Category Archives: Relationships and Family

Snacks and childhood memories

When I was I kid, I loved going to church because after that, my mom would treat us to our favorite ice cream parlor (typical kid! :P).  We wouldn’t eat anything out of the ordinary, just vanilla for my sister and banana split for me and my mom.

In high school, I would watch what I spent from Mondays to Thursdays because every Friday, my service mates and I will eat at our favorite fast food joint.  Again, nothing expensive: just fries and a sundae.

My childhood is peppered with happy memories. And, as you may have already guessed, most of them include food.  This isn’t to say that I’m a glutton for food. It’s just that whenever I think of a specific food or restaurant, some memory from my life pops up.  And sometimes, I eat a certain dish not because it’s delicious, but because it reminds me of someone or something in my life.

Now that I’m a working girl and that my taste buds have become more mature, I still occasionally crave for some of the fun food I had when I was younger.  Well, now I get to eat them without my mom scolding me to brush my teeth afterwards. Or her telling me to drink lots of water after eating ice cream.

Yan Yan

I love this cracker that you dip in chocolate.  I know that there are better-tasting brands than this, but there’s something about Yan Yan that reminds me of my childhood.  It’s like all of us ate and enjoyed this snack when we were little.  I don’t know anybody who didn’t like Yan Yan.

Hopia

My family is not Chinese, but we never ran out of hopia in our household when we were kids.  I particularly like the ones that my mom bought at the market, though my younger sister insists that those are dirty.  Oh well, we call the ice cream being sold in the streets as dirty ice cream and yet we still eat it, so I guess it’s the same thing with the hopia.

I like monggo hopia.  I don’t really like the newer flavors because I’m too content with the monggo.  I feel like my ube belongs to my halo-halo or with some crackers, but as a flavor for hopia… Well, to each its own.

Durian chips

I’m not sure if they sell this certain brand everywhere, but I really love durian chips.  Actually, I like durian.  Even with its foul smell, I’m down with it.  The first time I ate a durian I was in Singapore.  I wanted to scream my lungs out when they offered me the fruit.  But I couldn’t refuse because that would be very rude of me.  So I closed my eyes and prepared for the worst, but I really ended up liking it.

So when I chanced upon the durian chips, I just had to taste them.  They’re now in my top 10 favorite junk food of all time.  They’re a little bit expensive, so I don’t really eat them often, unless my sister or my mom buy them for me.

These are just some of my favorite snacks.  I haven’t even made my list of my favorite dishes—maybe next time.  And please do share with me your favorite snacks too.  I’m sure I’m not the only one here who tries to reminisce their childhood with food.

This post was written by Rita Salonga.

Naming my children: celebrity and Christianity

I believe that it is our obligation as parents to give our babies beautiful and Christian names. Many parents nowadays get caught up in naming their children after celebrities, with no reference anymore to their Christian faith.

My own daughters are nicknamed after celebrities—Reese after Reese Witherspoon, and Cate after Cate Blanchett. But Reese’s real name is Therese after St. Therese of Lisieux. When I was pregnant with her, I used to pray frequently to Our Lady of La Leche whose image was right beside St. Therese’s at our parish. Once Jack and I had decided on the name “Therese”, we’d pray before both their images.

Reese and Cate
Reese and Cate

Cate’s Christian name is Catherine. She is named after St. Catherine of Sienna, a woman of great strength and courage. When I was pregnant with Cate, I was working on a book on teaching values and addressing common issues that teens have. During this time, I prayed to St. Catherine of Sienna—that I might effect change in the lives of the students for whom I was writing the book.

If I have another girl, I’m thinking of naming her Elizabeth. Then, she’d be nicknamed Elle. If I have a boy, we’re thinking of naming him Andrew. But I have yet to find him a celebrity nickname. Maybe Andy after Andy Garcia, whose character I absolutely loved in the movie When A Man Loves A Woman

This post was written by Meg Murrf Trinidad.

 

 

 

Preggy Belly Tale #2: My Very Big Belly!

For such a petite person—or maybe because of it—at about ten weeks, my tummy shows already! It literally pops out of my small frame! Look at how big I am. I should have shirts made that indicate how many weeks along I am and the line, “It’s big, I know!”

Ironically, when my back is turned to you, I don’t look pregnant. So, this presents a problem when I’m walking very slowly up the MRT stairs. The line behind me can get very long. So I need another shirt that has this printed at the back, “Buntis ako. Mauna ka na!”

The reason I show right away when I’m pregnant is because I actually have a big tummy even though I’m thin. When I’m not pregnant (which is every other year since 2007), I’m always conscious to “tuck my tummy in.” When I’m pregnant, I can breathe properly! So, there. My secret’s out of the bag. Once I deliver this third child, I better get cracking on my stomach crunches!

