Spider Baby

Before he became Spider Man

…he was a Spider Baby (with his sidekick, Tinkerbell)

“Wrestling” with the pumpkin

Offering the pumpkin to the damsel in distress 

Everyone is safe when Spider Baby is around.

I wish Spider Baby could save me from Christmas stress!

Save me, save me!

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Language Lesson

Lunch time after school. Little Libra is eating the last of her lumpia and rice. When she’s done chewing she says:

“Guess what Mommy.”

“What?”

“When it’s more than one thing, we add an S at the end. Like thingssssss”

Like all her conversation starters, I wonder what triggered this random tidbit but roll with it.

“Very good. What else?”

“Toys, dolls, plates, forks, spoons, chairs, tables…”

“Good job!”

She beams.

“Ok, time for your medicine.”

“Medicines, ears, eyes, arms, shoulders, elbows, hands, legs…” touching each part.

I’m so glad she has just one mouth!

***

Bath time. Little Libra’s hair spiked up with shampoo. Haggard mommy scrubbing her down, fantasizing about the joy of finally lying down after a long day when she says:

“I want to clean my foots.”

I smile. “You mean your feet?”

“No Mommy,” as if I didn’t hear her correctly. “My foots,” clarifying her point by raising her right foot and then the left with a look that says Don’t you remember what I told you at lunch?

She furrows her eyebrows. “Why are you laughing Mom?”

I can’t breathe. I don’t know what’s funnier, her grammar mistake or the self-righteous tone. Do all four year olds act like know-it-alls?

Then she starts laughing with me, those almond eyes bright, those ruby lips framing her pearly whites. That underbite I secretly abhor disappears with her wide smile.

Between giggles and breaths, she repeats, “Why are you laughing?” in the same way that she has asked why I’m wearing jeans if I’m going to the gym. You’re not making any sense!

“When we talk about one of these,” pointing to her right foot, “we call it foot. But if we talk about two of these, we call them feet.”

“Oh sorry, I want to clean my own feets.”

I lose my balance and am completely covered in water.

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Little Miss Knowsy

“Mommy, look. This is my apex,” touching the tiny bridge of her nose.

A-what?? She got my complete attention immediately.

“Where did you learn that?”

“Teacher… and these are the wings,” pointing to the sides of her nose.

“Good job! What else?”

Wowza! She knows something I don’t! Pre-school tuition officially worth it!

“These are my nose-trils,” sticking her peace fingers in each one.

Ok parents and teachers still need to work hand in hand.

***

While brushing her teeth before going to school:

“Mom, you didn’t get mad.”

“You know why?”

“Because I’m following Mommy.”

“Isn’t it so much more fun when you follow Mommy?”

Deep exhale.

“Yes,” she whispers.

That exhale was a pledge. A pledge that she may know the law of the land but will dedicate her life to finding the loopholes.

Bring it, Little Libra. I’m smarter than I look.

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Stylin’

Monday to Friday School Style

We pick out her outfit together but she selects the matching bag all on her own– which I don’t notice until we’re waiting for the elevator.

Girls!

 

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Glass Ceiling 101

Hey! What’s that up there?

Allll. Most. Therrrrrre.

Noooooooo!!!!

With training like this, he’ll be ruling pre-school.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Mom Show

Thanks to Smart Parenting for asking me to create an original piece for their October issue!

This is my fifth published work with Smart Parenting. I am so grateful to Mia Fausto-Cruz and Nikki Constantino for appreciating my perspective. Cheers!

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My Son, My Sun


Dear Little One,

This week you turned nine months old and you have done me no wrong except make me bed ridden for the last ten weeks of my pregnancy with you, and after all that, prefer your yaya over me. I forgive you.

Unfortunately, all I have is a mess of disorganized pictures of your life in my hard drive. As you know very well, your Ate is a handful and so is your Dad. You and I have had to take the high road and wait until they either fall asleep or leave the house, before we can do our own thing. Since I have to pick up your sister from school in a couple of minutes, I thought it would be easier to just tell you the story of yourself at nine months, just to prove that I have been paying attention. I know you think your sister is too noisy for me to see you. But I do.

