Homemaker, Homemaker, Who Are You?

Right now, I’m sitting at the office, after dropping L off  at school, checking emails, and reading about my now-one-year old, G, from my Baby Center subscription, and scrolling through Facebook while chomping down on yesterday’s birthday cake. Then I come across one of the Facebook groups I’m part of, HomemakersPh.  Wait. Home. Makers. The only thing I can say I relate to is the PH. How did I even get into this group?

But before I even get all judgey on myself, what is a Homemaker, anyway? Who says I’m not one? You see, I grew up in 2 households, with extreme examples of each. Living in my paternal grandmother’s house, I saw firsthand what the quintessential homemaker was. After all, she was a Home Economics teacher, and an Ilocano one at that. She made everything from scratch, because why on Earth would you spend good money on a finished product, when you can make it yourself? From the freshly-grated niyog, and malagkit rice that turned into steaming hot ginataan, to the roasted peanuts and atsuete, with the meat, pressure-cooked to softness to make kare-kare. Each meal was a well-curated one. One pork/beef/chicken dish, a fish dish, vegetables, soup, and Wawa’s favorite pagsinamit.  Put it this way, she was the type of home maker that crocheted coasters, table cloths and even bedspreads! ‘Nuff said.

When we lived with Wawa, my mother took a backseat with the cooking, as there could only be one queen in the kitchen. Not that I think she minded, either, whether out of lack of skill or interest or just survival in your mother-in-law’s house.

When we finally moved out and into our own house when I was 12 years old, it was the first time that it was really just us: my folks, 2 siblings, and our long-time house help/labandera. The garden, and keeping house in general was what my mother had been looking forward to when she finally had her own space. She surely got that covered. Then came the cooking. Turns out, she was the queen of de lata cooking! From her, I learned how to make tuna casserole with canned tuna and Campbell’s mushroom soup, along with the many versions of pasta she could come up with. We also had some breaded pork chop, and tanigue steak. That’s all I really remember, as my mom soon got sick with cancer and passed on 2 years later.  And perhaps her limited cooking abilities was also a function of her losing her own mother at only 9 years old. Who knows.

I learned the rest of my cooking skills as a means of survival. As our family home came down to just me and my brother, along with long-time labandera who didn’t really cook, I had to up my game. So I moved out to my own apartment a few years later, and was ready to take on solo living! After living alone for four years, I got married and moved to my husband’s house, where the only help was his family’s long-time labandera as well. So I’d really cook just anything, but nothing too time consuming or complicated. I could stir-fry a veg-protein dish with some oyster sauce and some sesame oil, and feel like I was a master chef!  At some point, we took cooking lessons while on holiday in Bangkok, and I could whip up a really good Thai curry! We can gloss over the fact that my husband actually has a culinary degree and actually teaches the subject as one of his jobs, because the man doesn’t cook at home. So the kitchen was still my area of concern.

3 years later, I became a mama. The no-frills Mama! Along with becoming Mama, I reluctantly accepted the need for a yaya. After living alone for some time, I felt that I could go full-time without having a nanny. Good thing my wise husband knew (me) better, and I gave in.  At the time, I was lucky because my friend was moving abroad, and her yaya needed a job. So I took her on before giving birth. Luckily, she also happened to cook well! And so started my dependence on other people to get things done.

I had always prided myself in doing things on my own. I once carried 9 grocery bags up to my 4th floor, walk-up apartment all by myself! And so this dependence on other people was not an easy exercise. I had to let go of what I thought my strengths were.  After some years of practice, my once perceived strength in doing things alone, had evolved into the art of delegating work, and trusting people to do what they are tasked to do, and accepting the consequences of when they don’t. And who says that isn’t what homemaking is as well?

I am able to help run a business, have a voice acting career, spend time with my kids and have a life with my husband (who I can say, shares with responsibilities at home), all while making sure the food is bought and cooked, the house is cleaned, and we all have clean clothes to wear.  All made possible with the tribe that surrounds me and my family, allowing me to do all that. I have a HOME. And I MAKE things happen. So yes, I guess you can call me a HOMEMAKER.

 

 

 

 

 

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Challenge Accepted

When the new kid feels like the new kid.

That’s what I’m dealing with now with my L, who graduated from kindergarten last March and just turned 6, and has started 1st grade this week, at a new school. My kulit, chatty boyafter the first day of school, seemed a little too quiet and not eager to share about his first day, or the second. To be fair, it is only the third day, and I may be worrying a bit too much this early on, but it broke my heart, when I was asking him about who had lunch with, and he said, “I don’t want to talk about that.” Sigh.

