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The Product of a Sleepless Night

19 Oct

Sleepless yet productive. Is that even possible?

I used to be able to go sleepless years ago without feeling the brunt of it… at least not immediately. Back in college, I remember a sem when I had, oh, probably 4 or 5 major subjects, all of which required a monstrous amount of research papers to be submitted before the sem ended. I went without sleep for 3 days straight, buoyed by a constant caffeine drip supplied in numerous cups, and though I walked like a zombie on the day of submission, I did get those papers in.

Moving not too far back, about 4 years ago when I started out at JessicaSprague.com, I used to be able to function on 2 hours of sleep (earning the nickname “alien” in the process, since I seemed to be awake and on the boards at all hours). I could sleep for 4 of the 24 hours of each day and still have all the energy to live both real life and virtual life completely.

Ah yes, those were the good ol’ days. But nothing lasts forever, right?

Without warning, age crept up on me and with one sweep of its arm banished the invincible energy of youth. Suddenly I found myself at the mercy of huge yawns and eyelids that wouldn’t stay open without toothpicks to hold them up. Suddenly the siren call of the pillow was louder, drowning out whispered temptations of prowling about online, learning and teaching and creating till the wee hours of the morning. Suddenly “the spirit is willing but the body is weak” was no longer some childhood saying that I could not relate to; it had become reality.

And so now, with the odd exception or two, I find myself crawling into bed when the clock strikes 2 hours past midnight (sometimes, shame on me, even before that, if I’ve had a particularly heavy day).

But, like I said, there is the odd exception or two, when sleepless nights are called for, whether by force of circumstance (deadlines! deadlines!) or by desire (ooh, I just can’t quit pinterest when there’s just so much eye candy tonight!) or by… ahem… school projects of the kids.

That’s right. I did say school project. 😐

My son needed to submit a parent-child project for his Religion class, which required him to make a scrapbook (Ding! ding! Did anyone say scrapbook? Move aside while I do a happy dance! πŸ˜† ). This being the month of Octoberβ€”which for Catholics is the month of special dedication to the practice of praying the Holy Rosary, the kids were required to make a scrapbook on the mysteries of the Holy Rosary, with images and 2 prayers to be written under each image: one from the child and one from the parents.

So my son and I set to work on getting the images the week before, in between reviewing for their exams, and trying to figure out how to word the prayers we would be creating for the project. We searched high and low on the virtual highways, and we hit the motherlode when we found this site, which had the most beautiful images (and multiple ones, too, for each mystery of the Holy Rosary. Squeal!)

That turned out to be a really good thing, because over the weekend, my littlest son got hit by the sickies, which kept him in a very uncomfortable state (and his parents in a very alert, concerned state) while he nursed a 40ΒΊC fever that wouldn’t go down much throughout the next 2 days. So suddenly the plan to complete the project over the weekend turned into a plan to complete the project at the endΒ of the weekend.Β And that is how I found myself laboring over the final production of the project way into dawn of the day when it was due.

But! As the famous bard says, all’s well that ends well. Thanks to one sleepless night of extracting my kid’s penciled prayers, doing layouts, printing, trimming, and pasting… voila! My son and I were able to submit our joint kid-parent project! Thank heavens!

I just have to insert this aside: I can’t even remember the last time I created a layout (not for lack of desire but purely because of lack of time. Scrapping is many wonderful things plus delightfully therapeutic, but with deadlines to conquer, both virtual and real-life, in my case it’s also often what gets pushed aside first in favor of chasing other speeding trains. I wonder if other designers share this experience?).Β Well, thanks to my son’s required project, that “scrap-less” equation has been reversed.

30 layouts. One sleepless night.Β Love it. πŸ˜€

So here’s what we came up with:

The cover:

And the back cover:

The title page:

And because the book I was using had more pages than required to house all the mysteries, my son and I decided to include a photo of the Pope praying the rosary (thank you, Google images πŸ™‚ ) and another image of Our Lady with the rosary.

Another extra page housed yet another beautiful quote and then the individual pages of each mystery preceded by a “chapter page.” (Warning: Be prepared to be deluged by quite a number of images :lol:).

Phew! And that’s it!

Just something else I wanted to mention: I was incredibly glad that I stocked up on a couple of these 8×8 white hard-cover blank books (with awesome textured paper) from one of my favorite shops,Β Muji (minimalist, back-to-the-basics, filled with neutral colors, stocked with a large variety of products from stationery to food to clothes and gadgets… I can spend hours and hours in this place). I think I feel the need to go back and hoard some more stuff! LOL!

Hope you have a wonderful, sleep-filled night, my friends! I’ll see you zzzzzzoon… πŸ˜‰

Confessions of a Hybrid Wannabe

14 Jan

First confession: I actually have just one. One confession, and it’s simply this: I am a hybrid wannabe. HAHAHAHA! πŸ˜†

It helps to think this way every time my kids have some school project that requires “parental involvement” (which basically means you roll up your sleeves and go splashing in the mud with the kiddo).

