Sunday, September 15, 2013

" ....This is our Finest Hour " - Sir Winston Churchill

Super Sept.15,2013
It is 9:15 in the morning.
Marcelina just had her first bottle.
I have just finished 2 hours of my Stanford University Educ115n online course of How to Learn Math.
I am not sure if my answer of finding the number of cubes in the 100th case is correct..but it makes me break the mindset of getting to the answer fast and quick versus exploring the growing, thinking and learning mindset of  finding the many ways of getting to the answer.
I have to devote at least 2 hours of my time to this to beat the deadline soon approaching. I still have yet to tackle 2 parts of representing, questioning Number Sense then Algebra and more hoping to develop the  growth mindset stand of  a teacher of math to my homeschooler.

The weekend that started on a Thursday night was quite full.
Ruel and his office mate Leo, worked on the  washing machine.  Sasha and her Yaya came to invite us for dinner in their home while I just finished preparing our dinner of adobong manok, okra with bagoong and fruit salad for dessert around 7pm.
Oh, their table was groaning with delectable dishes of sweet and sour fish fillet, palabok, sisig ( not sure if it was pork) , inihaw na manok, kutchinta and Opera cake.
It was fun to be with Dennis and Edna’s friends from work. Mostly engineers from the construction firm Dennis works with.
Marina and  Marcelina had a great time playing with the other kids present. They spilled over to the park afterwards.
Marina and I had to forego our dry run painting for her painting competition the following day at the Holy Rosary church.
It was another fun day meeting 2 moms waiting for their kids in the competition last Friday. The trophies and snack goodies were very appealing and enticing.
I met Nida, a pre school department coordinator at Philippine School in Doha ( PSD)...she was so proud to share to me her only son’s art works and developing skill. She encouraged me on  how to develop Marina’s budding talent.
I also met an Indian mom named Marina. She has 2 daughters aged 10 and 6 with nice names Reyna and Alicia.
She was super fun and candid. She tells me she has been here in Doha since she was 5. She considers it her home away from India. She made me laugh so hard with her animated stories. I hope to meet her again.
Marina did a good poster depicting FAITH.
She did not get the first prize but I hope she learned a lesson in obedience big time.
We had movie marathon afterwards.
Ruel cooked arroz caldo with lots of chicken liver for us yesterday.
He and his office mate continued their washing machine operation as well and I plan to try out the newly replaced motor tomorrow.
I sure enjoyed preparing my cauliflower sauté with carrots and sliced sausages for them last night.
The kids and I tried to stay awake for Audrey Hepburn’s  My Fair Lady last night...but was more inclined to  ponder on our viewing of Winston Churchill’s biographical documentary yesterday afternoon.
Awesome statesman and public servant.
“ ...this is our finest hour!”

Thursday, September 12, 2013

" Are You a Big Girl Now Mama?"

Super Sept.12, 2013

It is 11:18am.
Marina is tackling her math problems.
Marcelina is beside me wanting me to keep holding her, touching her while I try to finish this.
The other night, on the first day of my dredging the Pasig River so to speak, at lights off time, after praying with her the Guardian Angel prayer...she asks “ Mommy, are you a big girl now?”
I could not believe how her words have developed into phrases and good sentences in leaps and bounds. Her growth is indeed phenomenal. A lot of people cannot believe she is just  29 months when she speaks.
Anyway, her question really made me seat up figuratively.
I answered, Yes, mommy, is a big girl now.
“ Is Lilli ( complete with tapping of her rib cage) a big girl now?”
Oh, no ( trying to hide my amusement to myself)  Lilli is still a little girl.
“ Is Ate a big girl like mommy?”
No, ate is still  not so a big girl yet, while mama, is a BIG BIG girl already.
Reflectively, mama is not so big in a lot of maybe, mama is still a little girl inside when it comes to trying to forgive big time people who have made her life a taste of hell in this world.

Today’s gospel advises us to forgive...

