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?

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Homestay Parenting Experiences - What a Difference!

No two apples are alike. Right?
Well, I believe so…….
Two days ago we picked up our next “adoptees”.   Right away, I notice some differences between this group and the last we’ve hosted.  The oldest one,  17,  has his hair spiked and dons his logoed t-shirts in layers. The next older one. 14,  was in full black the t-shirt of which is not one that is locally made in China. The other two are still younger,  13 & 12 respectively, so they are more, well, should I say,  conformist?
When we got home, the 12-year old went straight to a picture poster of one of our grandsons and examined it.
 “Oh, I got scared when I saw it from the door.”
 Everyone laughed.  That was quite revealing! He was the only one who noticed the poster which has been hanging in that corner of the house  for years!
When I showed them the bathroom the 14-yr old said they already know as if to tell me “Let’s move on!.”    Oh, okay!  Then I showed them where they will sleep. They looked at each other when they saw  the first room with two twin beds.
 “Are we all going to sleep here?”
 “No.”   They smiled.
Then, to my surprise,  two bolted onto a bed each as if to say “this is mine”!
Then I showed them the second room, they peeked then burst into loud, very loud laughter! The room has only one full bed!
“Alright, get settled. Wash yourselves and in 30 minutes we will eat hamburgers for dinner.”  (Before going home, we paid an In-and-Out drive thru a visit.  How is that for a first American experience, ha?)
While we were having dinner, the boy in black (are you still following me? Lol) had both parents who are engineers. 
“So, you must have travelled before?”  (I offered an honest guess).
“Yes, Australia, Canada and Italy.”  
It didn’t surprise me that he is the most vocal in the group.
“Mine are both businessmen.” Offered the spikey. (He is the disciplinarian in this group.)
“My mother teaches history and my father teaches math.” The youngest declared and who, I later observe, is the spokesman of the group, speaks better English and practices it more often.  He is also the gentlest.
One more glaring fact that differentiate them from our previous adoptees:  they chose colors as their English names! Green, Yellow, Gray, later changed to Toni, and Sage.  I think these boys will make our week adventuruous!

When I woke them up for breakfast, I discovered that the youngest had the 2nd bedroom to himself while the other three slept in the first bedroom! 

Friday, July 05, 2013

Homestay Parenting - an Awakening

"Would you like to host some kids this summer?"
"Host?  You mean they will stay with us?"

And that's how hubby and I got into homestay parenting - a friend explaining to us what it entails and how to go about being one.

And, that's how we met Ernie, yes, our beloved coordinator Ernie!  And the rest is history, a cliche that is just apt to use now.

My picture of retirement was reading newspaper over croissant and coffee in the morning.  Add to this visiting places we've never been to and sprinkle it with no-holds-barred talks with friends and relatives on FB, Skype, etc. whenever the mood hits, and then garnish everything with  small perks  like movies, concerts, hobbies, etc.

Alas! Due to unavoidable circumstances, the picture changed! Take food, for example.   Hubby's health and medical diet is the exact opposite of mine. I can eat anything he eats but while I love cheese and tomatoes  the smallest amount of these will raise his potassium or phosphorus level..  Oh, how I love chocolate and ice cream, but the same are taboo for him!  Travelling?    It is like tug-of-war.  We can travel, why not, but the hassle and the accompanying fear of what ifs hold us back.  One thing that is a positive constant to both of us are our grandchildren.  We can both spoil them whenever we like, lol!

Homestay parenting gave us some additional spark every summer.
Last year's was more like a trial and error affair. There were times we were nervous or apprehensive about the unknown.   Now, our approach  is with more surety and excitement. If before we were doubtful if we could do it, now we are very sure we can.

When we received the assignment from Ernie,  I could feel the excitement in my hubby.  He started asking where or how we could get  a twin bed for the other room and I could see the bounce in his step as he went from one room to the other.  He even started writing down a week's menu.  As if, I thought!!  And the best part is, I noticed there are lesser creases on his forehead now! LOL....
He loves our daily drive to and from Kohl's not underscoring the fact that he just  underwent  surgery a day before we welcomed the newest group!