Friday afternoon when I picked up J from school, I walked into what looked like a cloud (of thinly-veiled stress) hovering over my co-mothers. The reason: we just got a letter which basically said our kids would be having a mask-or-hat parade first thing on Monday morning, and the kids had to make their own masks “with help from their parents.” It would be graded as Homework. This meant only two things: (1) “make masks” = don’t even think of making a trip to the shops to buy a pre-made mask; and (2) “with help from parents” = goodbye, relaxing weekend.

The mask had to be a storybook character, and the kids had to be able to act in their character. Hmm. Wonder what the easiest mask to make would be? Mickey Mouse, right? (I mean, really, how hard can it be to trace one big circle and two smaller circles, stick them together, and paint them black and red? πŸ˜€ ).

But my son wanted to be Optimus Prime. I tried to convince him to explore other characters but he really wanted to be the Transformers chief. So I thought to myself, oh why the heck not? Let’s just go with what he wants; after all, it’s he who has to wear the mask and act in character. πŸ˜‰

So Sunday afternoon my son J and I set to work with leftover pizza carton boxes (good thing Son No. 2 had some school friends over on Friday evening, and lemme tell ya, those boys can eat a whole truck of pizza if you dared them). We gathered toilet paper and old newspapers and PVA glue (paper machie ingredients), foil, poster paint, colored popsicle sticks, pipe cleaners, and whatever else we thought we’d be needing to make the mask. And just so you know? We ended up using about 10% of the loot that we collected. πŸ™„

Just in case your kid happens to come home one of these days with the same homework, I decided to share the mask-making process with you (heehee).

First order of the day: Trim the box to a more manageable size. (Also, resist the urge to order another box of pizza to eat while working πŸ˜† )

Then, roll box around the head of your kid and mark where the eyes, nose and mouth areas should be. This is to ensure that your kid doesn’t go bump in the night while he walks around with the mask, and that he doesn’t get dizzy from the leftover-pizza-smell on the box.

Cut out eye area from the carton and fit. (Be prepared to fit a lot during the process. Better to stop and fit rather than go from beginning to end without interruption, only to get into a fit when you realize the eye area is just the right fit for the… nostrils!)

Cut out the portion that will go over the nose and mouth area.

Don’t omit this most important part: Stay awake with coffee (or Diet Mountain Dew or Pepsi, if you rock that way πŸ˜‰ ). Because, my dear friend, at this point we’re not even halfway there πŸ˜›

Fueled by cafe, cut out the breathing area…

… and (behind the scenes) stick all the rest of the materials you have: more cut-up pizza carton, crumpled and squished newspaper, bottle caps from Florida Naturals juice, a couple of pipe cleaners to hold the mask in place over the head, and tape: lots and lots and lots of tape to hold it all together.

Oh, and I did say don’t forget to fit, right? πŸ˜‰

Next, check the time and decide NOT to do paper machie because your mask will never dry in the next 6 hours. So decide to take the mask outside under the stars (yes, the moon had risen by the time I got the entire thing modeled to go) and spray-paint it entirely with silver paint in a can. (It totally helps if your paint says “dries in 10-15 minutes”). Try not to sweat the small details (like when you realize that there’s a slight difference in the texture of the paint on carton versus paint on tape, just let it go… πŸ˜† ).

Then paint in details with acrylic paint. (I tried poster paint at first and almost freaked out when I realized the poster paint wouldn’t stick to the silver paint! It was doing its own kind of “crayon-resist” performance. Thank heavens for craft rooms filled with paper scrapping stuff that has been hoarded–and hardly used–over the years, mwahaha. Those things come in handy at exact times like this.)

Do a final fit to make sure everything’s fine (and make sure the tape at the back of the mask is patted down without any areas peeling off because you definitely don’t want parts of your kid’s eyebrows to come off together with the mask πŸ˜† ).

Let mask dry overnight, and reassure your kid that you both did a great job together, and it doesn’t really matter whether you win the mask contest or not because you had a lot of fun creating it together anyway, and that is what matters. πŸ˜‰

Then go do some work on the Spraground (if you live there like I do, lol!) and then force yourself to sleep at 3am because you’ve got a big day tomorrow watching your kid in his mask parade.

D-Day:

Optimus Prime meets Captain Hook meets Bugs Bunny meets two Cats in the Hat and…

A hop, a skip, and a jump…

And we’re done! πŸ˜€

PS. The kids in the primary grades voted for the winner. Guess who won?

Whoopee-doo! Whodathunk, huh? πŸ˜†

Graffiti on My Walls

13 Nov

One morning this week, I finally decided to kill two birds with one stone (no actual animals were hurt πŸ˜‰ ) and proceeded to “write” on my walls while giving my body a workout (gym equipment = ladder and squeegee). The hubby had been amply warned (“Honey, I plan to put these up on the walls, okay?”) and I knew–in the way that spouses who live together long enough can read each other’s minds–that he was nervous about the possibility of our home turning into a large scrapbook layout, so with total consideration I embarked on my plan while he was at the office. Mwahaha.

My arms still hurt till today (let me tell ya, it’s not as easy as it looks to scrub typography on your walls, especially if your walls have texture! πŸ˜† ) but I got a total kick out of the reactions of my boys, so it was all worth it!

