Thursday, December 31, 2009

To the beach this new year!

We are realizing a dream.

We are finally celebrating New Year's Eve on the beach!

We packed our sun cream, our sunglasses, our bathing suits, our favorite beach toys and games, our tent; but we are also brought with us our evening dresses, our perfumes, our beauty accessories, our nice pairs of shoes.

We hope to keep our tradition of at least the 12 fruits; but I think we would depend on the buffet table on that. We cannot keep the other German traditions , but as been our theme for this year, we are starting with new traditions, too.

The kids have started buying 'noisemakers' as early as the first week of December and they have been watching fireworks in almost all places where there are commercial areas; almost daily! In fact, they have almost used up our fireworks display a few days before new year's eve! What makes these fireworks display extra special is that we could watch them right in front of our bedrooms at home! Maybe that's why we've decided to go to the beach for other spectacular display :D

This is what I could tell you, the kids miss the pureness of the snow; but they revel on the warmth of the season here in Manila.

They couldnt believe they could be splashing water on the beach while waiting for the new year to come! They are indeed, enjoying realizing the dream. And I am sure this enjoyment polishes the good start of a new year to us, too!

Happy new year to all!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Happy Birthday, Jesus!

The girls have sorted all their clothes and toys since the end of November.

They unanimously agreed to give them away -- to those kids begging on the streets, to those street kids singing carols while dodging vehicles on highways, to those kids sleeping on sidewalks, to those kids selling trinkets all over.

We carted those toys and clothes, placed them inside our car and distributed them along the way. In between traffics, in between buying our staples, in between strolls, in between shopping, in between doing our erratic Christmas errands.

The kids got a different high while sharing those gifts. I know because I can see their smiles growing bigger, their extra sparkling eyes, their excitement, their glee in response to the shy grateful smiles of the recipients of their gifts.

'So, does it feel good giving? Sharing?' I asked them after one of those gift-giving sprees. They both agreed with big smiles. And they said, 'we should continue doing this even if it is not Christmas.' I guess our Christmas would be everyday :D

Merry Christmas to all!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

'New' Old Christmas Traditions

Our first time to celebrate Christmas time in the Philippines.

Our chance to start new Christmas traditions while enjoying the old.

What's new for the girls?

I told the girls that when we were young, we used to gather late afternoons with some friends to go house to house and sing carols. What amount we collect, we would divide it or most of the times, we would buy sweets and share them. IC is eager to give this a go; but MC is a little doubtful. We do practice alone, though.

I told the girls when we were young, we would have the chance to buy a new set of clothes, a pair of new shoes, and a bag because thats our attire for Christmas. Both girls love the idea, but since we just bought them new clothes; we didnt push this :

I told the girls that when we were young, we would attend the early morning mass that would start on December 15 until Christmas Eve. The local band's music would be acting as our wake-up call as they march in our streets an hour before the mass would start. Both girls are sceptical about waking up early; well, I am too :D

I told the girls that the reward for attending an early morning mass would be freshly baked bibingka and puto-bumbong (varieties of rice cakes). They became a little interested!

I told the girls that when we were young, we would usually go around the neighborhood during Christmas time, kiss the hands of our elders; and we would be rewarded not with gifts but with cash. That is the reason why we needed new bags for Christmas; to collect our cash. The girls cant imagine such things happening. IC is ready to go around with her bag; but MC scoffs on the idea.

I told the girls that when we were young, we would usually open the gifts on Christmas Day. Unlike our German tradition of opening presents on the Eve of Christmas. Of course, they voted to keep the German way as they cannot wait any longer :D

I told the girls that when we were young, we have kris kringle and exchange gifts instead of advents calendars. They are willing to try this (we did and they had fun!).

I told the girls that when we were young, our Christmas Eve food would always include ham and cheese; and the much awaited spaghetti aside from the usual rice cakes. They got excited about the spaghetti.


I told the girls that when we were young, there are always people coming in and out of our house during Christmas time. The same with all the houses in the Philippines. There would be food, gift-giving, money passing around... and almost all the relatives and friends that you havent seen for years would be giving an appearance.

I told the girls that when we were young, we always greet our elders with a kiss in the hand. Well, kissing on the cheeks is widely accepted now -- but I would have loved for them to get used to this tradition, too.

I told the girls that when we were young, our parents, relatives and friends would bring us to an almost daily Christmas parties. There we would received gifts, would be fed, would be joining games and receiving prizes, and winning raffles. They are eager to join; but was asking that parties be done near our house only :D

Oh, but we have enough time to learn and enjoy these 'new' old Christmas traditions. And we are ready to start new ones, too!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas Three

In a moment of serious contemplation while enjoying the bright lights that decorate almost the whole city , IC who is now relishing her excellent knowledge of three languages -- Tagalog (the Philippine language), German and English -- got a eureka moment.

We just passed a Christmas tree and she noted, 'Mama, if there are Christmas three's; that would mean there would be Christmas four's, too!'

Although we all laugh out loud; I agreed, in fact, I told her that we cannot count Christmases because something that brings total happiness to us just cannot be counted. We simply enjoy them.

Wishing you all Christmas Three's :D

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Girls' Reaction on Mama's Alarm

Well, I talked to my girls about what alarmed me in my blog post.

They were obviously curious why. I explained to them that it doesnt look good because they are growing up. And girls have other interests than playing with men, and vice versa.

I repeated to them the usual 'never talk to strangers, dont accept anything from strangers, and never go with strangers.'

MC nodded seriously when I touch on this matter but when I reminded her again, she insisted 'why dont you just tell all the men that we dont want to play with them?' I interpreted that as 'everything is clear, I know and I would follow.'

I took note because she would not want to be left alone with 'men' anymore. She would simply say, 'Mama told me not to stay with men alone, so I wont.' And she would move.

As for my very friendly IC, I observed her still playing with our driver alone (the day before I talked to my driver to avoid such situations). I caught her attention and she sheepishly told me she 'forgot.'

In fact, she accepted that she is too shy to tell the driver to leave her to play alone. I told her next time, just say that you wanted to be left alone to play.

But the most important and wonderful change was this, since I told them to take care of each other when faced with this situation -- there has been a long ceasefire. Their 'normal' fights that averages at least three times a day has been forgotten.

No more bickering and teasing. Because they tend to watch out for each other now. I hope it remains so.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Alarm Bells!

Actually, I already have some uneasy moments about it.

And I did something about it, too. I already told the girls not to play too closely with grown up men.

But when it was voiced out by another mom, because of what she observed and experienced about such things -- I took it really seriously.

She told me, 'you know what, I noticed that your little girl is playing with your driver. She is being carried by your driver. She is being ticked by your driver. She is being touched by him when they play.'

'We know those things might be innocent, but if your little girl would get used to being touched by 'strangers'; some problem might come out. In fact, it might become a big issue in the future. I know because such things have happened; where the girls would grow up and wont realize that impropriate things have been done to them,' she emphasized.

More alarm bells! Especially since I already voiced out my concerns to the girls and now this! Especially since my girls are growing up.

But there are things to prevent that. Talk to your girls and tell them:

- They are not allowed to play with grown up men alone.
- Prevent them from going to anyone's room alone.
- Tell mama and papa immediately if they dont feel comfortable when someone touches them.
- Better yet, tell them touching is not allowed.
- Never let strangers inside the house.
- Dont talk to strangers.
- Do not accept anything from strangers.
- If they feel they must do it, they are allowed to scream and run away from someone they are not comfortable with.

Most importantly, talk frankly to the 'men' in your circle and let them know your opinion about playing with your girls. They should understand without questions. If not, avoid those men.

I would rather be safe than sorry.

