November to remember

It’s two days ’til December… Less than a month ’til Christmas. This morning, I woke up to this: 

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Saddest Christmas tree ever 😦

And I couldn’t help but feel bad. 

I have always loved the Christmas season. I love the festive atmosphere. I love looking at the Christmas decors, watching the lights, and listening to Christmas carols. And yes, I love going Christmas shopping. I normally finalize my list sometime late October because I like doing my Christmas shopping early. By mid-November, I’m done setting up the Christmas tree and lights.

I am a gift giver. I relish the whole process — from making the list, to buying and wrapping gifts… I even like putting them under the Christmas tree (that I lovingly set up and decorated). This entire practice gives me a certain high.  

At nights before I sleep, I spend some time getting lost in the Christmas lights. Simply watching them relaxes me. I may go to bed exhausted from the day’s activities, but there’s always a warm, fuzzy feeling inside.  I call this my Christmas feeling.

Things have been quite different this year, though. It’s almost December and our tree isn’t up yet. No Christmas decors… no Christmas lights outside. In fact, there are even several busted regular bulbs inside the house that I have yet to change.

Yup, I have been neglecting quite a number of things around the house lately. I don’t know if this has something to do with our ’empty nesting.’ Since we no longer have a little child in the house  who will appreciate the decors and the lights (as much as I do), well, it suddenly doesn’t anymore feel as exciting to decorate. Somehow it is different when you have someone — other than yourself — who admires, appreciates, and gawks at that Christmas tree you have painstakingly set up for more than half a day.

So, right now, all we have is a bare tree. No lights. No gifts. No warm, fuzzy Christmas feeling.  Bah-humbug.

So what kept me busy this whole month of November? Let me backtrack a bit.

Okay, last week I was in Singapore. Again (Yey, Singapore!). You see, our Baseball Club sent two teams to play in a Thanksgiving Tournament. My husband was the head of delegation, and we pretty much spent a big part of November preparing for the trip. But unlike those other tournaments where I was on top of the travel coordination, this time we had parent leads who took care of most of the travel details. I only assisted where I was needed, giving them tips and suggestions on certain matters. And since I had no son playing in the said tournament, basically, I was just a tag along.

For a split-second I asked myself if I should still go with the team, knowing full well that I will be paying for my own expenses. Besides, weren’t we in Singapore just a month ago for the Parents’ Weekend? (Remember the previous blog?) And didn’t we extend that last time because of my son’s injury? (Remember the blog before the previous one?)

So I asked myself, is it still practical? Should I go or should I just stay home, fix my house, prepare for December, shop for Christmas?

I believe that home is where the heart is. And the heart is where the family is. My husband will be in Singapore. My son IS in Singapore. They are my home. Of course, I had to go to Singapore, as well. 

And yes, there’s also Sephora in Singapore. But that’s beside the point. 🙂

Snapshots from the Week that Was…

You’d think that since we were in Singapore, my husband and I will be able to spend a lot of time with our unico, right? Uhm, wrong! He’s in college… and the term’s about to end… he had a lot of school work to finish, papers to submit. So after seeing him and having dinner with him on the night that we arrived, well, we basically did not see even his shadow for the next several days.

Since the main reason for the trip was the baseball tournament, our days were filled with baseball games… and moments.

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The weather was not always good… 😦

We brought two teams composed of boys mostly aged 9-10 and a couple of 11 and 12 year olds. One team played in the 10u age group, while the other played up and joined the 12u group.

Unfortunately for the 10u team, all of their games started at 8am. Since they needed to be on the field an hour before for warm-up, it meant waking up and getting ready really early and being in the bus by 6am. 

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Daybreak 

On the morning that I rode the bus with the two teams at 6am, I asked myself — Why do I still do this? I don’t have a son playing in this tournament… Why wake up early? Why even spend the day on the field?

And then I see the boys.

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Habagat represent!

I see the smiles on their faces. I see their excitement. 

I see their determination and grit.