 But rather, love your enemies and do good to them, and lend expecting nothing back; then your reward will be great and you will be children of the Most High, for he himself is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. 36 Be merciful, just as also your Father is merciful. 37 Stop judging and you will not be judged. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven. 38 Give and gifts will be given to you; a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing, will be poured into your lap. For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you.” ( Luke 6: 35 -38)

I will try to follow this as much as possible...if not, I will try to forgive myself foremost...but, in this case of airing my side of the situation will form part of loving myself back to wholeness...nurturing my mind that cannot forget and ....

What a relief, we had a peanut butter jelly sandwich in brown bread for late breakfast...and  Marina and I heard the signing in tune of my laptop...thought it was weird.
Coming back to it, I realized it shut down by itself. Why and how? I dunno. Temporary   power fluctuation?
Well, I am glad that I saved my word document before getting up.
Ok to be continued tomorrow.
I will end today's blog with the following quote:

"The Sidra tree, growing strong and proud in the harshest of environments, has been a symbol of perseverance and nourishment across the borders of the Arab world. What is the significance of this glorious tree? With its roots bound in the soil of this world and its branches reaching upwards toward perfection, it is a symbol of solidarity and determination; it reminds us that goals of this world are not incompatible with the goals of the spirit."
Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser
Qatar Foundation Chairperson, at the inauguration of Education City, 13 October 2003

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Happy Birthday Mom 10 days from now and always and forever!

Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious Sept.4, 2013
This morning, I finished  just a few pieces of laundry within one hour. Then, I had my quiet time. My thoughts were going here and there as I sat reflecting on  the  poster color art work Marina just finished of the Sidra Tree. It was perched on the music stand of our e.piano.
My thoughts went to my mom who is soon to celebrate another birthday while she is in heaven.
Marina just asked me if there would be a birthday cake up there?
hmmm.... yeah maybe a party. I dunno.
One thing is for sure, she is having a great time what would she say or feel if say perhaps she was still walking this earth today?
Would my life updates to her  bring a smile to her lips and make her heart wings flutter like an eager butterfly trying to fly to higher heights?
I remembered each and every one of her offsprings.
I thought of her first born having his own offspring as well after almost waiting for 10 years. This little boy is almost the age of my first born as well. Luigi is  making his parents really proud as well by getting into sports in a very good school back in Manila. 
Then I thought, if Syria is attacked soon, and Russia retaliates and blows Qatar into  smithereens in chemical warfare because of the big US facility here, what would  I do these last days?
So, I started to reflect hard on the one singular thing I would like to thank my siblings for. It was not hard to count beyond 10 of  what I would like to thank each of them for and tell mom about but let me just focus on one.
I’d say Dave, thank you for lifting me one day in college with your short  yet meaningful letter to me. I was smarting from a very grievous offense and almost scandalous insult hurled at me during an extra curricular activity I organized as the president of the Economic’s Society.
 I will never forget  how he wrote to me about oysters.  He said, the oyster goes about his business opening and closing his shell to breathe and eat. In the process, sand gets inside of it. Maybe, that is not a nice thing as well for the oyster. And yet, it is patient with the irritations of underwater life. Big or small. And  after a period of time uses the same irritation ( sand ) to make something so valuable. A pearl.
What a life saver you threw my way that day. Thank you!
I will always be proud to boast that  when Bill Gates came to Manila  years ago,  you were his country manager and were  with him and the then president of the Philippines, FVR, on a front page photo  of the major dailies that time.
Mom was super proud of you that time and will always be.
Hazel, your 2nd born mom. She is like you if you were alive. She calls me every now and then. She inquires on my girls and is not fearsome to tell me the areas I have to work on in the care of my kids.  I will be forever  grateful to her for being the real big sister to me. I will never forget her taking a day off from work to bring me to  the financial district of Makati for my job interview at Bank of the Philippines Islands just a few months out of college. I marvelled at the Makati triangle park while riding the love bus like blue transit we rode on that day. Thank you for your fabulous wardrobe that I would raid now and then when I don’t have anything to wear and not return them back on sequestration notice.
Mom ,her Nina is such a beauty. She just got into college. She wants to be a lawyer.
Chubby...your  American looking baby. The one that resembled dad so much as a child. Well, is one good example of a disciplined person.  He has abstained from pork for more a decade now I guess and is  into  marathons. He is developing  Manicaan into an organic working farm called Luisa’s garden. Your garden.
The one thing I will always remember Chubby for is the memory of him cooking me noodles soup while I was sick & serving it with crackers. He was home from a long flight as a steward for Phil.Airlines and I was absent from work. Long before the fad of chicken soup for the soul, he nourished me in that very simple gesture that left a very good memory that is nice to look back to now and then.
Pong...your closest confidante during the turbulent years of Ozamiz.  Those were the forgettable for some, but unforgettable years for me.  Pong showed what being tough was  when the  going really got rough. He gifted me &  my 2 year older than I  sister  Jennie,  with dresses for Christmas when there was not much to go around with that time. With that simple gesture, we felt much better going to Christmas mass having in our hearts the true meaning of giving. Giving with no expectation of anything in return.  Giving with the heart because the heart knows the real need from just the frivolities of life.
He showed me what giving was  even when it hurts already and did not show it so we do not feel bad. He sacrificed a lot in giving us those dresses. Also, he sent me a plane ticket right after graduation, so I can look for work in Manila. He showed me how to ride the jeepney to get to CM Recto so I can have my resume typewritten. Computer shops and/or computers were rare things those days in 1989.
Pong’s boys now mom are in college level as well . They are good looking and responsible young adults.
Chinkie, ah your middle child. Your junior look a like. She is one strong one. She has a heart as big as the ocean. She has the resilience of  a bamboo tree. Bends low but never breaks despite the storms in her life. She early on taught me what a go getter she was. She taught me by her stake to being dad’s girl to know my place and embrace it. I learned how to give way when I have to.
One day during kindergarten going home time, I thought they forgot all about me. I was waiting and waiting for mom to pick us up in the grade school waiting benches. Maybe I forgot  it could have been the other campus gate of which there were 4 I think. The WMSU campus was like super  huge for a 6 six year old like me. I was really lost and confused was in tears already...after what seemed like ages,  I saw my big sister coming to get me. Oh how I felt saved. And many many times she has done just that through all these years.  Getting tired maybe now and then, but never stopping to help her younger sister/siblings. Just recently, she saved me from shelling out dollars for 30 kilos excess coming to Doha. Her Qatar Airways  gold card mileage card took care of it easily and with not a break of sweat. Whew!
Thank you for the gift of forgiveness and reconciliation dear Sister.
And Oh mom, her daughters are growing up so fast. Patricia is a super sociable  adult already and  nurse with compassion. Cheska is in high school active in military training in school and is quite a head turner. Chinkie’s  handsome Raymond is almost to finish medical school and is serving without nary a complain in some remote village in Mindanao, risking life and limb to be part of this community in sensitivity and  immersion lessons. He is going to become a fine young doctor in the future with his head and heart in the right place.
And Jennie, your 6th child, She loves jewelleries and  plants like you. She  is another one with a magnanimous heart. She dotes on her nieces and nephews. She almost had a full circle experience for almost all of us going back to Zamboanga City to lead a bank there. Dad and all of us are very proud of her for this and many more accomplishments up her sleeve.
One of the many things I am forever indebted to her is her sponsoring my 1st trip to Bohol for the Single’s for Christ conference there. It was a life changing occasion that  challenged me in a particular area : Are you still going to praise God even when life get’s rough?

