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 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.