Just a few years ago, when I was still breastfeeding him and going through exhausting, sleepless nights (which I am going through again now, with baby G. Yes, another baby, who I will be writing about soon enough!), I remember asking other mothers, who I considered veteran moms, “Does it get easier?” And I now have an answer. No, it doesn’t. Sure, my back isn’t aching anymore from chasing him around. Nor am I ceaselessly telling him not to put that thing in his mouth, or frustratingly teaching him how to use the potty. At some point, the sleep does come back, and the physical aches go away (unless you have another baby, which I will eventually get to talking about). The challenges of parenthood don’t stop, they just change.

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And so the adventure continues and the challenges of raising a curious, talkative, science-experiment-loving, self-proclaimed fruitatarian and his little sister with also quite the personality, goes on. Challenge accepted.

UPDATE: Almost a month into his new school, he has now declared: “I love my school!” And he always talks about the things they do and the new friends he’s made. Whew! Glad I was just overreacting. Haha!

Beyond milk teeth and fluoride

So not-so-little L finally had his first dental check-up. Yes, he’s already 3. Judge me.

Dental visits were never fun for me. I don’t know that it is, for anyone. My first dentist was a relative, who didn’t have the lightest of hands and was known as Dr. Bunot. Back in the day, if something was wrong with your teeth, you were better off without it, milk teeth or not. I also wore retainers earlier on, in elementary, for the gap between my two front teeth, and later on in high school, to fix my canines which wouldn’t fit where they were supposed to. I always used to say that retainers were worse than braces, because I had to clean them, get my teeth loose again, only to shove back that plastic and metal plate back to straighten out those rebellious incisors. Think you’ve escaped your childhood dental trauma in your mid to late twenties? Think again.  Don’t even get me started on the time I had my wisdom teeth extracted.

Given the less than fond memories of my own past dental visits, I was prepared for the worst for L’s first visit. A little bit of Facebook crowd sourcing led us to the Children’s Dental Clinic, where we experienced first-hand, the expertise of pediatric dentist, Dr. Malou Medrano.

12059938_10153220989256464_381698921_oFirst off, the toys in the lobby were enough for L to jump from my arms and come running into the clinic. Score! After filling up the required documents, Dr. Medrano came out to speak to me and brief me about how the session would go. With her questions and tips, you know that this woman has had her share of horror stories and nightmares. I liked that she reassured me that, if, this indeed would not be a pleasant experience for L, that he won’t really remember much from it.  She surely knows that the trauma is not only for the kid, but also for the parent as well. After our little chat, she went on to make friends with L by playing hide and seek with him and singing a few songs! When it was time to enter the clinic, L happily followed inside, while holding one of the toys from the play area. Dr. Medrano then showed him the equipment: the space rocket chair that went up and down (the dentist’s chair), and Mr. Sun (the light). She made him feel at ease enough for him to lay his head on her lap while straddled onto my waist. Dr. Medrano and not-so-little L impressed me with how easy the entire procedure went! He got his teeth counted, cleaned and rid of sugar bugs and even got some fluoride! And at the end, Dr. Medrano even made some balloons with that tool that blows air, and made 2 balloons chase each other inside one big balloon! I have a feeling I was more impressed than L, because he just up and ran to the play area afterwards.

12076688_10153221041731464_2128519517_oHe was so entertained at the play area and refused to leave after several “5-minutes” and we ended up staying an entire hour more. Good thing Dr. Medrano didn’t have a patient yet, so we got to talking. Turns out she is an educator as well! She pointed out how mellow L was and how his vocabulary was quite impressive for his age. She said he looked like a very secure and confident child. This made me so happy! Not so much because it’s something to brag about, but mostly because, as a first-time mother, it’s nice to hear from someone else that your child is doing well and that yes, your parenting has a lot to do with it, and that you are doing a good job at it.

While I’m not one to let what others say affect me, you can’t help but listen to well-meaning, self-righteous people who dish out some unsolicited advice. And it makes you start doubting the decisions you make as a parent — even the most mundane of things like when to start school or when to have a first dental visit.. But like Dr. Medrano said, do what your gut tells you. You know what’s best for your child. I could’ve hugged her and I’m sure she would’ve been ok with that (she is such a lovely, warm person), but that wouldn’t be me. So this blog post is that “Thank you” hug I would’ve given her. I needed to hear that.

