Tuesday, July 31, 2007

I am a life blogger

This survey simply confirmed what I know, that my blog is my virtual diary. It is not easy for me to accept that my diary writing days are over, but blogging simply took over. I started blogging because I wanted to generate 'family history reads' for my kids and their future kids; and then I discovered that through comments, you get to socialize, too. So there.

You Are a Life Blogger!

Your blog is the story of your life - a living diary.
If it happens, you blog it. And make it as entertaining as possible.

What's a toilet?

Photo: in the choo-choo train

Wikipedia stated that a toilet, loo, lavatory or WC is a plumbling fixture and disposal system primarily intended for the disposal of the bodily wastes. The word "toilet" can be used to refer to the fixture itself or to the room containing the fixture, especially in British English. In North American English, the word "toilet" refers solely to the fixture itself and not to the room that contains it, thus asking for the "toilet" would seem indecent. Instead, they call them the bathroom, restroom, washroom or men's room or ladies' room are preferred.

In the Philippines they are called comfort rooms, usually abbreviated to CR, or in Tagalog, banyo; n Germany 'klo' or 'toilette'. In our household, we call it the choo-choo train, the concentration can, the break time room, the reading corner, the unlockable door, etc. -- the name changes. Here's why:

Choo-choo train it would be when one of the kids' would need to use the toilet. One of them would be on the toilet seat and the other one would then haul a chair in front of it to create a choo-choo train. They would be playing together, complete with sounds and station stops, until I am called inside to wash the po. Then the choo-choo train's passengers would have reached their destination.

Concentration can when it is papa's turn. When the kids' ask for papa and he's in the toilet, we would answer, 'sshh, papa must concentrate.' He doesnt want to be disturbed.

The reading corner because we got piles of books and magazines on the nearby stand near the toilet seat; you can grab them easily. We have an assortment of kiddie books, Cosmopolitan, Reader's Digest, car magazines, bank magazines, newspapers, circulars, and books. They would stay in there until.. ho-hum.

The break time room when I needed to take a break from tantrums or to to cool down when my temper is near flaring point. Period.

And the unlockable door for our guests who would find out in dismay that we dont have any key to the door and protect their private business. Hmm, dont get turned off from visiting us though, the switch outside lights up when the toilet light is on.

Really, a toilet could mean a lot of things!

I am Out-Going

Oh, I found something to do in rach's blog and here's the result:

What's Your Best Quality?
Your Result: Out-Going

Your best quality is out-going! People like you because you are fun to be around and no one ever knows what you will do next. Also you are not afraid to say or do whatever
you want.




Sense of Humor


What's Your Best Quality?
Take More Quizzes

Monday, July 30, 2007

Divided Chores

My 5 year old daughter and her papa braved the rain and hiked to opa's mountain garden late yesterday afternoon. The urgency is because we have no more fruits at home; and because there are simply enough to be harvested up there. I am too lazy, I begged off while my youngest daughter insisted on driving, which is a no-no because papa just cleaned the car that day, too.

IC began to change her mind when she heard the door closing, she wanted to join them. I distracted her by offering to bake some muffins with her. So, while we were both busy mixing and pouring and baking at home; the other half of the family were engrossed in hiking, plucking, and picking.

The muffins were done in less than an hour, IC already chomped down two pieces when papa and MC came home bearing two big baskets of veggies and fruits. I am glad to see them dry, apparently, they were right in front of oma and opa's gate when it started to pour. They took a rain break there.

Both kids proudly presented their surprise gifts to each other for the day: IC gave her sister a muffin saying she baked this specially for her, MC gave IC a funny-shaped dawson plum saying she picked it up specially for her. I gave my husband a quick hug and a wet smack for letting me stay at home; and he playfully slapped my butt for being so lazy.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Roses and an Apology

Photos: flowers for mama, the gladiolas was from MC and the roses from IC

Did you experience the 'terrible two' phase? Not me, I only know of it. My kids were tolerable twos. I never did imagine that we would go through what I call 'terrorizing three'. I went through with this phase with MC when I was pregnant with IC.

There were tears and screams and door slams as I tried to control my temper, adjust with my hormones, and meanwhile, get along with a terrorizing three. Stomping my feet with frustration was already a cool response then. I blamed my pregnancy, too.

And now, although IC turned 3 years old last April; my used to be happy and contented girl is slowly and oh so surely, becoming a terrorizing three. My mommyness is being tested to bursting point again (and nope, am not pregnant)! She started by disrupting some daily rituals: wont brush her teeth, wont bath with her sister, wont wear the pajama chosen for her, wont want to be combed, wont wear socks, wont put on the appropriate shoes, wont wear a jacket despite the cold or the rain, wont eat her food because she needs a separate plate for each dish not to mention the separate spoon and forks for each plates, etc.

And here's more: wont tidy up despite throwing all her toys around the house, wont put back the clothes that spilled out while looking for her favored pajama, would put her feet on the dining table while eating, would start cursing even though she's been warned not to say those words, would dance while atop an unstable chair in the terrace, would wildly drive her car in the kitchen while I am busy with an open oven, etc.

She would unbuckle her seatbelt while on the road, would roll down her window using her foot, would gnaw on paper tissues, would strip naked while eating, would roll out the whole toilet paper as she pee, would create a puddle in the bathroom as she wash her hands, grrrrr.

I know, we can always work it out, patience and understanding and more teeth gnashing; but it would take what it feels like hours to get her ready for kindergarten, to bed, to go down to the garden, to climb the stairs, to start a meal, etc. And of course, when threatened to be left alone and told to get ready or to eat by herself, she would wail until the whole neighborhood would be having a reason to call the police. (Nope, that hasnt happened yet!)

She understands the bad, the good. She knows the rules. She follows them without arguing. That was before. I dont know what happened. But we have a feeling, kindergarten happened. She is now exposed to a big group of kids, just like her sister before her. She interacts, mimics and would try to experiment in her own way. When before she used to tell me stories about the bad things some kids in her group have done, she's now the one doing them. I would say, IC is growing up and she needed us to shape her thinking, too.

Anyway, I am not worried about her. Just this afternoon, she joined her papa in the garden and came back excitedly calling for me; with a bunch of freshly picked roses in the hand she said, 'mama, these are for you. Entschuldigung (I am sorry).'

I took the roses and gave her a big hug and a loud kiss. I'd gladly forget the tantrum this morning; I am pretty sure, the terrorizing three phase would soon be over.

Meet Me

Photos : My family, my high school yearbook photo, and Cookie's family.

I am proud to say that my my eventful world revolves around my loving husband and my two super active daughters. I am also busy with Homeworked, my high school batch site and PMN. If you ask about social life, that would again involve my husband and my two kids. And the virtual social life I go through with Homeworked, my high school batch site and PMN.

Boring, nah! I've had gazillions of crazy adventures and misadventures when I was single. The highlight of which was the mistaken identity story between me and my husband. Waking up everday with my family is enough to excite me now. Babaw ng kaligayahan, no? I jealously try to keep my old friends and work hard to rediscover the old ones; yet I am ready to embrace the new ones who's faces I only see in their blogs, who's words inspire me.

I love a good joke, surprises, and butterfly kisses. I hate being pushed, indecision and unpunctuality. I love vanilla ice cream but hates chocolate ice cream. I am a friend who would stick with you forever, no matter what, but you would also hear from me when you are not right! Since I became a mom, I try very hard to see only the good; but I wont dismiss the bad especially if there is something that can be done to turn it around. I am a cool one, but I do burst once in a while. I used to be tech savvy, but that was 7 years ago. Now I am satisfied just to be able to successfully log in, blog, create a link, download a photo and post a comment!

If you want to know more, you might want to read the blog I wrote about my name here. If not, well, nothing :-)

This is a getting to know you more tag from schroochchronicles. Her real name is Pauline, and is nicknamed Cookie. She also answers to Kongkong, among others. She's wife to her bestfriend and soulmate; and a mother to two adorable little angels fondly called Hezbollahs or sometimes The Kutos (sarap tirisin). I read her blog because she entertains me a lot. And my kids have an invitation to enjoy a weekend playtime with the neighborhood kids, thanks Cookie!

And here are the instructions for this meme:

1st step - Post a short blog article that includes a photograph (or a series of photos) showing the face behind your blog. If you already showed a photo somewhere on your site (such as in your about page), then make your post more interesting and choose a photo that’s not currently online.

2nd step - Include links to other people that have displayed a photo, or include their photos in your post, adding a reference.

3rd step - Tag as many others as you like in your post to spread the meme.

4th step - If you link back to me here and send an email (die_erhards@yahoo.de); I’ll be sure to include links back to you. Each person tagged should create their own post and repeat the process.

I am excited to know more about mitch, KK, Rach and Christianne.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

I Just Cant Resist

Photos: doughnut maker and chopping board

I saw this doughnut maker offered in a Tchibo shopper's brochure that came in this morning and I just cant resist. Before I could change my mind, I hurried into the computer, searched the site and clicked.

In a second, I got my doughnut maker at 14,99 euro. And since I had second thoughts, (hmm, maybe I can wait and buy it in the store on Monday and save the almost 5 euro postage cost?) I decided to add another item, a round chopping board priced at 6,99 euro. If I saved or the board costed me more, I dont really know :-) There goes an impulsive shopper's day!

But I am happy. I have been wanting to buy this very practical and time saving doughnut maker. Imagine, you can make 7 doughnuts without frying? It is just like having a waffle machine. Recipes are also included. I saw this last March, was even encouraged by my husband to buy it. But I dawdled a bit, and was too late when I decided I wanted to have it -- it was already sold out. Arrrgh!

Anyway, I have one now. I cant wait for the doughnut maker to be delivered next week. I can already smell doughnuts baking, hmmm!

Oh, of course I didnt tell my husband that I shopped online. He would see the movement of the account when he came back to the office after his vacation in another week. And by that time, he would have already enjoyed the taste of the finger lickin' good doughnuts, and wont be able to resist paying for it, too :-)

Days at Camp

Wednesday morning started as chaotic as expected. The kids wont eat breakfast and was ready to go in a few seconds before I can say 'good morning.'

My hubby, a veteran camper, almost knocked me off with his nervous energy: Mein schatz where is the bla, bla; did you pack the hohum, dont forget the uh-oh, will you please make sure that the hush-hush is ok and the la di da la lala goes on until I decided to lock myself in the bathroom and read my mystery novel, haha! When I tell you about 'locks' in our home, this simply means closing the doors as we have more or less misplaced the keys in almost all of our doors (except the front and front-front doors).

Noticing that I was not responding anymore, my hubby decided to check and re check and re-re-check everything. The kids, meanwhile, were already inside the car, waiting! Oh well, after a few pages, I packed the novel in my bag and joined them. Cool mama is back. Time to kick off for our 110 km drive to Odenwald Camping.

At my request, we had to pass by the kindergarten to drop the farewell gift of the kids to a trainee. And then, off we go to the next stop, the bakery. Wheeeee... Actually that was not wheee, it was munch, munch, munch. I gave the kids a pretzel and hide the rest of the bread pack in the back of the car. Because not long after that, the kids were already asking for more, my husband, the weak king, found a spot to stop, for me to get more munchies for the kids. And I, the very weak queen, joined with the chows, too.

MC took a few anti motion sickness homoepathy balls before we left home so I was not worried about her. IC doesnt have a history of motion sickness, that was before. Because IC began acting up an hour after we took off: whining to go home, wants to sleep but was so restless, and then she started those deep, deep sighs. She already vomitted when I turned to look at her.

Papa immediately stopped in the parking lot of a grocery store. IC was out in a second and hubby was already busy wiping and cleaning the mess. IC was calmly watching everything, her only concern was to get out of her dirty clothes; which I did in a hurry, washing and wiping her at the same time. MC concentrated on the stuff toys, I didnt think she would want to touch the mess at all!

Lesson learned the hard way: With kids, always expect the unexpected!

We arrived at the camping area after 10 minutes. The kids, forgetting the disaster (though not the smell) were already jumping in glee as the swimming pool greeted our entry. We hurriedly found our camping space, right before the playground, with clapping approval from the kids. In an hour, like the amateur turning fast into profi campers that we are: the tent was up; the kiddie tent standing, the seats and table and other camping gears already set. Happily, we left our camp to have a dip in the pool.

This is a kid-friendly camping area and we are happy to find that they have an Animation team. They have activities lined up starting at 11 am until 4 pm. Not to mention the kid friendly pool, the bouncing castle, the always available chalks, the kiddie films, creating art works together, etc. For moms and dads, they also have the big fitness studio, the sauna, the cocktail bar and the luxury of free babysitting because of the Animation team!

At 7 pm, the kids were still too excited to slow down. While my husband and I tested our new cooking gear, we could hear the kids screaming in the playground. We had dinner, and then papa went with us to the sanitary facilities; him to wash the dishes and the kids and I for a quick shower. I read a bit for them before the sandman caught up with them. I had a short nightcap with my hubby before we called it a day, too.

The night was a surprise. The day was not so quiet, but the night, wow! You could hear a mixture of sounds: from the song of the nearby brook, the birds whistling, the highway traffic, the swooshing of the leaves, the creaking of the airbeds, and the human bodies'
normal puffs, if you get what I mean! Grabe! I cannot hide my laughter after a few hours of these symphony, good things the kids were sleeping deeply. I guess I fell asleep with my smile frozen on my face.

The second day came earlier, as predicted. The kids simply wanted to get out of the tent as soon as possible -- we repeated the same activities from yesterday. Only, we ate more -- more ice cream, more french fries, more chips and cookies; drank more, too -- a bottle of red wine between me and my hubby, cokes and water and ice water lollies :-) But the night time left us with a puzzle, should we stay for one more night despite the threat of rain? We decided to sleep on it. I slept like a baby being cradled again by the jazz tunes of the night before.

The Campers are Back!

Photos: The kids gamely got themselves stuck between piles of sleeping bags in the backseat; the last day of camp.

We were supposed to stay for 3 nights and 4 days at Odenwald Camping, but we had to reluctantly go back a day earlier when we woke up on a Friday morning and the cold wind greeted us. Everybody was getting ready for the forecasted rain, actually.

Instead of hemming and hamming, do we stay or do we go, which I really hate, I simply moved to end camping for that morning. I hurriedly asked my hubby to cook breakfast while I started folding, sorting, packing and loading things in the car. We had our breakfast of scrambled eggs, canned meat, bread, butter and smoked ham; then had black tea to wash them down.

The kids wanted to stay, despite being warned of the rain. I agree with them, it would be an adventure. But I also agree with my husband's thinking: we should go home with fond memories of camping, especially for the kids. We dont really know what would happen when it rained: would we get washed out and kick ourselves for staying or would we be getting fine drizzles and enjoy the adventure? Better be safe than sorry. And better start when we are still dry! We did promised to the kids that we would definitely be back soon.

The kids helped, and though we fought with our unclear ways on how to fold and store the tents and the sleeping bags; we left an hour after breakfast. The kids took some anti motion sickness homoepathy balls, both of them this time. No more shadows of us left in our camping area, we can go. But before that, I had to give away our tomatoes to a neighboring family who loaned us their wine opener. And our next door neighbor from Holland was piling their clothes and sheets out in the open, it turned out they had quietschy visitors that night. Mice dugged a hole through their tent and proceeded to bite their way through dirty clothes, used sheets, etc. Arrgh, boy, I am happy to go!

We had to stop at the reception to pay and another detour at the swimming pool just to show IC that nobody is going swimming in that weather, really!

We were on our way home at 12 noon. The kids, who seemed to forget that they just had breakfast, whined that they were hungry. I hushed them up with cookies that I also started munching on. My husband then laughingly said we would stop in a restaurant near the river soon. We did, too.

Friday, July 27, 2007

My not-so-Kikay Bag

In response to KK's call to share -- here is my vanity bag, though so vain it is not really. Let me tell you, I scored 33% in the vanity test.

Somewhere along the way, the bag lost it's issue on vanity and it became a very dull and responsible family bag. Sorry, I got no chance to take a photo of what were inside because of the chaos of the unscheduled early return trip home. I just shook the things on it out and placed them back in the bathroom cabinet, as soon as I got my hands on it. I simply wanted to put everything in their proper places like the kids in their own beds, my husband in the garden, and myself in front of the computer, nyehehe!

I got this bag for 1,00 euro in ebay, plus shipment cost, two years ago. A bargain because the bag is almost new and it is really sturdy. It used up being a vanity case with it's first ownership, I think! I love lugging it along because of it's size: it is divided into two roomy pockets and there are small rubberized and adjustable pockets. Plus, you can just easily hang it in your shoulder. The vanity case is the last one we load in the car, actually. I needed to check and re-check a hundred times if I have the must bring items for the kids that's why. This bag is with us in almost every trip we take around Europe.

What are usually the things inside the bag? Let me tick them off:

- shampoos for kids and for mom and dad
- lotion for kids
- sun block lotion and after sun lotion
- liquid bath soaps for kids and mom/dad
- anti-insect spray
- aloe heat lotion, aloe propolis lotion, aloe first spray
- thermometer, aspirin, nose spray
- anti-motion sickness homoepathy balls
- hubby's razor
- some toothpick and cotton buds
- a sewing kit (usually those that I got from hotels)
- two hair brushes (one for me, one for hubby), and one comb for the kids
- 4 toothbrushes, 2 toothpastes (one for kids, one for mom/dad), floss
- one lipstick, a moisturizer, lip balm (this would be the ONLY vanity part)
- deo roll for my hubby, a spray for me
- nail clippers, tweezer, Swiss knife, hunting knife, small pair of scissors
- band-aid, panty liners
- kids' hair accessories
- packs of disposable hankies
- a man's hanky which would be used to clean the family's sunglasses and my eyeglasses
- some loose change

Here is my used-to-be-vanity bag :-)

Getting Weirder...

I wouldnt want my weirdness to miss their blog spot, so though tagged the second time) I am playing again with Rowena.

1. Whenever I use a public toilet, I use loads of toilet paper to cover the whole toilet seat; if toilet paper rolls are not available, I am always ready with a box of tissue.

2. I am the faucet police. I always go around the house checking if all the faucets are properly turned off, actually even in public toilets :-) I cant bear the dripping sound, plus, we need to save water!

3. The kids must wash their hands before and after eating; and also everytime they arrive home from kindergarten, from the garden, basta everytime they come in from playing outside!

4. My wonderful skin allergies (rashes) occur when there's a change of weather, when I eat chicken, crabs, shrimps, scallops; when I'm exposed to the European sun (I say European sun because when I am in Asia, the rashes is nowhere!).

5. I dont usually try on clothes, especially t-shirts and blouses, when I shop. And when they dont fit, I simply sell them in ebay! As for jeans or skirts, I use the waist is equal to neck principle: you take the waist of the jeans or skirt, hang it around your neck, when it fits, I buy!

6. When I dont have my eyeglasses on, I expect not to see, and HEAR clearly.

7. I still get this thrill in knowing that I am already 38 years old -- I am still as playful as when I was 8, huh!

8. Lizards give me goose bumps, yikes!!

Now let me throw the ball of weirdness to anyone at all who wants to share. Let me know though, okay?

PMN Corner

For a change, I am talking about a beauty product in PMN's Lifestyle and Fashion. You might want to try it, too.

How to raise an honest child

Another forwarded email from Leslie D. This is good to know.

What to expect at this age
Between ages 3 and 4, your preschooler begins to separate truth from falsehood, but this doesn't mean he's the most dependable reporter. He's still swayed by forgetfulness, wishful thinking, and imagination. (He honestly doesn't remember leaving his bath towel on the floor, he really wants to believe he didn't track in that mud, and he's certain the wind blew his broccoli off his plate and onto the floor so the dog could eat it!)

When children this age lie knowingly and willfully, "it's usually because they're afraid of punishment or they're afraid of disappointing us," says Jane Nelsen, author of the Positive Discipline book series. Preschoolers haven't yet developed a conscience that prevents them from telling lies. They do, however, know that certain actions are wrong, and they don't want to get into trouble. You can nudge yours toward becoming an honest person by creating an environment in which he feels safe telling the truth.

What you can do
Avoid labels.
Don't call your child a liar. It'll only make him defensive, and over time he may start to believe in and live up (or down) to the label. Instead, let him know that you don't like lies, but you still love him — no matter what he's done. Say gently but firmly, "That doesn't sound like the truth to me. Sometimes we all worry about telling the truth if we're afraid we've done something wrong."

Don't ask questions when you already know the answer. If you're quite sure that your preschooler hasn't cleaned his room, resist the urge to ask, "Did you clean up yet?" says Jerry L. Wyckoff, a family therapist and the co-author of Discipline Without Shouting or Spanking. "It just sets the stage for a lie." Instead say, "I see that you didn't clean up your room," or, better yet, "Please show me your tidy room," which lets him know that you intend to verify the facts personally. This way, you're able to deal with one issue — his responsibility to complete his chore — without inviting a lie as well. If you do catch your child in a lie, don't ask, "Are you telling the truth?" Very few children (and few adults) will respond to that question with a "no." You're likely to get more cooperation if you come back with, "That sounds like a story to me. You know, you won't be in trouble for telling the truth."

Find out why your child is fibbing. Your preschooler cheated big-time while playing Candyland with the family, and then denies doing anything wrong. But instead of leaping to the podium to give a lecture, prompt him with, "I know it was really important for you to win that game." Then let him talk about why he wanted to win so badly. Afterward, the two of you can discuss other ways to try to win and why fair play is important.

