Sunday, November 02, 2014

Blog for PEACE, 2014

Monday, March 24, 2014

I Miss You

Hi, Ate Baby!
I miss you.
I miss those small trips and short walks we had.
I miss waking up and not smelling the coffee you had prepared.
I miss telling you to keep your "wealth" in your purse.
I miss showing you how to hit the right arrow on the computer.
I miss seeing you and Ed watching your teleseryes.
I miss sitting beside you when we say our daily rosary.
Ed and I miss you!

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Happy Birthday, TATAY!!!

Tatay, happy birthday!

Tatay, I know you are up there in heaven,  How do I know?  I do because every time I have concerns and I look up in heaven to call your name I could hear your voice; I get thrills from your laughter, and I feel your touch as you kiss my forehead.  That's how I know.

Tatay, you will be happy to know that Ate Baby, Neil and his family, finally made it to visit us here in the States.  Now it is my turn to care for Ate Baby, even for only a little, as she goes about her daily life.  You will also be very proud of your grandsons.  They've been very caring and thoughtful with her. I've never seen Neil so concerned with his mom's well being and every time I see them together I can't help but smile with pride. Ken and Jaz are as concerned and thoughtful, too, especially when they make fun of their Lola (in a good way, Tatay,  uh-oh, I can see you frowning, lol)!

I've been enjoying and grateful for their short stay with us.  How I wish they could stay longer.  Ed and I still have so many things and memories to share with them!

Happy birthday again, Tatay, and sleep tight!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Introducing Timothy Andrew

Timothy Andrew is our latest grandson, a gift from heaven.  He looks like his grandpapas, I think.  His two brothers were all excited as they introduced him to us when hubby and I visited them in the hospital.  We are sure he will grow up smart and God fearing like them.
We welcome you, Timothy Andrew!
Lolo and I love you and we can't wait to hold you!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

My Kitchen Guests

I have loyal guests in my kitchen: a lion, a tiger and a fish!
They have been giving me company every time I cook, do my computer games, read the newspaper, cut my nails,  clean  pots and pans which is a never ending chore , and many more.
These friends were given to me by friends who knew my weaknesses and strengths. They have collected dust and grease through the years,  two decades to be exact,  but I still adore them!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

We Will Survive

I couldn't sleep last night.
There were so many questions in my mind about the last disaster that hit a place in my homeland.
This picture (from google images) answers them all.
We will survive.
We will join our hands together and we will do that.
Mabuhay, Pilipinas!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013


This is my, Tia Paring.  She is pretty, isn't she?

According to Rose Kennedy: "Life isn't a matter of milestones but of moments."

If I can only put into words those moments I spent with my Tia Paring my milestones will fill a book!

To mention some:

She sewed my dress for my first piano recital .. a white organdy dress with flowing  layered skirt.  I can not forget those times she would come home during her break from work just to show me how to do the lazy daisy stitches on each layer. We chose the maroon color and  I felt  like a princess as I sat before the piano that morning with that skirt covering the whole piano bench!  I was 9!

Then, one day, I discovered a secret!  I often wondered how she always had money for everything.  One day somebody came, crying.  They talked.  Then she went to a  cabinet, took something from inside, gave it to the neighbor who thanked her so profusely I thought my Tia's hand would be broken. That's when I discovered that in that mysterious cabinet she kept a box for her loose change so she could have something to give to those who come  to her unexpectedly.  No wonder her house was always full of people on Christmas day.

Like many parents of her generation, she never demonstrated her affection publicly or privately, but  I know that she loved me and my older sister very much.  She was the one who showed me how to "take care" of myself when I first had my "monthly visitor".  I was coming home from school when I noticed her by the door.  That was unusual.  As I entered,  she whispered to me to go to the bathroom and there she talked to me about that girly thing.  That's when I learned that she had been checking the clothes I took off every morning.  Oh, and I can't imagine how many of my underwears she had hand washed for me.

On my mom's side, I have another name: Minda.   That's one thing I will miss the most. I will never hear her call me by that name anymore.

