Reading, The Struggle Is Real

I never like to sit and read. As soon as I notice how thick and how tiny the words are written, I get bored already. But I taught her to read, and I learn to put dramatic effect on my voice when story telling. That was when she was little, and I can’t do it now, because she doesn’t want me to ruin the story. She would push me to read. She will leave the book right where my seat is at the dinner table. I know it is due to be returned but she won’t do it. She would check if the bookmark has been moved. I told her that I don’t understand some words, if everything is written in basic or simple English I will probably read a lot.

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Reading one of Ben Carson’s book. She thinks, he is a brilliant genius.

I find it boring and not interesting because I struggle. It happened many times, when she have tears rolling to her cheeks (literally) or laughing and I just keep on reading without realizing we’re on the climax of the story. Climax, I learned that from her. I would probably use “height” or “thrilling part”. When I hear her say with a look of disappointment , “Mahhmm!”, I probably mispronounced the word “people” as “peepool”.

And since I let her check this journal right at this moment where she is standing beside me, she wanted me to add that the climax is the turning point of the story. Another learning point for me with this kid. She does what I asked her to do and that is to check my grammar and vocabulary.

By the way,  I finished the two books she recommended me to read. She must be proud. LOL!

(She asked me to delete the word LOL because this journal is formal writing not informal writing, according to her, and I don’t need to write slang words. “What if the President of the United States read your journal or whoever the readers are?” She currently is doing formal writing about chocolate milk if she is against it to be banned in school.)

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Her way of relaxing.

 

I was inspired to write this journal after I googled the word epitome which was on one of my friend’s comment on my Facebook post. I realized that if I read more, I would probably develop good grammar and increase my vocabulary.

Jump Rope and Terracotta

This kid can break my heart in a good way. She can make it leap for joy as well.

When we went to the playground, she was hoping to see her friend whom we did not plan to have a playdate with. She was hoping that her friend think the same as her that day – to be at the  playground. I guess she just missed her, and she do not know any kids to play with at that moment.

To brighten her day a little bit, I took her to the library. She had fun. She was excited to start reading a new series of book she borrowed.

We had a great day together.

When we got home, we went outside right away. She wanted us to do more things together, but I planned to workout. Jump rope.

She did not insist, instead she went to her swing.

She swung by herself. Slow. Head down. She seemed okay. I kept looking at her. I could hear the squeaky noise from her swing.

I got sad that she is alone. My heart aches.

She came to me while I was working out. She watched. She tried to get involved by cheering on, “Whip it, Mama!”

My jump rope got stuck. I got distracted. She cheered again, “Whip it, Mama”. I got stuck again. I felt guilty that I am so desperate to have my me time. I felt so selfish and just wanna be alone and get it done.

She seemed desperate for my attention…. or

Maybe I misinterpreted her happy gestures. She was cheering, probably to encourage me. I was passive. No words came out from me. I kept going. Unhappy. Cranky.

After getting stuck many times, she noticed my frustration. She decided to leave me alone and went to her favorite spot in the yard – a big pile of square stone that she uses as a table.

I sat next to her as soon as I got done with my workout.

She was smashing these small rocks of different colors until it changed its form to powder. She would mix them up. Terracotta is her favorite color.

When I tried to get up, she asked me to stay beside her.

While watching her, I asked if she would like a baby brother or a baby sister. She answered “No!”. I was just wondering what she thinks. She said, “I want someone equal to my age.”

It is difficult and sad when she wants a playmate. I know she is happy when we spend time together, but some days she likes to have friends around who are “equal” to her age.

It is more harder that it is summertime. Two of her school friends move out-of-state. Her other friends are on vacation.

That night, she tried to call a friend. It was not successful. I think she was fine when she did not get hold of her friend. She grabbed a book to read and stayed in her room.

Today, I asked for her friend’s mom’s number. I made the call. Left a message. The phone rang. It was her friend. Her face lit up. They/we are planning for a play-date soon. Success!

It only took a minute to help her meet her needs – attention, connection and something great to look forward to.

Time is precious.

I regret that I failed to see the simplest desire of her heart, instead I jumped into conclusion that she is too desperate for my attention. Cheering me on while I was doing the Jump Rope was probably her way of trying to connect with me. I could have stop, be flexible, and get her involve by asking her to count how many jump or tricks I can do, or hold/watch the stop watch. I could have let her pretend as my coach. She would have loved it.