Things you can do at nine months (to my amazement since your Ate couldn’t do any of these at this early age): dance, jump, clap, and open and close hands on command. I don’t mean to make you sound like a puppy but I’m thrilled that you’re so trainable! You are also very good at eye contact. You never scared me with a lazy eye like your sister did. Your ability to make eye contact is disarming. I wonder if you’ll be holding that same gaze as an adult. Try to blink anak and look away every now and then. Women might think you’re undressing them with your mind.

At nine months you have managed to invent your own vocabulary and have been consistent in asking for the following: A-nana (food), Dedede (milk), Aaaaaaaaa (Ate), Mama (of course!), Yaya (which you say the most), and Daaaaaa (Daddy). You have also developed a consistent sign of affection: eye contact and cupping the nose or cheeks or eye contact and letting your hand be bitten. You seem to love the sight and feel of teeth since you have none of your own. (According to doctor they’ll be making an appearance in a couple of months still). So the times I see you do any of these things with someone, I know it’s special.

Cheek to cheek. That’s our thing. Whenever you wake up, I carry you to the living room and we gaze at each other’s reflections my oily greasy cheek against your soft plump one. It’s easily my simplest, greatest joy. We talk, smile, laugh. You admire my teeth and I’m besotted by your gums. I imagine that we will be dancing cheek to cheek during my anniversary parties and on your wedding day. And here’s a tip- – if you can’t think of a birthday gift, just go with cheek to cheek dancing every year and you’re pretty much set at receiving your inheritance in full.

Your saliva. There’s something in it that makes me sick: I never had a cold, a cough and mouth sores for 2 months (and counting). It doesn’t mean I ever stay away. We still kiss on the lips though your mouth is always open as if you’re aiming to consume my nose whole.

I’m very pleased that you’re left hand dominant. I will encourage to do all things naturally left and see how it goes. I wasn’t given that small privilege. And I wonder what will happen letting you go left all the way. What will that do to your brain development? You should know your mother considered these in 2012.

I wrote a previous version of this letter a couple of days ago and I’m glad I got held up by your yaya’s day off. I usually approach day offs with trepidation. It means even less time for myself plus a sleepless night.  But as usual, you made it pay off just when I was about to pull my hair out: You moved from point A to B on your own, not in your usual roundabout fashion, but in a  line. You weren’t on all fours but ambling on your belly and arms like a military exercise. I stretched out my hand and you reached for it. And as I pulled away a centimeter at a time you kept your eye on the goal and pushed forward. I was so proud when you reached my hand at the end of the room. What made me even prouder is I said “High Five!” and you, at nine months old exhausted on your belly, gave me a high five. I will never forget that.

I want you to know that your mother has nothing but tenderness for you. I am trying very hard to prevent you from a becoming a mama’s boy, so I may be tougher on you. But if I fail, it’s your fault completely. You were born charming! It reminds me of my mother’s father. You raise your eyebrows like him and smile easily, always finding ways to connect with people, especially strangers. I wouldn’t be surprised if you end up in public office, show business or any kind of extroverted profession that requires you to listen, smile, wink and basically bulls**t all day. Yours is a natural gift.

And lastly a poem for you to sum up your first nine months:

You’ve been jumping atop an imaginary trampoline since you were five months old

Your favorite song is Twinkle, twinkle

Your favorite gesture is to raise your arms in “Hooray!”

Your neck is perpetually poised upward

 

My Son, My Sun

Never stop reaching for the stars.

Reaching for the stars at 9 months

 

All My Love,

Mommy at 33

Ps. Hair is not a big deal for me. If your hair is like your Dad’s, shave it.  I went through great pains to get that head of yours round in case that day would come.

Pps. Take care of your sister.

 

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4

Ever since the Little One was born, my attention has been divided.  But there came a time two weeks ago that made me stop in my tracks and look at my little girl in all her budding four year old glory…

When it comes to swimming at my parents’ house, Little Libra has a drama queen routine.  First, there’s the mock fear of getting in the water. Cringe. Then she feigns too fragile for the cold water. Ugh! And the worst part: clinging on to me for dear life. It makes me want to pull my hair out because she knows how to swim. I was there. I can prove it. Is it a real fear or a flair for the dramatic? I don’t know. She just eventually regains confidence and I can focus on other things — like my son. After all, it’s the poor little guy’s first dip.

