My Mommyology

Learning from Motherhood.

April 19, 2017
by mymommyology
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We Went Camping

Yes.  Yes we did.

We spent the last part of the girls’ spring break in the Mojave National Preserve.

We made it!

Camping is a big deal for me.  Like skiing, it’s not in my vocabulary.  I can only “rough it” so far — especially now that I’m older (and supposedly wiser…  it makes me wonder sometimes).  What we did  before was not remotely close to camping in the desert in low temperatures and gusty wind conditions.  And no bathrooms.  Or showers.

I need my showers.

Did I mention no bathrooms?  They were vaults.  Outhouses with toilet seats inside that lead straight down into a hole.  Where everything drops.  No flush.

Photo Credit: Utah Jones (Vaults look so… decent — in this photo. It’s deceiving.)

No flush.

I flashback to our Yosemite trip, where the vaults were nowhere near desirable.  I would hoist Sam and Jamie over it and pray they wouldn’t fall in.

I’d have to say – I was at the edge of my comfort zone, just about to lose my footing.

I had panic attacks.  I lost sleep and I had toilet nightmares.  I looked to Immodium as the solution.  I wanted to back out many times.

But we were going to do this.  I took a deep breath, and prepped my “vault bag”.

From a water proof toilet paper necklace to gloves, I had it all.

I bought a portable shower and a privacy tent, which was quite the entertainment for my fellow moms.

Left: Daddy practicing the tent
Right: REI’s top portable shower pick!

We camped at Hole-in- the Wall, an area that got its name from the uneven cooling of lava and ash from volcanic eruptions millions of years ago.  The oxidation of iron in the volcanic mater is what makes some of the rocks look red.    And all toilet humor aside, I will admit it was beautiful.

Photo Credit: Utah Jones

We took a hike on Ring Loop Trail, and Jamie almost ran into a snake (no kidding).

The kids climbed boulders, and took in the wildlife.  Sam loves nature, and her energy and positivity was contagious, especially to Jamie.  The girls did some crafts and completed a badge or two (including the National Parks’ Junior Ranger patch!)

Kids on rocks. My heart in my throat.

And we were in excellent company.  I wasn’t the only mom with vault nightmares — but we made the best of the situation and lived to joke about it after.

It was also because the vaults weren’t as bad as we’d expected (except for one instance when I had to clean it in its worst state. I am forever scarred).  So it was tolerable, even at 2AM in the morning when Sam would need it.

The weather conditions were rough though.  The winds howled all night and snapped a tent in half.  The ranger said the next morning that it shifted to 45mph and were considered “perilous”.  Gee, thanks.  A lot of us didn’t sleep due to the noise and the movement the wind was making on our tents, thinking they’d collapse at any minute.

So all in all, it was quite the experience.  And all I can think of is:  I survived.  In between laughing fits, my friends ask why I put myself through all of that.  Were we crazy to go despite all my concerns and apprehensions?

I only had one reason.

This little girl.

My little adventure-seeker and nature-lover could not be bribed (yes shame on us – we tried) to go anywhere else.  Sam really wanted to camp in Mojave.  She researched about it, read about it, and even proposed a presentation of the trip to her teacher.  She was excited.  And she got Jamie excited about it too.  My timid Jamie, who hesitates through new experiences, jumped straight into this one.  All thanks to her big sister’s infectious excitement.

I can’t deny this was a good experience for them (once we flush all those concerns down the drain).  I would never in a million years, think to offer this to them though, but now we’ve opened new doors to explore.

My girls are the only people who can push me to the limits of my comfort zone and beyond.  It amazes me how far beyond my comfort zone I’d go, to give them a chance to experience these unique opportunities.  Parenting has definitely taught me to “suck it up” and “weather” it out, in a manner of speaking.

On top of the world. Well, the desert.

And I survived!  Sleep-deprived and muscle aches in tow, I surprised even myself.

Oh Motherhood.  It changes you in ways you can’t explain.  And you don’t realize it until it’s there… or until the next morning when you feel your (my) aching back.

February 20, 2017
by mymommyology
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My Mommyology Likes: Matilda the Musical

Last fall, one of our busiest seasons to date, the girls sold Girl Scout Nuts, Chocolates and Magazines (Who knew that Girl Scouts had something other than cookies?).  They both had checked off the top prize, which were tickets for two to watch Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical at Segestrom.

I love the simplicity of their merchandise too!