Parenting can be tough even on little things like this. All I want is for her to be happy and content.

I understand, I have accepted and it is proven that life is not perfect. It will never be. She understand that too. But I will continue to do the best that I can to be responsive to her needs – attention, connection, something to be thankful for, and something great to look forward to.

I am learning that distraction is okay. It is okay to  Stop. Be Gentle. Listen. Acknowledge. Learn. Keep Loving. Keep Living.

jumprope and terracotta

 

 With all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love,… Ephesians 4:2

 

 

The Feeling of Being Deserving To Be Fired As A Mom

I cried and I thought I deserve to get fired as a mom at least that moment, that day.

I felt terrible.

My husband and I beside each other while I was “recording” that moment. Photo credit to my friend.

I can’t believe I misclick the right button to record our daughter’s piano recital performance. I did notice the absence of a “red dot” and the word “rec” on my camera screen. But I continue holding up my camera and watch her play thru live view.

She looked beautiful. “Hip” with her cowboy boots matched with teal lacy dress. She sat gracefully and hands perfect on the baby grand piano. She played, Minuet and Trio. She had great timing.

I heard “wows” and “nice” whispers around when she finished. She did marvelous. She received a warm applause after her great performance.

When I checked my camera I realized that I failed to record it. I miss the whole performance. I was very disappointed and so was my husband. It felt worst when he said, “You’re fired being a mom”.

I watched the whole show and soon I had to leave for work.

I cried on my way to work. I cried while at work.

Photo captured by my friend. Grateful

I am so thankful for my friend who took this photo.

I wanted it documented. I love to keep memories and look back into it someday; also it would be nice for her to see herself on stage and realize how great she is after all those moments when she would like to quit.

I thought, the “wows” and “nice” compliments and applause from the background would prove that she did great; and inspire her to keep playing, learning and have fun with piano.

But all I had planned did not work . I failed and I need to forget about it while I was working. I couldn’t move on.

There must be something wrong with me, I thought. I prayed about it to settle my heart.

On Psalms 30:3 it says, “For His anger is but for a moment; His favor is for life; weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.”

I may be weird but I grab my Bible when I am really sad even for simple situations that bothers me. I always find comfort in God’s word. It sounds crazy considering that it was just about missing the right button.

As I was thinking and writing my journal I remember every detail of that day. Everything about her. I think she was nervous. She sat with us in the audience before the show started and I watched her playing her fingers against her piano book; she was probably practicing. If she was stressed, she handled it wonderfully. She played with no mistakes and memorized her piece. She did what she was expected to do. She got it right. (See, if I did not miss the right button, I could have it recorded and insert it here as a proof.)

The next day, she told us she was nervous and she actually was nauseated. “That feeling”, according to her Dad, “makes you stronger because you did a great job.” My husband called it “adrenaload”.

I realized I did not miss that moment. I watched and listen her play. I am grateful to be there and very proud how she did; and I can’t be fired as a mom just because I miss the right button.

She may remember that I forgot to record her show but I know our daughter; I know she is more grateful that I was there.

I realized life is more than a click of our devices. Gadgets are made for convenience or for keeping and documenting memories we created. Sometimes it can be life’s distraction.

Memories are made with our time and presence. It is made with a desire to live that certain moment. It is made by heart.

“How do you think people survive long long time ago without high tech gadgets?”, my husband’s statement to calm me down.

Failures can appear unexpectedly in every situation. It makes me uncomfortable.  It can rob my joy but not for long.  God is gracious enough to remind me not to dwell on it.

I was sad that her grandma who is thousands miles away won’t see how she did; but there is a lot of it coming. There is going to be more recital coming; she’s only 8 years old for goodness sake.

There is more to life to  focus on and be grateful for. There is going to be a lot of mistakes, tears, and pain that I will go through. A lot of learning. A lot of patience. A lot of love. A lot of healing.  I will forever experience all these because I am a mother. My seat will stay and I am blessed to be in this position; and I will never get fired. I love being a mom and everything that goes with it.

Imagine how difficult life would be for our children if the rule is getting mothers fired when we miss the right button. Thankfully, it does not work that way.

 Finally brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of a good report — if there is any virtue and if there is any praise — think on these things. Philippinas 4:8

“You Can Make A Way Because You’re A Mom”

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In between her Kuyas in her Filipino way of sitting during dinner time.

