A Retelling of Life

married life

A Season of Living with the Lord

Yesterday, I flew home at 4’o clock in the morning.  I was so sleepy that despite my clogged nose and itchy throat, I fell asleep the moment I sat on my seat in the plane.  Next thing I knew, we were in flight and the attendants were serving food to us.

Then, my left ear popped.  I could feel it happening, a gradual buildup of pressure in my ear drums until one ear popped.  My hands got clammy.  I felt like it would be a repeat of my July flight experience when my blood pressure went up as 150 over 90.  I calmed myself, prayed, invoked the Lord’s help.  My inside voice talked to my body, assuring it that the worst that could happen was the loss of one ear’s hearing.  There was nothing to fear.  Fortunately, my body listened and I calmed down.  For the rest of the flight I just sang silently, leaning on God’s sustaining grace.

I am turning 38 years old in a few days.  I tell myself that this must be why I have new fears.  The adventurous Valerie who could climb cliffs and dive into waterfalls is gone.   I never used to overthink trips, I never used to consider that something could just go awry.  Now, I do.  I am not as spontaneous as I used to be.  In order to be a better wife and mother I have had to change, I have had to learn to plan, prepare plans B and C.

I worry about this new change but I have to embrace this new me and learn to manage the accompanying side effects of becoming a planner.  I realize now though that even if I become a planner, I should plan keeping in mind that I am not in control of things.  Yes, plan hard and the surrender it all to the Lord knowing that His plans are far better than our own.   As I write this, I take a deep breath.  This is my new mantra, prepare for the worst and expect that the best things are going to happen.

Indeed, all things happen for a reason.  I haven’t written in a long time.  In part, because life has been good.  Mom is in a good place now health-wise.  Daddy too.  I love my job, I can imagine myself doing what I do for a long time.  My little family is all that I have ever prayed for and more.  I have a doting, loving husband, a talkative, creative but stubborn almost 6 year old son and a sweet, precious one year old son.  Life with them is a joy.  We have enough, a house and car that are just right for our needs, dependable helpers plus lolo and lola live next door to us.  I realize now that I shouldn’t abandon this.  This is essential to my emotional health.  So thank you Lord for leading me back to this place of comfort and introspection.

“May the God of peace…equip you with every thing good for doing His will, and may He work in us what is pleasing to Him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever.” Hebrew 13:20-21

A New Chapter

We are together now.  After four years and five months of a long distance marriage, H and I are finally moving in together.  E will grow up in a two-parent home.  Tonight, we will be fixing our new home.  I pray that the Lord will guide us so that we will thrive in our new home.

We left the house we boughtwhen we first found out I was pregnant with Ethan. The house that witnessed the growing pains of a new family.  I will miss our old life, the afternoon walks around our subdivision, the visits to our neighbor’s pet monkeys, birds and iguana.  Santorini-the place where our hopes and dreams were built.

As of June 1, 2015, a new family will be ushered in.  While I am saddened by this change, I too am excited about the direction our life is taking.  H and I are free to build a life together now in each others arms.  Life is good indeed.

A Year in A Flash

Two weeks ago, our baby became a toddler! There have been marked changes in his behavior. He is now a little boy with strong likes and dislikes. Since he can now walk, like a tiny sized adult, he insists on doing things on his own.

Already, I miss the hours I spent cuddling him and cradling him in my arms. When I pick him up, a minute tops and he’s raring to be put down so he can resume his walking. He’s such a busy toddler. His toys can only keep his attention for a few minutes as he prefers to play where we dare not let him go and venture to the land of the “NO ETHAN!”s. The bathroom, the garbage can, the stove, the front door and the rice cooker, these are on top of his list of “to go/to do”.

Indeed, a child is a bundle of joy. Our days are filled with his shrieks of laughter and bubbly giggles. I thank the Lord for our little boy whose one year just went in a flash.

For his first year birthday, we thought of a birthday that would celebrate the first twelve months of his life. His Tita Lore came up with “A Year in A Flash” birthday that combined the elements of fun, celebration and adventure. Our little explorer loved his party and we have his photos to show to him when he’s a little older. (Photos to follow..internet is pretty slow at this hour).


Becoming The Uncommon Reader

The Uncommon Reader

“The Uncommon Reader” is the first book I’ve heartily enjoyed in ages.  I found myself laughing out loud at the awkward reactions of Her Majesty’s staff to the Queen’s sudden love for reading.  Since Ethan, I haven’t really had the time to read for myself.  I’ve read tons of children’s stories and parenting how to’s but I haven’t gotten stuck in a book as I often was in the good old days.   The Uncommon Reader brought me back to that place, that magical space where only you and your imagination exist.  Indeed, “A book is a device to ignite the imagination.”

And so I’ve decided to resume my reading again.  After all, as noted by the queen, “Books are not about passing time. They’re about other lives. Other worlds. Far from wanting time to pass, one just wishes one had more of it. If one wanted to pass the time one could go to New Zealand.”  Happy Reading! 🙂

Discovering Swim Bike Mom a.k.a. Margaret Atwood

Before summer officially ended, hubby and I went to Boracay on a quick beach vacation.  Hubby biked all the way from Iloilo City to Boracay via Antique while I rode in a van with the wife of one of his bike buddies.  Yup, hubby is crazy about biking and so are about 7 or so of his other friends,  crazy enough to wake up at 2:00 in the morning to ride all the way to Caticlan.

Hard core stuff, I know.  I must imagine it must give you a different high to travel all 250 kms or so and know that you did it solely with your bike powered your two human legs.  I am proud of him.  I often wonder if I too can do it, if  I too can push myself to the limit, given my desire for shortcuts.

Yes, I was an athlete in high school.  I did track, 100 m dash, 200 m dash, 400 m dash, long jump and high jump…but marathons weren’t something I particularly excelled at or enjoyed.  Even in life, I have trouble preparing for life like a marathon..everyday is a short distance race for me.  My mantra is to take each day as it comes.  I have a vague view of the near future and I’m okay with that.  I entrust everything to the Lord, and I go where the wind blows.  So far, this has worked out for me.  Lawyering, marriage, motherhood, they were all just vague ideas that eventually came to fruition when the time was right.  But, I digress!

This post is not about life but about running marathons and completing triathlons.  Hubby has been slowly convincing me to embrace the triathlete life.  He’s struggling with his swimming but he’s slowly getting there.  As for me, I have to work on all three..biking especially since it really has been more pain than fun for me so far. 🙂  Hubby’s convincing didn’t really make an impression on me until I chanced upon a blog mentioning Meredith Atwood of swimbikemom  (http://www.swimbikemom.com/) fame.   She is an inspiration to mothers and women everywhere.  Indeed,  there just might be a triathlete inside us all.

I’m hoping that this time next year, I’ll be able to share tips to would be triathletes.  That’s quite a tall order but time will tell if I’ll actually be able to do it.

On that note, I thank the Lord for sports.  Where else an we get a free dose of happy hormones. =)

Life with Ethan: An Update

My little boy is only 3 months and 7 days old and already I love him with a depth of feeling I never imagined possible.  I am entranced by his little smiles and his quiet coos.  My heart melts when he gazes at me with his adoring little eyes.  When he breaks into a giggle, I feel my heart swell with unconditional love.  I am irreversibly, truly, madly and deeply in love my little bundle of joy.

I realize now that indeed, there is nothing like parenthood.  I am more appreciative of my parents now that I know what they had to go through.  After all, hindsight is 50-50.

Every day I pray that the Lord blesses our little family.  Parenthood it would seem is a long and challending path to navigate and I ask the Lord to guide hubby and me in rearing our little Ethan.  May he grow up to be an intelligent, kind, loving and responsible man who will end up making a difference (the good kind) in the world.


A Celebration of Life

Life is precious. It is beautiful and what better way to celebrate life than with a party.

Last Saturday, my sisters organized a shower for me, in celebration of our coming baby boy.  Hubby and I were overwhelmed by the warmth and love that surrounded us.  In the company of family and friends, we rejoiced in  the presence of this little one in me.  We pray that all will be well and sometime in November, we’ll be holding a healthy, happy and normal baby boy in our arms.

Like any mother to be, I have moments when my mind is riddled with doubts and my heart is filled with fears.  I worry that I may not know how to be a good mother.  I haven’t even changed a baby’s diaper! We’ve been without small babies in the family and it doesn’t help that we’re isolated from our other relatives (Yup, my parents  moved away from the rest of their siblings for work and found home in Bacolod.)  =) I know that books will only get you so far and it’s the actual experience that’s necessary.

That said, I know  that I have hubby (who’s a nurse), my two sisters and brother in law (a nurse, an OB res and a pedia, respectively), my mom and parents-in-law to help me embrace motherhood.  More importantly, I have the Lord guiding me through this journey.  I cast all my cares upon You Lord. Quiet my heart and grant me the grace to have faith in your wisdom. Amen.

p.s. Just some pictures from the party.

Slowing Down

I’ve always considered myself to be a pretty active person, robust and healthy, if you will. I seldom get sick.  My visits to the hospital have all been due strange little freak accidents.  I was rushed to the er when I was about three after a small portion of my ear was ripped, after getting snagged  by the corner of the sofa table.  When I turned about five, our house underwent some renovation and my toys were piled up on top of several drawers.  I did what any kid would do, climb through the pile of drawers to get my toys.   As luck would have it while making my ascent I just happened to sit on a nail.  There’s not much I remember about my hospital visit except that I bled a lot and urinating was painful for a couple of weeks.  Then there was my encounter with the sewing machine needle when I was twelve.  I just happened to sew into my middle finger breaking the needle in the process.  Again, I needed another trip to the E.R. and I recall my mom telling me to hold my finger tight as the needle particles lodged in my finger would go straight to the my heart. =)

In fact, the only time I’ve been hospitalized was when I got indigestion when I was about five years old.  I was a picky eater and to encourage me to eat, our yaya then had my sister and I engaging in “eating contests”.  I won, not because I ate fast but because I swallowed my food instead of chewing it.  (That by the way is a skill I still have to this day.)  This is why I’ve always believed that my guardian angel looks over me closely.  After all, I survived all those mishaps, didn’t I?

However, I think I must have repressed a lot of those memories, I don’t remember the fear or pain of those visits. That may explain my aversion to hospitals.  While I enjoy visiting hospitals, I don’t like being hospitalized.  I fear medical procedures.  My prayer has always been to be spared a “stint” in the OR.  I guess that’s why despite having a lot of medical professionals in our family (I am married to a nurse, have a sister who’s an OB and another one who’s in 3rd year med aside from the titos, titas and cousins.), I don’t know much about medicine.  I like getting my medical information on a need to know basis. =)

As my pregnancy has progressed,  I have been pysching myself up to accept that I will be spending time in the Delivery Room.  I will have to be admitted.  This is something that will undoubtedly happen.  However, I’ve been hoping to postpone any hospital trips til DDay.  So far, I’ve had a relaxed pregnancy, no morning sickness, no gird, none of those awful conditions often associated with pregnancy.

Also, I’ve managed to work as I did pre-pregnancy.   Day in and day out, I went through 3 flights of stairs (300 steps more or less) at least thrice everyday, hearings on Tuesdays to Fridays, at least 4 jail visits per month, pleadings galore and more.  I felt like one of the lucky ones.  However, we are mere mortals and the human body has its limitations.  Unfortunately, I found this out the hard way.

After a busy week of travelling to Hinigaran, then Iloilo, then hearings on Thursday and Friday, my body succumbed to the stress.  A visit to the DR last Friday night was quite an eye-opener.  I was almost admitted (one of my top ten fears) and was allowed to be treated as an out patient after I made some promises, one of them being an ultrasound the following day.  After the ultrasound where I was seen to have a shorter than desirable cervix, I have been advised to go on bedrest for a week.

I really thought it would be easy but bed rest actually means spending time in bed horizontally.  I found this out when on Day 1 where I thought bed rest included some walking around, my condition didn’t improve.  Since then I’ve been strictly spending time in bed except for bathroom breaks.

I’m just blessed that I have a supportive hubby, family and friends.  I know this is God’s way of reminding me to slow down.  Our baby boy is growing in my tummy and I’m so thankful that his development is going quite well. The doctor said he’s a little acrobat, moving about so much that it was quite impossible to take a photo of his face during the ultrasound.  Hubby and I keep telling him to enjoy his stay in my womb, while we’re excited to hold him in our arms, it would be best if he waited a couple of months more before coming out to the world. =)

I’m off to the ob again in a few hours.  Bless us Lord, help us go through a full term pregnancy and a normal delivery.  Thank you for a wonderful life. Amen.

The Mozart Effect

A week ago, a colleague of mine remarked: “Val, you should start listening to classical music now.”  I’ve always been fond of classical music, a fondness developed because of years of piano lessons.

My dad dreamt of his little girls (my other sister and brother weren’t born yet) becoming pianists, so, while other kids danced ballet and had art lessons, we walked  to the SOJ Music Studio every Saturday afternoon.  It was a scenic 5 min walk away from our house where we would skip with glee seeing horses grazing on the empty lots in our subdivision. My younger sister and I walked on unaccompanied and unhurried by the concerns and fears of adults.   (On a sidenote, I don’t think our kids will enjoy the freedoms we had as children.  That walk from our house to the piano studio of Mrs. Javellana in the  neighboring subdivision wouldn’t be considered safe, these days.)

I started at age 6 and quit at age 13.  I say quit because if it were up to my dad, I’d have continued on til just before college.  I wasn’t in love with playing the piano.  While my sister had a passion for it, I just played because I had to.

We were blessed with a wonderful teacher in Mrs. Javellana.  Her love for the art transcended her teaching and through her I learned to read musical notes.  She even gave us random quizzes to test our learning.

I wasn’t a very dutiful student though.  I memorized pieces so that I wouldn’t need to read the notes every time.  I didn’t do much practicing at home and played the piano only when Daddy requested us to.  I’m sure there were a lot of times she got frustrated with me but she remained gentle and patient with me.  She employed old school methods to improve my playing style.  For example, she used to hold a sharpened pencil under my wrists while I played to remind me to keep it up.  (I had another piano teacher before her and had developed a bad habit of keeping my wrists down while playing).

My piano playing life lasted until I was in second year high school.  One day, Mrs. J, getting a little exasperated at her student who after years of lessons didn’t seem to improve much, said: “Do you think your parents just pick up the money for your piano lessons on the street?.  That marked my last day as a piano student.

While there are days when I wish I had taken my piano lessons seriously, I feel that they were meant to teach me a lesson life.   Those early piano lessons taught me that practice makes perfect, that nothing in life worth anything come easy as success requires hard work.  Mrs. J’s love for her craft showed me the importance of finding one’s passion, the joy of doing what you love every day of your life.

My dad tried to get to go back for organ lessons but I lasted only a mere month.  I had yet to find my passion.  I was a lost soul and would be for a number more years.  It wasn’t until law school that I found myself.  High school was a period of learning.  College was all about belonging.  I had a magical time with Kausap (my school org) finding out the person I was meant to be.  It was a time where I tested my boundaries, found out what worked and what didn’t.  I realized in college that I wouldn’t be content until I was able to live a life with purpose, to make some  difference in someone’s life.  And law school, and lawyering, well, it has allowed me to do just that.  I  guess my passion is that–to live life to the fullest, to have a life that matters.  I am blessed to finally be in a position to make a difference.  There’s so much more I need to learn and I am taking it one day at a time.

I listen to a stream of Mozart’s concertos hoping that my baby will grow up with an appreciation of the beauty of life. Once again, I say a quick prayer to our Lord to keep him or her safe and normal. A happy Saturday morning to us all.

Adventures of a Non Cook

A week ago, I made Dad a pineapple ice box cake for Father’s Day.  =) I aced it.  Who wouldn’t? After all, it was a no bake, no cook recipe. Four hours after chilling, my family was already feasting on it.

This week, I’m working on making different kinds of spread.  It seems I haven’t been gaining weight and I am also anemic, a combination that won’t bode well for the baby in the long run.  So, necessity being the mother of invention, I am forced to become more creative.  Since I seem to have developed a kid’s appetite these days (the kind of “pida” kid I was, I was a picky eater.), I have to dupe myself into eating more.  I search for “food for picky eaters” and decide that sandwiches will do the trick.

I loved to eat cheese pimiento sandwiches.  All through out the day, I would visit the ref in between games, take out the jar where mom stored our homemade cheese pimiento spread and make myself sandwiches.  It’s funny how having a baby has brought back my old eating habits.  I am only able to eat half of every serving.  I’m even tempted to just swallow everything with a gulp of water as I used to do.

Side story: To get me and my sister to eat, mom and dad and our yaya made a contest of eating.  The first to finish her food would be the winner.  I knew I could never win against my sister, the voracious eater, so I had to adapt my own tactics.  Day after day, I won by downing all the food with water.  Eventually, I had to give up my position as top eater when I had to be rushed to the hospital for extreme indigestion.  Suffice it to say, that I will never try that strategy again. =)

I am left with having to plan my meals.  This is even more stressful than planning for hearings. Haha. =) Someday, I will learn to cook to my heart’s desires..someday..