Am I being paranoid? No, I just want to have a happy family.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Adolescence?

Adolescence is a physical and mental transition between childhood and adulthood.


Adolescence is supposed to start a little later. Not at eight years of age! Or am I wrong?


And why am I asking?


Because a few weeks before MC turned eight, she was asking a lot of things that made me think about adolescence, about puberty, about teenies!


'I think I have hair in my legs. I am too thin. I want to be fat like my classmates. My bones are sticking out. What should I do to be fat? Should I eat more? Should I drink more? Should I join more sports?' These are some of her concerns.

'Mama, please help me. I want to be beautiful when I grow up,' she asked me seriously.

I was surprised to hear those words. But I answered her questions as seriously.

I told her having hair on the legs is not too terrible, there are other girls with hair on their legs. And if she dont like them, there are ways to remove them.

I told her she is not too thin; but she is taller now. Plus, her body is physically just like her papa and I when we were her age. I even showed her the photos.

I told her, she should avoid comparing because her classmates are very different from her. Their parents are bigger and sturdier compared to us.

I told her, her bones are not sticking out. She is just growing. She is taller, I repeated.

I told her she could eat and drink as much as she want. Eating and drinking enough is always good.


Of course, keeping healthy would also mean sports. I told her she doesnt have to join any regular sports. Because I know how she loves biking. Because I know how she loves to go on regular night strolls with her papa. Because I know her favorite games involves running and moving around.

And I reminded her that she would only turn eight. There are other exciting things out there for her.

Friday, December 11, 2009

She's Eight

MC turned eight last Dec 10.

I know it was not easy for her to adjust into our new life in Manila. But she is now doing better. We are all doing better.

It was not easy. There were a few traumatic incidents. There were big challenges. But she helped all of us open our eyes, our souls and our hearts to breeze through all of them.

She is now more sure in her steps. There are now force in her comments. She gives clever suggestions. She takes better care of her sister. She knows her way in almost all the places we usually visits. She decides. And she wants to know more.

Of course, there are still things that need to be moderated. But we are working out on them, as a family.

Let me show you some pictures.

A tradition: the birthday table.
Papa, IC and I managed to shop without MC because they have a school outing. But another tradition, we have already asked MC to give us a list of what she wanted. That made our shopping expedition easier :) She even helped us hide all the gifts; locking the room, even!
IC helped me prepare the birthday table the night before MC's birthday. We sneaked out of our beds! 'That was fun,' said IC :)

The birthday girl with some of her guests.

Two friends from the neighborhood came, plus her cousins, the grandparents, and one of her godmothers. She requested for a menu of fried chicken, spaghetti and rice; and she got an extra, her favorite lumpiang shanghai (ground beef mixed with carrots, young onion, parsley and wrapped).

Birthday Merienda or snacks
Another surprise were the snacks prepared for her. Hotdogs on sticks with marshmallows (which MC and IC didnt like, they hate marshmallows but they did ate those with pineapple and grapes); the rice cake (which wasnt the girls' taste); and the lumpiang saging (wrapped banana which I like :D).

Here is the birthday girl cutting her cake.

Here is she receiving an overseas call from Germany.
She chatted for a long time with her Aunt, Uncle and Opa.

And more surprises, a choir came to sing Christmas carols to us. When we told them that it is MC's birthday, they belted out a birthday song, too.
MC was really proud. We are really proud of MC, too!
Dear MC, we love you!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

St. Nikolaus Day at the German Club

It's MC's turn to receive her gift from St. Nikolaus or Santa Claus


IC was a little shy
The girls were used to have the St. Nikolaus coming exlusively to our house every 6th of December in Germany. But in the Philippines, there is a problem.
'Mama, we want the Nikolaus to come to our house again,' MC said. I told them I am not sure if he could come to our house this time.
To which IC exclaimed, ' I know why, because there are a lot of children here in the Philippines and it is very traffic he wont have time to visit all the houses.' :D
Thing is, we dont really have a Nikolaus candidate and the date was fast approaching. Good thing we received a note from the kids' school that there is a traditional celebration of St. Nikolaus Day in the German Club. We were asked to send the gifts and our notes to Santa a few days earlier; which we did.
Of course, I had to keep little gifts under the tree as an early morning St.Nikolaus day surprise to them before driving to the German Club. I told them Santa left something but the real big ones would come from him. In fact, the people in our household also received gifts from Santa. I had to explain to them that in Germany, St. Nikolaus or Santa Claus comes earlier because it is the Child Jesus who comes on Christmas Eve to bring the Christmas gifts.
Well, Santa came at the German Club. For the first time, the kids shared Santa with other kids. For the first time, they heard their 'Santa notes' without being shy that people would know what they did and Santa's suggestions on what they could do better. MC to sleep earlier and IC to stop teasing her big síster to tears.
When I asked them what they think about this, they chirped, 'that was also fun.' That's great to know as Christmas is really a time for sharing!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Her Favorite Words Hurt

I hate all of you. I dont need you. You are all s***. You are making me crazy. You dont listen to me. You dont understand me. Leave me alone. I will not eat the whole day because... I will not drink the whole day because...You are to blame that I am this crazy. You just want to hurt me. You dont love me, etc.

My seven-year-old MC is going through a 'chaotic phase'; I would like to term it as such.

For the past weeks, she has been hurling words that are designed to sting. Words that are thrown out to irritate. Words that could hurt. Words that could create chaos.


She would come our spewing those words if we dont give in to what she wants; if she would be too sleepy to understand; if she wants to emphasize something; and I think, if she wants attention.

Of course, it was not easy to talk to her because when her tantrum starts; she would be screaming too loud, hitting everybody, running around, slamming doors. There would be no way to make her listen.

The first times, we tried talking calmly to her and then we almost matched her scream for scream; and caught all her slaps and kicks. But that didnt really do anybody good. We tried hugging her tight but she would wiggle herself out. And still, this kind of mood would continue. It has also terrorized her younger sister.

We have thought about bringing her to be checked; but then I stopped myself because with such thinking; I might also need to be checked, too.

But then we caught on. She needed attention. She needed to be told and shown that she is loved. She needed to be told that she is doing good. She needed to be shown that she is a big girl now. She needed us to be there. She needed to be shown that she is loved. Period.


Not because we have neglected her; but because she has already started to adjust to our new life here in the Philippines. Where there are babysitters, where there are drivers, where there are meetings here and there, where there are visitors coming in and out, where there are sometimes no time to play because...

When she would start flinging herself around these past days, we would simply let her be. Although we dont leave her alone. Someone is always there, watching her, listening to her, holding her.

When she's calmed down, then we would start talking to her. Then we would start listening to her. Then we would start playing with her. Then she would have all our attention. Then she would be as well behaved as if nothing happened.

It is better now. No more violence. No more hurting words. No more screaming matches.

We learned to be more patience. We have become better listeners. We have become better parents, we hope. But we are ready to learn more, to give more, and to love more.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Our Christmas Tree 2009

Our Christmas Tree

Our first time to celebrate the Christmas season in Manila.

As usual, the merry season started during the -ber months. What was unusual for the kids is that, this time, we didnt go to the Christmas tree vendors located outdoors to choose our freshly cut tree. We had to go inside the airconditioned departments stores to select our still-to-be-assembled tree!

They had fun choosing as they saw every available colors and textures: blue, red, white, brown and the different shades of green.

I didnt think they would be to traditional as to go for green, but they did. We agreed to use our old Christmas decors to remember our happy Christmas days in Germany; and to keep our tradition.


What made this year's Christmas tree memorable? Because we had to assemble the tree. Because it was a family time. Because it was a working together thing. Because it was something different. And the result made the kids glow in awe.