Our daughter said that to me today after she heard me worrying what to cook for dinner.
I have to change the meal I planned since her Kuya is coming and I want to make sure that we would have enough for the four of us (or maybe five when the other Kuya come along). It was her big brother’s birthday yesterday and I did not know he was planning to come. And when it is someone’s birthday, it is a tradition to have a home-made birthday cake which we won’t be having because I don’t have the time to bake.
So while I was driving on our way to her piano lesson, I was stress what to cook and she heard me talking to myself. She said, “You can make a way because you are a mom.”
It sounded really good. Music to my ear. It was encouraging. It was kind of her to say that. It was a pat to my back and a reminder that I can do anything. She probably think I am a superwoman in some way.
What she said may not be a big deal for any mom out there but it was for me. I do consider and take heart what she say especially when I am stress. She knows how to pick me up.
I am not a perfect mother but I try to do the best that I can. She would tell me, “Mom you seems stress.” And would ask, “What’s wrong?” I have my days.  I try not to forget that those keen little eyes and ears and her not so little but huge mind absorbs the things she notices.
Whatever made her say that statement today could be from the goodness she found in some things that I am working on to be good at. Maybe she was impressed with something I did that seemed impossible to be done. I don’t know. I remember though that I caught her little noggin so perfectly fitted right onto my palm when she slipped as she ran to the door to greet her dad. I was facing towards the door to unlock it while I heard her fast “tippy tappy” sound and I noticed my husband’s face with his eyes and mouth wide opened (he was standing outside waiting to get in), for some reason I turned around and quickly stretched out my other arm and catched her head. That day I would say I was a super woman. I made a way to save her head.
I know a lot of things that only a mom can do and understand. I may not recognize my strength until I am right on that particular situation.

With Kuyas

But when our kids speak out something like that, it comes from their heart and they believe in it. Where else that statement is coming from?
Yes I am patting my back but it really is heartwarming and encouraging when I hear it from her in the middle of there’s so much to do with too little time and I’m going crazy.

One Of My Christmases Back Then

Dec. 2004 Christmas Eve with my siblings – JR, Ate Arneth, Myself, Lyndon (back) and Jeff

I miss my Mother or should I say I miss her cooking. I miss celebrating Christmas with them back in the Philippines.

Christmas back home is very simple from what I remember in our household. Less stress. We would cook late in the afternoon and go to church. When we come home around midnight, Christmas Eve, we would get the little kids up when we can and eat together. Our table was full of sweet delicacies, fruits and mother’s cooking. After our midnight meal, we would have gift exchange if we have gifts, if not we will just talk or have a drink; and then go to back to bed. This was the tradition we started when our father started working abroad, making descent money and we could afford to prepare fancy meal.

1989 Christmas Day after church at my Aunt’s house. Myself, Lyndon, Jeff, JR, and Ate Arneth

Parents on the ship where father worked as a seaman.

When I was around five years old, I don’t remember us having fancy Christmas meal in our table. We were poor. I remember our house being dark, no electricity but the reflection of street light coming through our two windows. I could hear carolers but I don’t remember a group of them sing outside our home, maybe because it looked like we don’t have anything to give. My mom asked us to hang our socks, real socks that we wear not the stockings, before we went to bed. I remember laying on one of the sacks of rice that my father piled up in our house. He worked in my grandparent’s field and since they don’t have a bodega, they had it piled up in our living room almost up to the ceiling. It was our playground, we would climb, sit or lay in them. I was laying on one of the sacks looking outside one Christmas Eve while my mom sat beside me waiting for my father to come home. I don’t want to make my journal cheesy but I still can see my mom wearing a green dress. She was tiny and slim. The next morning, we would check our socks. We were happy to see it full of lollipops and hard candies in different flavors like lemon drops. No chocolates. No toys. My parents especially mother, made us believe it was from Santa Claus. We would hear the neighboring kids in the streets showing each others’ socks. I did not understand why Santa gave our neighbor, Jocelyn, a beautiful doll. But we were happy with what we got. The only new stuff we would get were clothing and shoes for our school Christmas Party and going to church. Our mother would sew our outfits when she couldn’t afford to buy one. She would borrow my grandparent’s sewing machine. For our Christmas Tree, she would collect cigarette foil wrapper and cut out different shapes and tape it on one of her house plants.