A couple of soundbytes from the fam:

Son No. 1 (coming home from class at univ): Mom! Did you just paint words on our walls?

Son No. 2 (coming home from school): Mom! Mom! Did you just write on our walls? This is so cool! (yes, he is thirteen).

Son No. 3 (looking up at the graffiti in our bedroom): I can’t read connected letters. What does that say?

Son No. 4 (also looking at the graffiti in our bedroom): What’s that black thing?

Son No. 5 (also looking at the graffiti in our bedroom): Ha. Ha. Ha.

Hubby (entering our bedroom and looking up): Relax. Ha!

(Uhm. I’ll take that to mean he approves πŸ˜‰ )

Just today, the hubby told me this one is his favorite. (Yes! He does approve!) It’s at the foyer, right by our front door:

LivE-friends

This one is in our main gathering place in the home (yes, we are big on meals πŸ˜‰ ):

LivE-appetit

This one is in my craft room which doubles as our guest room (anyone wants to sleep over? πŸ˜† )

LivE-miracleAnd this one is my favorite, especially because when I’ve been working all day on my compy and I lean back to rest my eyes, this is what I see. Mmmm. (It’s also what you see when you first enter our bedroom–how’s that for reminding you about what it’s all about, huh?)

LivE-relaxThe best part about it? I love the idea that when I say “Read the writing on the walls, buddy” — I can actually mean it literally. πŸ˜†

(And yes, my son did say “Our home looks like a scrapbook, mom!” Hahaha!)

7 Lessons Learned from the 70s

21 Oct

I will, at the risk of revealing certain factors that may make it possible for you to guess my age group, admit to being a child of the Seventies, and loving every moment of it. A decade like no other before or after it (yet), the 70s espoused the wild and carefree spirit that the 50s didn’t have, but was less rebellious than the 60s and less daringly anti-establishment than the 80s and the 90s. The 70s were the perfect decade for coming of age (possibly not a very objective view, considering that they were, after all, the years that I grew up in), but I will dare to venture that proof of this fact lies in the vivid recall of memories of anyone who was a child in the era of America, Bee Gees, and James Taylor.

(And for total ambience: America’s Ventura Highway, folks!)

 

The 70s taught me a lot about life and love, and the lessons are inextricably intertwined with childhood memories. Allow me to share both–the memories and the wisdom–of those wonderful years with you.

Lesson 1 – Follow, Fella

When I was about 6 years old, my paternal grandparents celebrated their golden wedding anniversary and, because we had the house with the largest space, ours was chosen as the venue for the big party. Great excitement filled the air as household help prepared the place (and hired men butchered numerous chickens in my first exposure to real-life gore). We had a jungle-gym of sorts in our backyard, and at six in the evening of the big party, I was still busy turning somersaults, my hands holding on to the bars of the gym while I threw my legs up in the air and left my head suspended midway like an astronaut in zero gravity. My mom told me to stop playing as it was time to get ready for the party and performance–oh yes (groan), who kid didn’t get asked to perform for relatives back then? I decided I could afford to do just one more somersault before going inside, so I did–and promptly hit my face on a rock whose existence on the ground I hadn’t even noticed until it caused me to see stars before my eyes. Wonderful: more real-life gore, on me this time, and a bad gash on my face which registered in all the photos of the grand event.

Lesson learned: Listen to your parents because they really do know more than you do. And obey. Immediately. (I have the scar to prove the importance of this lesson).

blog-retroLesson 2: Dance in the Rain

These days, when a little rain falls, many children will easily be seen in thick plastic raincoats, shielded additionally by umbrellas carried by their loving nannies. It wasn’t always this way. Back in the 70s, my brother (who’s two years older than me and therefore, by default, my partner in many crimes) and I would wait till the heavens poured down water in torrents and then we would gleefully grab our towels, shampoo bottles, soap bars, and run. In the wide expanse of our backyard we would dance and play and yes, take a full bath in the rain! Fully clothed. With mud stuck to our legs. Boy, it was a load of fun. Today I still try to get my kids to attempt this, just to experience the utter joy of feeling raindrops on their faces and arms, but they look at me with a mixture of doubt and amusement. (And then I almost see the thought-bubble forming in their minds: “Ah, mom–she is so charmingly nuts!”)

Lesson learned: Take time to frolic in the rain–or in the sunshine, for that matter. Happiness is a decision. It certainly doesn’t cost much, and it can be found in the simplest of things.

Lesson 3 – Fly Like the Wind

As a child I loved spending weekends at my cousin’s house. There was a park nearby, with great big mango trees that were perfect for climbing, and we would sit on the thick branches and contemplate deeply on the answers to some of life’s most troubling questions, such as which flavor of ice cream should we buy, and should we buy it now or later on? There was a big swing set, a serious one, nothing like the unremarkable Little Tykes plastic ones all over the place nowadays. No sir, these swings were made with wooden seats and real metal chains that squeaked as you pedaled with gusto. Unbeknownst to my mom and dad, I would pump my legs on those swings, trying to reach the sky, pedaling harder and stronger and faster, till I reached the point were the swing seat was almost parallel with the top of the swing bar. Then, at that point of greatest height, I would let go, push off, and soar through the air, landing on the grass feet first.