Of course, in keeping with the tradition, the girls placed the stars on top of the tree. With another surprise :D The metal star was too heavy.
We had fun trying to keep it on top but in the end, we simply stuck it in the middle (see first photo). We replaced it with a lighter version, the red star.

Monday, November 30, 2009

The First Sunday of Advent in Manila

Today is the first Sunday of advent.

The season of celebrating Christ. The season of being with Christ. The season of living with Christ.

The season of giving (and receiving). The season of sharing. The season of being with the family. The season of fun.
Tradition is very important. That is why even if we are in Manila, we wanted to continue our usual Christmas preparations.
To keep our German tradition of lighting a candle, I had to assemble an advent wreath from scratch. This time, there are no freshly cut pines from our garden. I miss the smell of fresh pine!
What I did was buy an already formed wreath (which here they usually put up on the doors); and asked the girls to help me use the 'old' Christmas decors we brought from Germany.
It was easy to do, the girls simply had to stick those balls, wrap those ribbons, plant those flowers. My husband protested a bit when it came to putting those 'apple formed and scented' candles but I told him I have in hand those sturdy candle holders from Germany. Of course, I told the whole family to be extra careful. Let us not keep the candles burning too long; and we should always watch out (not only for Santa Claus) :D
And here's how it looked like (see photo). Of course, there's the advent's calendar. But that's another story.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

She hates school and then...

My five-year old IC hated school.

She's a newbie in a German school here in the Philippines. We visited the school a few times before the school year started. She loved that there's a big swimming pool.

The first day of school started normally. She went inside the classroom and talked with her teacher. Then suddenly, she wont let go of me. She clung so tight I couldnt breathe. We had to bring her home because she was screaming and clinging; there is nothing we could do.

When she calmed down I asked her what happened. She said she wants a bigger bag. Then I remembered; her teacher noticed that she's got the smallest bag in the whole class. That made her a bit insecure. So off we go to buy her a new, bigger bag.

She got the bag; but never let go of me. Wont go inside the classroom; wont join the kids in the playground. Nope, she only stayed with me. That was the second day. The third day, we decided that I would join them in the classroom.

The fourth day I was asked to stay outside. IC was allowed to check that I am still there every few seconds. The fifth day IC insisted I should stay outside and wait until the school is out. And everything went smoothly afterwards.

And then came the one week semestral break.

A few days before classes would resume, she kept on saying she hates school. The night before classes would begin, IC cried herself to sleep. She wont go to school, she adamantly repeated. Never telling us the reasons why.

First school day? She cried and screamed. She wont stay in the classroom; and instead chose to sit alone on a bench outside the whole time. Second day? She cried and screamed, bite and kicked, slugged and pushed -- I had to compromise. She'll stay and I would sit outside until the school bell rings.

The third day, we talked to her teacher. It turned out that her bestfriend; the only girl who could really speak German; was transferred to another section after the school break. She felt really lost.

Thus both parties resolved:
- to find IC a 'new' buddy in class
- to give her extra activities that she loves to do
- to remind her again that doing hurtful things is not a good thing to do; that it is better if she would tell us what she wants
- to be patient but resolute in making her see that being in school is the best for her because she would get to know more friends and learn new things
- to understand what she is going through and try not to use bribes and threats to encourage her to stay in class
- but the best of all, she's got an invite from her teacher to write to her, to send her emails or text messages on just about any topic that she wanted to share (that made IC so proud)
- to take it easy and

Now, it seems IC's cured of her 'I hate school phase'.

What made IC excited about school again? She got injured in a biking accident and she wanted to show off her plastered foot :)

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Wishing Stars

I marked the calendar when I read in the newspaper about meteorites shower and told the girls about it.

I told them in the Philippines, when you see those falling stars including those meteorites showers, you are supposed to start making a wish and it would come true.

But first, their papa had to explain what a meteorite is (it is a natural thing that comes from outer space and when it reaches the earth it becomes a fireball that are usually called shooting stars); and we told them they should prepare if they want to see it.

We told the kids the meteorite shower is to happen one very late night until very early the next day. They chose to be up earlier than stay up late. They are very excited to make a wish. They wanted to list down their wishes but I encouraged them to sleep on it and choose the 'bestest' wishes.

The day came. The kids slept earlier. I stayed up late and watched the shower of meteorites by myself and of course, whispered a few precious wishes. Very early next morning, MC refused to budge but IC was all agog.

I carried my sleepy bundle near the window. I closely observed IC as she looked outside, closed her eyes and mumbled out her wishes. Afterwhich she gave me a big hug and I heard a satisfied sigh.

That was when I noticed that the cloud is already parting to make way for the sunrise. That it was already too bright to see the falling stars.

But that didnt bother IC, she mainly believed that when she looked outside, the falling stars would wait for her and her wishes. That's faith for you :)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

When we have a lot of money...

One early morning on our way to school, MC shared her thoughts...

'Mama, when we have a lot of money, please buy me a lot of black clothes.'

She added, 'Plus, dont forget to buy me a BLACK knee high boots, too.'

When I simply nodded and smiled at her, she emphasized, 'I want to be a superstar when I grow up that is why I needed those kind of things.'

To which I replied, 'Why dont you try to be a superstar now so you could buy those clothes and much more if you earned money?'

MC cleverly answered,'Well, I wanted go to school first.'

That's my girl :)

Friday, November 13, 2009

St. Martin's Day in the Philippines

November 11 is St. Martin's Day, a German tradition.

What is St. Martin's day? According to about.com :

November 11th is a special day in the U.S., Canada, and German-speaking Europe, but when North Americans are observing Veterans Day/Remembrance Day, most Austrians and German Catholics are celebrating a different kind of holiday. The Feast of Saint Martin, the Germanic Martinstag celebration, is more like Halloween and Thanksgiving rolled into one. Martinstag or Martini commemorates Sankt Martin (c. 317-397), Bishop of Tours, one of the most revered European saints.

The best-known legend connected with Saint Martin is the dividing of the cloak (die Mantelteilung), when Martin, then a soldier in the Roman army, tore his cloak in two to share it with a freezing beggar at Amiens. Today in many parts of Europe the feast is still celebrated by processions of children with candle-lit lanterns (Martinslaternen - see the German children's song "Ich geh mit meiner Laterne") and a banquet of roast goose (die Martinsgans).In former times, Martini was the “official” start of winter and the 40-day Christmas fast. Today Martinstag is the unofficial start of the Christmas shopping season in German Europe.

Here in the Philippines, the usual preparations were done.

The kids practiced their songs and their theater piece. The parents were invited to come to school for a day to create lanterns with the kids (see photo below). Aside from crafting lanterns, the kids get to play while the moms and dads get to meet and exchange stories.

During the day itself, we had to gather in an airconditioned auditorium; usually we celebrate on cold winter nights in Germany. Aside from having the usual lanterns, we had to wear warm clothes as the parade is mostly done outside.

That was why it was a pleasant surprise that we could wear whatever we wanted when we celebrated it in the Philippines :)

The kids sang, others played instruments, (see photo above) and they presented a theater piece about the story of St. Martin (see photo below).

What came as a disappointed for the girls was not seeing the St. Martin riding a real horse as what they are used to back in Germany. But they were delighted to see a 'cute' horse on stage.

Here is IC proudly displaying our artwork during the lantern parade. Another surprise for the girls? Instead of getting their St. Martin's mannlein or a bread shaped like the famous gingerbread and a glass of hot kinderpunsch or kiddie punch; they were treated to a feast of different kinds of rolls and cold orange juice (see photo below).


The kids enjoyed the celebration especially since they enjoyed a lot of firsts.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Hey

In a tone worthy of a queen to her servant, my seven-year-old MC tried to put the fear in me with a dager stare and uttered a cold ‘hey’ to me.

