Radio Silence

Yeah, yeah. It's been a while. And in that while, so much has taken place. A home became simply a house, filled with ten years' worth of memories and the shadows of things we cherished. A family was uprooted and spent a good three weeks in nomadic existence (which, I highly DO NOT recommend when with a baby a mere month and a half in age). A plane ride with tons of luggage to juggle and excited children to herd delivered us to the place we now call home.

I've packed and unpacked, cleaned the condo, searched for furniture, bought and cooked food, walked kids to the bus stop and picked them up at the end of school. I've met teachers and new neighbors, became familiar with the underground labyrinth of shops and stores that greet you when you alight from the MRT, and established the much-needed routines to settle my family.

I've stayed awake at night (and the wee hours of the morning) to feed Raul. I've brought the kids (one by one) to meet the new pediatrician, who, thankfully, is someone I can work with.

I've found the market and have heaved a sigh or relief that I can buy large cuts of meat and chicken at a fraction of what the groceries here command. I've spent S$20 on plants that I bought from the grocery because I miss my garden and green just brightens up a room. (And no, I don't believe in the fake stuff.) I hope that I can keep them alive.

The condo is slowly becoming a home. We've unpacked most of the boxes, and discarded things we do not need. We now have a dining set to have proper meals, and a sofa to rest our weary feet. And now the mothering begins, running after kids who are jumping on the sofa, complete with shoes or dirty feet. Getting the kids to sit still so they can eat properly. hay.

I've rediscovered my inner cook, having to make most of the meals. I've deboned chicken, made my own atcharra, marinated meats, and baked goodies for the kids. After the cooking, I've done the dishes, cleaned the floors, picked up after the kids (which, they are learning to start doing themselves).

My days (and nights) have been packed.

But, I am slowly finding my groove and am loving it here.


Things Forgotten, Missed, and (need to be) Remembered

It's true what they say about childbirth...you forget everything that happens, all the pain is erased, the moment you see your baby. It's as if someone has graciously snipped off that part of the ribbon of your memory to ensure that the process of life is not put to a dead halt for fear of the pain of delivery.

My experience, this time around, was rather strange. A few days before my delivery date, that part of the ribbon was suddenly returned to me. All of a sudden, I remembered the pain I went through giving birth to Enrique. I remembered the pain of the IV, the discomfort of the spinal tap, the almost violent pressure on my tummy for force Enrique out, and the sharp, sharp, unrelenting abdominal pain of the recovery after. So, you can't blame me for kind of freaking out as the delivery date grew closer. I was torn between relief that it was almost over, and fear for what was to come.

And so I braced myself. I expected the worst; at least I knew it couldn't be worse than the last time. But the universe works in mysterious ways, and there were other plans for me this time around. Like Enrique, I had some pretty strong contractions the night before, which threatened to move up my delivery date. I didn't have so much sleep. And I had to wait for my OB who was running late. I was a bundle of nerves by the time they wheeled me in.

And here begins my experience of Divine intervention. My anesthesiologist, whom I have been with for the last two births, changes his style. He gives me something to calm me down, and then I feel nothing. No pain of the spinal tap. There was no violent pushing on my belly. I see my son, I hear his lusty cry and I experience an overwhelming calm that everything was going to be all right. I regain consciousness as they are cleaning me up, and am awake in the recovery room. Still no pain. Of course, I credit this to the lovely morphine drip that's giving me the itches...but hey, itch or ouch? No contest there.

I am later wheeled into my room and I wait for the onset of the discomfort I have been expecting. It does not come. And when they remove the IV and catheter, and as I brace myself for the short, but seemingly forever, walk to the bathroom, I am greeted with surprisingly very little pain discomfort. In fact, I could have walked by myself to the loo. Recovery is so quick that my doctor discharges me Saturday afternoon, a mere 2 days after surgery. I am astounded at my recovery; I wasn't aware that this was possible. But, don't get me wrong. I am truly grateful.

And while hubby and I were camping out at the hospital, my kids were making waves at lolo and lola's house. They were having a blast eating out; they were taking over Lolo's tv (much to his dismay); they were eating a loooot of pancakes. At some point, Hannah and Mateo were overheard to have this conversation:

Hannah: I'm not getting married. I don't want to give birth!
Mateo: You have to get married!!
Hannah: Mateo, don't force me. It's my decision to make!

My little girl is truly an old lady trapped in an 8 year old body.