Monday, November 18, 2013

YouTube isn't kidding....

A cousin posted a paper snowflake on facebook and I thought: 
 "How did she do that?" 
So I went to YouTube and voila!!!!  my very own snowflake!
Only,  I had to use hospital tape 'cuz 
I found out I was
out of glue!!!

Pomegranate - A healthy snack

The last time I visited my hairdresser
she gave me a plump 
Hubby thought of slicing
it for our morning 
snack today.
Crunchy, juicy and 

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Meet Ron Kneale - The Piano Tuner

Grandson #1 was complaining about the keys on the piano.  "Grannie, these keys don't make any sound that is why I can not practice today."

"Just pretend they do.  Come on, practice your piece or else Ms. Jian will be disappointed."

So early Saturday morning I started looking for a piano tuner.  There was someone who lives just a few blocks from our place.  Great.  But to make sure, I googled his name.  Ah, he has a website and  customers can e-mail him.  So I did informing him of my problems with the piano.  I was surprised to get an answer the following morning, Sunday!
Early Monday I gave him a call.  His wife answered,  (he mentioned her on his website.) and placed me for an afternoon appt. for Thursday. Fine with me.  Then Late Monday, I received another call that he could accommodate me Tuesday morning instead. Even better.

In the course of our introduction/conversation he asked if I was from the Philippines.  I said "Yes, I am. How did you guess?"

He is a military son and his childhood is spent in several countries where there are American bases. They were in the Philippines when he was about 5 and 6 years old.  He talked about his vivid pleasant memories of my motherland!  He mentioned that he still can cook pancit, and that he loves lumpia.  He even remembers his calamansi lemonades.

Before he left, I gave him some calamansi fruit.

Thank you, Ron Kneale!!!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Homestay Parenting Experiences – last 4 for 2013

This morning, we said our goodbyes to the last group of four we fostered this summer.  Good byes are always bitter sweet.  Sweet because we are happy they will go back to their families with good memories of America and bitter because we will surely miss them and their ways while they were with us these last 13 days!
When we got this assignment and found out that we would have the same kids for two weeks, we were apprehensive – how are we going to keep them “un-bored” for two weeks!  On the second week, are we going to “recycle” our first week’s menu?  Where can we take them to keep them occupied while they are not in school? 

“Ah. Let’s take it one day at a time,”  hubby said.

After one week with no hitch at all,  we heaved a sigh of relief!  On to the next week.  We found we’re not short of menu offerings after all -  just a little tweaking here and there with the old.  Ain’t that great!

But what really  made these last two weeks easy for us was how these last four behaved or reacted.  Every time we picked them up from school we asked them where they would want to go, or if they would want us to take them somewhere,  and they always had unanimous answer: 

“You don’t want to see other places, shop or, anything?”
“No. We just want to go home, mom!”
“You must be hungry!”
“We will just eat at home, mom and dad!”

To myself:  “Luck is on our side,” grinning.

There was just one thing they like doing after school: having a scoop or two of ice cream before they went to their rooms to hit their i-pads/phones/computer with their fingers! Oh, yes, I showed them that eating ice cream with potato chips is OK!  Actually, they loved it!

So, those two weeks passed with just two trips to the mall, (and they only asked for no more than an hour), and a trip to the grocery store to buy some ice cream! Oh, I almost left one more -  several prods to take their showers… lol.

Funny how when you worry about something,  you find out that there really is nothing to worry about in the first place!!

While it is a beautiful way to end a home parenting year it is sad we will miss the experience of caring for those lovable boys! 

Well, till next year………….

Meanwhile, back to our empty nest……

Ah, life!  

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Homestay Parenting Experiences - "mission accomplished"

Hubby and I were contemplating on what to serve our “adoptees” for dinner when suddenly my thoughts raced back to that day when one of our  friends paid us a surprise visit.  It was close to dinner time so to impress her, I showed her a menu and boasted:  “I’ll prepare this for you in no time!”

