my son’s future reading list (part 1)

One of the perks of being jobless is having more downtime, and with that, going back to my first love– reading.  If initially I tried to come up with my own reading list for this blog (most of the books I was not able to start, let alone, finish), this time, I’d like to come up with a reading list for my son (and his would-be siblings) to start reading when they turn five (okay, maybe 7).  Seriously though, I may not be able to dictate my children’s preferences, and, God-forbid, the possibility of indifference towards the printed word, I still hope that some day, they find joy in reading some of these titles I’ve compiled.

1.  The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Boa constrictors, baobabs, toilets, foxes, rose gardens, a tippler, tiny planets, a lamp lighter — such a vast world (worlds) for a small book.  If there’s one important lesson in life I that I learned from this book is to clean one’s toilet before heading out to clean other people’s.  I want my kids to be able to embark on this literary adventure and come back realizing that the very important things in life remain to be those that are fundamental.  I also think that given the illustrations, this would make a fun read.

2.  Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger

This coming-of-age novel defies what’s prim and proper among classics.  Even though I have lost count as to how many times I’ve read this, every single time is a new experience with different revelations.  Holden Caufield made “lost” and “confused” somewhat fascinating, and that’s what makes this book one of a kind.  Although this generation has “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” to relate with, it’s the timelessness of Catcher that, for me, makes it a better read (and I think some people agree with me that the Perks may have been influenced by Catcher).  Also,  Despite the dark themes, it remains poignant and heartbreaking to a point, and it’s because of these things that my kids would have to reach a certain level of maturity first before I let them read this.

3.  Life of Pi by Yann Martel

Another fetching little book, this made me appreciate animals (bipeds and on all-fours) even more, not to mention, the parallelisms between life and religion.  How a young boy’s seemingly impossible journey can inspire us to start our own story Thanks to Ang Lee’s screen adaptation, more and more people will get to experience the magic that is Piscine Molitor Patel.  I hope my kids get to read this first before they see the movie.

 

Why blog-ger?

To commemorate my 1000 hits (who would have thought?), I am going to dissect the anatomy of a blogger.  Okay, that may seem a bit gruesome, so let me change that into an introspection on why I started blogging.

The year was 2004.  One my closest  friends in college introduced me to the world of blogging.  I have always expressed myself better in writing despite my lack of patience to proofread my words.  I started in Blogger, then for a time in Friendster (so I guess I did start blogging before Facebook came to be), then in Multiply, and then in WordPress (where I felt most at home), and I also dabbled with Tumblr (though inactive).  Let’s just say that I blog-hopped for the past 8 years without any semblance of permanence or purpose, until this recent blog where I challenged myself for one year to do things I felt I should be doing.  So far, the turn-out has been 21 published posts, 8 drafts and 1010 hits.  Not bad for one that’s barely a year old.  My previous blog, which ran for 5 years, only had about 2030 hits.  But is it really about the numbers?  Don’t get me wrong, I am flattered by the overwhelming response, considering that my slightly attention-hungry 21-year-old self wrote that she blogs to have some sense of relevance.  I also remember saying that blogging for me is cathartic and it also allows me to leave some sort of breadcrumbs should I decide on a trip down memory lane (segue-way to this post back in ’06 on Why I Write).  Have I considered making money out this?  Of course, I have, but I simply did not bother to find out how.  Perhaps at this point in my life, blogging for me is more of a personal than a commercial thing.  My writing style can either be conversational-informal to academic-formal, not so much in between.

As it turns out, 8 years in the blogosphere did not really change my perspective so much.  I still write as a form of self-expression, to journal some important thoughts and events of my life (and the mundane as well), and I’m not one to complain should people read my blog (who could blame them for having such good taste and a sense of humor?)

And so, for the million-moolah question: Do I consider myself as a blogger?

Let me answer that with another question: What do you call a person who maintains a blog?

Go figure. 😉

indispensable…not

Note:  This is a prelude of great things to come.  I still have the last quarter of the year before this blog ends, there are still important things I must do until then.

I am cutting my blog-leave short and decided to write regularly again seeing as I am unemployed as of the moment.  Well, “on-leave” was the technical term, but considering that I’m not receiving any form of income, then let’s not sugar-coat it and leave it as it is — in-between jobs (wink wink).