Raul's presence has already begun to change us. Mateo has transformed into some super older brother. When Raul cries, asking to be fed, Mateo keeps telling him, "that's okay Raul, you're safe," or "Kuya's here Raul, you're okay." With matching super gentle stroking of Raul's feet (or head, if he can get away with it). Enrique has been coming in and out of the room, eternally asking "Where's baby Raul?" And peers over the crib. Hannah has been herding her brothers, making sure that they behave around Raul.

And as I am thrust into motherhood yet again; as I struggle with early morning feedings and diaper changes and burping and lack of sleep, I am gifted with the snuggles of an infant falling asleep on my chest. I am rewarded with the soft baby fuzz as I softly move my lips across his head. And I am intoxicated by the baby breath as he nestles and falls asleep.

Such are the experiences I never want to forget.


Checking In

Am leaving for the hospital in an hour or so. My bags are semi-packed. The goodies I want to eat (when I finally can) have been set aside. The baby bag is full of the essentials (read: home bound outfits, bottles, wipes). I've snuggled with my kids, and inhaled their not-so-baby smells, a pabaon for the time that I will not be able to see them (or smell them) or hold them in my arms. I've got my books, my crochet threads and needles, and videos, all ready for the dead time I've got to spend while recuperating.

But all this while, I cannot shake my nerves. I guess its all part of knowing what awaits me. The darned spinal tap can be somewhat painful. And recuperating can be a b*&$%, especially if my OB has to cut through muscle, like the last time. Damn, I forgot to talk to her about that....

And so, my shout out to the universe: send us everything positive. Watch over Raul. Let me have a safe and uncomplicated delivery. Allow us to go home together. Let us be a family of six, and me a mother of four.



I guess my first clue should have been the exclamations of "you're soo biiig!" by good friends, many of whom I have not seen in quite a while. Ah, no. Erase that. My first clue should have been when I measured my waistline about a week and a half ago and gasped at the sight of the number 40, in inches, burning itself in my eyes. I now have a 40 inch waistline! Ye gads. I knew I was big, but didn't realize I was that big.

But, then again, I have been ignoring the not so subtle signs of my ready-to-pop-ness. Random people have been drawn to my belly, and have been compelled to ask me when I was due. Today? Tomorrow? And I've had my share of concern thrown my way...be careful... stay in bed!...that's too heavy, ako na....

And, when my Beacon friends got together a few nights ago to celebrate a birthday and send off some peers, my belly got its fair share of attention. A rub or two. A sugar bowl balanced on top of it. Some pictures. And the question: when are you due? To which my reply of next week drew some shock.

Next week. I never thought I'd get to this point. June 2. On this day next week, I will be checking in the hospital, getting ready to welcome little Raul to the family. (And the way he's been tormenting kicking me recently, its as if he feels the urgency to join us as well.) Just a few more days of holding on. A few more days of discomfort. A few more days to get my act together before I am rendered completely useless by my family, except for a little boy to whom I will be at his beck and call.

And once this happens, I know that the chain of events will start rolling, and there will be no stopping it. Until I find myself in settling Singapore in less than two months' time.

I can't wait.

Let the countdown begin.


A Day in the Life

Today, someone gave me, quite possibly, the fattest crabs I have ever seen (and will eat) in my life.

They are now happily merging with sotanghon, awaiting their fate on my dinner table.

Today, I helped Enrique crack open his "piggy pig."

And after seeing the contents on the floor, I realized that he so efficiently took coins from all possible sources (read: lolo's table, the emergency money jar by the kitchen counter, mommy's wallet, to name a few). He is now P750.00 richer. I must remember to deposit this the next time I get to the bank.

Today, Hannah and I tried our hand at making pan de sal.

Not bad for a first attempt. I think more kneading next time, more sugar with the flour, and maybe try a mixture of bread flour and APF.

Today, I made my first batch of calamansi marmalade.

I can't wait to try it tomorrow.

And now, I feel like this...

It has been a good and productive day.


For Mateo

May 6, 2011

My dear Mateo,

Today, you are five years old. Five. I can hardly believe how fast time flies. And its amazing how much you've grown in the past year.

As a just-turned-five-year-old, you have such a range of interests. In the mornings, if you're not exhibiting tulog mantika symptoms, you like to put on your blue rain boots and help Ate Em sweep the front of the house and water the plants. And, if you're feeling especially helpful, you bug us to wash the car, even if its raining or about to rain.