Crunchy Salad Delight    Poppyseed Dressing
(thinly sliced Brussels sprout, julienned broccoli stems,
chopped broccoli florets, kale and chicory, shredded radicchio
toasted pine nuts, dried cranberries)
Perfectly Roasted Chicken
(chicken rubbed with special spice combination,
minced garlic, lemon, crushed rosemary and coarsely ground pepper)
Rice a la Chine
Watermelon Shimmers
(watermelon cubes drenched in minted and vanillaed simple syrup)
Lemon  Cake a la mode
Sparkling Quenchers

“This is our menu for dinner.  And I can serve this in half an hour or even less.”
Our friend thought I was kidding.
“I don’t believe you! This looks very Frenchie to me.  You’re just putting me on. How can you do all those  in an hour?  Come on!”
“Let me show you. Let’s go to the supermarket to get everything we need.” I said winking at hubby.
“Okay!  Julienne, what name is that?  And chicory, how does that look like! And, for heaven’s sake what is this minced garlic?”
“You’ll see!”
So we went to the market a block away from our place.  I glanced at the lemon cake by the door.  I am always a sucker for lemon cakes so dropped one into the cart.  We went to the fresh produce section.  Took  a bag of cut up veggies.  Wow, the packaging is nice! Everything looked fresh, no brown edges,  not watery. Satisfied. Saw my friend shaking her head. We moved on.  I grabbed a medium sized watermelon on our way  to the deli section.  Across the deli section was a glass covered shelf filled with hot, juicy rottiserie chicken in plastic containers. I took one.  I remember hubby bought several pounds of cherries on sale a day before, so, we’re all set.
“That’s all?”
“Yes. This is all!”
As soon as we got home, I washed my hands and put on an apron. I placed water and sugar in a pot to boil.  Pre-heated the oven to warming temp. Took the roasted chicken from its container, cut it up in serving pieces, placed the pieces in a baking casserole and  in the oven it went.  Just then, I was ready to finish the syrup.  Placed a drop of vanilla and teaspoon of minced ginger.  Dropped some mint leaves and took it out from the stove to cool.
Then I opened the bag of veggies and the packet of nuts and berries and dumped everything in a bowl, opened the dressing packet and poured it over the veggies, tossed everything together, covered the bowl with plastic wrap and set it aside in the fridge.
Meanwhile, hubby was ready with the watermelon to which I poured the cooled simple syrup mixture on.  And our friend helped with setting the table.
Remembered to heat the rice I  fried in sesame oil and Thai curry paste and put it in the micro.  Took drinks from the garage.  And voila!  Dinner is served!!!

And that was my inspiration for dinner last night.  After we’ve finished washing the dishes,   I smiled at hubby and told him:
“mission accomplie!”

BTW, my friend saved her cake for later.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Homestay Parenting Experience - Murphy's Law

Sunday, 5:15 pm
Today we pick our last four.  My, my, they are lanky and tall I feel like a midget!
Warren, Jake, Mike and Kevin.  Hah, at last, one of them has  one of my grandson’s name.  I will remember him fast, for sure.
“You can take your luggage to your rooms now.  Freshen up and we will have dinner in about 2 hours.  BTW, would any of you like some water or soda?”
Hubby and I have not even started assembling the ingredients for our standard American  welcome dinner fare when they all came with their gifts.
“Mom, Dad, this is for you.”
“Oh, that’s is so nice of you. Thank you, Warren.”
“Mom, Dad, this is a Chinese saying I wrote myself.  Hope you like it."
 “Of course we will!  What does it say?  I ask as Kevin unrolls a red rice paper and a white one with Chinese characters on it.
“Thank you very much.  This will be nice in a frame.”
Plus chocolates from Jake and cute book markers and envelope openers from Mike.

Monday, 6:15
The hamper that I told them to place their dirty clothes in is still empty.  Hmmmnn, did they take their showers last night?  When they arrived and took off their shoes, I knew that they needed one!   I don’t think I heard the shower run at all!  Boys  boys  boys!