For the very first time, I am out of work — not by choice, but by circumstance.  I guess I have seen this coming for a long time now, but there’s really a difference between sensing the inevitable and finally having it hit you.  The feeling right now is ambivalent.  I am sort of relieved because I have been looking forward to spending more time with my son, as well as finishing my thesis.  However, I also feel distressed because for the first time, the forces of gravity have pulled me back to earth, reminding me that despite my very best efforts and all that I boast (hence, the necessity of this turn-of-events), I am not (as what I have believed in for so long) indispensable.  The technicalities have finally caught up with me, and though I have fully accepted that reality, my humanity refuses to acknowledge such let-down.  I am (or was?), after all, good at what I do (or did?), and when I say “good”, I mean they say I am good.  I am that good.

Oh, I did what I could, given the time and resources that I had.  People on the other end also could not have done anything more, having their hands tied to the significant things on paper.  The black-and-white is crystal clear, something I wouldn’t contest.  I just cannot help but feel shelved, and after much thought, maybe this was what I needed.  My all-too-important self needed reminding that there will be people who are better than me, who deserve these things more than I do, who also need it more than I do.

And, being the optimist that I am, here ends the ranting (you know I’m ranting because I try so hard to make sense out of things that don’t) and here comes the light-bulb moment:

The most important lesson perhaps is the understanding that nobody is indispensable.  If I may be Heidi, “One day you’re in, the next day, you’re out”.  That’s just how it is.  If we keep on convincing ourselves of our immeasurable greatness, we might just fool ourselves into believing it.  The beauty of our humanity lies in our frailty.  Before we are destined for greatness, we are programmed for epic failures.  Those failures prune us, grind us, polish us, fine-tune us, and most of all, humble us.

And from the words of James Barrie (who is Johnny Depp in my head), “Life is a long lesson in humility” so we better suck (not sulk) it up and get going.

of priorities and then some

Often we hear people say that priorities change when you have a kid.  I knew that to be true then, and know that to be true, more than ever, now.  The birth of my son has definitely brought about significant changes in our family life, as well as my personal life.  But mind you, these changes did not come rushing in overnight.  Some took their time to allow for gradual adjustments and acceptance.  God is good that way.  Speaking of HIM, I’d like to share an exchange that happened between us about a year ago (don’t be surprised if I did most of the talking).

ME: God?

GOD: (silence, but I know He’s already there)

ME: Please give us this child (We were already a 2 months in, in what would be a most trying and challenging 9 months).

GOD: (silence, but I can imagine Him nodding, signaling me to continue)

ME: We will do our very best to take care of him or her (the sex was yet to be determined).  I would put this child first, over my career and my ambitions.  (At this point, I envisioned my teaching career, my thesis, further studies, and a flurry of other childhood dreams).

GOD: (silence, but I took this as a sign to continue)

ME: We will be good stewards, making sure to provide him or her with the best that we can offer.  It may not be all the expensive baby stuff, but the necessities will be given to him or her without delay.  We will bring him or her up in a manner which is pleasing to YOU and in accordance to YOUR will.  Please, Lord.  Let this child be born in the right time, healthy and strong. (and then I continue to pray for other specific requests)

Fast-forward to a year, God has honored this request, giving us a healthy and strong baby boy.  I have stopped working full-time as of the moment and have continued to work on my thesis.  But now, for the first time since he was born, my son got sick.  Though it may be just cough and colds for the big folks, but for babies its sleepless nights, difficulty in breathing, accompanied by some sense of restlessness and confusion.  I am also due for another meeting with my thesis mentor before she goes out-of-town for official business.

Given this situation, I can hurry off to campus for a while, after I have fed my baby and given him medications.  He will be, after all, in the capable hands of his nanny.  But somehow, it feels wrong.  That’s when I am reminded with my conversation with HIM.  I did say it was going to be my kid over school, work, and play.  And it is now that he needs me the most.

As I write this, my son’s asleep, but coughing from time to time.  Before I sat down to write this, I am already resigned to the idea that I am going to stay home and be with him.

And I guess God validated my decision by making it rain so hard outside.

teacher death

The past week has seen the deaths of people who’ve made an impact in their respective circles of influence.  Though most of them I don’t know personally, one was a mentor back in college.  Another was a genuine public servant, humble in life and celebrated in death.  Then there was a rockstar in the world of aviation and spaceflight, yet felt that others deserve the spotlight more than he did.  And lastly was literally the man behind the Count who taught generations of children (mine included) to count.