Not content with outside chores, you fight us for the broom and mop,

and if you have your way, the Pledge. You'd rather do housework than eat breakfast. You eat and prepare for the day only because you need to go to school.

Your daddy and I always say that if we lived in the States, you would do all right. You'd find some form of employment because you're not one to shy away from hard work.

After school (and a forced nap), you engage in a range of activities. Tennis with Coach Arcie,

gardening with Ate Em and your sister, playing with Mikey, sneaking in a tv marathon (if you can get away with it), taking out and using your "builder toys," and baking with me are some of the things that keep you busy. Recently, you've enjoyed playing with your Nerf gun, the water guns your lolo bought for you, and the fire trucks you have at home.

Oh yes, from Bob the Builder,

you now have this immense fascination for firemen and fire trucks.

So much so that you want to be one, to Hannah's horror. She keeps explaining to you the dangers of becoming a fire fighter. I think she worries too much for an 8 year old.

You, my little boy, although amusing, have also been quite a challenge in the past year. You're my Mr. Picky Eater, and its only really now that you're starting to try new things.

And that's because I force them on you.

But I'm glad that you're being really cooperative about it. You give them a try, at the very least. And I'm glad to say that you've started eating rice, and have included an increasing variety of food to your previously oh-so-limited repertoire. Now only if I can get you to try eating some veggies...

You're also my Chief Negotiator. You negotiate everything. And I mean, everything. From your bed time, "please, last five minutes," to finishing the food on your plate, "only three more bites," or "how about this, I will eat only the banana and rice," to what snacks we're buying, "we can get this and that snackie," to getting what you want, "if you don't buy this, you're grounded." Let's just say all the negotiating keeps me on my toes. You've gotten away with many things with your daddy because he sometimes doesn't listen...but I've had to stay alert when it comes to your negotiations. Your dad thinks you'd make an excellent lawyer... or hostage negotiator. Maybe one day.

You are my Mr. Tenacious and my Mr. Impulsive. When you're fixated on something...hoo boy. You've had many a melt down because we didn't give you what you wanted at that moment. But I'm glad to see that recently, you've been more open to listen to reason, to the idea of delaying gratification. But of course, you still cannot resist asking us every day, "do you have a turprite?" (Yes, you still cannot pronounce the letter s.) In fact, you've come to dictate what kind of surprise you want, "I want a big turprite, not a tmall one."

And sometimes you fluctuate between my Mr. Wuss and my Brave Boy, again refusing to enter the sea because there are fish (naturally!), or telling Lola upon seeing the cow in the farm, "let's go home, the cow is freaking me out," to bravely walking in for x-rays and taking in the pain of a CBC needed for your dental procedure. You bravely marched in with your dad for your procedure,

and upon awakening from your general anesthesia, you calmly accepted the IV in your hand. Your bravery astounds me and your cowardice amuses me, Matt.

And when I think that you're just completely off the wall, that you're driving me nuts, your moments of tenderness catch me completely off guard. When you wake up in a funk, you still allow Enrique to hug you (and you hug back), and then everything seems all right again. You come to Enrique's aid and comfort him when he hurts himself. You give me kisses out of the blue, and you reach out for my hand when we're walking together. Although you hate hugging, you let me hug you, especially when I need one the most. And when I'm not feeling well, you check in on me to make sure I'm ok.

My little man, you're growing up. And as I see more of your personality, as I see you become, I can only hope and pray that I do you justice. That I am able to take your gusto, your charm, your passion, your strengths and weaknesses and help you become who you are meant to be.

I love you, my little man.

Happy birthday!




There's no better word to describe me right now. I am a pregnant and highly impatient lady-in-waiting. It does not help that June is still so far away. It does not help that the summer heat has come in full blast. It doesn't help that I've been feeling extraordinarily hungry these past few days, craving for food I still can't eat. And it doesn't help that little Raul is being uber dooper alien-like, contorting my belly this way and that, suffocating me when I sleep and pressing on my bladder to ensure my maximum discomfort.

The thought of another month of all these bears down on me like a weight, choking me. I want this baby out. Now.

I'm trying to be patient. I know Raul needs to be where he is for another 5 weeks, discomforts being a part of it all. I know I there's nothing I can do about the summer heat, so I turn on the AC and fan and hide from it. And I know that every time little Raul moves, it is validation that all is well with him inside.

But I am tired. My back hurts. And I just want to get on with all the changes coming my way. I want to move on.

Wishful thinking never hurt anyone, right?

p.s. Raul, take all the time you need. Mommy's just venting.