Mama’s Day Out: My Takshing Electrotherapy Massage Experience

I’m no stranger to electrotherapy. As a young, stubborn badminton player, who just wanted to start playing without the benefit of a warm-up, I got myself injured quite a bit. My dad first brought me to a sports doctor, due to an injured shoulder. I could hardly lift my arm, and I apparently had tendonitis. The sports doctor practiced acupuncture. So he stuck some needles into my shoulder and elbow then connected a TENS machine to it. At first, a weak current ran through the needles onto my arm. Then the doctor would increase the amount of electricity running through, and soon my arm was involuntarily flailing! Sounds scary, but it felt really good! It was like getting a massage from the inside and the current was massaging parts of my arm that no massage therapist could reach! What first sounded like a cruel experiment was actually a very soothing experience!

Fast forward to pushing-40, stubborn me, who lives a rather sedentary life, trying to keep up with a toddler, now with injuries from my athlete past, haunting me today. So I was really interested when I heard about Takshing Electrotherapy Massage! I could already imagine the soothing electric currents running through my entire body! That day in particular, my right wrist and the rest of my arm was sore (the same arm I hurt again and again), this time, from my 2-year old, 12+kg boy, who has claimed my arm as his pillow every night and who still likes to get carried every so often. So I was so ready for a massage!

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My Thoughts this Breastfeeding Month

Just wanted to jot down my thoughts before Breastfeeding Awareness Month comes to a close.

I stopped breastfeeding my boy 5 months ago, when he was 20 months old. It was bittersweet. While I was happy to finally get more than 4 hours of sleep a night, I missed the closeness I felt with him. And with the cold/flu season upon us, I wish I were still breastfeeding him, especially on days when he wouldn’t eat more than a bite or two.

Whenever I read about people discriminating against mothers breastfeeding in public, I’d always feel lucky to never have encountered anything like that. In fact, I distinctly remember our very first “public outing.”  It was my birthday and L was only 7 weeks old. We had lunch at Casa Roces, which I had been wanting to check out. Major plus too, was that it is really near our house! I wore my trusty breastfeeding top from Mommy Matters, which I eventually lived in for the next 20 months or so. At this point, L was feeding practically every hour and would doze off immediately after. So when he started to fuss, I asked the waitress at the restaurant if they had any pillows that I could prop my arms on to feed L comfortably. She gladly obliged and left me to it. Like it was the most normal thing in the world. Which actually, it is! Here’s a photo of that moment, which I am glad exists! Don’t know if dear husband intended the artful composition or if we just photobombed the salmon. 

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That was Fast

Thoughts on my very first 40-hour liquid fast:

1) That wasn’t as awful as I had anticipated.

2) Good thing I was psyched and ready with the following on-hand: water, soy milk, juice, soup. Repeat.

3) What? I didn’t lose a single pound??? But hey, less tummy bulge, hooray!

4) Must do again.

Weaned.

Between running around voice over gigs, teaching English classes and starting a new business with the dear husband, we have finally weaned. Exactly a month today.

March 24, 2014, Monday, was the last time I nursed little L. It was in our bedroom, on the bed, right before I was going to pass him off to dear husband who was in charge of helping the boy sleep for the next few nights until we felt L was ready to sleep with me in the room, without asking for dede (boobies).  I had been telling L, since he turned 18 months that he was a big boy now and didn’t need dede anymore. I’m not sure who needed more convincing though, him or me.

You see, nursing came easy for me. While pregnant, I had anticipated the worst pain in the world, as I heard from mommy friends who had breastfed or at least tried. We had a trying first few nights when L was born, but after that, it was smooth sailing all the way.  So while I knew that I was fatigued and going nuts from all those sleepless nights — approximately 606 of them, I just couldn’t see our mother-son relationship without nursing, for so many reasons (Why I Breastfeed).

I slept in his playroom for the next 2 nights while he slept with dear husband. During the day, I would distract him with a snack, a video or a trip to the park, which seemed to do the trick. I also made sure that I was wearing higher collars just so he didn’t have access. By the third night, while doing our bedtime routine and I was getting ready to pass him on to dear husband, he stretched out his arms and said: “Popo” (Fookien for carry) and he fell asleep on my shoulder! No crazy crying or grabbing the boobies or repeatedly chanting dede as I had imagined. I thought it may have been a fluke. So the next day, for nap time, again, he said popo! And that was that.

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Nap time via popo for the very first time!

So for the first week or so of being fully weaned, while L finally slept through the night, with matching loud snores, it was I, who had gotten so used to waking several times a night to nurse him back to sleep, who couldn’t sleep straight! But fast forward to today, one month later, I am happy to announce that I have gotten at least 6 hours of sleep.

Prior to finally getting into weaning mode, I was contemplating on blogging about my dilemma: To wean or not to wean, that is the question. And I am so happy to have come to this point. This day. This blog post. When I can proudly declare: WE.ARE.WEANED.