Then there is your 8th. The youngest for 10 years, Mike. He is still everybody’s ginger bread boy. I guess he will be forever be a boy in all of our eyes. Maybe, he lost something in his heart the time you had to go and has never recovered from it ever since.  He is doing good in sales  now.  I look forward to seeing pictures of his trips here and there.  His boys are super good looking. Ryan  and Louie are done with college already. Miguel is now in high school and the beautiful Stephanie is super brainy and good people person. I am happy that she and Marina  are good to each other and have had nice memorable moments together that they can look back to  when they are all grown up ladies in the very near future.
I will forever look back and be thankful to him for playing tea party with me & my dolls  even if he did not like to. I had to play marine commando with him though afterwards in our roof turned playground causing such nuisance and  noise for the bank employees under. So, it was an early lesson in give and take as well. I was always  the 3rd wheel in his tandem with his dog fluffy and their adventures.
And finally, the youngest, Peach.
( I had to take a long break to take care of other domestic business. It is 3:53pm. Marina is tackling her math problems. Lilli is tinkering with the piano)
Ok, Peach. Mom, when you passed on, she was barely fresh out of college. And a lot has happened in 13-14 years.  She has found a good man to be her husband, Vince and now have a very smart and cute fashionista of a daughter. They have been in Manitoba, Canada for more than  3 years now.
God gave her to us later in our family life for a very special reason.  You had her at 45. I tried and learned to be a good big sister to her. I found just lately her letter to me when she was just 7 or 9 years old. It made me sob uncontrollably. It had her  drawing of me  complete with eyeglasses and with my 2 moles in my left cheek in my school uniform in highschool. She made my biography. It made my packing up efforts so hard to do for our great move to come to Doha. Small mementos like that cannot and will never be discarded. They are fragments of our hearts made visible...and evidences of  being loved and loved back. Priceless.
One thing I will never forget about  her is when I was pregnant with my 2nd baby. She kept on bugging me about my baby’s gender. She was so  eager to pass on to me her lexie’s stuff if my baby was a girl. And oh my goodness, it was a treasure trove of  the good stuff.  Barely worn dresses, books, toys  and clothes and good shoes and the brands of which I can only hope for and wish.  So,  to our forever baby sis, thank you. You make me want to have a super fab life now and then.
There you have it.
Mom,  I know, how blessed your life is because of how much sacrifice and effort you put into bringing each one of us into this world.  You were so blessed to leave this earth with all of us around you and   your  BFF of more than 30 years Tita Ely, your sister in laws and of course dad holding your hand to your last breath

The parting was most painful but will never be bitter for your are enjoying the fruits and rewards of living a good life. Giving us a good name. Teaching us right from wrong. Showing us the way to God from our cradle and surely beyond our graves.

Thank your for loving us in our each own special way. Never making us feel less loved from one another. Always being proud of us for just being your child. And that was all that mattered  and not for any laurel that we bring home to you. No, you loved us just for being ourselves Imperfect and all. Unique, different and  very very special . Each child to you was indeed most beautiful and special. Thank you.

notes on the 5 pictures:
If my memory serves me right, these was mom's 2nd to the last  New Year with us. Nina was still a baby. Hazel was in red, Peach was in denim blue skirt, Jennie was in yellow, chubby was in red shorts, Dad was in olive green and she was in maroon.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

To move or not to move, that is the question?

Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious Sept.3, 2013

It is the 3rd day of this brand new month!

My energy level is waning a bit. It is telling me something. Slow down. Rework how I am doing things. Several days now, I have been skipping breakfast...still touted to be the most important meal of the day.

This morning, I had my hot coffee in the kitchen with Marina while she ate her cereals with me by the miniature ref and me by the sink. She sitting on the coleman ice chest of last Saturday’s activity and me on Ruel’s handy man work- miniature bench.

It was so calming to feel the warmth of the honey sweetened drink reach my stomach and made me feel good and cozy.

I felt like being a bit philosophical with her then leading to being spiritual in my early morning talk. I hope it touched her inner core as much as my kafe.

Last night while we were about to end our rosary, Dennis calls on Ruel’s celphone. He is our neighbour on the 2nd floor of the right wing of this building. We were already in the hail Holy Queen part. Ruel says, Dennis is inviting us to view a just vacated unit on the 2nd floor of our wing. Out we went a little later. By the parking area, Edna and Sasha, his wife and daughter joined us. Up we trooped.