It’s a miracle I broke no bones. But in my 41 years of life, few things have topped the exhilaration of flying through the air.

Lesson Learned: Be fearless (within reasonable limits, of course. We’re talking about launching from swings here, not from roofs of houses). Dare to push the envelope. Don’t be afraid to fly. You may just discover talents you never dreamed were hiding inside you.

patinteroLesson Four:Β  A Little Dirt Never Hurt

We would start right after the requisite one-hour-rest-after-lunch (“or you’ll get appendicitis if you run around right after eating,” warned my grandma each time, like the broken ’45s that played on the turntables back then). We would end our playtime only when the sun threatened to set, our backs wet (no cloth diaper corners hanging out of our shirts because we never used diapers past the age of 8 months, much less on our backs!), our faces and hands grimy from a whole afternoon of Tumbang Preso or Patintero. When there were no neighbors to play with, I would “cook” leaves and sticks with mud in clay pots over coal. And I could do this all summer long with never a single whine about being bored.

Lesson Learned: Go outside. Get your hands dirty. Experience life with all your senses. There is no substitute for playing in the sunshine, sweat trickling down the side of your cheeks. (You don’t just give your muscles a workout, you also learn what it’s like to win and lose with grace).

Lesson Five: Of Canals and Combantrin

A cousin of mine and I always wanted a swimming pool. We didn’t have one in our house. So one hot day, we decided to take our wishes into our hands and pronounced the kanal outside the gate as a pretty good substitute. (Our kanals, as opposed to “canals”–which are large waterways–were about a meter wide and were meant to serve as sewage waterways… you can see where this is going). So into the kanal we jumped and splashed around, not minding the green moss floating but being careful not to dip our heads and open our eyes in the knee-deep water. Our older brothers and sisters mocked us, but we laughed right back in their faces and said they were missing out on the best thing… till something that did not belong in a swimming pool came bobbing by. We scrambled out just as my mom came around, her eyes wide open with mixed amounts of worry and anger. She made us take a bath in alcohol and water, and then made us drink 2 bottles each of Combantrin (I swear I can still taste that sticky deworming syrup).

Lesson Learned: Sometimes you’ll be ashamed of certain things you’ve done. But you’ll live through it, don’t worry. What doesn’t kill you can only make you stronger. And one day you’ll laugh about it. And if you were lucky enough to learn something from it, you’ll have even more than just a funny story to pass on.

70s-ugaldewLesson Six: Humor Is Never Overrated

My brother would get his kicks from teasing me and mispronouncing my already-difficult-to-pronounce full first name. I would get back by sneaking close while he was building a tower with several decks of cards and happen to get an uncontrollable urge to sneeze right when he’d be putting the last few cards at the top (thereby sending cards flying in all directions). No matter how we annoyed each other, we continued to play together and have the time of our lives. Our guiding principle back then–to which we still subscribe today–was Picon, talo (“He who gets upset, loses”).

Lesson Learned: When things irk you, you either laugh at yourself, or you learn to dish it out in a spirit of fun as well. Life’s too short to spend wallowing with a morose face in a pool of gloom.

Lesson Seven: Beware the Bangaw and the ‘Bao

Every morning, my father would wake up the six of us, children, at the crack of dawn so that we could walk to Mass at a convent a carabaoblock away from our home. We kids would trudge along the street, half-asleep, but not for long. See, walking with half-lidded eyes could only result in falling prey to one of two risks: (a) planting your feet deeply into squishy, warm fertilizer material freshly laid by the herd of carabaos that just passed by on their way to the grazing fields, or (b) walking headlong into a sleeping large fly (aka bangaw), your eyes flicking wide open at the instant you realize you’d been hit dead-center on your forehead. And that’s if you’re lucky, because if you had otherwise happened to have your mouth slightly open, there’d be at least a 98% probability that the offending large fly would sleepwalk straight into your throat, causing you to sputter in disgust, all sleep forgotten by your now-revolting body.

Today my father no longer wakes us early in the morning but he, my sisters and brothers, and I still find ourselves attending Mass regularly, some even daily, in our own respective parts of the world.

Lesson Learned: Old habits die hard. So make sure you establish really good ones while you’re young, especially if these habits have something to do with being physically and spiritually healthy and peaceful.

The Gift of the 70s: The Four F’s – Essentials in Life

Taken all together, the best gift of the 70s era for me was my discovering that there are really only four essentials for living a full and happy life: Faith, Family and Friends, and Funniness (i.e., a great sense of humor). You can have all the money and possessions in the world, but none of that can ever come close in value to the joy and fulfillment and gifts brought by the Four F’s.

So whatever decade you grew up in, or are presently growing up in, I wish you all the best of the 70s lessons, and may you be blessed with the Four F’s in your life.

NOTE:

* This was published in my ParenTTalk column, October edition of The Glimpse.

Credits for Images:

  • RetroMovies image by saine @ stockexchange.com
  • Cassette image by ugaldew @ stockexchange.com
  • Carabao image from tiger.towson.edu
  • Patintero image by Orville Tiamson for ForexWorld Artwork.

Happy Day!