Matilda is one of Sam’s favorite books.  We’ve read it several times and watched the movie with Jamie, so even she was familiar with it too.  It was a fitting goal for both girls.

Thanks to my Grandfather who took me to all the classic Broadway plays once upon a time, I learned to love and appreciate musicals.  It’s something I’ve carried with me to this day, and hope to impart as well to my girls.  I’ve already taken Sam to see Wicked back in Manila, but Jamie had not been to a musical with us yet — so we hoped Matilda would be her first.

I was excited — I’d read some pretty good reviews of Matilda, and heard that it was a must-watch from friends who saw it in London.  It is peppered with awards too from Best Actor to Best Musical, so I was curious and I had high expectations for it.  Knowing the book inside and out, and after watching the movie several times, I think the girls had set some high expectations as well.

Thanks again to benevolent friends, family and staunch girl scout supporters outside the grocery stores, the girls did get their tickets to Matilda!

We made it to Segerstrom! Thanks girls!

And thankfully, they had enough sense to take their parents as their plus ones (not like I would have let them take anyone else otherwise, right?). 😉

I absolutely loved it.  The music was fabulous and the acting was fantastic (particularly from a 10-year old actress, and the award-winning Bertie Carvel, who played Ms Trunchbull).  As a parent, at the back of my head, I kept wondering what kind of little girl these actresses are in real life.  How do they study?  And do they do anything else?  Hannah was the one we watched — and she was brilliant.  Absolutely brilliant.  They were all so good!

We were completely amazed and entertained.  The way they produced their main sets — a classroom, a school playground, the library and a living room (with just a TV), was also so much fun.  Everything looked seamless from the balcony seats we had.

Scene from “Revolting Children.”

They tried to stay as close to the book as possible, but if you read it (or watched the movie), you’d know which parts were true and which parts they took license to change.  The change however, didn’t affect the essence of the story and it still had the same effect.

The girls loved it so much, they started searching You Tube videos for clips of the performance or the songs.  And at dinner every night, we would have the Matilda soundtrack playing in the background.  I only wish I bought the CD as we left the theatre.

To round out my experience of these Broadway musicals, my Grandfather purchased the songbooks of Les Miserables, Ms Saigon and Phantom of the Opera so that I could learn some of the pieces on the piano.  At least at some point in my life, I could claim that I knew how to play Last Night of the World, On my Own, and All I Ask of You.  But that was a very long time ago!

And so, I did the same.

I might start tinkering with this book too!

Sam’s piano teacher has asked her to practice sight-reading some pieces, and why not make the task much more enjoyable by having her do it on something she loves.  Actually I think she spends more time on it than her regular pieces.

To close out the loop, Jamie has now gone looking for her sister’s book, and has said she’ll start reading it tonight.

Maybe Matilda will make it to Jamie’s recommended reading list!

If Matilda comes to your hometown, or you get the chance to visit Broadway or London, by all means, make it a part of your itinerary.  I highly recommend you watch it at least once.  It’s still enjoyable even if you haven’t read the book, much more meaningful for those who have.  I’d definitely love to watch it again!

 

January 12, 2017
by mymommyology
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A Religious Ed Volunteer

We go to a public elementary school, which means  religious education is a family choice, and it is done outside of school.  Our church offers it, but apart from the staff at the church, the classes are conducted by parent volunteers.

My kids love it when I volunteer in their classrooms, and I do it as often as I can.  It doesn’t involve much — I show up and do as I’m told, and then I’m done for the week and I do it again the next week.  The one thing I never thought I’d do would be a Religious Ed volunteer.  No particular reason — I just, never thought about it.  Plus this year, with both Jamie and Sam in class at the same time slot, I was going to have an hour in the middle of the week all to myself.  It sounded so — divine!

Maybe “divine intervention” had other plans for me because we attended mass one Sunday when they called for more parishioners to volunteer due to the volume of students that were coming in.  Sam heard and asked me if I would do it for her class.

Earlier in the year she had just taken her first communion, and I was told that a lot of parents stop sending their kids after that.  They come back when it’s time to get the sacrament of Confirmation.  I felt very strongly about a continuing religious education for my kids, no matter how sparse it felt as compared to mine in a Catholic school, and so I took the plunge and gave my name as a volunteer.

I was nervous and apprehensive at first — because I have no background in education whatsoever.  But according to Carrotte, the Religious Ed representative of our church, the only requirement they had was for the desire to share our faith with the children in the class.