The unit #9 was 2x more spacious than our unit. The previous tenant was not very careful with cleanliness maybe that is why there were a lot of small pests that went on a reproduction spree and have ballooned it’s colony there. Yaykss!

Coming back to our unit, I tell Ruel, I have already embraced our small space and just before we started  the rosary, I was telling him for the maybe nth time, of my home transforming projects. I am sure, he could not help but notice my eagerness and excitement! Not, impatience..but just my looking forward to it and cant help talking about it trip.

Even the first time, Dennis and Edna invited us upstairs to their wing to check out a  neighbor’s unit who was planning to vacate, and  I saw how spacious their units were, I still went back to my initial nesting instincts. I have already invested a lot emotionally to our unit. I have dreamed dreams about how it will look like in one years time, I have salivated at the wealth of transforming options with it...I cannot just discard them in a whims notice.

Besides, QRS 400 is like what P4,000 a month. In 10 months, that is P40,000!!!

Maybe to some people reading this, it is like, What? Get the bigger space! Move out. Move in, now!


I am for downsizing.

I am for paring down to essentials.

Yes, I am for, living below our means. Not within. But, below it.

Perhaps, by now, I told Ruel, in one of our conversations about prioritizing  projects here, you should know by now, I am not living by Madonna’s song of being a materialistic girl.

When we were planning our wedding 12 years ago, I asked him, how much is your budget? I said, ok, I will work on half.

And so, we did.

2 years ago,  Ruel said,  electronics here are so cheap. Would you want me to bring you home a 32” flat screen tv for Christmas? I said, no. Give it to someone else.

Last year, he said, shall I buy you a gadget that plays more than 6000 karaoke songs, I said, no again, give it to someone else.

Now, again, today, as he comes home, he says, let us call  Vinnod. Let us try to haggle a better price than the asking for the unit. I said,  am ok here.  Besides, that unit has 2 very small windows looking into a small space of concrete designed to add ventilation to the units. Not for scenery or anything. You see nothing at all.

I like our unit. My window by the foyer gives me the view of the sky, the date tree tops, birds that come to perch on the grills, and a cat crawling from the nearby spout now and then to catch me by surprise at what is moving within my  vision, as I squint and stare into cyberspace as I type my blog and am caught in a moment of pause.

I am ok here.

I have embraced this small yet sacred space and will make the best of  it for the time being because I am trying to practice time tested principles that less is more, more than less of the time.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Doha Home Educators Boot Camp

Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious Sept.1, 2013

My goodness! It is the ber months now!