Praise truth-telling. When your preschooler tells the truth, reward him with praise. Especially if he's been caught lying in the past, he'll feel great about himself when he hears you say, "Thanks for telling me the truth. I like it when you do that."

Don't forget "little white lies." You want your child to be honest, yet not so honest that he blurts out things that hurt people's feelings ("Grandma, this is a dumb present. I'm too old for teddy bears!"). Explain why it's important to look for something positive to say, even if it's as general as, "Thanks for remembering my birthday, Grandma."

Teach your child that lying doesn't work. We all lapse, and children are no exception. If your preschooler vigorously denies knocking over and breaking the vase with his new ball, voice your view of the facts — "It sounds to me like you wish you hadn't broken the vase" — and then give him a way to make up for his behavior (by having him help you clean up the mess and glue the vase back together, for instance). He'll learn that lying didn't make him any less accountable.
Set a good example. The best way to teach honesty is to be honest. Your preschooler will be confused about the rules if he hears you tell a caller that your partner, who's chopping vegetables in the kitchen, isn't home, or if you tell a ticket seller that he's younger than he is so you can save a dollar or two. Even when difficult subjects such as illness, death, or divorce come up, try to be straightforward. A preschooler who's told that his recently deceased Grandpa has just "gone away for a while," for example, will become anxious and confused about death, distrustful of your explanations, and inclined to think that telling the truth isn't really all that important. Better to tackle the subject sensitively — and honestly.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

I am a Rockin' Girl

I was declared a Rockin' Girl Blogger Awardee by mitch as she said 'you really rock for making an ideal home worked.' Muchas gracias, amiga. My homeworked is now completely rockin'.

I would love to be rockin' with the following five more awardees:

She started rockin' my bloggin' world with her first comment, I proudly present with heartfelt thanks -- Christianne of Sleepless in Stockholm.

Because of her sensitive and gentle eyeviews, I give Liza of Liza's Eyeview , a bit of rockin', too.

There is a lot with regards to transitions that I can relate to with Geri's Thoughts on Transitions.

I am always glad that the doctor is in with Amymd of Super Dok

The last but with the most books that I can only dream of having in my shelves, Ani of My World According to Me for her book rockin' record.

Now girls, display the badge and let's continue rockin'.

PMN Corner

In Pinoy Moms Network ezine, I wrote about how your kids could enjoy summer fun in the garden, Playtime in the Garden. And if you are wondering if there is a chance on skipping fatty food in your grocery list, Shopping for healthy food might just help you.

Enjoy reading!

How to Stay Calm: Special Tips for Parents

(This email was forwarded to me by Leslie D, let's learn together. )

Releasing our anger in the wrong ways can lead to emotional and physical scars on our kids. Find out how to manage your anger, even when you're really stressed out.

My beloved car had just blown its engine, pregnancy was making me crazy, and we had no money in our pockets (or anywhere else). When I slammed our front door, I knocked the only plant I had managed to keep alive all season off the windowsill. Just as the pottery hit the floor and cracked, so did I. I lay face down in black potting soil and pottery shards and let my Labrador lick the tears off my dirty face.

That was just before the birth of our first child. Since then, there have been countless times when I've wanted to curl up on the carpet and scream, but the ever-watching kids have made that a luxury I can no longer afford.

It's more difficult now, too. One of the biggest surprises of parenthood is the absolute anger we can feel in no time - and with very little provocation. Start with a sleep-deprived parent, throw in a troubled teenager, a whining child, or a colicky newborn, and even the coolest cats can lose their minds.

Releasing our anger in the wrong ways can lead to emotional and physical scars on our kids. When infants are shaken, even for one heated moment, they can die. And it takes only a moment to harm their little souls.

As they watch us, these young ones are paying particular attention to the way we handle difficult situations. And what we model for them will, in large part, determine their success at controlling their own tempers as they grow up.

So, even in the face of total exasperation, we must stay calm. For a long time, the advice has been to simply go away for a moment and count to ten, but, as all parents know, sometimes that's not so easy. A small child may be frightened when mommy or daddy leaves to take a time-out. Sometimes counting to ten just doesn't do it, and there's no time to count to 100.

So here are a few more tips, compiled just for parents, to help you deal with anger and stay calm with your kids.


The best time to work on staying cool is before you're hot.

*Declare a zero-tolerance policy on the out-of-control temper.* You must decide, for yourself, that behaving this way is simply not okay. Remind yourself that it is possible to manage your emotions. Think back to times when you were successful at controlling your anger. Perhaps you bit your tongue rather than hollering at the boss. Or you were just about to let it fly at your husband when your in-laws called and suddenly you couldn't believe the sweetness of your own voice. We all have the power to suddenly change our mood.

*Be prepared.* Lots of things can go wrong each day; be ready for them. For example, if you've got babies, pack a bag with at least one extra shirt for everyone, a complete outfit for each toddler, and several for the infants. Stow them in the back of the car with extra diapers and plenty of baby wipes.

*Is there anything specific that triggers your anger?* Keep a journal for those times when you feel like you're ready to fly off the handle. Do you notice any patterns--time of day, hunger level, lack of exercise, a full calendar? Even noise from a TV or radio can contribute to a feeling of over-stimulation, which can set off an emotional explosion. Create a nurturing environment for yourself.

*Take care of yourself.* We're more likely to react to a situation - rather than to simply act - when we haven't gotten enough sleep or we haven't been eating right. Start your day with a light breakfast that includes carbohydrates and protein. Then continue to eat for energy throughout the day. More Energy for Moms (http://www.momscape.com/energy ) features information on how to control your moods with food.

*Daily exercise* provides a physical release to help you control anxiety and aggression throughout the day. A half-hour of kickboxing can release tension you didn't even know you had.

*A regular routine of prayer and meditation* can calm a chaotic mind. Sit quietly for at least 15 minutes a day. Practice a few yoga stretches when things get tense.

*Decide how you'll deal with certain situations before they arise.* What makes you want to blow your top? Whether it's toddler temper tantrums or the preschooler's occasional whine, determine how you will handle those things beforehand - while you're calm.

*Understand your child.* Read up on child development and put yourself in their shoes. Ask yourself: "What's it like to be two and not have the skills to express what you want?" "What's it like for a newborn who finds herself with a gut-wrenching bellyful of gas and doesn't understand why it hurts?" Kids act the way they do for a reason. Often, there's a developmental milestone associated with a child's behavior. Understanding the reasons behind our kids' actions can go a long way in helping us develop a sense of empathy, compassion and, ultimately, tolerance.


*Take a few deep breaths.* Diaphragmatic breathing helps reduce stress. This will also give you a time-out, long enough to make a rational assessment of the situation and to help you regain a sense of control.

*Visualize* yourself as the cool, calm, person you strive to be. Whom do you know who embodies these traits? Imagine this person's reaction to the situation.

*Stop. Think. Then speak.* Remind yourself of the importance of keeping yourself under control. If you feel anger building inside, don't pick up a baby. Ask for help or wait until you are calm.

*Consciously lower your voice.* Yelling will only make a child angry and defensive, and it can scare a young child. A soft tone says you're in control.

*Don't catastrophize.* Resist the temptation to blow something out of proportion. Avoid using the words "always" and "never" when you talk to yourself and others.