Our daughter one Christmas night.

Our daughter one Christmas night.

Looking back, I can say that I really am blessed. I felt sadness, as I am writing, that I was that kid who wondered why Jocelyn got a doll on her socks but at the same time I am grateful for what I have. The great memories that my parents created. The lessons learned growing up. Understanding and learning to value what matters most. The simplicity of life. They did not focus on the fact that we were poor by doing nothing, they worked hard. They did the best out of what they have.

My family, where I am now.

Dec. 2012 Christmas Day. My family, where I am now.

P.S I am happy to know who Charlie Brown and Linus is, and how peppermint candy taste like when I got here. These are one of the little things I am grateful for.

James 1:17 Every good and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of heavenly lights who does not change like shifting shadows.

 

The Great Scents Of Fall

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Beautiful trees. Awesome different shades of color.
It’s wonderful to watch leaves fall to the ground. The more leaves pile up, the prettier it looks.
Fall is the time of the year when the weather is just right. It gets cold but not the same with the actual winter season. I love it. The only pitfall is that I don’t like raking leaves. I have to be in a mood to do it. I don’t like to work where I pant and I get out of breath after. It’s a lot of work. Continue reading

See You Tomorrow

I told some of my friends that I would love to write a children’s book; but tonight I wrote a poem instead.I choose the tittle See You Tomorrow because it sounds very positive that kids can actually be great friends not only on their first meeting; and gives the new kid in the block something (hope) to look forward to the next day.

See You Tomorrow

Boys and girls make some friends,

Say hi to him, give her a wave.

Smile is free, give it away

It is better than a penny.

She is new, please don’t ignore

Let her come in

Open the door.

It’s more fun when you’re not alone

When you can talk,

Play and walk and

Share a laugh with someone.

Don’t take his lunch,

His only brunch,

Ask nicely to enjoy a crunch.

Remember your please and thank you,

Wish her a good day,

“See you tomorrow”.

You made a friend,

Today, someone is happy,

It is easy,

It did not cost you a penny.

All you need is a smile,

A simple hi,

And a great heart

To live by.

– Chelle G. _-

Scent And Music Takes Me Back In Time

There are things that take me back in time – images of events, places, and people. It could be from a photo, fashion, a scar (physically or emotionally), somebody’s cooking, gestures, scents or somebody’s situation where probably I was before. It could be a happy or sad memory, or something worth sharing and to laugh about, inspiring or embarrassing.

But scents and music are the two things that quickly trigger a lot of memories in my head.

I can see the image of my mom playing her guitar sitting on a Banig (native sleeping mat) on the floor using an improvised Lamparilla to lit up our living room and help her read her song book. Her favorite hits were Obladi Obladi by The Beatles, Boulevard by Dan Byrd, Changes In My Life by Jed Madela – she played this song hundred times and she even taught me to sing it with action, Paper Roses by Marie Osmond – this is the very first song I heard her play with her guitar and mind you, if I give her a guitar now, she will do this song in a heart beat. I can see mom’s fingers forming the basic chords and her strumming. She played well. Her voice was music in our home.

We did not have electricity growing up. You would know which one was our house because the only household that is not bright at night was ours; and we lived right at the corner of the street. At least, the street light gives off light thru our two windows. My mom had a battery operated radio, she would turn it on for weather forecast and when her favorite soap opera, Matud Nila, is on.

See, this is what music do to me. This reminds me how much I have to be thankful for. We grow up poor. Those were the old days when my Dad pursue college while working in his parent’s rice field, and at the same time, him and mom have the five of us. I used to carry an empty pot to my grandparents’ to be filled with rice and sometimes come home still empty. I remember my mom would tell me not to swing the aluminum pot when it is empty as I walk home so that our neighbors would not know that we don’t have rice for dinner. The lid would come off down to the unpaved road and would make noise and probably caught our neighbor’s attention.  We would end up eating Saba  (Plantain Banana) served with Kalamay (round candy that taste like molasses) to make it taste better.

