I left a career, my family and friends, and my comforts to go to a distant land. Armed only with a firm belief that I was following a vocation God was calling me to, I set off for Buffalo, New York to marry the man I met online. A few weeks later, we were married, and together, we built the life and family that we are enjoying now.
8 years. In that period - we lived in several places, bought a house, had four children.
8 years ago, my eldest niece was but a college freshman. Now she is a dentist somewhere in the deserts of Saudi Arabia.
My father was just aspiring to be a judge. Now, he is about to retire as one.
My mother will soon have her grand 70th party.
New houses have been built in the old neighborhood. Many teenagers I knew now have their own children. Many whom I have known have passed on.
My friends and colleagues are now some of the movers and shakers in industry and government.
There have been too many changes in the people and places I hold dear. And I was not there to witness and to be a part of those changes.
I want to reconnect with that life from 8 years ago.
Thus, it is my dream to go home and visit my family, to be physically a part of the daily grind, even if for only a few days. It is my dream that my children get to know the rest of their clan, my clan. I want them to know where I came from, the family and culture and relationships that shaped me into who I am and that they are a part of that. I want them to experience on their own what they knew only from the stories I tell and pictures I show.
This year, with God's grace, my dream will come true.
Thank you for visiting. Please share my dream and pray that it comes true.
Like I need coffee each morning, I need patience. My happiness and the happiness of everyone around me, especially those I love, depend on it.
Might a dose of patience be nice when the children are getting mouthy when corrected?
I sure need that patience when I have asked the children to clean up their toys, or lace their shoes, or change into their pajamas, and they have not done what they are told when I check on them 10 minutes later.
And in homeschool, an injection of patience will be quite handy when my dear student suddenly decides that he does not know anything and therefore refuses to do his work (even when he can do it blindfolded when he is in the right mood).
I surely would have benefited from patience this morning when I saw that all of our house is covered with clutter. The children's toys were all over the floor, the tabletops and countertops were filled with all sorts of things. Rolls of Christmas paper were right under my feet where I need to work. I hyperventilated and lost my cool. And the morning was almost lost for my family and I.
Patience. I need it when the routine of daily life gets to be tedious and tiresome - washing clothes, folding clothes, sweeping the floor, locking heads with sometimes willful children, making the bed, and so on. I admire the mothers who can smile through and be calm amidst all the chaos of daily life. This state in life is a way to holiness - and I see why except that I can't seem to get into it.
How happy will my husband be if I can contain my grump and whine and go through the day with a pleasant face all the time.
At 7:14 this morning, I woke up to attend to my hungry infant. And as I lifted up my head from the pillow, I chanced upon the window and saw a tangerine sky floating above the black treetops and white ground.
Behold the miracle of a brand new day.
How beautiful and peaceful the world seemed after the storm of 2 days ago. Yes, Christmas Day started with the sun streaming through the window and casting a million lights upon the Christmas Tree tinsel.
And just when I thought that white Christmas had eluded us, snow started to fall softly while we were opening our presents.
During our early noon drive to Mass, snow and gray skies accompanied us.
It was a long way away from Mass but blessed be God for allowing us to go to Mass on Christmas Day. Five years ago, I was utterly distressed that we could not go to Mass on Christmas Day and on almost all of Christmas season. Even though I was wrapped in the glow of a new marital state, I felt that my first Christmas and the few more thereafter, were incomplete and well, sad. I was especially beside myself whenever I thought that my growing children would not have the Mass to celebrate Christmas. Happily, this state of things changed when, two years ago, after much prayers to the Blessed Mother, we got news that there would be a Mass in a not-so nearby town. Since then, we went to Mass each Christmas Day, weather permitting.
But anyway, by the time we started our drive back home after the Mass, the gentle snowing had turned into a full blown winter storm. The roads were slippery. There was no road crew to clean up because it was Christmas Day. Our trip took a little bit longer than expected and our van fishdanced a bit as it navigated down an unplowed steep hill. We did have a very late Christmas dinner but we got home safe. We found out the following day that 4 people who drove in the same snow storm were not as lucky.
Snow. "I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas" filled my Philippine tropical air. I wonder now if I ever shared those sentiments. I guess I wanted a taste of snow back home, to have a feel of what it would be like, but I never dreamed of being in snowy land. Yet somehow, that dream became real. In Maine, where I have spent my Christmases these last seven years, there is almost always a snow. It is beautiful - especially when it lies pristine on the ground. It is beautiful - and isolating.
The Christmas house is set far back from the road, nestled in golf course greens in the summer and white fluff in the winter. Until recently, there was no other house that could be seen from our Christmas place. In the winter time, the place rings with the sound of falling snow and the hum of everyday life. Away from the city noise, it was easy to have solitude. It was easy to get lost in one's thoughts. It offered a safe and quiet place for the children as well. Yet, it was also easy to feel isolated, to be isolated. If the path is unplowed after a big snowfall, nobody can get in our out, except by foot. And not a few years ago, there was not even a high speed internet connection to the area. I had difficulty reaching out to the people who are dear and familiar to me. Never have I been so homesick in my life as during those first Christmases with my husband. Christmas was a sad experience. Amid all the snow and the glittering lights, I dreamed of my own tropical Christmas that was filled with people and their merry voices and colors.
Many things have changes since my first Christmas in this foreign place. I am now a snow veteran of 7 years and have children. The happy chatter of children's voices and even their occasional screaming and whining have warmed both hearth and heart and brought back the luster of Christmas. And with the Mass, Christmas just became a tad more normal. This Christmas is now my home.