*Distract yourself.* Is there any way you can laugh about the situation? Ask yourself: what is the real significance of the situation that triggered my rage? It's more important to model a healthy approach to stress than it is to win certain battles. Choose those battles carefully.

Afterwards, reinforce your love for the child and retreat to assess the way you handled the situation. What did you do right? What will you do differently next time?

Susie Michelle Cortright is the author of several books for women and founder of the award-winning Momscape.com , a website designed to help busy women find balance.

Gone Camping (well, almost)

Photo: Almost ready to go.

Finally, we are going camping this week. I urged my husband to go as the kids had been asking for a vacation. It was the weather that's been preventing us to camp. We have been vigilantly checking the weather forecast for the past weeks and this time, we got lucky. Papa took a few days off from the office this week, and tomorrow, a-camping we go!

We decided about it only on Monday afternoon, and we would be leaving this Wednesday. Can you imagine the panic I felt about the whole thing? I would need to pack our clothes, to wash the laundry so it wont be a ton when we come back, to sort the plates and utensils to bring, to search for ALL the camping gears, to find the right camping shoes and delve deeper for the rubber sandals, to create a grocery list, to tick off what's most needed, etc. Uh-oh, my brain is counting the minutes as I sort things out with my hands and feet!

Last night, I packed the items we needed for swimming (the camping area have indoor and outdoor swimming pools); and selected the most appropriate clothes to bring. The kids were in bed when my husband and I were enumerating the things to buy and to bring.

This morning, we brought the kids to kindergarten and shopped. We had to go through two grocery stores to secure our camping needs, re: canned soup, canned wursts, cookies, bathing articles, water and juices, etc. Since we wanted to use jogging suits as pajamas, we shopped in one of the discount clothing stores near our place. The kids got the same jogging suits to avoid jealousy, but it took sometime to find something for me. As usual, I cannot find jogging pants that would fit me without having to shorten it. Thank goodness for capri! I had to satisfy myself with a separate ensemble of a mauve jacket and a dark blue jogging pants -- my husband was saying it doesnt pass. Well, I dont care. I wanted to feel comfortable while I sleep, not fashionable.

Then we passed by the bakery and the meat shop to buy things for lunch; and then the stops in two different dry cleaners, one for my husband to leave his dirty pants; and the second dry cleaner -- for me to pick up his suit and west, my husband will NEVER step inside in this particular dry cleaner because he had a fight with the owner the last time he was there.

At home, I separated the food needed at home and those for camping; what needed refrigeration went into in the ref. I matched shirts, pants/shorts and undies and folded them all together as one; so I wont need to dig in the luggage everytime we needed a change of clothing. I also used a different bag for the clothes that the family would be wearing during our drive home; and the extra clothings for just-in-case scenarios. The washing machine was running at the same time, the jogging suits were inside.

Then I took a big plastic bowl and put all our toiletries in, used a cosmetics bag for the necessities such as anti-insect spray, Aloe Propolis Cream, Aloe First, sun block, after sun lotion, thermometer, nose spray, aspirin, etc. Then it's time to bring the kids to ballet (I wanted to stay at home, arrgh!).

Now we're back home. The laundry is finished, into the dryer! Packing is ended: the clothes are bagged, all the camping gears are in the corridor awaiting my husband's minstrations, the bigger items are stuffed in the garage -- my husband would start loading everything when he came back after a meeting with the mayor of the city regarding kindergarten. Busy, busy! As for the food and drinks, they would have to wait for tomorrow. (And not to forget, the new jogging suits!)

It is now 5 pm. The kids wished it is already tomorrow. They wanted to go camping already. I am not so eager, as the weather forecast is playing tricks again! Would I need to sort and re-pack our already clothes? Oh no, please...

Abangan ang susunod na kabanata:-)

Monday, July 23, 2007

Dining Out with New Friends

Family S, they thought about inviting us for a barbecue dinner at their home last weekend, but since we didnt have a prior appointment; they discarded the idea. And that time, too, we were thinking of enjoying a barbecue with someone, we called my sister in law and her hubby, they cannot come as they already have a prior date. We cannot think of anybody else; it would have been perfect if they called!

But it was two days late when we talked and learned that we could have been enjoying dinner together that weekend. We promised to get in touch if such case comes up. And it did, the next weekend, last Saturday. Anita called around 10 am, just when I was asking my husband what his plans are for the day.

I grabbed the ringing phone and was delighted to hear her voice, for it would mean, a date! She wanted to know if we would like to join them for a buffet dinner later that evening in a Chinese restaurant; I couldnt say no to that plan, but I told her I wanted to talk to my husband first.

I asked my hubby who glared at me and said, 'why would you need to ask me? You know you could decide for all of us.' Of course I know that, what I wanted to know is his feelings about joining the family; because he only knew of these people through me. I should have known better, I sometimes forget how lucky I am to have an uncomplicated husband like him :-)

Having been given a very green go signal, I confirmed our date for that night. At 6:30 pm, they would be in our house and we would drive on convoy as we dont really know where the chosen restaurant is. Meanwhile, MC got a morning visit from a playmate. They run off to play after a quick breakfast. I stayed with IC to play while my hubby took off with the vaccum and the mop, it was his 'mister clean' day. I cannot wait for the appointed time to come. This would be the first time that we would be joining the said family for dinner.

I got to know the woman because her daughter, Francesca, is the same age as MC. And they are both in the same ballet and gymnastics classes. And since we are in the same line of street, we have been trying to keep MC and Francesca to be more comfortable with each other -- as eventually the two would walking together to school next year.

Anyway, I have no fear about not having anything to say; being Asian, they would soon be wanting to know if I know how to cook the food (could be), if I use chopsticks at home (sometimes), if I like very spicy food (my husband actually), etc. Those were the usual questions when I am dining with new acquaintances, really.

The restaurant was full. We were glad to have reservations, but despite that, our table was a bit too crowded for two families with kids. We need not worry though, because the kids immediately got busy on the big aquarium in the middle of the restaurant. They played with the school of large koi fish; touching them, splashing water and even, feeding them. I am glad the restaurant owners tolerated them, I cannot say that to some of the guests, though. Oh, they did took some breaks -- by using the space under our table to draw and to play cards.

The kids ate their kiddie menu consisting of fried rice with chicken; they munched on some kropek; and had each a bowl of ice cream. We adults binged -- I cant remember the last time I got so stuffed. The food was good, there were even sushi and a grill corner! The company was great, the conversation as a whole was interesting (those questions I previously listed were asked, of course), and we got to know each other more.

Then time to go home after more than three hours. We passed by the other family's house to pick up something to help ease IC's swollen arm (she got stung by a bee during the grillfest). That supposed to be short visit ended with a long nightcap; the kids playing in Francesca's room and the adults enjoying a glass of grappa.

Ahh, it was lovely. I want to do it again.

Monday Madness - All About Food!

It's Monday Madness and it begins with questions about food.

1. Are there any weird "food rules" you have? Feel free to list as many as you like.
Something from childhood, I remember I cannot eat without having a fish sauce with calamansi dip on the side.

2. When you were growing up, what ONE thing did your parents always remind you of, when it came to meal time (or cooking)?
Wash your hands!

