add pork and stir for 5 mins.
3. Add the asparagus, seasonings and chicken stock and bring to boil.
4. Transfer from the pan to a serving dish and serve hot.

Note: Broccoli or cabbage maybe substituted for asparagus.
This recipe is so simple, yet so Thai. Just add rice on the side. But for my husband, I made green salad with strawberry toppings with vinaigrette. Yum!

Nope, spicy dinners would have to wait. Although my five year old wouldnt mind a dash of spicy seasonings once in a while. My three year old is still a bit suspicious.

Cakes to Go (Russischer Zupfkuchen)

(Photo: Russischer Zupfkuchen)

Me, getting busy in the kitchen? No way. That's what I thought. But getting married changed that. Now, I am even baking for the kindergarten's cakes for a cause. Mind you, I am contributing regularly. Meaning, every other week.

Hey, it's for real. The kitchen became an interesting part of the house. Aside from experimenting with dishes, cakes are my favorite projects. Like yesterday, I had to come up with a quick one for today's cakes to go.

Voila! An easy one I did find. It's called the Russischer Zupfkuchen. A rough translation, Russian Pullcake! But don't ask me for recipes coz as said, this cake is an easy one. Meaning, it came from a ready-to-bake box.

I just needed to add butter, eggs and cream cheese, mix and then in the oven.

Of course, you think I dont need magic tricks in the kitchen? Hey, the ready-to-bakes are one of most mom's hat tricks! Am I right?

Thursday, May 24, 2007

No More Birthdays for Ma and Pa

Okay, since June is birthday month for me and my husband, we are already planning.

We are planning where to go. It has been an unwritten tradition. We are usually not at home during our birthdays.

It is practical, too. Since our birthdays are only four days apart, then a short trip would do. I know. It would also be practical to celebrate together. But going out as a family is a priority this time because the kids are still kids. And the vacation time from school is not yet a factor. So we take advantage. We drive. Then, we camp out. Roughing it out a bit may not be may idea of a celebration. But why not? I don't have to do household chores. And that counts more!

And then only, can we really celebrate at home. But not with Isabela's approval, I think.

In one of these discussions, she simply butted in and declared, 'Mamas and Papas do not have birthdays anymore!' Oh, and why, I asked her?

'You are already big enough. If you have more birthdays, then you would grow bigger,' she almost cried out. Aha. As if her Mama can grow taller, haha! What she really wanted was that, we stay as we are so that they, the kids, can outgrow us.

We had to compromise or else, we cannot move on with our plans. So the peaceful result? Michaela can celebrate for Mama's day and Isabela can stand in for Papa's day.

If that could also be true with aging, hay!!!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Sleeping Beauty, Walks,Talks...

(Photo: 1 - Sleeping Beauty in my arms 2 Michaela getting shut eyes, too?)

You may not believe it but it's true. Isabela can walk and talk while sleeping. Plus, she can sleep with both eyes open. And snore in rhytmn, too.

Nope, not the simple case of somnabulism.

We have already established that she can sleep with both eyes open. And we can give evidence to this because as already said, she is snoring while doing this.

But the fact that she can talk and walk, too??? Hmm, it happened during our vacation in Austria early this year. As with most kids, playing and fresh air and good food and loads of new things and places to discover -- these would equal to being tired and of course, bedtime.

Since we have an appointment to go with for a sled ride, we have no choice but to move along. It is a 15 min walk from our rented apartment. We need to go down from our mountain hideaway down to the sled ride. But the kids enjoyed it because they can play and throw snowballs at each along the way.

Then, in the middle of our trek down, I noticed Isabela's head lolling. And I asked her, Isabela, are you sleeping? She smiled at me and said, No. Although I am a bit doubtful, we continued. She even managed to chat a bit with her sister. And throw a word or two of encouragement because at this time, I am running a race with her sister.

After 5 more mins of walking, her Papa decided to really look at her because as he said, Isabela seems to be just nodding heavily while walking. And there and then we found out -- she's already deep in sleep. And, snoring with gusto!

We had a good laugh with this. Papa had to carry her until we reached the meeting place for sled ride. And we had a good trip. Despite the rough ride, Isabela slept. She missed half of it!

Might as well, as she already made her own adventure.

TV Watching

Last Monday, the kids slept early. Then, something very unusual happened at home.

My husband and I finally got to watch the tv, finish the show, and most important of all, this time, we understood the story!

Yes, this is really a big tv watching success for us.

What with two toddlers always running around. Asking questions. Playing. Chatting. Singing. Doing whatever it would take to muddle our minds as we struggle to watch just 15 mins of news per day.

It takes concentration. A bit of meditation. A short burst of temper. A pleading word. A promise of a surprise. A bit of sweet bribery. I dont really remember which of them works. Because in the end, the 15 mins is over. You missed the news. Even though the tv is on. And you heard the and saw the headlines flashing.

That is almost a daily ritual at home. Watching and concentrating on the news for 15 mins is already a frustrating event. That is why, watching the whole two hour show last Monday was a big celebration.

We celebrated, indeed. By staying up late, until almost 11 pm, until it ends.

Out of the Woods

(Photo: 1 - Enjoying a storytelling break 2 - Now, where do we go?)

I just finished the three day trek to the woods with Isabela. It is a yearly adventure into the woods organized by the kindergarten.

It was a group of 3-4 years old, 16-17 children. With 3 teachers and two moms. I didnt imagine it would be fun. As a city girl, the woods or the forest, is only known to me in books or in film. We discovered insects and animals, up close, along the way. And took time for a picnic, too.