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I see their courage in the face of bigger, stronger boys. I also see their eagerness and willingness to learn, to get better.

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Hi, Callum! Habagat 2015 

I get to experience baseball moments, however small or grand, in and out of the field. I  also get to see relationships — friendships– being formed.

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Two teams, One Habagat.

Plus, I get to meet new people, form new friendships of my own.

Incidentally, in all my 7 years of being part of the Club, I do think that this is one of the coolest bunch of parents that I have spent tournament days with. 

These parents cheered like crazy and they supported each player, not just their own sons. And you know what, the players responded. The boys appreciated being cheered on.  The parents gave whatever support they can, the way they knew how. 

What’s commendable, too, was the fact that these parents knew their boundaries and did not overstep them. They let the coaches coach and the players play. Talk about respect.

Going back to my question on why I still do this… Perhaps I still get myself involved in the sport because as I watch the boys grow and learn, I also grow and learn with them.

So that was basically how the week went. Daily baseball games, a little shopping on the side (with a lot of walking)… 

Lots of stories, fun and laughter with fellow parents. Lots of selfies, too.

On our last day, well, we got to spend it with the most important person in Singapore (at least in my book)…

This is home.

So, all that kept me busy this November.

Maybe by the time I get to post this seemingly neverending blog, well, December will be just a day away.  I think I am now ready to get that warm, fuzzy feeling back.  

I will set up our Christmas tree tomorrow, lights and all.

😉 

*********

This blog was written 28th of Nov. 2017. Photos are mostly mine.

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Precious Moments

The moment I found out that their College had a quarter break in September and my son had five days to spare, I immediately got him a plane ticket home. (And because he is favored, I was able to get the ticket at a really good price!)

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My son’s home!!! 

We didn’t tell anyone that he was coming home, only my husband and I knew about it… but I scheduled a family dinner (with my parents, mother in law, siblings, brother-in-law, and nephews) at my sister’s house the day my unico was supposed to arrive. My sister thought I was getting depressed that’s why I was insistent on having dinner with the family.   Little did they know…

We told my son not to enter with us and to wait a few minutes outside the house so it will surprise them more when he enters. 

And so we were all mostly at the living room… my mom was saying it would have been nice if my son was around so we were complete, my dad kept asking me for updates on college activities… my nephews were just there hanging out with the adults, trying not to act bored…

On cue, my son knocked on the door — didn’t wait for anyone to open it — then entered and said, “Hi!” 

My older nephew let out a low, shocked, “HUH!!!” Followed by a high-pitched “What?!” from the younger one. My mom stared at his eldest grandchild for a good three minutes, not recognizing him, thinking we had another guest. Eventually she realized who she was staring at, stood up and hugged him tight. My dad asked me if I knew he was arriving — uhm, yes, father, I bought his ticket! 🙂  My sister who was slowly coming down from the stairs saw him and stared hard before realizing she wasn’t dreaming. 

It was a good surprise. It was nice night for a family reunion. 

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Act surprised, Leandro!

Family is 

The days passed in a blur. 

My son had homework to do, papers to write and submit, so it was somewhat a working vacation for him. Yet whenever possible, we took the time to go out and do things together. 

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Malling

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Hanging out with my dad 

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Buying groceries

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Eating some more… 😉 

He also spent a day at his old high school, visited his teachers and friends.

When at home, he would spend his hours reading or writing. We didn’t always have good, meaningful conversations because he had “stuff to do,” and there were plenty moments like this…

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Spongebob, how cute are you??!

I didn’t really mind much. He was home… that’s all that mattered! 

Besides, I can always pester him like this… 

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Me: Smile for mommy! Him: Why??! Me: Because I said so… 😉

It was a short break. Before we knew it, he had to fly back to Singapore. 

But then one thing I know for sure is that the moments spent together, no matter how fast — or how short — will always be precious.

Sooner or later he will be busier. He will be more settled in school or swamped with more activities, that staying at the dorm would seem like a better option than coming home. 