7:15 –
“Good morning! Breakfast is ready” to the two who were up and already playing with their gadgets.
“Knock, knock. Wake up. Wake up!”
Warren tried to open his eyes to look at me.
“Hello!  Good morning. Breakfast is waiting for you!”
“Good morning mom.”
“Good morning mom,” followed Mike.
“We will leave for school at 8:30.”
By 8:05 I decided to look at my printed schedule and to my horror, there glaring back at me, was the printed time we are supposed to be in school: 8:10! Why was I so sure their class starts at 9:00?  That was Mt. SAC, this is SAE!  So I harried them up and I could hear my heart thump thump thumping.  They still have to put their shoes on and one has shoelaces!  Oh, please, hurry up (to myself). 
Jake was still looking for something inside his luggage but I told him: 
“No more time.  Be in the car, NOW!”
Grateful that the traffic lights seemed to be cooperating with me we reached the school at 8:27!  “We’re late.” I told the boys as I was turning the curve to the parking lot.
“OK, as soon as I stop the car you all go out fast, fast, ok?”  And as if on cue, we were inside the gate as the principal was checking on the students walking to their rooms.
“Don’t worry,” Nida, our lead assure me,  “You are not late.  See? They are just getting inside now.”
I am reminded of Murphy’s Law.
“If something, or anything, is bound to happen, it will happen!” Not an exact quote, though.

8:00 pm
I can hear the shower running! What a refreshing music to my ear, LOL!

Aaaaaaahhhhhhh.  I will have a good dream tonight!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Homestay Parenting Experiences - Like A Box of Chocolate

We picked up our latest four boys Sunday afternoon.  We look forward to this change.  We always anticipate what the chocolate is filled with.  Remember Forrest Gump?
“What are your American names?”
Unlike our color guys, this group reminds me of a Mission Impossible actor’s’daughter, at least it sounds like it,  an actress’ s former bodyguard/husband, a Beatles member, and a naughty prince. I will remember their names in no time, no time at all!  Great!
Will they still like hamburgers?  Didn’t they say they’ve been to New York?  Aahh, but that is what hubby and I have already planned on serving them for their first dinner in California, so we started assembling our mise en place for the burgers: onion rings, tomatoes fresh from our tiny garden, lettuce simply torn, mayomustketch blend, and cheese.   Oh, and chips plus soda, for to me,  an American burger is not American without that glass of  bubbly cola on ice!  And a  bowl of cut-up watermelon.
“Dinner is ready.”  I announced, as I passed by their rooms.
“Oh, I like this. I like this very much,” says Guy, who finished his two even before the others had started with their 2nd.
“Me, too,” echoed Yuri.
Paul looked at Yuri for help.
“He said he likes it too.”  
“I like it but I think I will go back to sleep,” says Harry who was roused from his nap to have dinner.
“That’s fine.  I will keep your burgers till you wake up,” I assured him.
At the dinner table, they talked about their families and their dreams or ambitions, and their trip to the East Coast.  Each revealed interesting answers.
I can already see/observe many differences between this group and the others that we have hosted.  For one, they talk in whispers, … also, they walk on tiptoes and they ask permission for almost everything, even taking the shower. This is just my observation, but I think that the lesser a place in China is mentioned on google, the more conventional or traditional in their ways the children from that place are. ( I hope somebody agrees or disagrees with me on this.)  And, best of all, this is the very first group that I didn’t have to wake up in the morning.  They beat me to it every morning!

Day 2-
“Good morning.” The prince greeted me, smiling.
“Good morning, you are early. May I hug you?”
 “No….. what does it mean?” prince said backing away from me.
“You know, hug (while I make the bear hug form) like this.”
“Oh, yes. You may.”
Then he started examining the kitchen with his eyes.
“What are you doing?”
“I want a house like this for my family.”
I thought to myself:  poor baby, he still hasn’t seen some of where his friends are housed.  Where he is in right now is just a guest house, lol.
“Well, thank you.” I answered amazed at how a 12-year old can think so and dream so for his family! Later at dinner, Yuri told hubby and me that in China only the very very rich can own individual homes like we do here in America.
Another thing that this group is so unlike the other is how they use their cameras:  the others that came before them clicked at everything – where they are, what they eat, where they sleep, what they visited; whereas,  current  group hardly take out their cameras.  I still have to see them take a picture of anything!