5 Sep

Some days just turn out to be serendipitously happy ones, for no particular reason except that … it’s a happy day! πŸ˜€

Am celebrating it with this song!

And this!

And this!

And this!

Dance with me? πŸ˜†

Today’s Funny

As my son J and I were riding home from school today, he was (as usual) telling me about his day in school. Our discussion revolved around a classmate who probably had a bad day and ended up dealing a few punches and a kick to my son. (Ah, boys!)

So naturally, mama took the opportunity to talk about the importance of using words, not hands or feet, to express oneself.

Me: Maybe you can tell your friend to use words next time he’s upset. Only babies use their hands and feet because they don’t have words to express themselves. Grown-ups use words.

J: I know, Mama! I used words today! (said proudly)

Me: Really?

J: Yes. Someone told me “Hey, you, poopy-head!” So I said, “Hey… you! Back at you… poopies!”

ROFL. I think this kind of boy-talk I can tolerate. πŸ˜†

Today’s Freebie!

And because it’s a happy day for me, and happiness is meant to be shared, here’s a freebie for you! πŸ˜€

This large (approximately 6×8 inches) grungy frame brush can easily be resized if you need a smaller frame. It comes in .abr format and .png format (so if you use a program other than Photoshop or Photoshop Elements, you can still use the frame! Yay!)

LivEdesigns-FreebieMini06-img

Preview Stock Photo Credit: Ayla87 at stock.xchng

{ Click on image to download. Please see Terms of Use included in zip file. πŸ™‚ }

Here’s how I used my frame on one of our class projects done for my dear friend Jessica’s awesome Photo-Editing 2 course at jessicasprague.com!

PhotoEd2-proj1-w

Spraground Shoppe: My Newest Baby

I’ve got a new product up in our shoppe! YAY! πŸ˜€

LivEdesigns Storyboard Album Template Pack

(Image is linked to the Spraground Shoppe. Click on it and find yourself in our awesome Spraground candy store! :D)

My Storyboard Album Template Pack will help you create your own album with a graphic, storyboard look in a jiffy! It comes with twenty-one 12×12 layered templates (in .psd format), including a title page (with optional text path included), filler template pages which work well if you use them side by side in order (or you can also jumble them up and mix and match them), and a special template page for the last page of your album. I’ve included text boxes and text paths which you can use as is, or you can also opt to replace these with your own.

Because the Storyboard Album Template Pack is done in graphic style, you can use it for virtually any album theme you want! Use clipping masks in Photoshop or Photoshop Elements to clip your own papers and photos of choice. You can choose to use all the masks for photos, or if you’d rather clip patterned paper on some of the masks, that’s totally fine too! Add a bunch of your embellishments if that’s the look you want, or use just a few if you prefer the clean and simple, minimalist look. Don’t you just love all the freedom you have at your fingertips? πŸ˜‰

Best of all, you can use it again and again for as many albums as you wish to make! πŸ˜€

And… that’s it for today, folks! It’s back to the drawing board to create more stuff for you!

Have a wonderful day, my sweeties! (((hugs)))

Et cetera

10 Jun

Latin: et (and) + cetera (the other… things)

So. I have been trying to get my head focused on the one million and one things that need to be done (is your to-do list any shorter? Fancy trading yours with mine?), and I figured the best way to get my motors revved is to … procrastinate! bwahahaha. πŸ˜† just kidding. Of course, what I really meant is: the best way to get me energized to do the ton that needs to be done is to sit on this porch, have a little chat with you, and when it’s over, I’d have amassed the energy and inspiration I need to go and attack that workload!

Let’s play catch-up, why don’t we? Here we go! πŸ™‚

Something to look at:

Last week I got the biggest surprise of the year. See, there was a thread on our Spraground forum with a cryptic message from my friend Dawn who said something about “great seeing you ladies on p. 37!” (not verbatim, but you get the picture). It was a fabulous way to trigger the curiosity antennae… so I soon found out that my dearest friend Jes had done a layout of our beta Spragfest held in Chicago last year (lots of happy memories, that one) and it came out in her column in the June issue of the Creating Keepsakes magazine!

How awesome was that!

Of course I found out about this close to midnight. Of course I got out of bed in my pajamas, drove to the house of my regular magazine-stand girl, and demanded that she check the most recent shipment of CK for the June issue so I could get my hands on p.37 and savor the sweetness myself!

Well, not really. But I came close to it (ask Jes, she’ll vouch for it). πŸ˜†

So… a day or two after the thread came up, I got my own copy of the mag, and yippee! There we were, the Chicago babes! And there was Jessica’s AWESOME layout! Never mind if I looked like a dorky kid. To be a glue dot on Jessica’s layout is honor enough! ROFL. So here’s the page:

ckpage

And here’s a close up of the fab layout that Jes made:

ckpagezoom

And here’s a funny:

I showed the page to my nanny. She took one look at it and said, eyes peering closely at the photo, “Oh, it looks like you, Ma’am.” I said, “Yep, cos that’s me!” Her response: HAHAHAHAHAHA!

No, she still doesn’t believe it’s me. To this day.