This post was written by Meg Murrf Trinidad.

Will your child pass the marshmallow test?

You all know about the Marshmallow Test done on children years ago to test their E.Q. If the test were done on my two girls today, they would fail instantly. Cate who eats everything but… sweets, and Reese with her love of.. marshmallows!

Seriously, I believe the best way to up children’s Emotional Quotient is to teach them to sacrifice in little things, everyday. Raise them to be tough from as early as they can remember. I do not keep a military-like home (no offense meant!), but neither do I give my little girls everything that they want. They do get their treats, but these are never stocked in the cupboard. I buy their treats once in a while. And they have to have eaten their meals first before they can dig into their favorite bag of strawberry mallows or bread.

When either child throws a tantrum, I adamantly refuse to give them what they want. I don’t care if they’re making a scene in the mall. Either I explain to them why what they’re demanding for is not good for them, or I ask them to calm down and ask me properly.

A few years ago, I attended a talk on E.Q. given by Dr. Esther Esteban. One of the things she addressed was teaching our children the virtues of temperance and chastity. And she explained something I never forgot. It went something along the lines of, “If you want to teach your adolescents the virtue of chastity, start them young by disciplining them in their love of food.” In short, we should teach our little ones to temper the pleasure they find in food (i.e. they don’t have to eat the whole bar of their favorite chocolate!) as preparation for teaching them later on to control themselves in more important matters.

I love my daughters dearly, and so I don’t want them to turn out to be soft marshmallows. By not giving them all the comforts of life and by teaching them to delay their gratification in the little things, I have great hopes that they will pass the big Marshmallow Tests of life.

This post was written by Meg Murrf Trinidad.

When responsibility hits you unexpectedly

When I was in college, two of my close friends got pregnant unexpectedly. At first, both tried to continue with their studies but as time went by, the pressures of being pregnant and homework took a toll on them and they decided to just quit school and focused on their growing bellies.
After a few years, one of them decided to continue with her studies while the other opted to become a full-time housewife. Both are happy with their chosen paths, but not without regrets and difficulties along the way.

I may not know what they went through during those times, but every time we see each other, they always tell me that life has a funny way of making you grow up. These girls, who I’ve known all my life, didn’t experience any hardships growing up. When they had their babies, I didn’t know that they had it in them to be mothers, let alone raise a family.

That was 15 years ago. Now, they tease me that it’s about time I should have my own family. My answer’s always been the same. “I’m not in a hurry”. When we’re together, it’s as if they’re making up for lost time. I guess because only now that they can actually get free from their responsibilities at home. Their children are already in high school and they’re actually living a comfortable life.

But my friends are lucky. Most unwanted pregnancies don’t always have a happy ending. In a survey conducted by the National Statistical Coordination Board, 23% of Filipino teens are engaging in pre-marital sex therefore causing not just unwanted pregnancies, but also a risk of getting sexually-transmitted diseases.

Not every girl who gets pregnant can face this kind of responsibility. And sometimes, they just don’t want to. It’s a bitter fact. If I may be blunt here, but most kids these days can be a little bit selfish. They like to think that they can do everything, but they tend to forget that their actions have consequences.

I hate it when pregnant teens cry and say that they’re not ready yet to be parents that’s why they’re choosing abortion or giving up their kids for adoption. If you’re ready to have sex, you should be ready too with everything that comes with it. I’m not advocating anything here, but it takes a lot of maturity to do grown-up stuff, and if you think that you can’t handle it, then don’t do anything stupid.

An hour of pleasure is not worth a lifetime of misery. A child is always a gift, but that gift shouldn’t be abused or better yet taken for granted. Yes, I pity those girls whose parents can’t accept this kind of situation, but what I pity most is the kid inside the mother’s womb who will suffer the consequences of these people’s actions.

I don’t like that fact that my friends got pregnant at an early age and that their education and dreams were put to a halt because of it. But I’m proud of them for not giving up and facing their problems head on. When things got rough for them, they kept on going. They transferred to a new “school,” learning more about the depth of life since they started raising their kids.

This post was written by Rita Salonga.

The unexpected break

I was supposed to start my new teaching job on the first of February, but because of delays in the new school’s construction, I had an unexpected two-week break.

I urgently needed to start working, but I figured God had His reasons for allowing the delay. On hindsight, I am nothing but grateful. For one, I got to spend more time with my girls. That in itself would have made the two weeks worth it.