3. Is there anyone you know whose food you won't eat (for one reason or another)?
Hmm, yes, but not because of the taste; it is because of hygiene. The kitchen is too dirty, as well as the plates and utensils.

4. Is there anything you "specialize" in cooking, that people actually ask for?
Chilli con Carne

5. When you were growing up, what one meal do you remember as being your favorite?
All kinds of soup. I just love the rice swimming on them.

6. Today, what is your IDEAL meal?
Green salad, a portion meat and rice, then an ice cream for dessert.

P.S. Homeworked is one of the featured sites in Monday Madness.


Photos: The kings and queens of the jungle; the big grill pan; bon fire

Last Friday was grillfest in kindergarten. It was done in a big party hut located in a clearing in the woods.

We were lucky that the weather cooperated. Most of us were checking the forecast every minute the morning before the barbecue party was supposed to take off -- because the day before, the gloom news was saying it would be a stormy day.

It was a fine day! Most of the kids with their whole families came. Kids got the space around the clearing to play, of course, the playground is already full. MC disappeared with her friends in the woods for a long time; they just come every few minutes, huffing, to report what they saw or most possibly, imagined. Such stories as 'we saw a wild pig, but it run so fast before we could not catch it; we saw some blankets and clothes in one corner and we had to run because juliane, a friend, saw the man holding a sword threatening them, etc.' Amazing how they can create such stories, and they all talked along the same lines, too. Hmmm.

Then we played some games, each group were asked to perform a task. It was another fun time for the kids as the moms and dads had to play with them, too. We had to scour the woods to finish the game. In the end, we needed to create a costume from nature for our chosen king or queen of the jungle.

Then came the farewell program for the pre schoolers. Singing, poem reading, and gift giving; the highlight for me came when it is my turn to sing with the kids three English songs which we practiced together. They turned their happy faces to me, then started to proudly sing and gesture with enthusiasm. I didnt notice that both my kids were also with me in the middle of the performance :-) They wont let me go. But the pre schoolers did great, as they told me, they also practiced at home! I received a small token from the parents of the pre schoolers; but the real gift for me was the words of most of the parent's of this coming year's pre schoolers -- 'it would be great to know that you would be offering this playtime English again in kindergarten.'

Now for my husband, he's also too excited, even a little nervous for me. He's been urging me, since we arrived in the hut, to let him know when the 'greatest performance of my life' would start. He's one preening husband that night :-)

Sunday, July 22, 2007

The Tooth Fairy

Photos: The kids showing off the tooth fairy's gifts

A Zahnfee (tooth fairy) exists here, too.

I didnt know that when MC's first milk tooth decided to let go simply because the permant pushed it out. In the morning it happened last April, it was only partly loose and MC was proudly calling people on the phone to announce her loose tooth. Then early evening, she decided to try on biting a hard gummi bear; then the tooth went smoothly out. The little blood shocked her to tears; but in a second, she was again on the phone talking proudly about her freed tooth. Papa panicked, he simply cannot find a milk tooth box to give MC after work that day!

MC was appeased only when I told her about the tooth fairy; that she can place her milk tooth under her pillow and make a wish. This new job was so exciting for her, she was already asleep when papa, empty-handed, came home from work.

The next morning, I already placed the gift that was supposed to be from the tooth fairy, on her sit on the breakfast table. I have to thank my treasure box of goodies again for this. She was so happy; she insisted on bringing her tooth and the gift to show off in kindergarten. I said no, of course. It was really a big deal for her because she, as a five year old, she accomplished what other pre schoolers have been waiting for -- the big occasion of a loose tooth! Oh, she was the hit that day in kindergarten.

Since then, she's been waiting for another tooth to fall off. And it happened last Thursday. She proudly showed it off to us, before running off to get her milk tooth box. She called the people that mattered again, to announce the wonderful news. And then excitedly placed her small box under her pillow, ready for the tooth fairy's visit. She said she wanted a hamster, but the stuffed variety. I took note.

Early the next day, around 6 am, she came running into our bedroom; crying with utter disappointment saying 'I did not get anything from the tooth fairy.' Oh no, I completely forgot about that, I am not ready with a gift! While papa took her in his arms, I gave her a kiss and soothed her by saying 'maybe you needed to search longer.' I hurried to her room pretending that I would help her look for the gift.

Good thing I have these two cuddly creatures from Barbie Fairytopia which luckily looked like hamsters. I am supposed to be saving them for another occasion; but I guess, this is also a special occasion, right? I readily presented the still in plastic items to MC. She beamed with happiness, with the hiccups of tears in between. I stressed that the tooth fairy told me that she must share the cuddlies with IC. She generously shared and cannot resist to ask me where I found those things. I simply smiled and said 'mamas would always know where to look.' If only mama's would always remember, too!

10 Random Facts About My Mom

I am definitely playing tag with mitch.

Here are some random facts about my nanay:

1. She is the youngest sister from 9 siblings of 3 boys and 6 girls.

2. Born on June 16, she shares her birthdates with two of her sisters.

3. Despite having five kids, her body doesnt show any marks of pregnancy, amazing! I didnt inherit that gene though :-)

4. She is an excellent seamstress, specially when it comes to men's shirts and the fine barongs. But her efforts were also rewarded when asked to create costumes during United Nation's Day or Cenakulo or Sunduan.

5. When I was a teen-ager, it was also a relief to know that she can keep a secret.

6. It is safe to say that she is the official directory guide of the whole family. She has her small black book of phones, email addresses, and home addresses of the immediate big family and the the unending strings of extra and newly found family relations.

7. She is the gentle mediator for the whole clan.

8. Her surgery after suffering aneurysm in 2004 slowed her down a bit, but her spirit and her faith are stronger than ever.

9. The painful pinches she gave us as a discipline technique during our younger years doesnt matter now. I learned that those were really careful pinches to lead us to the right direction.

10. She wont put the phone down without saying 'I love you'.

Now how about sharing your thoughts: momoftwo, KK and Rowena.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

I Got My Harry Potter

The most awaited book came out finally -- Harry Potter and the Deadly Hallows. Fans all over the world started counting down the seconds, lined up outside their favorite bookstores either before midnight or early in the morning.

I started reading blogs about it upon waking up. And now it is my turn :-) I have a pre-ordered one from amazon.de since february this year, they have a special offer for only 18.90 euro (regular price 28.90 euro) and no postage cost!

Around 3 pm, my husband saw the postman's truck arriving and warned me, 'Harry Potter is coming.' The postwoman rang the bell. IC volunteered to open the door thus it was after a few minutes for her to reach it. The postwoman decided to push our tenants' bell, thinking we are not home. Then when she saw me opening the door she explained her decision 'I am sure this is a Harry Potter book and was thinking you might want to have your book now. Oh, I have already delivered a lot of Harry Potter books today.' I smiled and said thank you.

I yelled to my husband that I indeed, have the book. He simply laughed out loud. But first I need to take a photo of the book, before I blog about it. And a confession to make: I actually have the whole Harry Potter series but have stopped reading on the third book :-) I dont really know why!

Now I got to go back to my choiced reading now, Nighttime Is My Time by Mary Higgins Clark.

Good Morning and Good Bye

Photos: The pre schoolers and my graduation presents from them: a sunflower and a box of chocolate.