As our children grow older, they begin to need us less and less. And so we make the most of the moments when we can still hold them near. 

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Off to the airport. Again.

We make the most of the moments we share and spend with our loved ones because ultimately these are the moments that matter, right? 

Hello and goodbye…

These are the moments that put a smile in our hearts and give meaning to our lives. 

 

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This, to me, is the loneliest place on earth… 😦

 

photos are all mine

 

 

Sunsets and Friendships

Sunsets come and go… But friends stay forever. 

I saw that as caption to a photo posted by a Facebook friend. It was a picture of five people in silhouette, watching a beautiful sunset by the beach. 

The picture was truly breathtaking… and the message equally inspiring.

It made me think of my high school friends and all the sunsets that we shared together — as well as all the times we waited for the sun to rise. 

If there are people who know me the most, these would be my high school friends. I can say this because we practically grew up together. And growing up together entails knowing each other’s quirks, each other’s habits and hobbies… It means meeting all your friends’ love interests, both the good and the bad ones, and they meet yours, too… Through the years, you share life’s ups and downs… You know what buttons to push to irritate or compliment the other…

It’s about knowing their life story — and accepting and loving them just the same.

My high school friends are the ones who call me Gorgeous, instead of calling me by my name.  They can also proudly and boldly call me vain and narcissistic without me being the least bit offended.

They have seen me at my best and still loved me at my worst. 

Like I said, my high school friends and I don’t just watch the sunsets… we share sunrise, too…

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January 1, 1997

Taken almost 20 years ago, First of January, 1997. Coming from the house of another friend, we waited for the sun to rise and had this picture taken in front of St. James church in Alabang.

The night before the photo above. New Year’s Eve, 1996. 

And 20 years — and pounds — later… we still do Christmases together…

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Christmas Get-Together 2015

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Post-holiday 2016 Get-Together

I don’t always get to see my friends much. I know I am partly to blame because I allow the busyness of every day life to get in the way.

Yet whenever we do see each other, it’s like no time has passed. We are still the very people we once were. We just easily pick up where we left off. We update ourselves with the things we missed, we celebrate each other’s successes. 

And as we got older together — and hopefully more mature, we know that we are done with petty things. We still tease each other, yes, but we don’t bicker. We now talk about serious stuff… our families, our fears, insecurities, goals and achievements, even our mistakes. And we can still laugh at shallow, silly things (and people) — just like when we were 15. 

My friends and I are secure in the knowledge that we accept each other for who and what we are and were. Each of us with our different moods, strengths, flaws and all.

Because that’s the thing about true friendship. Neither time nor distance can change how you see the other person, nor how you feel about them.

With real friends, you can never lose the love, the respect and that feeling of being home.  

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With three of my high school besties, Jeg, Liesl and Sandee. Homecoming 2014.

I originally captioned this, “Mean Girls,” but they objected. They said I was the only mean one. 🙂

❤ ❤ ❤

Sunsets come and go… But friends stay forever. 

*****

photos from the ’90s — which I grabbed online — i think came from our friend Joel.  All other photos are mine!!

Them. In no particular order: Jeg, Liesl, Sandee, Kokoy, Myla, Patrick, Manny and Joel

What matters most

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A rose for my friend…

The thing about Facebook is sometimes you find yourself friends with people you don’t really personally know so well.  They may be mere acquaintances… people you met at work yet you never really talked to much… or they are parents of your child’s friends… or your friends’ friends… or people you went to school with many moons ago.

Facebook reconnects people.  Facebook allows you to be privy to someone’s life events. You know of them based on their status posts and the pictures they share. Sometimes you don’t really talk to a person yet you feel you know so much about her because of what you see online. You feel you know the person’s family even.

Over the weekend, I came across a Facebook post that made me literally stop and stare at the screen of my iPad for a good ten minutes.  I had to make sure I read the post correctly.