I wonder what the new box of chocolate will hold.  Hmmmmnnnnnn…..

Friday, July 12, 2013

Not Made In America

Yesterday afternoon was another shopping day for the boys.  This time, they would be buying gift items for their family. Great!  So hubby and I drove them to Ontario Mills.  Wow, it is really quite a long time since I shopped here!  I thought I lost my turn cuz I couldn’t see the landmarks that used to guide me around.  Oh, there’s the familiar board with arrows…. And the theaters.  I’m in.  But wait, where is the complex that house the stores? 
“There,” hubby told me. 
“Where?” cuz all I could see were trees. 
“Just drive on and we will be there.”
Finally, we  were parked.
“Okay, will 2 hours be fine with you?”
“Please make it 2 ½.” Green said.
“Okay.  Make sure you look after each other, and Green you are the oldest so be in-charge, okay?”
Green smiled as he nodded.
Hubby found a bench and settled in.  Walking is not his cup-of-tea.
On the 1 3/4 hour mark, I saw Toni and told me  that he lost the other three.  Poor, Toni, because he got so engrossed in what he was choosing, he didn’t notice that the older ones have already left for another store!  This wasn’t new to me.  Same situation happened the day before.
“Did you have fun?”
“Yes, but I didn’t like it.”
“Everything I chose says “Made in China”. I just don’t like it!  What is happening to America.”
I smiled silently.
“I still have to get one more for my grandmother.”
“Oh, that’s great.”
When he came back he showed me a shaving set for his dad and a towel-pot-holder for his grandma.  The day before, he bought a Disney T-shirt for his sister and a make-up kit for his mother.  Such a thoughtful boy!
When we got home everyone was complaining of not finding anything made in America!

What would you tell these boys?

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Homestay Parenting Experiences - Got Lost in Translation

Afraid I might lose my parking space when I pick up the kids, I told the air-con man to please hurry with whatever he is doing.  Motioned to him that hubby and I need to be out of the house in 5 minutes.
“Yes, I will.  I don’t want to mess up with a princess!”
As we entered the parking lot, a van was easing out of its spot. How lucky can one get specially on a very hot summer day!
Before I could get off the car, I saw one of our boys sitting where we parents usually sit while waiting for their dismissal.  Luck again, we don’t have to wait much longer this time.  Then I noticed the teacher.  Oh gee, they are still in class!  But it didn’t take too long before Green came rushing to me and declared excitedly:
“I want to get a snake!”
“Yes, a snake. To eat!”
When I asked again, he put his two palms together, as in prayer, and did a gliding motion with them.  I was convinced he really wants to try a snake!  Maybe they talked about exotic food in class, I thought to myself as my brain processes the idea of eating a snake!.  
“OK, get in the car and I’ll take you to a supermarket where they might carry exotic food like a snake.  You can even talk to the cashiers in Chinese.”
I thought I sensed excitement in the four boys as I cruised thru fwys 71  and 60.  When we got home to retrieve my wallet (and yes, I drove without a license!  Oh, my!) I can’t help thinking,  how do I cook a snake!
We reached the supermarket. It was Gray, who is now Toni, who asked the cashier. Cashier told them the aisle number.  I led them to where the frozen food were.
And so we went to the aisle were cartons and cartons of snack items were piled.
It was not snake!  It was SNACK they want!
Then we continued with our journey to another market.  This time to get some items they want to bring home to China!
BTW,  when Green did the slithering motion, he was actually telling me, “Oh no, not a snake!” but my stubborn brain wouldn’t listen!!!

How do you translate that?