My first class of playtime English for pre-schoolers in kindergarten 'graduated' last 13 July. It was a baptism of fire for me, volunteering to facilitate this course. I have dabbled with teaching, too, such as an interrupted semester as real green instructor in AMA College and as basic English teacher for our hotel staff in Bangkok; but with kids? It took me at least a year to finish the program and to build up the courage to offer to facilitate it.

I had to confer with my husband as I seek his loving push and rely on his confidence on me; to explore it through loads of readings via internet and books; to feel the readiness of the environment by talking to parents of kindergarten kids; and finally, to create the program and research for the appropriate songs, rhymes, games and activities. Whew, it was not easy, but it was something to do for me. It took my mind from some crazy phases I was undergoing -- I guess I went a bit loco with the thought of nothing to do as IC was scheduled to begin kindergarten that time. And then, mama would be home alone.

I was ready to give in to homesickness during the time, when one of the teacher's in kindergarten suddenly asked me, 'now, what would mama do when both kids are in kindergarten?' That woke me up. The reality is, I am not feeling sorry nor homesick at all. I am actually already half enjoying the laziness curling up into my bones; imagining the lazy and quiet mornings without kids. Already wanting to realize it with a vacation in Manila, even.

You would have thought I would savor those first few morning alone, but nope, that is not my style. I needed to get going or else I would forget myself. My sleeping brain needs to wake up, my lazy limbs just gotta move along.

Thus, I approached the kindergarten's director and presented my half baked ideas. Known to be someone who doesnt agree immediately to an idea, I heard she needed to sit on it for a long, long time, that is if she didnt end up forgetting about it at all -- she nodded and smiled in agreement. Ooops, that smile felt like a trap at that time. I was elated but really apprehensive, and though winter, I sweated on my way home!

That short meeting pushed me gleefully to an optimistic start, I finished the program in no time at all. I presented it, was approved, and I had to wait for two weeks for it to be introduced to the parents and the pre schoolers. Lots of people approached me when they heard about the plan, many asking me to try to include the whole kindergarten! Uh-oh, such warm welcome I didnt expect. Even the director had to put a halt on the suggestion to create a special session for the younger kids, we need to start first. To which I agree...they are making me nervous with such high expectations actually!

I was enthusiastically reading and practicing my course plans to my kids. I needed to know how it would click. For those that did, I was happy; and when it too boring for the kids, I had to feverishly redo it. My girls were so excited that mama would be a 'kindergarten mama' soon.

My first class was unforgettable for me. There sat the kids, waiting for me, with big eyes. Beside me was one of the teachers from kindergarten (we agreed to have one of them with me until the kids have won my trust and of course, as they would need to translate a bit). I greeted the kids in English, 'good morning' and most of some answered me with 'du bist MC's mama' (you are MC's mama). I said yes and that I would be their English teacher, too. That established, we began our first lesson -- teaching them the 'good morning song' which then served as our starting point for the whole lesson. With the morning greetings, there must be a way to end the session, thus I introduced the 'Goodbye Song', too.

It was amazing how the kids learned so fast. One of them is undergoing speech theraphy but he was coping as fast, too. I was having fun, and most importantly, the kids were, too. Everytime they see me, anywhere at all, they wont forget to greet me with 'good mornings' and 'goodbyes'. Who was it that said 'teaching is a fulfilling job?' I agree. I am definitely going to be doing this for a long, long time.

The Godparents

Photos: Jasmine with IC and Nadine with MC

Für Nadine und Jasmine, ihr seid die Beste!

Both kids were christened Catholics, despite my husband a Protestant and after having long discussions with my in laws (they insisted on keeping the kids on the father's faith). Enough of that.

I am going to tell you about their godparents. It did not amaze me that here in Germany, they only have at least one or two godparents for the baptism ceremony. Remember the long lists of godparents in every baptism and wedding ceremonies in Manila? There are none of that here.

Well, I did not know that when I was doing the preparation for the baptism for my eldest daughter. Thus, I have more than one! The document I got for baptism had only one line allotted for the names of godparents :-) Anyway, one of them is Nadine, the eldest niece. She was our first choice for MC. She passed the first board exam for law last year and is now reviewing while doing on the job training in Baden-Baden.

For IC, the godparents list isnt so long; and of course, we have Jasmine; the youngest sister of Nadine as one of them. She got engaged this year, and is also busy doing her on the job training with various engagements for the environment, for the Dalai Lama, etc.

Both are lovely choices as they really got along well with both kids. Plus they are taking their responsibilities are patentantes (godparents) well. They come to babysit, call to just say hello to the kids, send emails or postcards named for the kids, and almost always a presence in every occasions (even calling to congratulate about getting the ears pierced or inquire about the first loose tooth, asking about the first kindergarten day, etc). It was a bit hard for the kids to learn that their cousins cum patentantes were living home and building their nests someplace else. But they got used to it, for they know that they are always there for them -- no matter the distance.

Though, I think, I also missed some interesting tradition with the baptism here. My husband informed me that usually, when someone is baptised; their second name would be culled from their godparents' names. That would have been a good one, passing names from generation to generation. Oh well, too late now; but the kids can start doing that, if and when, they wanted to.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Talking About Parent-in-Laws

Photo: Christmas 2006 at my in law's house.

We've heard a lot of jokes about husband's and mother in laws. I would say these type of jokes would always sell. But what about jokes about MIL and wives? These dont really run around as funnies as they are almost always laments and frustrations and getting in the way or worse, of anger; oh, there are also some success stories; for example, my MIL and I.

Really, I do get along well with both my parent-in-laws, not only with my MIL. The first time they met me, they were a bit sceptic. I cant blame them, I am also a bit sceptic with myself then. Not a fan of anything strange (I fall on the strange category being Asian); they were suddenly overwhelmed with my presence. Especially since I dont speak a word of Deutsch. I can only converse in English, and both of them dont speak the language. FIL managed to dig some words like bye-bye and 'zank you'. Hello is the same, hallo.

But you know what, I dont feel strange at all. They always greeted me with hugs and kisses and big welcoming smiles. My MIL and I, went through these visits with more hand gestures and body language than you would know in this life :-)

And then came Asiatic kitchen to their lives. Not that they live with us, nope. But with every occasions and visits, my husband wanted only to get spoiled with the exotic dishes. I was forced to learn to cook. Sometimes having my mom on my ears (overseas calls loaded up our bills then) while I am preparing the dishes. My PIL, who have never even thought of ever tasting this Ausländische (foreign) food despite having a Thai restaurant for a neighbor; started to indulge, too. There are times now, that they cook rice as a side dish! Gone was the usual prodding, 'eat potatoes, it's good for you!' When they discovered the pan de sal; they wont touch the German bread we prepared for them anymore.

But what was always a big deal for the relations' here, (and always makes my hubby's eyes bulge) is this: I can say anything to my PILs. Anything, not almost anything. EVERYTHING! Of course, I can speak Deutsch now. But they have some treasured English and Tagalog words now, courtesy of me and the kids. Oma knows that bola-bola means meat balls. Both of them knows ate is sister.