Of the four, my mentor was the only female in the group.  I think she’s having a ball in this company considering that she was a very strong and assertive woman.  Yes, you might consider her a feminist and a staunch advocate of the rights of women and their children, but beyond that, her passion towards the Nursing profession has made her one of the best teachers I’ve ever had.  It was from her that I learned that if you love what you are doing so much, then you can easily teach others to appreciate it as well.

Photo courtesy of http://www.su.edu.ph

Of the four, Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse M. Robredo, died not of old age or any chronic condition, but was killed in a plane crash.  Some would say he was taken too soon, but according to his widow, Atty. Leni Robredo, he felt that he has reached his “quota” and that the Lord has blessed him with too much already.  Indeed, I haven’t seen a public official who had such an outpouring of love and appreciation in death than in life.  There are a lot of lessons here that the Filipino people have learned, but my favorite is actually a very simple one.  That there are people in office who really do their work, hence, all hope is not lost.  We can still be optimistic for a better nation, and though our ways may seem to go unnoticed in the grander scale of things, it will not be futile.

Of the four, at 54, he was also the youngest.

Of the four, it was only after his death that I was able to see Jerry Nelson’s face.  In all the episodes of Sesame Street that I have seen growing up, Count von Count has always been there, but I never felt it a necessity to know how his puppeteer would look like.  It’s funny how we’ve appreciated the contributions of the puppet more than the one who actually brought him to life.  Too often, the extent of our appreciation is somehow misplaced.

Of the four, Neil Armstrong’s foot print is the only one stamped firmly on the surface of the moon.  His is, of course, one of the VERY few up there.  We may all come and go, but that “small step” is there to stay for generations to come.  Makes me think that as human beings, we are but mere mortals who will eventually die.  True immortality is not in some fictional fountain of youth so many are in desperate search of, but is in the legacy we leave behind.

Of the four, at 82, he was the oldest.

In these deaths, I learned not only that life is fleeting, but when lived well, will bear fruits that will last beyond life itself: love, hope, appreciation, and a legacy.

These lessons may not have been taught by the people themselves, but it brings us to the realization of the things death has to offer.  It is in these times that we pause and think and ask.

And if we allow it, death can be a good teacher.

My OB History and the RH Bill

For weeks now, even months, the internet and media have been saturated with pieces and articles on the Reproductive Health Bill (RH Bill).  We have heard both sides discuss and debate their stand on one of the most celebrated legislative issues of the recent republic.  Frankly, I think it’s really nonsensical to be stopping something that ought to educate and protect Filipino families to ensure a better quality of life.  I will refrain from enumerating a litany of reasons in support of the RH Bill at the risk of echoing our champions from Atty. Beth Angsioco to Rep. Edcel Lagman to Sen. Pia Cayetano (also, with the recent Sotto-plagiarism debacle, I’d rather go a different route).  I will, on the other hand, tell my story, and then go from there.

My husband and I got married at 24.  And since we decided that we’d want to enjoy the first few months in wedded bliss, we opted to take birth control measures and asked our obstetrician for advice, to which she put us on the pill.  After three months, we decided to stop taking the pill, then I got pregnant.  Though we have jobs that paid us well, we still felt a tad bit unprepared.  But, nevertheless, took the news happily and excitedly.   Roughly 2 months later, I had a miscarriage.  We were caught off-guard.  As nurses, my husband and I were very careful with the pregnancy.  I was at my healthiest, and we followed our physician’s instructions to the last period.  We thought these things only happen in our nursing books.  It stunned us.  We prayed.  By God’s grace, we were given understanding and inner peace.  We came to understand that we were not yet at the point in our lives that would make us worthy stewards of God’s creation.   With the peace given us, we were able to move on and decided to make the most out of the experience by learning from it.  We decided to wait and I was on the pill again.  More than a year after, 16 months to be exact, I got pregnant the second time.  And to make the long story short, had another miscarriage almost 3 months after.  It was heartbreaking.  And yet again, it was only by the grace of God that saw us through yet another difficult phase in our lives.

At this point, we were now referred to a specialist who had me go through a series of tests, only to find out I had Antiphospholipid antibody syndrome or APAS (to read more on this episode of my life, click on this link).  After going through treatment and a very special pregnancy, we now have a healthy, happy baby boy.

So how does this connect to my stand on the RH Bill?