And so week after week, I show up to a group of 10 third graders, all at different places in their faith formation, and all of different personalities.  It is unnerving to think about what to expect from them, but at the same time I remember, they are looking at me too to learn and hopefully grow.  I don’t pretend to know everything, and an inner voice just always tells me — just be present.  It’ll work out. 

A teacher’s prayer — I never thought it would apply to me. But it does!

There is a book that we follow as a guide, but they are not strict about following it to the letter.  “It will depend on what the kids need, and sometimes that’s not in the book,” they said at the Cathecist’s briefing.  So we learn to go with the flow.

The guide-book.  My bible.

I’d have to admit that it is this part of my week that stresses me out the most.  The group I’ve gotten is very smart, and also very active.  It’s hard to contain them in their chairs every afternoon in the middle of the week right after a long day of school.  Most of them would rather be outdoors running around.  I am challenged each week to think of a creative way to teach the lesson.

Calling in Father to teach the children about the mass.

It’s more work than I bargained for, and it’s also not something I need on my already full plate.  And while it’s quite the roller coaster ride each time, surprisingly it’s also one of the more fulfilling moments of my week.  So far, after each class there is a sense of inner peace, with the hope and prayer that something good came out of this particular session with me.

I email the parents after every class as to what we have done and covered, and I have heard back from a few of them who appreciate the effort and tell me that their kids are having a lot of fun, and I do appreciate the feedback.

I am learning too.  I’ve learned a lot about these kids and their families and knowing their stories, I feel has made me a more compassionate person in such a short span of time.  I’ve learned a lot from them just by being around them.  And it’s because I’ve opened myself to this opportunity that I feel I’ve found — dare I say — a vocation, and a sense of purpose in the larger community.

January 9, 2017
by mymommyology
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Ski Lessons and Lessons from Skiing

My husband and I took a trip down memory lane one night when he found his old iPhone and watched old videos of the kids.  Sam was just around 2, maybe almost 3 then, and Jamie was a newborn.

It was fun to see the girls so young and wide-eyed at the world around them.  There was so much joy with every new adventure.  We had done so much when they were little!  Road trips, beach trips, museums, snow days — and all kinds of stuff.  I was teary-eyed and wished out loud that we do more of those again.  My husband and I had both gotten so busy that most of our travel plans last year had gotten shelved or pushed back.

Much to my bewilderment and surprise, it didn’t take him too long to act on it.  It all happened over lunch and coffee with friends, who were talking about their winter and ski vacations.  In a matter of hours, he had us driving up the mountain to Snow Valley Mountain Resort for our very first family ski trip.

Here we are!

It was such a whirlwind plan (if you can even call it that), and it was a shock to my system.  The careful planner in me needs time to process and work out little details and pack for contingencies.  But this — this was a blur.  My head began to spin because after the holiday bustle, I had imagined a relaxing weekend at home.  Instead, I found myself in a daze scrambling for (ill-fitting) snow pants for myself (I had 5 minutes before the store was going to close), and gloves and helmets for the girls.  They on the other hand were wide-eyed with excitement and squealing with delight.

Skiing was never in my vocabulary to begin with (I was raised in a tropical country, can you blame me?), and growing up I never took ski trips with my family.  My husband on the other hand, had good memories of ski vacations and he’s been wanting the kids to learn.  Plus, we were told it’s best to start them young (which is something I now believe).

Our friends had been inviting us to go with them too, but I’d always been hesitant to thrust my ever-so tentative Jamie in a high adventure, active sport that involved cold and falling.  One bad experience could ruin it for her, so I wanted to wait another year or so.

And yet, there we were — at a ski resort.

I can’t deny it was a beautiful day to be out.

We rented skis and boots and enrolled the kids in ski school, where they spent the whole day with trained instructors.  The fee included meals for them too.  After dropping them off, technically we only saw them again to pick them up at the end of the day.

Days later, sore and still in shock from the flurry of events (pun intended), I am trying to process it all — as I do with most of our new and exciting adventures.

I cannot say that I would spontaneously plan a trip like that in a matter of hours, and while I had many apprehensions, I’m glad I kept them to myself and have learned to just “roll with it.”  Coach Pia once said that kids don’t come with fears and anxieties.  Whether we mean to or not, we pass it on to them and they learn it from us, their parents.