Yes, I can tell them everything. I can complain, discuss, argue, insist, lament, whatever. Our conversations range down to the most common 'are you still sleeping?', to the teasing 'what did you do to your hair?' to the arguing 'this must be done or else.' There are times that I would be the mediator for the whole family (aside from my bro in law). Oh, it is not easy; but the thing is, they listen to my dialogues with them. That is the most important thing, they take time to listen.
What's more, I enjoy being spoiled by them. My FIL knows I love to eat grilled 'Schweinehaxe' (pork's knuckle). When he comes to a store that sells this, he would buy also a portion for me. This would be delivered to our house, still warm. As I've already previously told, we can always 'invite' ourselves to their place; and would be allowed to choose what we wanted for lunch or dinner. And most of the time, we would be driven back and forth.

Sometimes when it is raining, he would call me if I wanted him to drive the kids to kindergarten. He would sometimes drop by to bring some fave fruits to us. He sometimes chauffer me someplace, to buy groceries, for example. And when I cannot join him, he would gladly get my list and do the grocery shopping himself. And I melt with his touching words, 'when I can still do all these things, then I would gladly do them'. Of course, he's got also some irritating traits but I ignore that because, I simply just love his gentle ways.

As for my MIL -- I tell you, she's also the best. She would let me decide for my kids. She would ask me if the kids are allowed to eat chocolates, before nodding for them to open her box of sweet treasures. She doesnt interfere, not at all. She would always ask first. No discussions, what I said would be followed. And that is very important, right?

She's also a lovely girlfriend despite our age difference (she's already 86 years old). I love to giggle with her everytime it's our turn to wash the dishes. She tells me stories about her love life. My husband wasnt even aware of their love story until I told him about it. And we often sneak pinches of sweets or whatever in is the ref between us, while preparing and cooking the meals together.

She's a stylist one, my MIL. She wont go out of the house without her face made up, with her favorite jewelries and good clothes. Thus, she's a regular beauty shopper. She would be sharing her samples of perfumes, lotions, face moisturizers, etc. with me. And I love her wardrobe! She buys only from the best boutiques in town, and shops for shoes during their yearly trips to Italy. She would be showing off her newly bought clothes or pair of shoes. Other times when she is feeling generous, she would ask me to try on some coats and clothes, and if it fits and I like them, I can bring them home! This also goes with shoes. I sometimes borrow some of her belts or shawls or gloves. It is a pity that she's so crazy about her bags, they are only for her :-) I also received one precious gift from her, a real fox shawl that was a gift from her father when she was a teen-ager! That shawl, according to my MIL's story, came somewhere in Scandinavia, where her father was stationed as a soldier. A piece of history to be passed from generation to generation. I dont use it, of course, but the kids love to touch it, -- they are in awe of it as it looks so real! I cant deny that she can also become ticklish sometimes, but hey, what are girl friends for?

Meet my parent in laws. I cant ask for anything more, right?

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Lunch Break

I 'invited' myself and the kids to my in laws for lunch yesterday. I was planning to visit them the day before but it started to rain and I dont have an umbrella -- going home wet is better than visiting wet, I would say.

By inviting myself and the kids, we also have the option to choose the menu for lunch, arent we spoiled? We specifically asked for oma's famous 'noodle mit tomatensauce' commonly known as spaghetti.

Now in oma's kitchen. She cooks the sauce using her own recipe, which nobody in the family can duplicate. Oh, we tried, but oma's is still better. She uses whatever noodle is available though we prefer spaghetti or sometimes fettuccini. And she tops this with home made 'croutons'; chopped and fried toast bread. Yum!

While having lunch, my bro in law came, ready to pick blackberries on opa's garden which reaches out to the thick woods. He got loads of them, too. But I cannot look while he climbs here and there, I dont trust the old ladder he's using!

After lunch, the kids located oma's treasure chest of toys, toys that used to my husband's. They comfortably found a corner in the living room to play; while I helped oma to wash the dishes. As for opa, he excused himself saying he would be working in the garden.

After the dishes, I decided to look for opa. And you know where I found him, on top of the garage. Clearing the wild bush on the side of the garage and raking leaves. I dont need to tell you how shocked I was because he used the same old rickety ladder! I told oma I dont want to look, so I went back inside. He is 86 years old and he'd like to think he can still move around like a 40 year old. My heart! Oma said she also cannot take it when he goes around like a young buck, but who can stop him? The stubborness of the old. Nothing untoward happened, thank God. But what about in the next days? I dont know... It worries me. I told my husband and he just shrugged. He also knows how stubborn opa is. If I may say, he is the same :-)

Now for oma. The kids wanted to eat slices of bread with margarine. I left them in the kitchen with her. Came MC saying, 'mama, oma's plates are broken.' I told her not to touch it then. They wanted to eat in the garden, so holding a plate each, they went. Then MC shrieked when she saw IC's plate and screamed 'dont touch that plate. It's dangerous for you.' I looked and saw that the plate is chipped. Aha, so this is the broken plate.

That chipped plate is a bone of contention. I mentioned it to oma more than a few times already. She should get rid of it. She refused, saying that it is a part of a set. As if she doesnt have enough plate sets! Of course, I told my husband who replied, 'next time, throw it away.' I shook my head, throwing it wont be the answer. She might discover it in the garbage and start a fight with opa. We devised a better way-- the next time that I visit them, I would sneak the plate out. Hide it in my bag and discard of it. What should be easy is not, right?

And then the kids wanted to go home. MC is ready to walk home. IC, as expected, is too lazy and too tired to move along. She went to opa and begged with her big eyes and such pleading expression, 'opa, fährst du uns nach Hause?' (can you drive us home?).

Opa immediately shook his head and vehemently uttered, 'you can walk, dont be too lazy'. Then IC repeated her question again, this time, with a bit of tears. The tears did it; opa urgently reconsidered. Grandpa's weakness -- little girls's tears! Isnt it sweet. Oma just had to laugh!

But before driving us home, we got a basket of yellow plums and some unnamed fruits. I love my in laws :-)

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

A Love Story: Vi and Monch

Two of my friends are getting married. I'll make it clearer, they are getting married to each other. Vi, a former officemate who became a good friend because she's so easy to tease yet doesnt make a fuzz out of it mostly because she hides behind her stubborn femininity. And Monch, a classmate in college who despite being sometimes 'masungit' and a real no-nonsense guy -- is a reliable presence during difficult times, easy living, sad moments and fun gimmicks.

Who would have thought they would end up being together? I guess, it entered my mind when they met again. But much, much earlier? I mean, the future groom admits that he doesnt even remember meeting her before!

Oh well, twist of fate. They met again last year, during a dinner get together set up by my college friends to meet with some balikbayan friends - that would be me and my family and Taris, who works in Abu Dhabi. Taris, who is also a college friend, and I, used to worked together in the same company where Vi used to work. Vi and Taris meet earlier that day, and Vi, wanting to meet me and my family, tagged along. There, Vi and Monching, got to sit together... And lived happily ever after. I wish both of them happiness and love and more blessings from Him.

Since I could not be there in person, I would definitely be there in spirit -- through the teary eyed guests during march to the altar, the chuckles during the 'kiss the bride', the smiles and scrambling for places during the photo shoots, along the long lines to greet and kiss and hug the bride and groom, munching spiritedly when the buffet opened, most probably when a glass breaks during the request for kisses, and would without fail, be soulfully dancing the night away, too. Check out their wedsite.

I wish I may, wish I might...

PMN Corner: My artistic girls' artworks are on the spotlight at Pinoy Moms Network's Artistic Tots.