With my thumbs and index fingers snuggled around his  armpits, Little One and I glide back and forth across the pool. He splatters water all over his face, pumps his legs, and smacks his lips. We’re making eye contact. We’re having our moment, both of us squealing in delight.  For a good five minutes, he has my complete attention.

“Mommy, look at me!” SPLASH. I snap out of my reverie and see Little Libra jumping into the water, landing belly first, her legs shaped like a V.  She kicks forward two times then promptly returns to the wall like a magnet. This goes on replay for ten more times.

“I see you! Good job!” I say for about ten times. I suggest that she swim toward me for a change.

“Hi Little One! Look at Ate!” SPLASH. She pretends not to hear me.

And then nature calls Little Libra. Dutifully, she swims toward the steps where her towel lies nearby. If there is any indication of how badly she needs to go, she swims away from the wall as opposed to the usual scaling. Realizing she was in “unchartered waters” she pulls her head up and a wave of panic registers across her face as she sees how far away I am and how far the wall is. Instinctively, she flails her arms forward and holds her breath before she goes under.

But she doesn’t.

Instead, her head bobs on top of the water with an exuberant smile. “I’M STANDING MOMMY!”  as she spits water out of her mouth. “I CAN STAND!!!” Her ears are submerged but her chin is up, way up. She starts jumping.

Like a tarsier to a tree branch, her eight month-old brother’s legs are wrapped tightly around my waist. I look down at his little toes against my belly button and across the pool to his Ate whose feet are planted on the blue tiled floor. Tears sprouted from the corners of my eyes. Where the hell did the time go? What’s next?? Her period?!

Little Libra hops her way toward me and secures her arms around my neck in glee. Her full body extends far beyond my knees. How could I not have noticed? She then wraps her legs around my hips and under her brother’s legs, and covers her mouth to my ear, “Mommy, I don’t need to go to the banyo anymore… I’m finished.”

Phew! She’s still my little girl.

***

My daughter turns four years old tomorrow and I approach it with complete and utter disbelief. I can only compare it to the time my Dad realized I was turning thirty. (Mind you, I was married and had Little Libra already.) My Mom was asking him if he was free Thursday night for my birthday dinner and with his eyes glued to the computer he replies, “Why?… It’s her birthday again?… How old is she turning?” Thirty. “What?! She’s already 30?!” as if I got married out of wedlock.

That’s how I feel.  Except my version is “Ack?! She can stand in the pool?!” But she can’t even brush her own teeth or write her name or drive! But if she can stand in the pool, what else can she do? She’s becoming her own person. That’s what. Here’s what I’ve noticed in the week coming up to her fourth birthday, such charming (at times, irritating) “advancements” in her personality:

  • Vanity – She freaks out when she doesn’t “feel pretty,” scoffs at things that seem baduy, and changes her clothes when she doesn’t like what I pick. Wait a sec, does this mean she thinks I’m kind of baduy? (Already??)
  • Freakish sense of cleanliness and diplomacy – She asks me if my shorts are clean before I lie down on her bed — when she knows they are indeed not clean.
  • Protectiveness bordering on possessiveness with a dose of superiority a.k.a being an Ate -  She refuses to let her brother sleep apart from her and ensures that he is always part of the family activity provided that she has dibs on the bigger, better stuff (toys, food, attention). A favorite line while loudly munching on Cheetos aware that her brother is staring at her, “This is not for you Little One. You don’t have teeth!” Crunch, crunch.
  • Loving – She wakes up early so she can hang out with her Dad since she’s too sleepy or fast asleep when he gets home. Every morning. Even if it means waking up at 5am to catch him before a golf game. (Aaaaaaaw!)

So there you have it. I have a four year old who can can stand in the pool. Last August, I thought turning four meant just another birthday party I had to plan. Not at all. Look how far she’s come. From this:

Learning to walk at 1 year old

 

 

 

To this:

Posing at 2 years old

And then this:

Wacky at 3 years old

(This is the first & only panty shot. We’ve been working on keeping the knees together for six months now!)