I felt so recharged and so inspired by the boot camp I attended yesterday with around 50 moms and 3 dads ! My super dad acted as a baby sitter to my 2 kids in the nearby pool while I absorbed the good vibes of Brenda Kent, writing ethics in Engineering professor of Texas A&M here in Doha.
The potluck table was filled with lovely treats. Our host Angie Daniels was the perfect host even fresh from an early morning visit to the ER last Friday for Streph throat, 8 month cutie baby in one arm, she welcomed us graciously, gave us specific directions getting to their club house, hosting the program, giving out instructions on what to say in the introduction part, handing beautifully wrapped door prizes and just making sure we were filled physically and spiritually.
Naomi, a light colored abaya wearing mom greeted us right away with “ Angelli? I recognized you from your pic in the big tent!” and that gave me the cue of what an awesome group this is I have debuted into. Marina kept raving at how beautiful Naomi was with her very light green colored  eyes. It was like jewels in an ivory  canvass. Wow!
After the hi’s and the hello’s, Margaret and Angie opened the morning with some welcome words. Angie gave instructions on what 2 things we needed to answer in introducing ourselves. She said, tell us if you are a morning , mid day or evening person. Then try to recall who is your favourite teacher and why?
The answers were so varied and candid. The myriad of accents was so amazing. One table were mostly expats from the States. Texan drawl.  So mesmerizing. On my left side table, Fiona had this wonderful British accent and it was so lovely when she recited by memory 5 lines  from a Dr. Seus book Cat in the Hat.  The 6 tables had  scattered books  by this wonderful author. My favourite was just sitting right in front of me and I did not notice: I Can Read With My Eyes Shut! Darn! I missed  a door prize.
I  joined Kindra from Oregon in the middle back table. Widati and Utami, an Indonesian couple with their 2 pre schoolers joined us a few minutes later. They are fresh from a working  stint in Manchester, England.
The table to our right had a couple from South Africa and their maybe 10 year old daughter. I love their Australian like accent. Then an Indian dad stood up as well for their group.  Then there was this red abaya donning lady ( I forgot her name) in the next table, who  shared a lot of wonderful inputs. She reminded me of Oprah. She shared bits about her son Mohammed who was learning from a slightly different way than the usual. The whole room broke into laughter when she was emphasizing a point about teaching our children to focus on areas of  control and areas beyond our control. She said, sometimes, we are able to prepare a good dish for dinner, sometimes not, so, this is something beyond their control, so...
I missed her exact words with the laughter..but, I knew what she meant. It was funny to have so similar experiences with the other moms. I am trying to discipline my children to eat what is on the table and to say No, when the cereal box is more of a tempting/preferred option to them.
Their table was the most talkative in the room.  And their inputs were so apt and timely.
Brenda opened her pep talk to us with reference to the Suzuki method of teaching children in Japan. It aims to develop children’s character first before ability. She said, musicability is open to each and every child. Every child can be a master musician. Teacher and parent  and the school have to link arms on this.
Then she mentioned Carol Dweck, psychologist, professor at Stanford University and best selling author of a book about breaking the fixed mind set and developing a growth mindset.
Brenda summarized the salient points:
1.  We should not fear failure. We should ask ourselves, what is the learning point here?
2. We should learn how to embrace the learning process. Not to be so focused in looking smart.
3. We should check how we are praising our children. Are you sure, telling them they are so smart that they breeze through an exam and got a good grade is giving them a right message? Are we putting a premium on speed and scores?
4. Let us handle errors or failures in our children because fear of failure paralyses.
5. Teach your children how to think for themselves. No spoon feeding.  Brenda says, a lot of university level students are into remedial classes into critical thinking because of this bad teaching habit. Children just “ regurgitate” what is fed to them without learning how to think for themselves.
6. Let us help ourselves and our children learn how to think well, and think hard.
7. So, how do we differentiate the fixed mind set and the growth mindset as based on the book by Carol Dweck:
a. A fixed mind set views intelligence as static.He/she desires to look smart therefore has the tendency  avoid challenges. Gives up easily. Sees effort as useless or fruitless, ignores useful negative feedback, feels threatened by the success of others.
b. The growth mind set views intelligence as something that can be developed. Has the desire learn therefore embraces challenges, persists at the face of setbacks, see efforts as the path to mastery, learns from criticism, find lessons and inspiration in the success of others.
The end result for the first mind set is a deterministic view of the world because he/she plateaus early and achieves less than his/her full potential.
While the growth mind set person reaches higher levels of achievement and gives him/her a greater sense of free will.
Mind altering indeed!
So, how do we develop the growth mind set?
Brenda says:
1. Live it.
2. Discuss it.
3.Maintain it.
Oh...I really do want to detail every anecdote she mentioned, each story of her 3 girls 2 of whom are in a different continent in law school and not remembering the course of the middle child who is I think into tennis. No ranking yet but has beaten players in the roll.
The sports mom kids stories elicited a lot of lively discussion. One mom said, according to one book, it requires 10,000 hours for a kid to master a sport. 10,000 hours. Whoa!
It requires a lot of persistence and steel determination to handle all the failures and discouragements.
Finally, one thing I got reinforced during this whole affair, which closely echoes the Thursday movie time night we had with Nanny Diaries with Scarlett Johannsen, parenting is an honor and a privilege, we should not abuse or misuse this very laudable calling.

May I add, we are our children’s  first teachers and maybe their last reverberating we should give the right message by the life we lead as we go through our own  struggles and hardships as well.