When I was a baker at Dunkin Donuts, the smell of Sour Cream Donut reminds me of my mom’s deep-fried donut. It brings me back to those memories where I had to crack the Bagol (coconut shell), pile it up in a certain way to start a fire in our Sug-angan (cooking pit). My mother did not know how to cook until when my father left to work overseas. She leaped for joy the first time she cooked Pancit (rice noodles). She was so proud of herself. When we had a Carenderia (local eatery), I was her helper in the kitchen. I was 12 years old and we would wake up at 4 o’clock in the morning and walk from our house to the eatery. We had to wake up that early so Mother can get fresh meat in the market and we had to cut the freaking meat depending on what recipe she have in mind.  I said freaking meat because I hated cutting 10 to 15 lbs. of meat. Unlike here, the meat are already cut. We would start cooking as early as we can, when we’re done I would go back to sleep with sore muscles in my shoulder, wake up and get ready for school. I got a break from being a cook when I went to college, but when I am home particularly on weekends, I had to help. I have four siblings but she preferred to have me as helper because I know how to cook. Growing up, my chore in the house was more in the kitchen that includes cleaning, washing the dishes and cooking our meal. While my sister was with the laundry and ironing and cleaning the living room.

During my Dad’s vacation, we would cook together too. We would listen to music and play guessing game. We would guess of who the artist is from the song we were listening. Up to this day, I can see my Dad and I in that old “dirty kitchen” (extra kitchen outside) cooking together and competing to that game. He love to lay down, shirtless, on our concrete floor as he listens to his loud music. The red concrete floor was a good spot for us inside the house when it is too hot out. When the temperature “goes down” especially in the afternoon, we would ride a moped (motorbike).

Music has been part of me growing up. Dad got me a keyboard but I was not good at it. Maybe we live too far from the city where I could have gone for a piano lesson. But I love playing the guitar (I still do). I really did not care much about going out with friends in the weekend. As kids, plus I am a girl, I should be learning to do chores in the house according to my parents. The break I could get was playing the guitar, sing-a-long with a minus one tape and pretend I am a song writer. I did join a singing competition once where I forgot the lyrics and heard the crowd oohed. It was embarrassing. It was nuts.

I have a lot to write. I do have sad memories too, but I prefer the good ones. Something that makes me smile.

And by the way, when I smell the Christian Dior Poison Perfume (aInay Nenita Jan 2014 present my mom used to get when my Dad would come home from overseas), it reminds me of my mom and I at the Pawnshop lending her piece of jewelry when money is short, and we would ride the public bus going home with lots of food for my brothers and sister, and I would tell her, “Nanay , you smell like an angel.”

She Is Not Just A “Have-To-Do” Part Of The Day

Just like other mothers, I have my routine at home.

Every morning, during school days, I would wake her up fifteen minutes before the real time she get out of bed. Her clothes are ready for school, laid on the foot-board of her bed. Her toothbrush and toothpaste too, as well as water and mouthwash. This is our morning routine. When she gets up, all she need to do is get clean, and put her clothes on and head to the kitchen for breakfast.

Often times she will say, “I love you, Mama”, and I am very grateful and privileged. I think she feel the same way by expressing her love. This makes me realize that our short time in the morning is more than just a routine.

She is not just a “have-to-do” part of the day.

She looks at me as a mom. She sees a mother’s job is hard and  important. She reminds me that I am strong, she seeks for my help. She calls for me.  She teaches me humility when I do wrong. She shows appreciation having her underwear ready, socks being matched, outfits are laid, help to fix her bed is given and her piece of toast smelling good in the kitchen is waiting for her.

She gives me hugs and kisses.

She tells me she loves me and sometimes I fail to acknowledge it because I am so caught up with other things to do.

I am not patting my shoulder by saying all these. But maybe these are few things that our kids really wanting us to notice in them, when they verbalize their love and affection. These are probably what they want us to hear when we are in the middle of “running-out-of-time”, in a hurry or when we feel like they are “getting in our nerves”.

I strive to be patient, to have the right attitude when things get rough. I get worn out too. I sometimes think, it would be easier to get things out-of-the-way away as soon as I can according to what I planned; and move on to the next.

Motherhood is not a perfect boat to sail. The wind may take me to a different direction, but I can’t let her move along. She is part of me and we’ll sail together; and ask God to be the wind.

Yes, it really is good when I can have my alone time as soon as she gets on the school bus.

But at the end of the day, it is darn greater good when she hop off the bus, climb on you and tells you, “I love you, Mama”.

Psalms 127:3 Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him.