But what really made me write about this is that -- during that three half day trips into the woods, I didnt get to do anything anymore. No chores done at all. The schedule goes -- at 8 am, I needed to bring Michaela to kindergarten, go with Isabela to the woods. Then at 12 noon, break up from the group in the woods, pick up Michaela and then go home.

At home, cook lunch. Then bring the kids to their after school activities like Monday, M was in gymnastics. Tuesday, M was in ballet. And then Wednesday, I in gymnastics.

Oh-oh, no more time to do anything or worse, no more time to do nothing! Coz after the activities, home and then cook dinner. Dinner, then make kids ready for bedtime. Where did the time go? I don't really know. Because at the end of the day, I can only manage to tumble into bed.

But now I know this -- it made me only cement my realization that working moms really deserve my full respect! How they manage to juggle their kids, their careers, their household and their leisure together. Indeed, not an easy feat!

So, salute to all of you working moms out there!! For me, you are the real heroes!

Sunday, May 20, 2007

The Cross in the Car

(Photo: Presenting the evidence)

'Mama,' said my eldest daughter a week before, in that car that I just saw, there was a cross hanging in the rear view mirror. 'I think it looks good. Why don't we have something like that in our car, too?'

Ooops. My kid saw through my procrastination. Tagal ko na ring gustong gawin yon e. I have been meaning to put something Holy inside the car for a long time now, I mean something that is out in the open. I have a photo of the Holy Family that my nanay gave me in the car, but it is hidden between the pages of a calculator notebook.

I told her that we also have angel photo guiding our way in the back of the car. But she insisted a cross, which I correctly guessed meant a rosary, would be better. So then, I marched inside the house and grabbed the rosary that my tatay gave me in the late 90s. Sabi nya sa akin, this is to guide me during my second Bangkok quest. Well, it's time to bring it out. To guide us, this time in the roads of Germany, the roads of Europe actually.

When I hang it where she wanted to see it, she was happy, saying 'Now our car looks better.' It does, and it made me feel better, too. Mas safer baga!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

More Mom Thoughts

Photo: Voyager by D. Gabaldon

I have noticed that time does not really exists for mothers, with regards to their children. It does not matter, really, how old the child is - in the blink of an eye, the mother can see the child again as it was when it was born, when it learned to walk, as it was at any age - at any time, even if the child is fully grown and a parent itself. Especially when they are asleep, you can see the baby then.

I am reading Voyager from Diana Gabaldon and these words caught me. Wala lang, feel ko pa rin kasi ang Mother's Day, although today is Father's Day here in Germany.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Mother's Day Thoughts

Sunday was Mother's Day. But in our household, the excitement of this day was already felt two weeks before that. First in the kindergarten. As I have two kids there, they were made aware of how special this day is because they had to prepare a surprise for their moms.

Plus, all moms are invited to an advanced celebration of Mother's Day last Friday, too. They know more or less, than having mom in kindergarten would mean a special event.

And then of course, at home. My husband is feeling a bit of pressure on what gifts to buy for me. Actually, I am not demanding, as long as he knows what I want, and mind you, sempre konting parinig :-). Actually, I trust my husband when it comes to gift buying.

Hmm, I also knew when he brought the gifts home. Simply because the kids just cant take a secret, completely. The smallest whispered to me, 'Mami, we've hidden our surprises for you.' And the eldest shouted 'Mama, you are now allowed to come into my room.' Aha! Sempre, excited naman si Mami.

Then came Friday. I was one of the earliest to arrive for the Mother's Day celebration in the kindergarten. Everbody assembled in the small play room. All moms, although I also saw one Dad roving in the corridor. I guess, the mom cant make it so he took time to be there. Which I think is great, too.

When one of the teachers started the program, a little boy protested because as he said 'my mom is not yet here.' I felt for that little boy esp when the teacher said that his mom cannot come today.

And another girl, a playmate of Michaela, also informed me the day before, that her mom cannot make it as she must work. So she's gladly taking another playmate's mom as a substitute. I was hoping this wont be the case. But that day, the mom is really not around.

The four year old Jessica cuddled with a mom, not her own, after the celebration was over. Although that mom isnt really someone she really knows!

During the celebration, the kids prepared some songs and read a poem for us mom. The highlight was the surprise gift - a treasure chest decorated by the kids themselves. All moms are asked to closed their eyes as the kids went for their gifts. Then we all had to open our eyes only when our kids have our gifts in our hands. Can you imagine the kids who's moms were not present? Kanino nila ibibigay yung regalo nila? It was a fun affair, but emotional, too.

Less than 10 moms didnt come. Out of around 80. But I felt like there were more. Those kids needed reassurances that day. Their sadness seeped through the celebration that day. I could have gladly taken all the kids without moms that day to my heart. They looked so lost. They needed their mom for only 30 mins. Those moms were missed. I guess, the moms missed something, too. Or did they miss more?

I wont judge the moms who are not there. They might have really need to work. Or have other legitimate excuses. But... I dont know. I guess, only if they saw and felt for the kids without moms that day, then they would understand. I hope they would try their best to arrange for at least 30 mins of their time. After all, once a year lang naman to.

I dont know, tama ba sentimyento ko?

P.S. I hope all mom's out there had a great time, though! Coz, I did. We did!!

PHOTO: My kids with my Mother's Day loots!