Pointing out that she has been trying to catch my attention. She wanted to give me a soiled glass which I am supposed to take with me into the kitchen.

I looked at her, gently I reminded her I am still her mama even though she is sick and she’s allowed to boss us around during these ‘sick’ times.

But, she must not use that tone to me or anybody else for that matter. That being sick doesn’t give her an excuse to forget to be respectful and to forget to use the good words.

I hugged her and told her we could do it one more time.

Well, we did and both of us felt better.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Picnic Time at the Cemetery

There is something that makes the Philippines very, very unusual during the first of November. We celebrate the All Saint's Day like a fiesta!

tables are set-up, food are served

the kids enjoyed the picnic

November 1 spells: homecomings, reunions, food, drinks, fun and games, music and of course, candles, prayers and flowers, too.

I couldnt resist bringing the girls for their first taste of this kind of 'fiesta'. At first, they were both hesitant. But when I told them we would be taking the tricycle (a three-wheeled vehicle) instead of using the car; they agreed with urgency. Well, with IC, she asked me if there would be cakes served and I told her 'yes, of course.'

Because I havent visited my grandfather's tomb for more than 10 years; it took us sometime to locate it. In fact, I had to ask people the location of a famous person's mausoleum, because I know that ours would be almost facing it. With the kindness of a stranger, we found our lot.

The oldies were praying; the young ones were either eating, sleeping, playing with their own electronic gadgets or simply doing their best not to get bored.

The kids were all eyes. Of course, the first one who saw us led us straight to the food section. MC immediately chose what she wanted (she finished two full plates); but IC refused to budge. She's on the verge of a tantrum before I realized she didnt find the promised 'cakes' on the table; well, they had cakes but the traditonal kind that she isnt familiar with. Good thing an ice cream vendor walked by. That and choosing what ice cream to eat distracted her.

Well, we were fed. We got updates with family news. We got entertained with games and even a few magic tricks.

The kids were filled with the sounds, colors and smells of November 1 that IC commented with pride during dinner time, 'Papa, you should have attended the fun party at the cemetery today.'

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Cinderella and Snow White



My very own Cinderella and Snow White.

What happens when a wild typhoon greets the morning of Halloween?

Well, the kids would wake up early, as usual.

But... they would start to feel the excitement of Halloween as they watch the trees bend to almost breaking point. As they hear the howling of the wind. As they see parts of rooftops flying. As they identify debris floating around.

Thus, they were all geared up and ready to face the monsters and ghosts by the time we had breakfast!

We had to miss on a hotel halloween treat because we dont want to risk travelling on a stormy day.

Good thing I remembered a friend living in one of the villages near our place who I know practices Halloween 'trick or treat'. Although it was a little wet, the girls marched with their gowns and gamely collected their treats.

What made this stormy Halloween more fun?
- The typhoon's morning wake up call prepared them for that 'scary' feeling
- The anticipation on what would happen that day because they were told if the rainfall would be too much, we would instead create 'trick or treat' stations inside our house
- They were very proud to announce the fact that they know 'in the Philippines, one should say 'trick or treat' and not 'suesses oder saures' (sweet or sour) like in Germany
- They met new friends
- They experienced Halloween without freezing (it is cold in Germany at this time):D
- They shared their sweets to friends who were not able to go around for treats

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Lynn, 17 years old

Remember our trip to rescue girls from hell?

I met Lynn there.

She was sitting in one corner.
Tears flowing. Watching everything.
Hugging her newly-born child.

I noticed things.
Scars on her arms.
I hoped that those scars would only be on her arms.
She wont look me in the eyes.
She wont answer my questions directly.

She's got a chance.

How old are you? 18 years old, she said.

Are you really 18? She closed her eyes.

'Do you want to go home?' She stared.

Where do you live? She said Naga, Bicol.

How long have you been here? One year.

Do you want to go home? She cried and shook her head.

I wanted to bring her with us. Give her a chance; with her newborn child.

Lynn wont move. She is paralyzed with fear.

There were too many people around. Then a new face surfaced, a man came.

We must go. We left Lynn; and her newborn child.

I wanted to apologize to Lynn, to her newborn child; and to the other girls. But we could only do so much.

Through the other girls we rescued, we learned that Lynn is only 17 years old. That means she's been there when she's 16 years old. That Lynn's child is covered with bruises and burns because they use normal rubbing alcohol to clean him. That Lynn's child doesnt get formulas but only boiled rice.

But there's good news. A few days after our trip to hell, they let Lynn and her newborn child go. But what about the other girls? This is not the end of it. I promise.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

It's Worth It!

You wouldnt know what kind of drama we are living these past days.

We missed sleep. We drove miles. We used up time supposedly scheduled for work and play. We spent our own money. We exerted effort; used charm or words when needed. We let tears flow. We might even have endangered ourselves.

But I am sure it is worth it.

Because we were able to rescue girls.

Girls who were victims of unscrupulous individuals.

Girls who were deceived into working for something horrible.

Girls who wont even have a chance to enjoy being girls!

Girls who could have ended being statistics.

Girls who have a future because they have families who love them.

Girls who could be our girls if those terrible elements of society wont be destroyed.

No, we are not crusaders. No, we dont want to be called heroes. No, we dont want praises nor medals. No, we dont want you to agree about what we did and how we did it.

We simply felt it should be done. We simply felt those girls deserve it. We simply felt we could help and we acted.

We just want you to know that what we did is definitely worth it; especially for our peace of mind.

We are still fighting that justice would be served. Please pray for us.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Leptospirosis

the kids' first adventure in floodwater

The Department of Health in the Philippines warns the public on leptospirosis after the floodings in Manila.

With the recent spate of flooding in the country, the cases of leptospirosis rises and this is a cause for concern.


I am ashamed to admit that I havent heard of 'leptospirosis' until a few months after arriving in Manila. The first time that the house we were renting got flooded (see photo above); we treated the flood as an adventure. I even let the kids play, collect trash floating around (my eldest told me the trash would prevent the water from receeding) and let them experience 'flood.'

And then when I was proudly showing the photos to friends; a doctor mentioned to me about leptospirosis. He said it is very dangerous to let people wad in floodwater because of this condition.

Leptospirosis is caused by swallowing the bacteria directly from water, absorbing it through cuts in the skin, or through food. Although the disease is commonly associated with rat urine, infection can also come from animals like cattle, pigs, horses, dogs, and wild animals. The bacteria live in freshwater and are killed immediately by heat, disinfectant, acids and alkalis.

The disease’s incubation period is seven to 12 days after exposure. Symptoms may appear suddenly as early as four days after exposure, or as late as 21 days. Common signs and symptoms are flu-like and include fever, a red skin rash and general weakness. Headaches, reaction to light, muscle and joint pains, vomiting, and fatigue are also common. Incubation period may last up to a month. Death may also occur.

Anyone with a history of wading in floodwaters and who has the symptoms of the disease should consult the nearest doctor or health facility for treatment immediately.

Other guidelines to prevent the disease are as follows:
- All drinking water should be brought to a rolling boil for at least five minutes and preferably up to 20 minutes.
- Fresh vegetables and fruits should be washed in clean water before cooking or peeling
- Use protective gears like rubber boots and gloves if you want to wade in floodwaters
- Make sure that all things (furnitures, appliances, etc) that were under floodwaters are thoroughly soaped and washed

---

The typhoons that damaged a part of the Philippines left a lot of people displaced: Now I am using my blog to let you know that there are many schools rendered 'useless' by the typhoon; thus there is the Adopt-a-School Program. There are more than 100 schools who need help such as notebooks, pens and pencils, papers, etc... Or you could email me for more information at die_erhards@yahoo.de

MANILA, Philippines — The Inquirer is publishing the list of Metro Manila public schools damaged by Tropical Storm “Ondoy.” The Inquirer hopes that benefactors will rush to help meet the urgent needs of these places of learning for the nation’s children.
Please adopt a school now. To find out how to do so, please contact Inquirer Learning editor Chelo Banal Formoso at 897-8808 to 09 local 399, (Sun) 0922-8182942, (Smart) 0918-3824061. Here are the list of schools: click

Friday, October 16, 2009

Generosity

There were repairmen in the house this hot afternoon.