But God had more in store. I was able to take one day to have lunch with a bunch of single ladies at my alma mater. And then, that same afternoon, an impromptu dinner of ribs and nachos at a new resto in Kapitolyo—with a friend I hadn’t seen in a long time.

Two days later—a Saturday—my friend Marie treated me to a mani-pedi for the very simple reason that she didn’t want to be on her own when she had her nails done. How delightful! To top off all these simple joys, I was able to attend a three-day retreat. And that helped me view many things in their proper perspective. The retreat likewise gave me a short breather from my two girls. (Ever since I became a mom, I always tagged along my nursing child. This time around, it was just me…and I was so happy!)

The unexpected break brought many surprise blessings. A delay in my plans, yes, but not according to Him…

This post was written by Meg Murrf Trinidad.

Preggy Belly Tale #1: The Third Time Around!

Last month, my period came four days late. But when I took a pregnancy test, it was negative. False alarm! This month, my period came late again (although I had a good inkling this was no longer a false alarm). When I took the test, it immediately showed just one line (read: negative). “Go back to sleep, Jack. It’s negative again.” I tossed it on the bed, and left my room to munch on fries with my girls.

IMG_0043-768x1024.jpg

Twenty minutes later, Reese and Cate bolted into our room and saw the pregnancy test. They ran to it. Reese snatched it up, and they both studied it with interest. “Mom, what’s this?” When I looked at it again, it already had the two lines! Positive. “Jack, wake up! It’s positive!!!” We suddenly felt giddy (dizzy?), like first-time parents again. Reese: “What is it, Mom? What is it?” Me: “Sssh, we’re going to have another baby. But don’t tell the nannies first.”

When we went to my doctor two days later, however, she made us retake the test. And it mysteriously showed a negative result. Hmmm… either I really wasn’t pregnant (I also actually showed no symptoms) or it was just too early in the pregnancy.

Easter Sunday, I still didn’t have my period. So, we decided to take the test again. This time, positive!!! Two very strong lines. And so begins my third preggy adventure…

This post was written by Meg Murrf Trinidad.

When the game itself starts playing you

Couple crossing the street holding handsI’m exactly not a pro when it comes to dating. Even at my age, I still consider myself a novice when it comes to this topic. I guess I’m used to going out, having fun and not really consider it as “dating” per se. Besides, what is dating anyway? Flowers, chocolates, fancy restaurants, classical music, the whole shebang?

I have friends who are serial daters. They like to go out with their date/s almost every week. It’s funny that when I ask them if they enjoy their dates, they would mention everything from the food to the ambience to the service, except for one thing: what really happened during the date. It’s not that they’d like to keep it a secret, but, to be honest, they don’t really pay much attention to the “date” itself.

I was talking to my cousin a few days ago about courtship and dating. She said she still prefers traditional courtship. I asked her what she thinks traditional courtship is, and she said she wants the guy to visit her at home, get to know her parents and maybe go out once in awhile, preferably just the two of them so that they could get to know each other more.

What if the game of dating turns the tables and starts playing us? The game’s so old that most people take it for granted. They assume that since dating is a way to meet someone, they become accustom to the whole process, and it becomes mechanical.

I see hearts getting crushed because they thought that they were having a good run, but it turns out that they were being outrun. People get tired of all the mind games when it’s just supposed to be easy. Why has dating become so complicated?

I know, I don’t have much experience when it comes to dating and therefore I can’t make any expert opinion on it. But what I do know is that when you like someone, things shouldn’t be difficult. Even during dating stage, you shouldn’t need to pretend to be someone else. Like, if you can’t eat what you want during your date because you’re afraid of what your date might think, then probably it’s not worth going out on that date altogether. There are things in life that should happen naturally. Sometimes, the more you make things complicated, the more they’ll worsen.

And a chef’s advice to people who are beginning to enjoy dating: when it comes to choosing the restaurant, make sure the place is comfortable for the both of you. When it comes to the food you’ll eat, go for those that are easy to eat and digest. You’ll probably want to avoid “logistical” difficulties 😉 But don’t limit yourself the usual pasta and or salad! There’s no harm in ordering a yummy steak or fish. And don’t worry if you’re lipstick ends up on one of your teeth; just make sure to lick your teeth once in awhile. If you’re a clumsy eater, avoid ordering shellfish, and anything with red sauce. And while I don’t suggest kissing on first dates, maybe you should refrain from eating anything with too much garlic or onion to be safe. But you can always bring your breath freshener.

Kidding aside, dating should be fun. Because you get to go out with the person you want to be with. Don’t use it as an excuse to play around, remember, sometimes when you think you’re playing them they’ll end up better players than you are.

This post was written by Rita Salonga.