It was a notice of someone’s passing.  It was a message from a mother, bidding her 20-year old daughter farewell for the moment, with the promise that they will see other again soon.

My heart bled.

***

I met the mom in my son’s elementary school. She was a teacher.  During one of our Parent-Teacher conferences some ten years ago, we got to talk and we found out that we came from the same high school. She was a year younger, but we had friends in common. I think she even dated one of my guy friends back in high school.  We instantly became Facebook friends after that meeting.

Over the years, I learned more about her not because we talked to each other but because I see her FB posts on my newsfeed. Though I hardly saw her in person and my son has already moved schools, I still knew what goes on in her life because of the posts she shares. And I am pretty sure that she is updated with mine, as well.

She shares photos of her girls — two young adults… She has photos of her adorable students and their school activities… she shares shots of her dog…

Mostly she posts her adventures and travels with her two girls. I haven’t personally met them but I know their names and I feel like part of their family. 

Three of them together, always with big smiles. Always happy, carefree.  Living life. Enjoying moments. Being together. 

Until the notice last weekend. Her youngest, gone too soon.

***

heart

... and the greatest of all is love

If you read a post like that and not get a jolt, I don’t know what will.

I can only imagine how she is feeling. No, I won’t even try to imagine it. Heartbroken would be an understatement. Maybe it’s more like experiencing the world crumbling down on you, both literally and figuratively.

Parents should not be burying their children. It should be the other way around. Our children should live long, full lives. We should be the ones to go first, prepare the way for them in heaven as we do on earth.

I don’t really know the circumstances that led to the young girl’s demise. I only heard bits and pieces. The girl got ill, there were complications, she didn’t survive.

It was every mother’s nightmare. My heart goes out to my friend.

***

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Find your peace… Love what matters

 

Life is short. A lot of times we bother ourselves with the mundane that we forget to appreciate the important stuff.  We obsess about things we don’t have, people we don’t like… We get petty, we waste our time and energy on things that won’t do us any good, people who bring out the worst in us.

When you hear about someone you know losing a person really important to her, you get jolted awake. It hits close to home.  Somehow you realize that you want to make the most of whatever time you have on earth with the people you love… You realize that you want to get the most out of life. 

As we get older, the days seem to move much faster. And we find ourselves questioning — are we living the life we want to live?

So, go — Spend time with your friends… Reach out… Make time for people… Show people you love that you love them… Hug someone… Laugh…. Laugh hard…. Take selfies… Capture the moments… Don’t just connect on Facebook, connect in real life…

Love your pets… Experience how it feels to be loved unconditionally… Put a smile on someone’s face… Allow someone to make you smile… Have a purpose… Be someone’s sunshine… Feel…

Live each day knowing that time is fleeting. Because only then will you value that which is truly important.

Live with no regrets.

*****

photos via google images

#Thankful

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Life is beautiful

Truly there are so many things to be grateful for.  Sometimes, though, certain situations wear us down.

I have those moments, too.  Moments when life’s uncertainties just sow fear in me, enough to make me feel sick with worry. Sometimes I end up feeling sorry for myself.

When I go through challenges, no matter how trivial they may be, sometimes I find myself asking, “Why this? Why me? ”

But then, when I stop focusing on myself and my woes… When I stop and look around me, these are what I see–

  • I see people carrying their own share of burdens.  Sometimes lighter, oftentimes heavier than mine.
  • I see people who may have less in life yet who also have bigger smiles. 
  • I may see people who are proud, yet I also see selfless and loving ones. 
  • I see the opportunities that have been laid down in front of me.  Opportunity to help a brother in need… opportunity to showcase talent… opportunity to be the best Me that I can be.
  • I see all those times I surpassed a challenge — and came out stronger, better, wiser. 
  • I see all the answered prayers.
  • I also see the innumerable blessings that I have been showered with all these years.
  • I see all those times that my God pulled through for me.

And I go back to being thankful.

***

Be still and know that I am God. – Ps. 46:10

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photo via google image