After their work, we offered them a pitcher of iced tea and some biscuits.

When MC chanced upon them snacking, she saw that it was the pack of biscuit that their Papa bought for them as a surprise gift when he left town a week before.

'Mama, how could you give that biscuit to those men? Papa told me the biscuits are for kids only,' she pointed out. Good thing she spoke in German because she told me off right in front of the repairmen!

I told her I am sorry that I didnt know the biscuits were reserved for the kids. I told her I am sure they would not eat all those biscuits. I told her the men needed something to eat because they worked so hard.

And I explained to her that next time, if she wanted to say something like that, she could ask me to go to a private place with her. It is not good when other people would hear that they are not supposed to eat something that was already served to them.

She nodded. She went out and came back with a handful of the biscuits that she munched on. And she hurried to the kitchen, coming out with a bunch of bananas in her hand saying, 'I didnt get all the biscuits. But I am bringing bananas to the men so that they would have enough to eat.'

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Being Satisfied

Calming her down after a long and loud tantrum, I told my seven-year-old year MC that it would have been simplier if she told us first what she wanted; explained to us what she needed; expressed her thoughts -- before exploding in tears and screaming on everybody who would try to talk to her.

'You could always let us know first because we would not understand if you start crying,' I hugged her to me. 'We would listen to you and try to work it out.'

Her answer? 'I would not be satisfied because sometimes you wont agree to what I wanted,' she grinned.

Well, I explained to her that sometimes what she wanted isnt always good for her.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

What the flood taught us


The girls tend to go back to the day of the big flood that damaged our house.

Sometimes they reminisce with tearful excitement; sometimes they reminisce with sadness; sometimes they reminisce with teasing laughters. When they usually start doing those reminiscing, I am always there to listen to them.

Everytime they pluck out their memories, I always ask them what the flood taught them; here are their list:

1. The floodwater is dirty; they should wash properly if they wadded in floodwater esp. as they saw different things floating around.

2. The rainwater is good, but too much rainwater is dangerous; especially to those living near body of water. Our former house is beside a creek.

3. When the floodwater receeds, the water and the mud left would be slippery.

4. Water leaves marks all over. Their swing and their toys were already washed but we could see the blemishes.

5. All things that were under water should be washed and soaped or else they would smell bad.

6. We should not cry over damaged things, they are only things and they could be replaced.

7. What should go to the garbage should go to the garbage. No compromise.

8. Big and heavy things do float and flips over. Just like our ref. (see photo above)

9. It was not good that mama was not there when it was happening; the most important thing is that we are together as a family.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

What the girls need

It was unfortunate that I was not at home during the typhoon that damaged our house last week. My husband and the kids, together with a household help were alone during the time that they most needed me.

Stranded someplace else, I could only thank God for the wonders of mobile communication; that I was able to get in touch with them.I was able to get help for them. I was able to monitor them.

I heard how my husband's voice moved from panic into resignation. But I didnt know how the kids coped up during the time that they were witnessing the floodwater rising. I made sure that they were safe. Before I started saving the battery in my mobile phone by turning it off -- calling only every hour during the 15-hour that I was not with them. But I was only able to talk, once, with one of the girls.

When I got home, they were already sleeping; all three, in our bed. My husband woke up and told me he simply told the girls that this is just like a camping adventure; especially since they needed to cut off the electricity to prevent any accidents.

What happened was: the girls helped them to clear up at first; before they had to send the girls to the second floor because the floodwater was rising very fast. The girls witnessed the water flooding the steps going to the second floor; that was when both girls started screaming for their father, screaming for their mother.

Since my husband and our help, had to try to save some of our things; nobody came to them. And I wasnt there. Although my husband called up to them that they are somewhere around the house, the reassurance of a presence were missed by the girls. Although both of them eventually calmed down to play, I couldnt imagine what was running on their minds during those times of need.

It pained me when MC started crying bitterly, during breakfast the next day. She simply wont stop and she kept on saying over and over 'it is not good to stay here in the Philippines. I thought is is nice here. But I dont want to stay here anymore.' She kept on repeating the same phrase.

She was sobbing hysterically before we managed to calm her down.

I know it would take sometime before the girls would feel comfortable again everytime there's heavy rain.

But we tried to give them back their feeling of security, to reassure them by doing these things:
- By going out of the house. We decided to eat breakfast outside and leave the damaged house behind.
- By bringing them to a new environment. We also booked a hotel and told them we are going on a short vacation
- By giving them our extra attention. We didnt leave the hotel, instead, we spent the whole day just relaxing, just being together.
- By telling them something they want to hear. We told them we are going to look for a new house. They loved hearing that as they dont want to go back to the old one.- By asking their approval in choosing another house. They were proud that they are allowed to help decide on our 'new house.'
- By keeping them busy. Playing, homeworks, etc.
- By explaining to them what happened and that not every rain means the same amount of floodwaters.
- By giving them extra hugs and kisses.

Things are getting better. We found a house. We are enjoying our hotel vacation. Most of all, we are together.

I confess, I needed reassurance during this past week, too. And I got them from friends all over the world. You know who you are, thanks a lot!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Counting Our Blessings


taken in front of our house

Despite the damage of the floodwaters last Saturday, despite loosing all our furnitures and appliances, despite braving the 12 hours of traffic, despite wading deep in floodwater, despite being despite being homeless for days now; we are still counting our blessings.

Number one, our family are together now.

Number two, we are all in good health.

Number three, our friends are now all accounted for.

Number four, there are always helping hands.

Number five, true friends are all over.

Number six, life goes on.

Number seven, there are better days.

Number eight, dreams are free.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

anya

'>All is ok with the family of Anya -- all is ok, God is good' 3 pm, Sept 28

that little girl in white and red is anya.she is my goddaughter.
she just turned 2 this september.
her mom texted me yesterday afternoon that their house in san mateo is neck-deep in water; some family are on their rooftops already.
she asked for prayers.i texted her back saying i am praying for them and for all of those affected by the floodwaters.
i tried to call her. nothing.
at around 10 pm, i called another friend. she said the last text from her was that they were only able to grab two bottles of water.
they are a family with two kids, and her parents are not young anymore.

then she texted me at midnight. she said a little better but still flooded.
no water, no electricity.and then in the morning, she said water has receeded.
they are cleaning. but they have no more food. until 5 pm this sunday, no food.

it is now monday morning, 1 am; we have been trying to reach her. trying to organize something. monitoring. keeping a vigil.
anya, ninang (godmother) is trying to help you. your mama's friends are trying to help you.
tell your mama, your ate, your lolo and lola and whoever is there with you... we are praying for you.

whoever could help those people in san mateo, thanks a lot. let's continue praying.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

The Flood

I havent officially announced it in my blog, but because of the flood; I am now.

We have been living in the Philippines last June because as my husband said, 'he saw a better future with the kids there instead of Germay.'

As a good wife, I didnt disagree. As for the kids, they agreed as they see more opportunities to play with their loads of cousins in Manila; and they are excited to go into a school with a swimming pool.