Continuing the dating game

Many couples tend to relegate their “couple status” to the back burner once the kids start coming. Jack and I will be celebrating our fifth wedding anniversary this year, and I have found that we have had to very deliberate about our couplehood, so that it stayed on top-of-mind for the two of us.

It’s not that married couples don’t want to spend time together anymore. It actually has more to do with the demands of parenthood. One child gets sick, another one is having a tantrum… First child gets well, the other child catches the virus. The yayas nowadays come and go at lightning speed. Husband and wife are often just trying to keep pace with the daily mishaps that crop up. Before they realize it, the month has passed, and they have not managed to go out on even one true-blue date.

What can we wives do to get back into the “dating game”? (And I speak to the wives because I believe the women carry the tone of the relationship… or at least, women read up more on relationships!)

  1. Don’t always expect to be surprised by your husband. Before life takes over, sync your calendar with your husband’s, and set your dates.
  2. Pencil in your dates, but don’t break your heart if plans change. Be flexible, especially if your husband has to deal with urgent matters at work. But, make sure to reschedule that canceled date.
  3. While on your date, DO NOT TALK ABOUT YOUR KIDS! I learned this from a book I read to prepare me for the birth of my second child. The author devoted a short section to “protecting the marital thread” (as having another child always turns a couple’s world upside down). She specifically gave this tip. Couples should make the deliberate effort to focus on each other. Talk about things that you learned at work, new interests you want to pursue, challenges that you have in the office. Anything about YOU!
  4. Last, but not least, don’t give in when your kids cry as they see you leave for your date. They will be thankful later on when they see their parents continue to be happily married to each other. When they shriek and beg you to stay home—or worse, beg to join you!—be firm. State what time you’ll be home and why you’re heading out. “Friday night is time for Mom and Dad to spend time together.”

Ironically, switching off the “parent mode” for a few hours every week has helped Jack and me become more effective and happier parents. And the wonders, of course, that dating has done for our marriage. Getting married does not excuse couples from continuing to play the dating game!

This post was written by Meg Murrf Trinidad.

Busy, busy learning at home!

Nowadays, with the girls a bit under the weather and my having only one helper, we’ve been spending a lot of time at home. Naturally, the two chubby children want to be literally stuck to me the whole day! How do I keep them entertained (and out of my hair)?

1. Good old pretend play!

One blessing of living on a lean budget is that we do not have the luxury of buying our daughters any fancy high-tech toy (read: no iPads, iPods, Playstations, computer games, etc.). So, to make up for what they don’t know they’re missing, we rely on our human powers to entertain them! There’s more to low-tech high-dramatic play than meets the eye. Many modern educators have written about the value of old-fashioned pretend play in the development of children. For one, children get to exercise their creativity when you give them the opportunity to get into “live” dramatic play. (Tip: Let them come up with their own props, instead of buying them a doctor set or a grocery set!) My girls like to make a house under our dining table, or a makeshift office out of our chairs. Reese, my three-year-old, opens a storybook and pounds on it saying that it is her “laptop.” A friend keeps her preschoolers entertained by giving them cardboard boxes and crayons, out of which they make their house and car.

2. Read, read, read!

Unplug the TV, and have a reading afternoon. Consider reading to your children as an investment. Imagine them reading on their own someday! Then, you can have your own life back! I, for one, dream of reading my own books again.

3. Cook together.

It can be the most simple of recipes, but your child can learn so much when you cook together. Cooking combines math and literacy lessons in one go. Once I drew pictures for a three-step French toast recipe. Reese read the recipe, and we made French toast together for breakfast. Do set safety guidelines before you start cooking. Ideas of simple recipes? Making fresh orange juice, preparing your own sandwich or…pizza pandesal!

4. Do house chores together.

“Educational” does not only consist of activities that will teach your kids their 123’s and ABCs. My husband and I definitely want our girls to learn to pitch in with “homework.” The other day, I was getting so irritated because Reese wanted to stay with me in the laundry room. She didn’t want to play with her toys. Finally, I gave up and told her she could toss in her dirty clothes into the washing machine. She was so delighted! On hindsight, I’m glad I got her involved. After all, I don’t want her to keep hearing that she can’t help me out when she’s so interested in cleaning, cooking, and other adult humdrum chores. How will I reverse it when she’s old enough to really take on her fair share of house chores? (Jack and I do envision a future with no helpers—as strange as it may sound in our yaya-dependent culture.)

Even with these activities, I still have pockets of time during the day when I’m at a loss as to what to do with my mile-a-minute girls. What to do then? Turn on the DVD, and play Hi-Five!…during which I drink my coffee and breathe before the next round.

This post was written by Meg Murrf Trinidad.