Despite some people telling us that it might have been the pill or that we were living near a cellular phone transmission site, my husband and I went to the specialists, read research articles, and made sure we educated ourselves with this condition.  The pill (as with any other drug in the market) may have its side effects, but we are certain that it never caused my two miscarriages.  In the first place, we never took the pill blindly, just because our obstetrician prescribed it.  My husband and I read the accompanying drug literature over and over again, making sure we do not misuse the drug inadvertently.   But this really isn’t about the pill or the type of contraceptive method (we were, after all, using the LAM for a few months).  It’s the fact that my husband and I are informed and are given choices to better plan for our family’s future.

But this is me.  A middle-class health practitioner.  What about the rest of the couples out there? The majority of the population who are neither middle-class nor health practitioners?  Where will they get the information and the support that they will be needing for their individual, special cases?

And another thing, as a health educator, I always believe that people get to absorb and apply information better if you explain the “why” rather than simply giving them the “what”.  Because I understand the significance of exclusive breastfeeding, knowing its rewards and advantages, I put in extra effort to see to it that breast milk is the only source of nutrition for my baby’s first 6 months of life.  I could easily switch to formula as it is more convenient, but with that, it would no longer be what’s best.  The mantra is simple: I do because I know.

I guess the real reason why I decided on sharing my story as a segue way to my stand in the RH Bill is that Senator Sotto also used his personal experience to anchor his opinion on.  If reports are accurate, I even used the same pill as his wife apparently did.  I am not saying that we went through the exact same ordeal.  Each experience is different, though circumstances may be similar.  I guess all I’m trying to say is that because my husband and I were proactive from the very beginning, we now enjoy the fruits of our commitment towards having a healthy and happy family, and I believe every Filipino- man, woman or child – has the right to the exact same privilege.

I support the RH Bill.

wishlist smishlist

As promised, I have thought deep and thorough as to what my life-goals will be for the next two years.  Seeing as we’re living in a material world, I have included a few “materialistic” and “worldly” wishes in there (a few gadgets, perhaps).  So without further ado, and in no particular order…drum roll please…my 28th birthday “wishlist”!

1.  A Samsung Galaxy S3! (I told you I’d be materialistic and worldly)

2.  But of course, if don’t get one within the year, then an upgrade would do (say, the latest iPhone?)

3.  A masters degree (which SHOULD be done this year!)

4.  A house to call our own

5.  Joaquin to always be a HAPPY and HEALTHY boy

6.  Ken to always be a HAPPY and HEALTHY husband (yes, emphasis on the placed on the right word)

7.  A HAPPY and HEALTHY me as well (must go back to the gym and the track)

8.  A deeper study of the Word (I’m still asking God to lead me to the right ministry where I can serve)

9.  Migrate to greener pastures (Bukidnon is relatively greener hmmm).  Wish number 4 will be put up wherever that is.

10.  Be debt-free!

11. In order to accomplish wish number 9, I have to be budget-savvy first.

12. Start a business or something wherein I can be the boss.

13. Advocate for the RH Bill, Breastfeeding, and Maternal and Child Health in general.

14. Finally get into something I’m really interested in, either in events planning, archaeology/history or research.

15.  A beach vacation somewhere.

16.  Go to Brazil for World Cup 2014

Those are the things I’d really want to have/accomplish for the next two years.  Most of which I have been trying to do for so long now, and perhaps given this renewed sense of determination, I have a good feeling about this.

of idleness and being a year older

Surprise! Surprise!  I wasn’t able to finish my reading list for last month.  As a full-time mom, I had my hands, well, full.  Even if my son and I have settled into some semblance of a routine, each day is different from the next.  Then, my first two weeks of July was just crazy-busy.  We went on a roadtrip to Pagadian for Ken’s grandmother’s 80th, went back to work (part-time), and Joaquin’s dedication (all of which I promise to find time to write about).  So contrary to my blog’s status, I have been far from idle.

July, as what I have mentioned in the previous post, is birthday month. I’ve been blogging for seven years now, and I looked into my archives to unearth my 2006 wishlist for my 22nd birthday.  I guess I have accomplished 75% of that list but not by my 23rd birthday (as planned), but looking back, my goals/wishes were very realistic and were easy to achieve.  Now, 6 years later, I will make another set of goals to achieve by the time I hit the big 3-0.  This, I would have to contemplate upon.  My new goals should be as ambitious as they can get, but realistic, nevertheless.  I have a week to come up with that list and post it here…now that should be realistic enough.

half the challenge

I can’t believe it’s June already and we are almost halfway through the year, hence, halfway through the my project.  Here’s a rundown on what has been, then I’ll present my goals for what will be.