Something to marvel at:

My 7-year-old son J, who loves drawing so much that he’s going to make trees quiver in their roots once he’s done recycling all our paper at home, has just recently discovered that broken crayons can be taped together so they don’t go to waste. And he’s been using that discovery to mend all his little colored friends.

One day last week, he came to me all excited. “Mom! Look! I found triplets!” he said, holding up a crayon broken into three. “This crayon is going to the crayon hospital!”

Five minutes later, he comes to me and says, “Look, Mom! All better!”

crayon

Voila. Crayon Operation, folks. Who’da thunk you could actually staple a crayon together? Did you? I didn’t either.

Amazing, kids are. Makes you wonder just how much we could achieve if we adopted the same kind of brave, nothing-is-impossible attitude toward all that life throws our way, doesn’t it?

Something to be grateful for:

Remember that whole post about multitasking a few days back?

A friend of mine emailed me with this question: Can you download two or more things at the same time? (Cute, isn’t it, the innocence in that question? πŸ˜€ )

This is my answer:

download

Oh yes, my friend, you can. And boy, do I thank high technology all the time that indeed, we CAN!

Something to think about:

I keep this guy on my desk (among other “guys” πŸ˜‰ ).

1259

First of all, I love that my teenage son thinks I’m a cool mom because I have this… this creature… on my desk. (He has about 5 of his own. It’s apparently the in-thing with kids these days. )

Secondly, I love that it says 23:59. In fact, that’s what made me take it on its short journey from shop shelf to cash register. Initially, I loved that the time and all those (what are those anyway, veins? πŸ˜† ) spindly things seem to empathize with me when I’m rushing against deadlines (which I seem to get a lot of in regular doses).

But this little thing has evolved, and today I found that 23:59 stands for more than just deadlines. It makes me think about time running out (one minute left, lady!). It makes me think about how this life is temporary, how we really are just travelers passing through, making our way to our final destination. It makes me think about how all we really have is now, and how we need to grab Now by the collar and do all the good that we can and give all the love that we have… NOW.

Amazing. Little did I think when I picked up this little guy in the store that day, that he would stand for so much more than four numbers on his little face.

Something too precious for words:

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I hope I never run out of love letters like this:

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Something to laugh about:

Okay, so I think it’s been established that google reads our emails (or at least their robots do). My friend Jes and her carrot cake addiction will attest to that.

But nothing prepared me for finding this in my spam folder when I went to clean it up…

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I mean, seriously? French Fry SPAM Casserole.

Right.

And yes, I fell off my chair. Rolled on the floor, in fact. Laughing out loud.

Have a wonderful, laugh-out-loud day too, my sweeties! Over and out!

Open Road = Freedom

26 Apr

Last week, the boys (read: my family πŸ˜† ) and I went on a 5-day vacation to the mountains/beach. I have to work through uploading the tons of photos I took. This post is meant to give myself a jumpstart. >heehee<

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“Shine sweet freedom, shine your light on me. You are the magic, you’re right where I wanna be…” ~ Michael Mcdonald

Hope you’re all having a great day!

Music, Dance, and Whirled Peas

21 Apr

Actually, I mean World Peace (thanks, Jes! πŸ˜† )

Seriously, though. I honestly think it works. In the same way that two people in love can speak volumes without uttering a single word, people from all corners of the world can find connections with one another despite differences in skin color, eye shape, body mass, age, nationality, beliefs… if they–we–only pause long enough to hear the soft whisper of what ties us all together as one.

Fraternal love. It’s the universal language that needs no words to affirm its existence.

And happiness, that great emotion that moves us to swing our arms and shuffle our feet and sing out loud.

Enjoy:

* Thanks to my dear sister, who shared this vid with me. She’s a total expert at finding jewels on youtube. :D*

Magtanim ay di biro

20 Apr

The English version of this Filipino song goes, “Planting rice is never fun…”

It’s a song that tells about the difficulties of the life of a farmer, how one has to bend over the entire day, with no time to sit and no time to stand. And then it goes on to summon the listener to join in, to keep the industrious spirit alive, to continue the hard work in the hopes of securing a brighter future. Wonderful how the song reflects the positive, hopeful mentality of the Filipino.

Somehow, though, the true heart and emotion of the statement, sadly, gets lost in translation (boy, did that movie get the whole concept right in that three-word phrase!)

So. I love taking shots of farmers at work in the fields. Because the Philippines is primarily an agricultural country (“despite plans to turn it into an industrialized economy by 2000” ), it’s pretty safe to say that farmers constitute a huge part of the images that come into my mind when I think nationalistic thoughts.Β  Plus there is something so humbling about seeing these men and women working hard to give us the most basic of our needs.

I remember in my first year at the state university, I had a teacher named Judy Ick for English 2. I will never forget her, not just because she gave me my very first grade of 1.0 (though yeah, that added to her unforgettable quotient), but mainly because she was totally cool. Back in the early 80s when teachers wore proper 2-inches-below-the-knee skirts and tailored tops, Judy came to our classes in the mini-est of mini skirts and razor-cut hair, shorter on one side than the other, chewing gum, smoking a cigarette, and holding a can of Coke. She was the epitome of cool to the young teenagers that we were. And when the EDSA Revolution broke out, she held our classes underneath the trees in the university’s fields across Palma Hall. And best of all, she was smart.