And then the flood. It happened yesterday morning. I was unfortunately out of the house as my sister, my mom and an aunt wanted to visit a cousin who's confined in a hospital.

We left before 9 am; but before reaching our destination, it rained very hard and the streets were full of water. We managed to find a parking area in a restaurant.

Meanwhile, at home, my husband and my two kids, with our housemaid were in panic because the water was coming inside our house fast. I called up some people to ask for help at home.

Help came but the floodwater's faster. The whole first floor's been damaged: all furnitures and appliances.




To be continued...

Sunday, September 20, 2009

What is good with smoking?

One morning, MC, 7 year old looked up to me seriously and asked, 'Mama, what do you think is good with smoking?'

'You buy a cigarette. Then you light it up. Then you inhale. Then you exhale,'she added. 'And what good does it do?'

I didnt ask her why she suddenly have an interest about smoking; especially since nobody smokes in our household. She wants to know and I will try to inform her.

And so I explained to her that I dont also see what is good about smoking. The thing that you inhale and exhale and that creates smoke is a strange something that your body dont really need for it to grow. In fact, it would even make your body sick. I told her of someone close to us who used to smoke a lot; and ended up in the operating table fighting for his life. It will only make the family sad when such things happen.

She simply nodded and said, 'I heard that smoking is fun. But what is fun in it if you would be sick?'

'I dont think smoking is good. I am glad nobody smokes in our family,' and she cuddled closer to me.

I wonder how she got interested in this topic? But I hope I managed to answer her questions and influence her in a positive way.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

I want my own cellphone, too

And now my five-year-old IC wants her own cellphone, too.

Remember that we gave her big sister, MC, her own cellphone a few weeks ago? here

Well, MC followed the rules; though it was always a big discussion everytime she would ask permission to bring the phone to school. We never gave in. Plus, she has since forgotten about her own cellphone; and never misses it.

Here comes IC. Asking when she could get her own. Because she wanted to call her friends anytime she wants to.

When I asked her if her friends also have their own cellphones; she shook her head. 'So there's no need for your own cellphone if you cannot use them to call your friends,' I smiled to her.

I told her that her sister doesnt have one anymore; and appears not to need one at all. I told her that she doesnt need one because most of her friends are with her in the same school.

And if she wanted to call her friends, she is welcome to use mine or her Papa's or better still, use the house phone. But, she must always ask permission and let us know who she is calling.

I explained to her that she is also too young to have her own cellphone. Having a cellphone involves money and she doesnt want to use her allowance for such silly things as a cellphone; to which she vigorously agreed.

'When could I get my own cellphone?' she couldnt resist asking. I told her when she is old enough to realize what is really important to her -- a cellphone, that she could tinker with alone the whole day; or a toy, that she could play with and have fun with someone else.

That's when she took my hand and guided me to her toys.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Saving for Mama's Sunglasses

The kids cannot wait to receive their allowance this month. In fact, they cannot wait to receive their allowances for the next months.


They need to save those allowances.

Why?

Because they broke my sunglasses. They were roughly playing inside the car during a long trip when it happened. They heard enough warnings from me. Then I heard a crack and I knew it's my glasses.

They didnt try to deny it. They simply showed the broken pieces to me.


And I told them there are important things to be done.

Number one, they are responsible in making sure that I got a new pair of sunglasses.
Number two, the money would come from them.
Number three, they need to save.
Number four, their allowances would suffer.

They nodded and excitedly asked me if they are allowed to choose my new pair. Definitely, I answered. And so here we are, all three, anticipating our shopping trip.

Breaking something is also a cause to create bonding time :D

Thursday, September 10, 2009

I'm not allowed to play with you

MC is happy that she is finding more friends in school. But what she misses most are those playmates who would visit her at home.

I told her she could invite her friends to our home and she excitedly approached one while I observed them from afar.

In a second, MC came back with a little frown saying, 'my friend said her mom told her she is not allowed to play with me in our house.'

I explained to her that she must not take that personally. Her friend wont accept her invitation maybe because her mom forbid her to say yes without asking first for permission. The same thing I keep telling them, 'to let me know first before deciding on such things as playtime, birthday invites and house visits with other kids.'

Plus, I told her that since the school just started, some people needed a little time until the parents would get to know more the kids and their parents in school before they would be allowed to visit each other.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

A 'No' is Okay, Too

The girls were invited to a kiddie birthday party where the adults were allowed to stay (for a change :D).

They joined the lines in the salon, in the face painting, in the balloon-making, in the sweets corners; but they balked on the idea of joining the games. But IC, my five year old, just cant hold her excitement when she saw that the kids who joined the games got prizes for their efforts and got extra gifts when they won.

I was thinking she wanted to join the contest to get those; but nope, my clever girl wants to get them her own special way as she asked me, 'Mama, could you please ask the host of the party if she could give me those prizes simply as gifts?'

I smiled at her cleverness and told her that would be unfair to the other kids but her answer made me move, she said, 'You know what mama, if she said 'no', that would be okay. The main thing is we asked her.'

That made me grab her hands to bring her to the host. One thing though, I told her she should be the one to ask. And she did ask. And she got a 'yes' and her handful of gifts.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Compromise

Tantrums. Fights. Screams. Tears. Hurts. Bad words.

I told my girls they could avoid those things.

They should learn to compromise.

That there are always free choices.

That they should learn to choose what they think would be best for them.

That tantrums, fights, screams, tears, bad words nor hurts would not always help.

They could choose to talk; rather than argue.

They could choose to discuss; rather than scream.

They could choose a pause; rather than use bad words.

They could choose a hug ; rather than hurt.

And most importantly, they should know that we always love them no matter what.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Hello My Friend

Walking home one evening with my 7-year-old girl, MC; a man was shouting in the darkness, 'hello, my friend.'

I didnt take notice. Thinking he was talking to somebody else.

Then MC told me, 'I think that was the man who's been trying to talk to me.'

I was alarmed so I encouraged her to tell me more.

It seems that she's been seeing that man regularly around the area.

She even told me her cousin, who is much older than her, also warned her not to talk to anyone, even that man. 'I dont talk to the man, mama, ' she assured me.

I know I could trust MC, but I dont know about the man. He might just be friendly but I am not taking any chance.

I told her to avoid the area anymore. And if she absolutely must go there, dont go alone. Better yet, go there only with her papa or with me.

And I thanked her for talking to me. She nodded and continued happily skipping while firmly holding my hand.

But of course, I did more when we arrived home:
1. I told the whole family about the story.
2. I asked them to watch out when they are in the area.
3. I told them that either of the kids should go there alone; or better yet to avoid the area.
4. Always remind the kids never to talk nor accept anything from strangers.
5. Talk and listen to the kids.

Monday, August 10, 2009

It's our 8th

Eight years ago, I realized I found the man I wanted to marry.

Eight years ago, the man I wanted to marry realized he wanted to be married to me.

Today, we are celebrating our 9th wedding anniversary.

The yearly wedding anniversary tradition was to dine in the hotel/restaurant where we had our wedding reception nine years ago. We always celebrate with our two girls, since they are the blessings from our being together; since they sealed our marriage with additional love.

What are we going to do tonight? Let's wait and see. All I know is that waking up together is already a celebration.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

She's got her own cellphone

MC got her own cellular phone a few weeks ago. Since my husband and I were both busy out of the house most of the time, we've decided to give her one because our phoneline at home were down for a long time.

She got her cellphone attached with the following instructions:

1. Dont bring it out of the house.
2. Dont give her phone number to anybody unless we agreed.
3. Dont dial any numbers unless approved by us.
4. Dont tinker on keypads unnecessarily
5. She alone is responsible for taking care that the cellular phone would be working properly.
6. She alone is responsible for making sure that the cellular phone would not be lost or misplaced.