I’m happy to report that most of my goals have been met. 

  • January.  We’ve pretty much moved on and recovered from the devastation of the flood. 
  • February.  Even though I am yet to present my thesis proposal, it’s just basically editing from herein on till then.  As far as farming and other skills are concerned, I was not able to get into that, figuring that my thesis was a handful in itself.
  • March.  Then on to the preparations that were made for my delivery.  By this time, we have pretty much covered all the necessary bases, as far as baby things are concerned.  What needed preparation then was me, physically, mentally and emotionally.  It was only at that point that I was allowed to do some exercises, and we were also anticipating the culmination of the therapy I was on.
  • April and May.  The first two months of parenthood was the greatest challenge so far.  I apologize for my temporary absence from the blogosphere for obvious reasons.  Being a full-time mom has both its joys and frustrations, but either way, extremely rewarding.

And here are my goals for the second half of the year:

  • June.  Book reviews.  I love books and I’ve been reading them for as long as I can remember.  From history to biographies to romance to espionage, even teen fiction, I can read anything as long as I feel that it’s worth my time.  Now that I am at home, I get to read more.   Expect my first review on Sunday.  Here’s my reading list for this month:
  1. Baby Proof by Emily Giffin
  2. The Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis
  3. Heaven Is For Real: A Little Boy’s Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back by Todd Burpo
  • July.  It’s a month of celebrations–my husband’s grandmother turns 80, my little boy’s dedication, and my birthday near month’s end.   With that as the backdrop, I’ll be doing something which I consider as a fallback job: party planning/organizing. 
  • August.  I will finally do something about my advocacy which is women and children’s health.
  • September-October.  Full-on thesis mode.
  • November-December.  Still thinking.  Any suggestions you might have?

on becoming and being a wife

I became a wife at 24.  There were those who said I was too young, but there were also those who said it was the right time.  After all, it was not as if I married a stranger.  I said “I do” to my boyfriend of 7 years (at that time).  We were both at the prime of our lives with not much of a plan really, but to take life as it comes.  And that’s where we were wrong.  We were living a carefree life carelessly and made our marriage simply an extension to what we had before that.

I can’t speak for my husband, but as for me, I needed to grow up.

And growing up was not an overnight thing.

There’s so much responsibility to take in, and the most difficult probably was handling the finances.  I have this habit of diverting funds liberally that sometimes we find ourselves with savings, but also with debt.  Speaking of debt, here’s  my two cents:  couples should settle whatever individual debts they have prior to getting married because  no matter how you put  it, you will ALWAYS be responsible for each other, and I guess that was the biggest burden I unknowingly placed on my husband.

Another issue I had to contend with was my co-dependent relationship with my parents.  This is a force of habit, the proverbial extended family most Filipino families can clearly relate to.  As much as I’d want to extract myself from their influence, I often find myself getting pulled back in.  The right start would have been living away or separately from my genetic family.

For both mishaps, I am blessed that my husband has been very patient and tried to be very understanding most of the time.  We often find ourselves discussing about these things and I can see the effort he has put in, trying to maintain that distinction between our families-of-origin and our little dyad, which has now grown into a triad with the recent addition of our little boy.  It is because of his patience and perseverance that I am inspired to pull myself together and be the partner God designed me to be.  The other push came from the birth of our son.  Being a mother now has placed me in a position of an even greater responsibility– being accountable towards another human being apart from myself.

In closing, here’s an excerpt to one of my many guiding passages in the Bible.

A good woman is hard to find, and worth far more than diamonds.
Her husband trusts her without reserve, and never has reason to regret it.
Never spiteful, she treats him generously all her life long.

When she speaks she has something worthwhile to say, and she always says it kindly.
She keeps an eye on everyone in her household, and keeps them all busy and productive.
Her children respect and bless her; her husband joins in with words of praise:
“Many women have done wonderful things, but you’ve outclassed them all!”
Charm can mislead and beauty soon fades.
The woman to be admired and praised is the woman who lives in the Fear-of-God.

Proverbs 31:10-12;26-31 (The Message)

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