So how does all that relate to farmers?

See, a group of friends and I–there must have been 6 or 7 of us–heady with the youngsters’ typical bloated sense of freedom that comes from knowing you have certain advantages in college that you didn’t have in high school, decided to make use of that wonderful freedom to absent ourselves from class via the “free cut” route. We stayed in the one sorry cafeteria then, called CASAA (what it stands for, I cannot recall anymore, although I always got a kick out of pronouncing the double-A ending because it sounded so much like the then-famous weatherman’s way of saying PAG-ASA. And this, I do remember, stands for Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, & Astronomical Services Administration. Phew, what a mouthful!).

So there we were, with our arms splayed out on the caf tables, chattering away and playing Pusoy Dos (poker, Philippine-style), when we really should’ve been in our English class. Just our luck… twenty minutes into class time, who came into CASAA looking to buyΒ  her regular can of Coke to go with the mint gum in her mouth?

I can still recall with 100% clarity how she looked standing there, staring at us, mouth agape. Wordlessly, she turned around, Coke can in hand, and marched off.

And we? We were as red-faced as overripe tomatoes, guilty beyond doubt. A flurry of debate followed:

– Should we tail her and attend class?

– No, what for? She already caught us cutting her class!

– But it’s worse to continue to sit here and play while we know that she knows we’re throwing her class away for a bunch of cards.

In the end we decided to follow her. In shame. And because we were a bunch of loonies, we bought brown paper bags for each of us, cut holes in them for our eyes, and wore them over our heads as we marched back to our classroom in a line. (And yes, the brown bags were meant to charm Judy Ick with a bit of humor. They worked. :D)

When we came in, she was giving a firm-sounding lecture to the entire class, and paused just a second before she said, “See? Here they are! These are the guilty ones I was telling you about!”

But because the brown paper bags worked their charm, she softened up and ended her reproach with these words of wisdom that I have carried with me throughout the years (and yes, I’ve told them to my sons over and over again).

She said:

You have to remember: when you study in this state university and you cut classes, you are not just wasting your parents’ money. You are wasting the money of Juan, Pedro, and Tomas, and all the other farmers who work long hours in the fields from morning till night, toiling under the heat of the sun, never stopping even when the rain pours down, just so that they can earn enough to send YOU to school while their own children sit in their homes, unable to attend school themselves.

(At that time, tuition in our university was largely subsidized by the government, and we had to pay a very very very small fee to add to it).

Oh yeah. It was the perfect guilt-trip laid on us. And it worked. I never cut another Judy Ick class again.

And I think I’ve loved farmers ever since.

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*photo taken on the road during our trip to the mountains last week* more photos coming soon πŸ˜€ *

Hopping off the Roller Coaster

27 Mar

This is pretty much what I looked like the entire month of March:

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… and what a ride it’s been!

I have two sons graduating this month and embarking on new journeys: one is going on to university (can you believe it? Am I feeling the creak in my bones? Uhm… yeah. πŸ˜† ) and one is going on to high school. Of course we are incredibly proud of them and we celebrate this additional feather on each son’s cap. Never mind if that means that there are a ton of only-in-March obligations to attend to (all school-related: baccalaureate masses, enrolment in the new schools, buying new outfits, getting the required medical and dental sheets filled up by the pedia and dentist, attending all these “no, they are not optional” parents’ meetings which are included in the acceptance requirements of the new schools… and wait, I’m not even half done, but let’s end it there before you doze off).

But hey, that’s not too much to attend to, right? So let’s throw in a number of family reunions (ah, now we’re talking really happy stuff!)Β  My darling brother, two years older than me, whom I have not seen in almost 10 years, finally came home with his family for a couple of weeks, and because there’s just so little time before he has to fly back, naturally we’ve been trying to get together as often as we can. My aunt, whom I haven’t seen in just a little less than the time I haven’t seen my brother, also came home with my cousin, so it was just totally wonderful to get together with family this month. (The only thing I regret about my brother coming home is that I just know I’m going to miss him and his family soooo much when he flies back in a week’s time. >sniff<)

Since in my family I have the most kids, and most kids = most home space, it was decided by majority (we’re a democratic family πŸ˜‰ ) that the reunion dinner be held in my home. I love having visitors over. I love having family over. I love having friends over. I love having company over. I love hosting dinners, impromptu or planned.

But wait. Did I mention that our home is currently undergoing *major* renovation?

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So. That’s why I’ve been absent for such a long time. I received your sweet, sweet emails and notes, my dearest friends, asking why I’ve been quiet… I am so grateful for the hugs you sent my way and so moved by your sweet concern, and I am so so sorry for having been unbelievably remiss in keeping up with my new year’s resolutions. (Yep, No. 5 – I will blog at least 3 times a week. I am so pathetically behind. Tsk tsk.)

Lots to catch up on.

Home on the Range

… or should I say Range in the Home?

Remember the photo of the undone kitchen some time back? Well, work on it is finally done. (Yay! Score 1 for the rooms in the home!)