We took care of eight students last year.  We had one who has never failed to greet us on special ocassions (even after a fire) thru e-mail. Then, just the other morning, I was serenaded by four 11-year old boys with a Chinese and an American love songs as I was preparing breakfast.
Now, you tell me, isn't that the best gift one could get out of this program!

To the new "recruits", WELCOME!  I am very sure you will have fun!

Below is one of the  many e-mails I mentioned:

Hi mom :How are you there days ?I have finished this  tern and later i will have an one-month holidy.I do miss you as well as father . Did father recover from his disease? I hope every thing goes well. Fortunately , I got  good grades in my study so our family plan to take trip to Xi'an. Do you know Chinese New Year?About 2 weeks later ,the most important festival in China will come to us . On that day we will get together with our family and enjoy firework .Watching Spring Festival Gala Evening is our major activity as well. We will stay up late in order to "shousui" . Children will receive Lucky money and dress  up to visit friends. Although i am too "old" to get lucky money ,i still enjoy happy time with them. Mom . Happy new year! Best wish ! 

Note:  Remember, they are English learners.

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Happy Birthday, Larry !!!


 Birthday greetings to our friend, Larry. 

I wasn't sure if he'd noticed, after all he has the whole country to celebrate his special day with (July 4th), but knowing him I know he would. He is one-of-a-kind kind  friend. He checks my blog from time to time  (but still has to leave a comment) and  shows concern when I fail to  post anything, which touches me deeply because I know how busy he and wife Fina are with their trip scheds and their going ga-ga over their only granddaughter CJ 

Happy Birthday, our friend.

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Homestay Parenting Experiences - Once Again

The text said:
 "Please pick up the students at 10:00... as the flight got delayed."
By 9:30 hubby and I were already at the designated parking lot.
By 9:37 another text arrived that there will still be some additonal 30-minute delay.  We thought: "No problem."
After some more back and forth messages hubby and I gave a sigh of relief when we saw the bus inching into the parking lot.
It was 11:45 pm!

Introductions,  pictures taken for each group,  and off we went.

"Are you hungry?"  I asked the kids  after they got settled in the car and I had double checked if they were belted.
"Yes. Very, very hungry!" chorused the 4-bouncy 11-year-old boys in their charming halting English.

"We're home. Come in."
"Oh. You have a nice home."
"Thank you."

Hubby finished pan-frying the hamburgers that I started before picking up the boys, while I "introduced" the parts of the house to the kids. I can't say if they were instructed to do so, but they expressed delight at every room and amenities in each room.  Oh, how they marveled at the ice and water coming out of the refrigerator door!

As I was assembling the burgers, they sneaked into their respective rooms then came back with their gifts from home.  (That's for another posting).

While at the table, they all asked for milk. Great!  One excused himself for not eating his tomato slices. Then three of them  agreed to have a second serving of the hamburgers and again asked for a third  of the extra that the fourth one didn't eat because of a recently pulled tooth!!
 Wow, they sure were hungry!!!

 It was time for me to get up anyway so I didn't mind being awakened by footsteps and  the closing and opening of their doors.  When asked how their night was, I was surprised to learn that they didn't go to sleep at all reasoning that they have time to sleep in the bus!  AAHHH... 11-year-olds!!!

While I was preparing  breakfast, they hovered around as I poured the pancake batter into the pan.
"What is that?"
"Yes, Sort of."
"I like pancake. We like pancake."

Then they sat around the dining table and finished their breakfast.

Oh, before I forget... they serenaded me with a Chinese and an American love song while I  finished the pancakes.

As I drove home after dropping them off for their day in Disneyland, I couldn't help but wonder:  What experiences and surprises will they share with hubby and me to night?

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Still Feel the Same....

While reviewing my old posts I came upon this one and thought I should share it again!

"This is my prayer group.  If you can... do join us!"  the e-mail said.