I was very conscious about this and careful about not putting my anxiety out there for my kids to tap into.  Jamie is a very sensitive soul, and like me, stresses about unknown variables and events we can’t control.  Thankfully enough, without much fuss she suited up, walked into ski school, and was fine!  I had to hang around for a little while until she gave me a thumbs up, but I was pleasantly surprised to see she was enjoying herself — and doing well at that.

Jamie learning about “french fries” and “pizza”

By the end of the day, she learned to go through rainbow hoops and swish from side-to-side.  She could dodge snowballs while staying upright too.  She didn’t cry when she fell, and while she was exhausted, she said she definitely wanted to do it again.  I’m very proud of her.

Sam, my adventure-seeking peacock was no surprise.  I knew she’d love it, but I was still pleasantly surprised at how much she picked up in a day.  She was going down the bigger slope with the adults, jumping and twisting from side to side.  My husband took a video of her on her last run down the mountain.  I have to admit I thought she was pretty cool!

My fearless girl zipping down.

I’d definitely recommend ski school, especially for novices like ourselves.  It guarantees they’d have a good time while learning ever so quickly and staying safe.

I was impressed, but as her mother watching Sam go at a speed faster and further beyond my reach, my heart was in my throat the whole time.  My young adventurous scuba-diving, bungee jumping heart is not what it was.

But again I kept it to myself, and rolled with it… literally and figuratively.  I was glad for it too, because the kids had a wonderful first experience and are asking to do it again.

Ironically enough, I on the other hand had a painfully entertaining one.

Against my friends’ advice to get ski lessons myself, my husband took it upon himself to be my teacher.  That didn’t quite work out.  Remember:  tropical country + no previous ski /skating experience + anxiety over unknown variables + old age = (comedic) disaster.  It’s true, it’s harder to teach an old dog new tricks.

I think I fell more than I skied.  It’s why I’m so sore in places I never expected to be.  And that slope Sam went on five times?  I was only able to go up once.  I barely made it down.

I give props to my husband for being so patient and encouraging (even if he was laughing at my expense), and for attempting to be a good instructor. 😉  Ultimately I think he was just glad that after seventeen years, he was finally able to get me on skis.  

I am still smiling here… and standing. A rare occurrence.

And I must give myself props for trying too, in spite of all my preconceived notions and fears.  There was nothing else to do but laugh at myself and my misfortunes — another skill I’ve developed in my old(er) age.  Man, those ill-fitted snow pants definitely came in handy.

Over all it was not a completely horrible experience.  I may not have had the best time, but I did love that the rest of my family had an awesome one.  If there’s one thing I learned about parenthood, we do things well outside our comfort zone for the benefit of our kids.  And this entire experience was miles beyond my comfort zone!

I find myself thinking that if only for those reasons, I would keep trying until I could ski with them (no matter how slow I may be).  With the proper instruction, and better ski pants, maybe it won’t be so awkward and so hard the next time around.  Hopefully one day, I’d be able to say we learned a new sport as a family and it’s something we can enjoy together as they get older. 🙂

January 6, 2017
by mymommyology
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Happy New Year, Blog

Why hello there, blogging world. 🙂  I don’t know if you remember me.  It’s been four months after all.

So much has happened since then, and a lot of it is still going, just one thing after another.  Time escapes me.  Sometimes I think — yes let’s sit and write, but then — something else needs my “urgent” attention.  Or, I fall asleep (okay, that’s not time that’s old age). 

As my friend Michelle says, we haven’t been able to get off the train.  Everything is fun, educational, exhausting and time-consuming all at once.  We are making memories and learning as we go.  And so much changes so quickly.

I realized it takes a lot of energy to inflate all 5 life bubbles.  It is a whole other ball game keeping them all equally inflated.  Even that is a lesson in itself.But six days into the new year, I finally find myself with some spare time (well really… there is a pile of unattended laundry staring me in the face) to write, even just a little bit.  And I have to admit, it’s a nice feeling to come back to this again.Sam had an exercise in school last year that I thought would be great to repeat this year, even for myself.

This is our second year to do this exercise.

I focus on the “1” — As you may have read in previous posts, I am not big on new year’s resolutions.  But hey, we all change even just a little bit right?  So maybe a regular post or update is the one thing to start — or re-start.  For whatever other purpose it serves, coming back to this space is something that makes me feel a little bit more like me, and that’s a good place to start the year.  Let’s see how far we can take this, this time around. :)Happy New Year to us all.  Onwards, 2017!

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