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The kiddos’ room is also done. Score 2 for the rooms in the home!

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Finally found another use for all those beloved (accumulated) figures. dsc_0095_shelf

Monsters, Inc., anyone? πŸ˜†
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None of the other rooms in the house are completely done yet, so this is all I’ve got on the homefront for now. πŸ˜›

This Week’s Funny

Preface: We walk around our home in bare feet because we’ve got wooden floors, andΒ  then there’s the fact that the kids (and I) will jump at any excuse to walk without shoes πŸ˜†

So a couple of days ago, I was feverishly working on my latest kit while my newly-7-year-old J and my soon-to-be-5 S were sitting on the floor of my bedroom a couple of feet away, playing with toys together with their nanny.

Suddenly, J half-screamed in shock and distress: “AAAACK! Mama! Yaya’s feet are bleeeeding!”

I turned around and said, “Whaaaaat?”

Yaya (their nanny) was totally calm, and with a very embarrassed look on her face, she whispered (loud enough for me to hear): “That’s nail polish. I polished my toes.”

Without missing a beat, S ran to me, anguish written all over his face: “Mama! She punished her toes!”

Hmmm.

This is probably the biggest disadvantage of having a mom who keeps her fingernails and toenails short and unpolished. My poor boys have absolutely no exposure to such feminine toys of vanity. hehehe. (Seriously though? I can’t grow my nails simply because I find they get into the way of everything I love doing: working on my compy, taking photos and changing lenses, holding my kids’ hands without fear of scratching them accidentally, giving my scalp a good massage as I shampoo my hair… ya know, those kinds of things. πŸ˜† )

Humor and Cuisine, Filipino Style

Two things that are very basic Filipino food fare: adobo and puto (though not necessarily eaten together).

Wikipedia says this about adobo:

In Filipino cuisine, adobo refers to a common and very popular cooking process indigenous to the Philippines.

When Spanish colonizers first took administration over the Philippines in the late 1500s and early 1600s, they encountered an indigenous cooking process which involved stewing with vinegar, which they then referred to as “adobo,” which is the Spanish word for seasoning or marinade. Dishes prepared in this manner eventually came to be known by this name, with the original term for the dish now lost to history.

Thus, the adobo dish and cooking process in Filipino cuisine and the general description “adobo” in Spanish cuisine share similar characteristics, but in fact refer to different things with different cultural roots. While Philippine adobo can be considered adobo – a marinated dish – in the Spanish sense, the Philippine usage is much more specific.

Typically, pork or chicken, or a combination of both, is slowly cooked in soy sauce, vinegar, crushed garlic, bay leaf, and black peppercorns, and often browned in the oven or pan-fried afterward to get the desirable crisped edges. This dish originates from the northern region of the Philippines. It is commonly packed for Filipino mountaineers and travelers. Its relatively long shelf-life is due to one of its primary ingredients, vinegar, which inhibits the growth of bacteria.

The standard accompaniment to adobo is white rice.

Outside the home-cooked dish, the essence of adobo has been developed commercially and adapted to other foods. A number of successful local Philippine snack products usually mark their items “adobo-flavored.” This assortment includes, but is not limited to nuts, chips, noodle soups, and corn crackers.

This is what adobo looks like:

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(image courtesy of rasamalaysia.com)

Then there’s puto.

Wikipedia says this about puto:

Puto is steamed rice cake popular in the Philippines. Rice, the main ingredient in this dish, is an important staple in the Philippines. It is typically eaten in most meals and has been known to be featured in all types of sweet and savory Filipino dishes. Puto is usually eaten as dessert, but can also be eaten for breakfast dipped into or paired with a cup of hot coffee or hot chocolate.

There are many variations to the recipe ranging from the type of rice used to the method in which the rice is prepared. In its traditional form, puto is of a plain white color. Adding certain common Filipino ingredients like ube and pandan (made from pandan leaves or Pandanus amaryllifolius ) slightly changes the flavor and completely changes the color of the finished product. Likewise, food coloring can be added to change the puto’s color but still keep its original flavor.

Most varieties often include the addition of coconut milk and this influences the flavor.

This is what puto looks like:

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(image courtesy of Wikipedia)

And here is the reason why we have this little lesson on Filipino cuisine. Because it’s the preface to this showcase of Filipino humor at its finest.

I was riding the car on my way to a dinner hosted for my brother-back-from-abroad and his family when I looked up and saw this little diner with the funniest name. And I had my camera with me, whoopee-doo! So of course I turned around the block just so I could come back to this little resto by the roadside and snap a photo of it.

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Isn’t that such a hoooot? πŸ˜†

I am so inspired to travel around the city, heck even the entire country, searching for more of these hilarious signboards, showcases of the ever-amazing sense of humor of these people on my side of the world. πŸ™‚

Okay. Time for bed. It’s 4.30am and I’m going to crawl through tomorrow if I don’t hit the sack right now. But it was just *awesome* sitting with you on this blog porch after such a long time! I have totally missed you and am so glad to be back!

More tomorrow, including a wonderful announcement about an upcoming course or two (wink, wink, wink!).

Have a happy day, my sweeties! (((hugs)))

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