And finally to this:

Standing tall at swimming class, one week shy of 4 years old

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HAPPY 4TH BIRTHDAY Little Libra! Mommy is so proud you can stand on your own two feet:)

 

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Silver Lining

We’ve got two sick kids at home.

But they are sleeping together in their own bedroom. For the first time in four years, the master bedroom feels

spacious.

We’ve got 2 sick kids at home.

But they’re asleep by 8pm and awake by 6am in a separate room. So ten whole hours to ourselves in our own home is

refreshing.

We’ve got 2 sick kids at home.

But we took our first decent family photo after eight months of trying. From left to right: Mrs. Bounce Back, Master Focus, Mister Fitness and Miss Princess.

 

Our First Decent Family Photo...too bad it was taken with a Blackberry!

It was a tough week and this photo reminds me that we made it

together.

Clouds with silver linings do exist.

 

 

 

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Things I’ve Learned while Raising 2 Kids

Little Libra named her brother “Little Ones” which I have edited to a more poetic “Little Once.” Let’s call him Little One for short.

 

1. The second one will never have that photo album. (Sorry Little One!) Little Libra had four printed albums of her first year. (That’s one album per quarter–excited much?!)  The Little One has ZERO. His “album” is a folder in my hard drive filled with unedited shots (like twenty shots of him doing tummy time one week and then ten shots of him sleeping a month later). At least there are photos -which I constantly remind myself to take.

Here’s a shot from his first night home:

She: “Your hands are so small…” He: “Your head is friggin’ huge!”

2. The house will never be neat. If I have no pests and no dust, I’m a happy camper. Otherwise, each member of the family has an assigned chaos corner.  I break down and pack away when I realize how much time I waste looking for things.

As long as these two are fed, bathed and healthy, the state of the house is secondary.

Swaddled toddler and infant. She insisted.

3. Free time will never be consistent. I wish my life was so organized that free time could be safely secured at a specific time every day, like a meeting. I can’t (yet!) It’s impossible (but not forever right?) THINGS ALWAYS COME UP (sob!)

It would be really helpful  if these two slept at the same time, but they seem to take turns guarding Mommy.

She used to be HIS size!

She used to be his size!

4. I will never have a decent sleep without medication. The one thing I love about developing random allergic rhinitis after having the Little One is Benadryl. Talk about knockout, Pacquiao-Hatton style. In the mean time, these two have conspired to make my 2012 feel like one looooooooong day.

His godfather pose. Who looks like the boss now?

5. I will never be bored. Tired, yes. Frustrated, yes. Delighted, always! Little Libra and her Little One have come a long way from just lying around:

Haircut at 5 months in hopes that his hair will be just as thick and silky as Ate’s, when he’s 3 years old.

They’re learning to hang out…

Two sitting kids.. Two waking ones by the end of the year–yikes!

…share…

Sharing fair and square

and just enjoy each other’s company. Yay!

Pure smiles

Sometimes I have to remind myself that this stage of their childhood and my motherhood is fleeting. The Little One is already 8 months and Little Libra is turning 4 years old in a month! At this age, he communicates in his baby language, she translates. He’s teething, she’s going to the dentist for the first time. He demands solids six times a day, she twirls her own spaghetti. They’re my daily dose of contrasts.

In spite of their age difference, they managed to develop their own dynamic. She bids him goodbye when she leaves for school. He excitedly greets her when she gets home. He flutters his eyelids, she alerts the whole house that he’s awake. He’s fussy, she introduces a new age-appropriate toy. He makes her laugh. She makes him smile.  They are connected much like the connection I have with my own siblings, no matter how far they are. (Which really means that one day this alliance that I find so cute will make fun of me behind my back and blame me for all their troubles! Feels different on the other side…sulk, sulk.)

The point is when you’re having a rough day, remember that the the kids are little once.

Embrace it. Take photos.

And try to print out an album.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Posted in Family, Skills, The Mommy Psyche | Tagged | 8 Comments