How could I say NO?  But to be honest, when I first read the invitation and later, the day's program,  my first thought was "Oh, my,  can I stay focused listening to sermons for 8 hours!"  Even the promised breakfast, lunch and snacks couldn't convince me enough.  But she is a very good friend.  Letting her down would be cruel! So,  I hovered my mouse over the YES option and, with a heavy finger, hit the Enter button!  That's the beauty of this tech world, it shortens your agonizing time.
Ever since I came to America, I had been accepting invitations to attend renewal meetings, bible studies, masses, services, etc. from various faiths and denominations. I try to get the best from each session and take it with me with an open mind.  And everytime, I feel more secured in my own religion.  My chosen faith.  My GOD!

The day started with setting up the room and breakfast.  Then before I knew it, it was lunch time.  The journey we took thru the presentations of God's words were so engaging,  and funny at  times, that, along the way, I almost wet myself from laughing. After all I am not that young anymore!  After a sumptuous lunch, we had some sharing moments of experiences through others' testimonials how God makes and lets them know, feel, and see HE exists. I didn't experience any heat or cold sensations, or an out-of-earth feeling during the pray-over, but I knew HE was there with me, guiding me, looking after me. I went home happy, energized, enlightened.
My friend, thank you for the invitation to experience my GOD, our GOD!!!

Saturday, June 08, 2013

Now That I Am Retired ....

I have the time to go around,  and "smell the roses".....
I found out that my city made it to the 100 best community to live in and that is so uplifting to know....
.... that jacaranda trees help lighten up the hearts of new found jurors, lol ....
... that we can go to the farmers' market every Wednesday @5 in the  afternoon...
...that the civic center for seniors is just around a corner from us....
... and a red barn converted into a thrift store brighten up a corner hill just back of where we live....
....simply because I am attracted to red farm buildings!!!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

My Mantra

"....... whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things."
Philippians 4:8

I was on the verge of feeling depressed so I tinkered  with the computer and chanced upon this quote from the bible.  Right away I decided to make it my mantra.

Now I find the dust on my window sill becomes helpful because it is a reason for me to stand up and "exercise" lol.... 

I look at those browning petals and they remind me that  plants, like us, need to drink....

I enjoy looking at the disorderliness in my rooms cuz it reminds me that there is still tomorrow ...

I think of those plants around me and admire how, in spite of the harsh winds they never fail to show their blooms and fruits every year...

I always think of those who fought and are fighting for us, how their bravery pulls us through...


I never fail to think and picture the faces of my grandkids, smiling or not, for I believe that there is nothing  more admirable...

Thursday, May 16, 2013

a.l.o.p.a.d. XIX

Ginataang Munggo

This dish is generally served as dessert.  It is made of sweet glutinous rice, coconut cream (milk) and toasted mung beans and of course, sugar.  I remember eating this as meryenda after school.  I always prefer mine with more sauce (sabaw) by pouring extra coco cream in my bowl to the chagrin of my cousins!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

My Mom

I never knew you, Inay.  You were taken from me  before I knew how to remember.  But thanks to all the women who filled your place in my life: Ate Baby, my cousins, my aunties,  your cousins and even your friends, for they nourished me with their beautiful, sweet, endearing memories of you.

When that time comes that we will meet again, I will fill you with stories and more stories about your great- grandchildren Jacob, Joshua, Mathew and Daniel, and another one on the way he/she has no name yet.  Oh, they are a handful but so lovable!  I will tell you so many things about your grandsons Lester, Patrick and Jet, how they grew up to be fine young men and husbands.  You will be very proud of them.  (on this I know you will congratulate me, lol......), and your granddaughters-in-law who keep the boys grounded.  And of course, your son-in-law, Edgar, who, after all these years never gave up on me even if I could be the most stubborn, hard-headed wife on earth!  (I didn't get that gene from you, did I?)

Oh, Inay, I won't let you sleep. We will talk no end. We will be catching up on those times that I miss your voice, your smile, your touch, your love.

But for now, rest, Inay, until we meet again!

Tuesday, May 07, 2013


Hmmm, this looks easy, I thought to myself as I read the recipe. Let me try. Do not stir, it emphasized.  That's perfect for me.  So I started looking for ingredients.  Ah, all that I have to buy is the roasted chicken. Great!!!  But wait, I don't have dried sage, but I have a plant. Why not!  What?  Chicken broth?  Wait a minute, I remember boiling and making a stock out of that ham bone. So, no problem, no problem at all...
Grated cheddar will be good at the bottom, too... maybe next time.
BTW, I didn't add salt (original recipe calls for 1 tsp) anymore thinking that the ingredients already had enough salt in them.

Hubby gave a big thumbs up. What more do I need lol....

This dish is inspired by a recipe that a FB and FT friend posted, Ms. Ruth Jones from Atlanta, Georgia.


1/2 stick butter, melted
meat from one store bought roasted chicken, flaked
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp minced fresh sage
2 cups Bisquick
1 cup evaporated milk plus 1 cup water
1 can cream of chicken soup
2 cups home made broth**
1 tablespoon chicken seasoning granules

Note:: do not stir after pouring each layer, please.

1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Melt butter in a 9 x 13 baking dish.  Spread evenly at the bottom  and the sides of the pan.
3. Spread the flaked chicken over butter.
4. Mix sage and pepper and sprinkle on top of chicken.
5. In a small bow, beat lightly Bisquick and milk/water  mixture. (leaving small lumps is okay).
6. Slowly pour mixture over chicken.
7. Whisk together the soup, broth and granules.
8. Pour mixture over the Bisquick layer.
9. With a fork, poke at several places, but do not stir. (I do this to distribute soup to the bottom)++
10. Bake until top is golden brown, approx. 40-45 minutes.
11. Enjoy!

** used broth made out of left over bones and meat.....
++thought of this step as I was scooping my portion ...

 2. Melt butter in a 9 x 13 baking dish.  Spread evenly at the bottom  and the sides of the pan.
 3. Spread the flaked chicken over butter.

 5. In a small bow, beat lightly Bisquick and milk/water  mixture. (leaving small lumps is okay).

 7. Whisk together the soup, broth and granules.

8. Pour mixture over the Bisquick layer.

 10. Bake until top is golden brown, approx. 40-45 minutes.

 11. Enjoy!

Friday, April 26, 2013

a.l.o.p.a.d. XVII

I take pictures of the few roses I have before the Sta. Ana winds blow them away!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Happy Birthday Mareng Glo!!!

Today is my friend Gloria's birthday.  I've known her since the 70's but it was hubby who knew her first. I can't pin-point the exact date we clicked.  I remember that she lent me a maternity dress for me to wear for my trip to the Philippines to deliver my youngest son.  I remember, too, that she accompanied me on a very important mission  (and I can't help grinning as I remember this). But I guess our friendship bloomed when, together with my second son, we ventured into American soil so we could have a taste of its cream and honey.  Oh, the adventures we had:  funny, sad, glorious, you name it we experienced it! We've experienced together the sweet and the sour of life.

Like sisters, we quarreled, too.  But, because  her two children are my godchildren, I couldn't forgive myself if we parted ways, so like an elder sister, I told her bati na kami.  And our friendship got even tighter.  (On a side note, I have to thank my late father.  He would always tell me to be the first to say sorry, whether it was  my fault or not, that is if I treasure someone's friendship or relationship. Kalimutan mo na ang nangyari.  Limot na rin niya 'yon pag binati mo siya, he'd whisper to me).

Gloria is the most unselfish person I know. She wouldn't think twice helping hubby and me whenever we need one.  She'll go out of her way to find a solution to our problem if she couldn't do it herself.  She never, not even once, made me feel that I had to pay her back.

Gloria and I don't agree on so many things. She knows how hard headed I am and I know how opinionated she can be but we tolerate each other. She is my friend and my sister altogether.

I can go on and on, but I will miss what I am writing this for, lol.... I want to wish my dear dear friend, or, what's the term for it now - BFF?  a very very very happy birthday and I wish her many many many more to come.