My husband took my three year old to the office with him. I know he has a lot of things to do and that he cannot really work when he has a child with him, but he does so anyway. First, he does that as an act of kindness to me. He knows that I will have an easier time doing everything that I need to do if I have one less child to supervise and attend to. Second, he does that out of love for his son. He just can not resist it when his son looks at him in the eye and asks sweetly "me go to office with Daddy?". He is one of those daddies whose world is his family and enjoys being with his children. When I tell him that we have too many things to do to accommodate all of the children's wishes (for attention, specifically), he would reply in this manner: "I often heard that older people never wished that they had more time to do their chores. Rather, they wished that they had more time with the children."
--- 2 ---
It is a no-meat day. Sometimes, it is a little stressful to think about what to prepare for Fridays. Many of the non-meat recipes I have tried turned out to be ho-hum. Feeding them to the children was quite the challenge. Meanwhile, making the tried and tested thing (which are limited) over and over again can also be quite tiring, please pardon my word. But today, I found a new recipe that may be great. It calls for asparagus and shrimp and pasta. What's not to like? So I will cook with a little prayer that it turns out well. If it does, I might even share the recipe. )
--- 3 ---
I had a cleaning attack this morning. We have an old pine floor - w referred to as hardwood floor some 40 years ago. It did not age well. It gets scratched easily, doesn't shine and traps dirt and grime in the spaces between the slats. And yes, the edges are prone to breaking and splinters too. When I look at this floor, I am overwhelmed with "I-wants" and "I hates": "I want a new flooring", "I hate this floor". I guess it is a good opportunity to be patient, to remember the value of simplicity, and to have a little penance to offer to God. After that, I kind of scaled down my wants to "I want a new vacuum cleaner" and "I want some wood polish". I will certainly indulge myself with the latter this weekend. And I might even get a swifter too.
--- 4 ---
Now that I am myself a mother, I have a better idea of what my parents went through to raise me, especially since I may be raising a child who is so much like me. I wonder if my mother wished that I would have a child so much like me? Oh no! ) With each fit and tantrum that my beloved child throws, I am reminded of what I have been as a child. And I feel sad for him. I am afraid that I have given him too much to overcome. And so with my whole heart, I pray that in God's time, he turns out right. And if only for his sake, I pray that I become a better person as well.
--- 5 ---
Once again, I am mailing my cards for my family in the Philippines quite late. Sigh! They always get my Christmas cards well into January. And to think, I bought my first batch of cards in November, a week before Thanksgiving, so that I could be ahead in sending out cards for once. Alas! I do not even know where those cards are now. It is a good thing that I can talk to my family by phone and internet. But I do have to resolve to send out my greeting cards - Christmas, birthdays, whatever - on time.
--- 6 ---
The winter sun always makes me feel a bit sad. I do not know why - I just have this feeling that it is not right. Maybe because it is not bright enough brightness or intense enough. Maybe, it is because it creates too many shadows during the day. 8 years have I been here in the States and I have not really gotten used to the winter sun.
--- 7 ---
Being single. If there is one advantage to being single that I can think of - a single person, chances are, has a lot more time to pray and to focus on prayer. I remember that before I got married, or even before I had children, I could stay on my knees for sometime. I had time to meditate - to just sit back, be quiet, and talk/pray to God. I could read a lot of spiritual books and ponder about them. These days, with a household to run and 4 young ones to look after, I hardly have a moment's peace. When I do, I do other things but pray. Distracted. That's what I am. My confessor told me once that in my state of life, quick prayers are best - lifting up the heart and thought to God, even for just a second is prayer. Thinking of God while doing the duties of my state in life is prayer. But sometimes, it is not enough. How does a mother with a posy of little children pray?
Outside my window, it is dark and chilly. The hum of cars passing by break the quiet of the night.
I am thinking about a suitable gift for my husband.
I am thankful that I found a pie crust recipe that I can successfully make. Pie crusts have always stumped me.
From the learning rooms, my second grader is learning to make advertisements as part of Composition lessons.
In the kitchen, we accomplish a lot of things - cooking, eating, crafting, schooling.
I am wearing my dayclothes. It is still working time until I get really tired and call it a day.
I am creating nothing at the moment. I just finished a Christmas decoration project. There are tons of crochet projects that need to be picked up again though.
I am going to bake crinkles in the weekend. Maybe, cupcakes too.
I am wondering if I will be able to bake in the weekend. Sometimes, the children have other things in mind, and they take precedence.
I am reading nothing at the moment. I tried picking up Archbishop Sheen's Angels in the Blackboard, but I just can't focus on what I am reading.
I am hoping that the Philippines can go through the recent political/constitutional crisis. The Philippines always is in a crisis of one way or the other. The Executive Branch is at war with the Judicial Branch of the Government. The President has caused his allies in Congress to impeach the Chief Justice. Politics stinks.
I am looking forward to a vacation and Christmas. Christmas is my favoritest season of all.
I am hearing Christmas carols playing in the background as we wrap gifts, the rustle of gift wrapper, the soft breathing of my baby in my arms.
Around the house, there is mess - children's toys on the floor, boxes of things that need to be wrapped, wrappers, scissors, tapes, boxes of Christmas decorations that need to be put up.
I am pondering on patience, marriage, man-woman differences, raising a child who is so much like me.
One of my favorite things is a hair tie. It keeps my hair away from my face.
A few plans for the rest of the week: bring my baby to the doctor to get his pneumonia shot (finally), wrap gifts, mail Christmas cards, bake Christmas cookies.
Peace of soul comes to those with the right kind of anxiety about attaining perfect happiness, which is God. A soul has anxiety because it final and eternal state is not yet decided, it is still and always at the crossroads of life. This fundamental anxiety cannot be cured by a surrender to passions and instincts; the basic cause of our anxiety is a restlessness within time that comes because we are made for eternity.
If there were anywhere on earth a resting place other than God, we may be very sure that the human soul in its long history would have found it before this. ~ Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen