Sunday, December 24, 2006

Greetings from my family



and greetings from me



More Christmas snapshots at home









Friday, December 22, 2006

Gabriel is a teen



Gabriel turned 13 this month. He’s officially a teen! He is growing up fast, surprising people who hadn’t seen him in a while. Is it 13 years only? It feels like I’ve had him in my life for much longer. It's good to be stay-at-home while kids are growing up. You get to enjoy that period longer, and I tell you, it goes fast.

Gabriel was born almost six years after Mickey. By then, I was emotionally and mentally prepared to have another baby. Gino and Mickey were going to school. I was fulltime at home missing having a baby. I had forgotten how it was to wake up in the middle of the night. I was ready to do it over.

I had forgotten the pain of childbirth too. Okay, I wasn't so brave about this one. As my due date approached, I became more and more scared about giving birth a third time. It wasn’t like, Oh I know how it feels. I can do it again. It was more like, Ooooh, I knooow how it feels. I’m not sure I can go through it again the natural way.... My bones and muscles could have become less pliable in six years.

Thank God, I gave birth naturallly to a healthy 6-lb baby without a problem. We took him home in two days. At first, I was concerned about having a newborn at home without a househelp nor family nearby. How in the world would I manage with three kids and do housechores too? Fortunately, Gabriel was a very good baby. He didn't make a lot of fuss. Fortunately, too, everyone else in the family--his brothers and dad--helped around the house. Thus, we managed.


Mom and Gabriel in Caliraya, Laguna


It was bonding time for baby and me whenever we were left to ourselves at home. Gabriel and I played with toys, read books, slept, ate, cooed... I talked to him a lot. I would repeatedly read to him a framed cross-stitch on the kitchen wall that says, "Even my failures are edible". He would laugh and laugh.

As Gabriel learned to roll over, crawl and stand, I left him less and less by himself on the bed or in the playpen unless he was sound asleep. I lugged him around, often stradled on my left hip, as I went about my chores. Good training on multitasking.


Adorable!

Gabriel easily endeared himself to anyone who came in contact with him. We could pass him on to people he had not previously seen. His name befitted his countenance. You're such a darling angel! He made it so much easier for me to have three little children by being a content and happy baby that he was.



Gabriel was in Mabuhay magazine

I did feel a little sad and concerned though that he was born way behind his two older brothers. Who will be his playmate at home when his brothers get older? Wouldn't he feel alone? These concerns were shortlived as we would welcome baby Markus less than two years later.

Now Gabriel is a teen. He is becoming his own person and acquiring his own taste in music, outfit, hairstyle... He is doing very well at school and has many friends. He is into computers and Gamecube too. His teachers say good things about him. He can be mischievous and also gets to my nerves sometimes, but on the whole, he is pleasant.

My prayer for Gabriel is that he will withstand peer pressure and live by the values he's heard at home and in church. I pray for godly influence around him and for a hedge of protection against all sorts of vices and evil. I continue to entrust Gabriel over to God, His Maker, to watch over him 24-7, while I release him more and more. I hope it is not too early to say, but I can see him growing up into a fine young man.

Way to go, Gabriel!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

...and found

[the continuation]

It was Tuesday and my car had been missing for two days. I was beginning to feel impatient to hear news of its recovery. Even so, I continued to believe that it would be found. Unless it was plunged into the river..., I thought. It’s not easy to get away with that crime. Not here anyway. Can't hide it, can't re-paint it, can't re-sell its parts to used car parts dealers, can't take it across the U.S. border... It can't go anywhere far... These thoughts kept my hopes up.

Finally, coming home from work Tuesday afternoon, I learned that an officer had called our house to say our Honda had been found and brought to Unitow. Gabriel got the short message. I had no opportunity to ask where, when or how.

I was delighted to hear the news. I immediately informed ICBC about it. From here on, it would be in their hands. This meant ICBC would have it towed it to their claim centre for a thorough inspection and clean-up, and then for turnover to the body shop of my choice. I also shared the good news with the people who had prayed for my car’s recovery. But up to this point, I had no idea about the car's condition.

Because of procedure, it would still take days before I could get my car back. I still needed a rental car. Wednesday, I got a red 2006 Chevy Impala LT at Hertz. “Wow, this smells so good!” I exclaimed to myself as I got in the car that had power everything and so many push buttons. It took me about 15 minutes reading the manual before I could leave the parking lot. I was expecting an old Impala, not a spanking almost new one. Thank you, Hertz friend.

The boys were very excited about the car. “Mom, let’s keep this one!” they begged. “Whoa, we drove over a bump and did not feel it!” “Wow, sun-roof!” “Guys, stop pushing buttons. You might open something else!” I drove a nice car for the next few days. I was starting to feel comfortably spoiled.

Thursday, Bud and I marked our anniversary driving from city to city in a suave car that wasn’t in the original plan. Breakfast at White Rock. Lunch in Vancouver. A little shopping in between. What a convenient timing! The only downside was that only I could drive. Rental car policy.

Friday, I finally heard from Boyd Body Repair that ICBC had sent my car over to their shop. The only damage on the car was on the ignition lock, and the battery was dead. “Is the CD player still there?” I asked. Yes, it is.

On Monday, I returned my rental car early in the morning, which really upset the boys. In fact, they were more upset this time than when the Honda was stolen.

I proceeded to Boyd and finally got to see my Honda being repaired. Most of the items I had in the car, including the car registration papers locked in the glove compartment, were still there and gathered in a big plastic bag. I was able to take the car home that afternoon.

It took me a while to get used to driving the Honda again. It felt so light compared to the Impala which reminded me of the van I used to drive. But our car was very clean. As a procedure, ICBC had it vacuumed and decontaminated to make sure there was no undesirable object, like drugs perhaps, left inside it by the car thief. I had been wanting to vacuum the car for the last year. It had to be stolen before this could be done. Funny, I noticed the word Accord on the floor mat on the driver side for the first time! I could not remember seeing that. Good job, cleaner!

I lost a few things on top of the money I had to pay for the ignition assembly. I lost 8 or 9 CDs, mostly praise and worship, in the CD changer. I hope the thief listened to them. Who knows if those CDs might bring some God-consciousness to him. In return, he left 5 CDs, all rap. My boys were not interested. “Just throw them away, Mom.” I lost the two remaining hub caps and some coins too, all $1.50 of them.

My car is back and I’m thankful. It could have been worse. “Thank you, Lord, for recovering my car in good condition. But we will gladly welcome a new one if You will give us,” I added to our prayer before a meal. There were snickers.

Oh, what a ride!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Lost…

“Hello, I would like to report that my car had been stolen,” I told the lady at the other end of the line. I did not make a 911 call, just a regular police report. She courteously asked me a series of questions.

When did you see it last? 10:30 pm last night after I was dropped off from a party.
When did you discover it gone? 8:10 this morning when we were about to go to church.
Where was it parked? On our parking spot.
Is there broken glass? No.
Any valuables? None.
Make?... Year?... Plate number?... Colour?... I gave all the information she needed. Then I was told that an officer would be calling me shortly.

This happened two Sundays ago when I discovered our ’91 Honda Accord gone from the parking lot. At first, I could not believe it. Who would want to steal our car? How dare he steal it when I just had an oil change and top up the day before.

Dismayed, I broke the news to my family. They too were stunned. Surprisingly, I remained calm, probably too shocked to feel the loss while trying to make sense of what just happened.

It was not too long ago when I was thanking God for that car as I was pulling out of our parking lot. “Unless You give me a new one, please prolong the life of this car and help me maintain it,” I prayed. I had uttered this prayer several times. So when the car was stolen, even though I was piqued by the violation committed against me and my family, I also felt a sense of anticipation that perhaps God was going to give us another one. There had to be something good to come out of this misfortune.

Within an hour or so of my phone call, a constable called me back and asked me similar questions. “We usually recover stolen cars within the day,” he said, sounding very reassuring. “Oh, thank you!” I felt reassured already.

I spent the rest of the day at home awaiting word from the police. We were unable to attend church. I had to cancel a Christmas carolling commitment that night. I later called the insurance company, ICBC, to report the loss and file a claim. I was told to come in Tuesday morning. Still no call from the police.

When Monday morning came, it was when I really felt the inconvenience of not having a car to bring the kids to school and myself to work. Still no word from the police. I was beginning to wonder. What are my options?

Tuesday, I went to ICBC and met with a claims representative. She asked me a lot more questions especially about the condition of the car and its contents.

When was it last used and why? Condition of the tires? What about the transmission? How much gas in the tank? Mileage? Any dent? Any other damage? Contents? Colour inside? Lien on the vehicle? Etc…This must be how they estimated claims, whether the car was recovered or not.

ICBC allowed me to get a rental car for 20 days within the allowable amount that would be reimbursed to me. I was also given a $300 deductible. I was given a list of things to do in case the car was recovered or became a total loss. Arrg, too much information to absorb in one sitting.

I called a friend who had two Hertz branches and told him my predicament and intent to get a rental car. “Please get me the cheapest,” I requested. “Don’t worry, I’ll find you one. I’ll have someone pick you up tomorrow.”

To be continued…

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Not a movie buff

I like watching movies, but I’m not a movie buff. I’m very poor at remembering plots or dialogues or characters and the actors who played them. I know people who can re-tell storylines and spout dialogues from old movies as if they saw them just an hour ago. Me, I ask my kids, Have I seen that movie? Mom, how come you don’t know?

Just two days ago, one of my boys asked me if I finished the movie Click when we rented the video. The title didn’t, uhmm, click. It sounded familiar but I couldn’t recall what it was about or if I even watched it. After jogging my memory through a series of questions that exasperated Markus, I vaguely recalled watching parts of it and probably sleeping through the rest.

At home or in the theatres, I tend to fall asleep while watching a movie. It is quite a challenge for me to sit through a two-hour film without losing my attention or consciousness. My family knows about this tendency so every time we go out to watch a movie, which is very rare, they occasionally check if I am still watching. They don’t like me asking, What did I miss? or What's the ending? See if Mom’s awake, I will hear someone whisper. Or, Mom, are you awake? Or someone will nudge me with his elbow. I get annoyed. It disturbs my watching or sleeping. Either way.

It’s not that I don’t make an effort to keep myself awake. In fact, I try to at least keep one eye open while the other starts shutting. In the theatre, I keep the eye—the one nearest a movie companion—open for as long as I could so that from his or her side, I will appear awake for a time. Eventually my two eyes will close. You know anyone else like me who sleeps with one eye closing before the other?

Contrary to what my boys say, I have watched some movies completely through one viewing. Comedies, war movies, suspense... They vary. The only kind of movie I don't like to ever watch, besides the x-rated, is horror. I know horror flicks will keep me awake, all right, but they might also keep me awake at sleeptime.

On the other hand, I have slept through parts of some of the best movies of late. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Lord of the Rings. Passion of the Christ. The Last Samurai. Harry Potter... The list is longer, no doubt about that, but I can't remember them all.

I’m pretty sure though that adding up all the movie segments I have seen through repeated viewings on TV or DVD, I would have seen these films in full. Even so, I still won’t be able to recall or re-tell the plot of any of these movies like a good storyteller. As I’ve indicated earlier, my movie recall is poor. I get people and sequences mixed up. I even get different movies confused and interchanged. I forget titles a lot, or else I get them wrong. Like, Polar Bear Express for The Polar Express, Lost Without A Trace for Lost and Without A Trace (two different TV shows), and beat this, Going Back to College for Back to School.

I consider my poor movie recall as an advantage though. To me, every movie that I watch, though seen by me before, looks fresh and new. Very similar to the story of My First Fifty Dates.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Remote controlled

It’s amazing how we have become too dependent on the TV remote. We use it to turn the TV on/off and to change the channel, and get very upset when it goes missing. Nobody likes to leave the couch and walk three steps to push a TV button. WHERE IS THE DARN REMOTE CONTROL???

When the remote control goes missing, you are sure to hear whining or complaining or blaming in our living room. Okay, who was the last one to use it?... Did anyone take it to his bedroom?... Check the washroom!...Grrr... I, too, get annoyed if I can’t find it, as in, right now! I don’t watch too much TV so I sort of expect to have it easy whenever it’s my turn to vegetate on the couch to watch my favourite programs. I want to have the remote control handy.

Our TV remote is overused and abused. Dropped on the floor. Sat on. Stepped on. Stuck in a side of the couch. Mischievously thrown like a pillow at someone, only harder... Repeatedly tapped on the couch or on one’s hand when not responding. Thus, signs of wear and tear are all over our remote. It is cracked and broken in certain places.

When we thought its life was over and it was needing more than new batteries, I had the urge to fix it. Even though it was not too much to buy one, I wanted to save the old one that came with the TV when we bought it. Besides, I couldn’t wait for a new one. My show was coming up. So I decided to open the remote control. I used a teeny weeny screwdriver to open up its back. The remote’s inside parts were not as complicated as I thought. I taped the broken part that held the batteries in place, put the screws back on. It worked!!

“Guys, the remote is fixed. You have to be gentle with it. I just taped the thing inside,” I warned the kids.

We were careful at the start, then people forgot about the tape. The remote stopped working again and it looked even worse with bigger cracks and holes. I cracked it open—no more using the screwdriver this time—put more masking tape inside and duct tape outside. The gray duct tape blended well with the gray case of the remote. I got it to work again.

“You can throw this around now. I put a lot of tape around the batteries and on the outside,” I told the guys. Seeing the bandaged gadget, my sons asked me, “Mom, what if you need to change the batteries?” “Then I’ll do it over,” I said.

A few days later, it stopped working again. The remote failed to withstand the shaking, the tapping and the throwing around as I said it would. Frustrated and challenged, I untaped and retaped everything, this time making sure everything was secured in place. It worked again.

“This won’t be broken anymore,” I told the kids. “Mom, what if I hammered it?” Markus asked. Anything but that!!

Now that our old remote is working again, even though it looks pathetic with duct tape all over, I’m no longer thinking of buying a new one. It will likely suffer the same fate anyway.