We also emphasized to her that she's got a budget for her prepaid phone. She must use it responsibly or else she could not reach us if there is something really important that she wants to share to us when we are out of the house.

It wasnt easy for her to keep to her budget, but slowly yet surely, she's learning. Most important of all, she takes care that her phone is always within her reach and she has so far followed our instructions.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

She wants a date!

This is supposed to be a secret between my husband and our five-year old girl but I find it too cute not too share :D

IC wants to arrange a date.

IC told her Papa that she wants to invite a certain boy to go out with her.

She told her Papa she needs favor; he should be the one to invite the boy and Papa should join them, too.

Why? Because as she said, 'I dont want him to know that I like him.'

When asked why she likes the boy -- she enumerated the following:

- he lets her play with his game boy
- he lets her watch a movie on his cellphone
- he lets her dictate what they should do

Oh well....

Friday, July 31, 2009

What do we do with our seashells?

During our vacation in the beach a few years ago, the kids collected a few seashells. I told them they could only bring home so much as the sea would also need the seashells. They agreed and left most of their collections on the beach shore.

But they chose a few with flaws on them to bring home as they said, 'they wanted to keep the beach beautiful.'

At home, they forgot about the shells. A few days ago, I found the box where they kept the shells, I reminded them that we could have just left them all on the beach as they dont have a use for them anymore.

The girls couldnt accept it just like that. They said the seashells could be of use. And so we spent the day making a list and being creative:

1. Use them as decorations for greeting cards.
2. Create a wall decor out of them.
3. Scatter them around the unused corners of the bathroom
4. Sprinkle them around our koi pond
5. Create a bracelet or necklace out of them
6. Make a kitchen (flea) cover out of it (see photo below)
The seashell kitchen (flea) cover is easy. Choose the seashells with holes on them. Have a small piece of cloth ready. Sew the seashells to the cloth ends. Voila, you've got your own kitchen cover.

The kids could easily do this alone! Just supervise them with the sewing, of course.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

What happened to your breasts?

I had just finished bathing and was toweling myself dry when 7-year-old MC barged into the bathroom.

Then she asked, 'mama, what happened to your breasts?' while comparing her breasts against mine. 'They should look like this (pointing to hers),' she emphasized.

I explained to her that while a girl is growing up, not only her chest would change. Her whole body would also grow with her, just as she's growing taller; just as she needed a new pair of shoes because the old pair doesnt fit her anymore.

In which she answered, 'I dont want to be a giant though.' I answered her that there is no chance of that as we dont have a giant in the family :-D

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Mama, please play with us

My husband and I were out most days the last week.

Though the kids were kept busy with their playmates and home activities; they noticed our absences. And MC asked, ' you know what mama, it's been a long time since you played with us. When can you play with us again?'

Though I expected that they would miss our presence, the question jolted me. I know that we are being busy as we are working on something for our future; but I also know that we should not ignore the present. The kids needed us now.

Right there and then I decided to stay home. I devoted that whole day playing with the kids. I realized I missed playing with them, too.

Despite being busy, there should always be a time to play with the kids. Dont wait for tomorrow, there is always time, even a short one, now.

And here's how I manage with my 'short but sweet' playtimes:

1. Mornings I wake them up a little earlier and cuddle with them and tickle them.
2. While combing their hair, we play a game of pretend.
3. On the road I call them and play short puzzle games.
4. Evenings we go for short walks or a quick visit to the playground.
5. If I am too tired, we would simply draw together or read together.

Of course, big playdates and longer play hours are reserved during weekends and holidays.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

What is a Christening?

I became a happy godmother last month. I brought the whole family with me during the celebration.

The kids, witnessing the ceremony for the first time (MC was there during IC's christening but she was only two years old at that time); was so excited.

Number one because they got to play with the baby. They were even allowed to carry the baby which made them prouder.

Number two because as I've said, it is their first time to watch and be a part of a christening.

On our way to the christening, they asked the inevitable: What is a christening?

I told them it is a church rite in which a child is baptized by sprinkling water on their head to become a member of the church and the time to give the child a Christian name. I told them the child would be wearing a white dress showing that they are pure. And the child would have godparents who would help take care of them and guide them as they grow up.

I dont know if they understood as they simply nodded on my explanation. But they were fully concentrated on the ceremony the whole time. And in the end they told me 'mama, you got it right; everything was done as you said.' ;D

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Harvest Time is Play Time

The garden is inviting us with its colorful offers. The fruits are ripe. The trees are thick with treasures. The kids are have their baskets. They are wearing their 'get dirty' clothes. They are ready to harvest, ready to play.
But first, they stuffed themselves before their baskets. 'We needed to eat to have enough strenght to help,' said MC.
They relaxed on the apple tree, still bare; and took turns picking cherries while pretending to be monkeys.
Made themselves more beautiful using cherry earrings.

Used the ladder to get higher and higher, wanting more cherries on their baskets and trying to reach the sky.
And they played hide and seek in between bushes of berries, punctuating their runs with bites here and there.

At the end of the day, they're tired yet happy and proudly showing off their collection.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Bad Men Always Wear Black

One of those bedtime talks with my 7 year old and it goes...

'Mama, I know what bad men looks like. They always wear black and most of them have mouth covers,' MC said.

I asked her where she got those ideas, although I mostly suspected the television's influence. She confirmed it, too as she explained, 'I saw them in TV.'

I had to tell her that she must not always believe the television. That bad men could wear nice clothes, too; that nice men could wear black, too.

What is important is to trust what she feels when she interacts with people. If she dont feel comfortable with the people around her; no matter what color of clothes they have on; then she should avoid them. Or tell us what she feels and we would be there for her.

Monday, July 6, 2009

A Beautiful Compliment

Since MC's still very much on her 'be nutritious' phase, which I hope would evolve to be a lifestyle; I packed slices of plain brown bread and cubes of nectarine for her to bring to school.

Back home after school, she gave me a big hug and told me, 'Mama, you are a mind reader. The food you packed for me this morning was something I have always wanted.'

She added, 'you are the best.'

I gave her a smile, a big hug and said 'thank you.

She was beaming, I was, too :D

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Nutrition Week and What She Learned

A few weeks ago was Nutrition Week at MC's school. Everytime she comes home from school, she would give us a list of things they learned.

It has a big impact on her because for the past days these past weeks, she kept on reminding us about the following:

1. Butter is not so good. We could only use it a little once a day. Thus, she would ask me to give her plain bread; every other day. And that made Papa use more margarine when cooking.

2. Oil is also fat. We are only allowed a few drops per serving. Thus, she would check on us when we cook and even when we create our salad dressing.

3. Dont eat too much egg. Although she loves to eat eggs during weekends, she has skipped them. Remember that she'd learned how to cook scrambled egg and was so proud about it.

4. Continue with having fruits on the menu. She said she proudly shared to the class that we always have fresh fruits at home. And the kids do love munching on fruits, instead of chips and sweets.

5. Vegetable is good. She said she must slowly learn to love eating veggies. In fact, she had a big serving of spinach yesterday, a first time for her!

6. No more sweets. She said sweets are not good for the teeth and for the body. Actually, MC only occasionally eats sweets, it is IC who's got the sweet tooth. And both kids dont crave softdrinks.

7. Of course, enough sport and play. She said that is why she loves her bike and hiking.

I hope she'll grow up keeping these knowledge with her ;D

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Friendly Neighbors

Walking with both girls home one day, we heard the ambulance first before we saw it rushing into our street. As a precaution, I told the girls to stop and let it pass before we proceed. They did that but they got long necks, watching where it would stop.


When it stopped a door away from our house, we heaved a sigh of relieve since Papa is in the house and tinkering at home. We thought it was the man next door. He was just released from the hospital a week ago and we saw him early this morning already mowing the lawn. He might just overdone it.



But nope, it was the wife who was rushed to the hospital. A mild heart attack. When the ambulance left, my husband came out and offered to drive the man to the hospital. He declined saying he's got enough of hospitals for now. But that his children would be going instead to their mom. My husband left him saying he should just ring us when he needed us.



The kids were concerned. They know that the man cannot cook alone. They know that he loves to eat. What would happen to him especially as he's still not well after an operation? I told them just continue being friendly to him. Greet him, say hello, ask how he is, and they could also ask if they could help him, too. But I told him the most important thing is for the man not to feel lonely and alone. He needs someone to talk to.



And know did they do? When the girls would see the man outside, they would go to him and talk to him. Look at this photo. They are also content simply sitting beside him and watching the neighborhood move.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Our Guest Pet

We had a guest pet for three weeks.


the bird drawn by Isabela

The bird named 'Nedula' is a surprise guest. We were saying goodbye to the family who's flying to the US for a vacation to visit the relatives when I noticed the bird.

The girls, who have always asked for a pet (and I have always answered we have enough fish in our pond), suggested that we take care of the bird. What else can I say?

We accepted the bird as a guest pet but the taking care part I delegated to the girls. They were the one who wanted the bird after all. We told them this is the right time to show us that they really deserve to have a pet at home.


The family showed us how to open the cage, how to give water and food and gave us the necessary items for the bird.


The first day, MC and IC wanted to invite their friends to show off their 'adopted' pet. We told them to take it easy, one by one. The whole day was spent simply watching the bird. The next day they told us to give more water and more food. The third and fourth was the same.


The fifth day? Papa said we need to change the sand in the cage. Who wants to go with him to buy a pack of sand for the bird? Nobody. He drove alone and changed the sand inside the cage alone. And that was it.
It took the girls only three days before the excitement on having a pet is gone. Oh, they managed to take a peek once in a while; would tell us if the bird needed more water or food. But on having a hand on the taking care part? No more.

When it was time to give the bird back, their interest were back. They wanted to have a bird, too. But it was too late, we have given them the verdict: No pets, even guest pets, for now. They know the responsibility of having a pet and they werent able to meet them.
They werent really disappointed, because as they said, we still have the pond full of fish. That's enough for now.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Fiesta Filipina

I have been living in Germany for almost nine years now but this is the first time that I attended a Philippine cultural festival.

A Filipina mommy blogger told me about it. She perked up my interestwhen she told me she wanted to buy food items and other things that she could stock at home. Meaning? Yes, there are those speeches and programs that my kids would find too long but there are more! There are stalls selling the homemade Philippine food, delicacies, balikbayan box services and native items such as the walis (broom).
We went a bit earlier, well, I wanted to have my lunch there. Upon reaching the area, I could already smell the flavor of the Philippines. It made me think of nanay's (mother) cooking. My kids already know what they wanted to eat, the Philippine barbecue with rice. It took me a long while to decide. Such that I almost ended up tasting almost everything. It was all worth it though.

And what's more, they are also available for take home -- packed for the freezer and ready to be enjoyed at home when one misses home's flavor. I also bought some freshly made siopao (dumpling) which I served for breakfast the next day. My husband wanted to buy mangoes, too, but when we realized that they are not from the Philippines, he skipped. He wanted only the Philippine mangoes.
And of course, there you get to meet friends and be introduced to interesting people!

I love it that the kids were exposed to this festival. They love hopping from one stall to another and tasting the goodies. But I have to tell you this, gummi bears won over the delicacies :D

Monday, June 15, 2009

I dont want to play with your sister

I asked IC if she wanted to go with me to fetch her sister.

Reaching MC's playmate's house, I told IC if she wanted to, she can watch her sister and her friend playing. She eagerly said yes.

After awhile she came cuddling to me. Saying she only wanted to stay with me. And then when I asked her if she wanted to play she could go down again, she said I needed to go with her. Not knowing the reason...

It seems that the playmate of her sister doesnt want to play anymore as she doesnt want IC to play with them. How did I learn about it?

Because MC came and told us saying, 'we cannot play anymore because IC should not be here.' I had to hold IC in my arms when I heard about it. She seems cool about it. But I dont know what she really feels inside. So I simply said that IC only wanted to watch them play.

So before she would get really offended, we said goodbye. But not before IC hearing the girl complaining to her father that she doesnt want to play with IC.

I hurriedly brought the girls out, watching IC walking with bouncing steps. Both were giggling and playing all the way home. But I still wonder what IC feels.

I spoke to IC about what happened that night. I told her sometimes big girls dont really like to play with smaller girls anymore. They think that because you are smaller, you cannot play the way they do. That you would not understand what they are doing. But of course, you now better, right? 'Oh but that is our secret,' she added. And she gave me a hug.

I promised her I would make a playtime date with her chosen playmate next week. And she responded with enthusiasm.

We cannot always protect our kids from being hurt but at least we could explain and make them feel better.

Friday, June 12, 2009

His Birthday

My husband's a year older

But he looks and feels younger

Asked about this he would answer

His got a wife who gives tender loving care,

He gets a loadful of smile and hugs from his daughters.

Happy birthday, dear!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

40

I am 40 years old today.

I am proud to reach this age.

I am healthy and happy.

I have a wonderful family. I have two wonderful girls and a wonderful husband.

I thank God that I am 40 and I am living the life that I wanted.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Glück ist ein Problem

'Glück ist ein Problem. Das ist doch nicht Wahr,' ( Happiness is a problem, that is not true) that was what MC told me. She said she heard those words being uttered in a film.

She further explained that when somebody is happy then she's got no problem. I agreed with her.

Then she had second thoughts; saying that could be true, but only sometimes.

'Because once when I was so happy and excited once during class, I was not able to concentrate I almost did my lessons wrong,' she added.

I told her that it is okay to be happy, but happiness does not mean we should already take other things for granted. But I am glad she could relate those realization to everyday things.

Friday, May 29, 2009

i want to be hanna montana when i grow up

That's what my 5-year old IC told me this morning on our way to kindergarten. I know that she is crazy about Hanna Montana; she's a real big fan. But this?

I quickly made our talk into something positive. Since she's been too lazy joining the extra-curricular activities for the past months (she dont want to go to ballet, she would skip gymnastics, she would miss out on walks); I told her being Hanna Montana is not easy but that she could do it if she would be ready to work on it.

She asked me what she needs to do. And so we listed down the things that Hanna Montana could do: sing, dance, gymnastics, go to school and study. I also told her Hanna Montana doesnt watch tv (I simply had to add this).

IC said she could already sing and dance but that she is ready to join classes. She said from now on she dont want to be driven to kindergarten, she would prefer to walk. She said she would not skip gymnastics anymore. She said I should enrol her to school so she could start studying. And she would only watch Hanna Montana on tv.

I told her she must do and learn all those things, slowly but surely. Her answer? 'I have enough time, I am only 5 after all.'

And she started singing and dancing on her way to kindergarten.

Monday, May 25, 2009

what to do on a hot summer day

the forecast for today is hot. we were up early decided to just go with the flow :D

here's what we did.

- had a brunch cum picnik in the garden
- worked in the garden
- picked strawberries
- went for a short bike ride
- ate ice cream
- watched the clouds
- gave the plants a real shower
- played hopscotch
- danced around the water sprinkler
- ate ice cream
- turned on the water in the slide
- got wet in the wadding pool
- played in the sand box
- had a barbacue party in the garden
- ate ice cream
- painted the street using chalks and water color
- slept late

we enjoyed our sweat today :D