I haven’t written you anything here in years. It was a conscious decision to share less about you here, and let you grow into your own person without people’s impressions of you being influenced by how I see you. I still share little stories of you on Instagram, but it’s different. I miss this, and today, I want to make an exception.
You are five years and eight months old now. You love drawing, and it’s been amazing seeing you develop over time. You draw stories, and make little books of your own. You spend hours playing Lego, building and breaking things, weaving all sorts of stories with your minifigures. Raising you without TV during your first 2 years was challenging, as is limited screentime as a preschooler, but I think it’s paying off. You call your dad Master Storyteller. Your humour is so spot on with ours, and you fit into this family more perfectly than I could’ve ever imagined.
Last month, we treated your first major knee scrapes and a broken toenail. I almost fainted fixing the latter, but it’s all good. You were a brave little boy. And speaking of brave, you’re also getting better at swimming. I call you my little fishy, but you insist you’re a shark.
You started reading at 3 years old (I originally wrote 4, but I just saw a video of you reading CVC words back in August 2015), and are now reading Level 2 books all on your own. You read more advanced books with a little help. You read reference books for fun, too, the way your father and I read encyclopedias when we were kids.
We’ve just started reading Harry Potter’s Goblet of Fire, a chapter or two every night. I was reading it to you but my reading of Voldemort’s lines scared you, so you asked to read them instead. I didn’t think I would ever find Voldy cute.
Reading is a big part of who I am, who your father is, and who we are together. It means so much to me that you love it as much as we do. Whenever the house is quiet, I know it’s because you’re reading. You’re still very much the chatterbox with the gazillion questions. And you love music, too — all sorts: classical, The Beatles, David Bowie, One Direction, random 90s music, The Decemberists, and almost all the Disney songs and animated movie soundtracks in existence.
Grandma Alma passed away a few days before your 5th birthday. I cannot begin to express how much it broke my heart to tell you. You have been inviting her to your nonexistent birthday party for weeks, as always. We never plan to have one, but you invite all the people you love to it anyway, year after year, and we end up having people over each time because we know how much it means to you.
Weeks later, while we had ice cream on the playground swings, you asked me quietly, “I made Grandma happy?” I wanted to cry into my cone. Yes, you did. She loved you so much, little one. She adored you and delighted in everything you did. She loved spending bits of her Sundays with you, and you looked forward to each one. She would drop by with art materials to make things with you on our dining table, answer all your questions, and play Monopoly Junior with you a hundred billion times. It took me some time to process my own grief, because I felt your loss so immensely. I am sorry grandma is gone.
We’ve moved closer to your school, and you love it here so much. We have open space where you get to run around, with the neighborhood kids who are all, as luck would have it, more or less your age. I love how you explore in the grass, and get earth in your hands and on your feet like a boy your age should, in spite of your slightly obsessive-compulsive and germophobic mother. I am a work in progress, just like you, and I think I’m getting better. Even though it drives me nuts at times, I delight in your boy-ness. I cherish the pretend battles with imaginary villains and the dirt under your nails as part of a childhood well spent, and have learned to shake off the panic when your unwashed feet find their way to our bed.
I will love you forever and ever, even when I’m “old and wrinkly”. Remember that wrinkles are nothing to be afraid of; they’re stories you carry with you everywhere you go, memories of love and loss and laughter. Wear them proudly. And yes, I will climb up your window like the mother in the book Love You Forever if I absolutely must, but would still very much prefer to go through the door.
…or some form of it that suits us.
I love clean, white spaces. My husband and I are both drawn to Scandinavian design and the Japanese way of life, both for their simplicity and minimalism. We go to Japan sometimes for work, and being able to live that way for a week or two is always refreshing. We’ve always put more value into experiences rather than things, but it’s surprising how much junk one accumulates over the years.
There have been considerable attempts as early as my college years when I took to uniform dressing. I’m almost always in black, blue, or grey, and I love how this simplifies my life. It saves me so much time and gets me out the door in 5-10 minutes if I have to. I figure since I’m high-maintenance in other ways, this evens it out. Lol.
Last February, I went ahead and went nuclear mode on clearing things out. Well, as much as I could get with our work schedule then and a move, which means it has been ongoing for the last 5 months. But to be fair, with Jeff’s help, I’ve been able to get rid of a third of our belongings since starting all this. We sold a few things, and donated or threw out the rest. I think I’m finally getting somewhere on the home front.
It wasn’t sudden, but it has been a significant change. It’s nowhere near as extreme as Marie Kondo or The Minimalists, which we feel are both too much for us, but what we’ve done so far has been wildly cathartic. It feels lighter somehow. There’s more space to breathe, more space for light to fill.
We’ve kept most some of our books and most of our Lego because we bond over them as a family. I think decluttering shouldn’t feel like penance or righting a wrong, just as having “stuff” isn’t a bad thing. I like stuff — paper, in particular. It’s just a decision to simplify one’s way of life by only keeping your essentials, whatever they may be. It’s admitting that the things you stored in boxes two years ago will never be unearthed again, and that those Kinfolk magazines on your bookshelf will never be read again, and letting them all go.
It’s a work in progress, but we’re getting to the sweet spot that works for us. I’m messy by default, and some days, I do enjoy a little clutter. Some days, my mind is messy enough for the whole house. Thankfully, the boys bring the chill.
If you grew up in the late 80s and 90s like I did, chances are you’ve been missing Planters Cheese Balls terribly. I have fond memories of spending lazy summer afternoons demolishing an entire can in one sitting while reading Archie comic books.
Saw this at Rustan’s Supermarket the other day. I posted a photo on my mom group on Facebook, and so many went to hoard that for a moment, I worried they would run out of stock before I could go back for more. Hahaha. The shelves were empty this morning, but they had more stock at the back, so yay! ♥
It’s been wonderful hearing people’s stories of their childhood memories with this. Now if only Jack & Jill would bring back Bacon Strips.
Sharing my recipe for bread pudding. This is my second attempt at this, and it’s much better, although the first one has been tested by a friend already and I’m told her family loves it. (Yay!) I added vanilla, as recommended by another friend, and the boys can’t get enough of it. I’ll try it with blueberries next time.
We’ve discovered sandwich cutters recently, and Cor has been eating star and heart shaped sandwiches since. It’s adorable how much he enjoys them, but this leaves me with a LOT of crust. So I decided to learn how to make pudding. Seems wasteful to just throw them away. I keep the crusts in Ziploc bags in the fridge until I have enough.
7 cups of bread
1.5 cups milk
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 pinches of salt
Preheat oven at 175°C. Beat eggs, milk, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, sugar, and salt in a bowl. Pour over bread in a greased baking dish. Bake for 45 minutes. Serve warm. If you prefer, top with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Corwin is almost 4 years old now. He has been asking me to bake for him maybe once a week lately. He completely lights up whenever I do, so I say yes when I can. He helps most of the time, and it’s fun dancing together while waiting for things to finish baking.
Pinterest has been a big help with recipe gathering. I’m not particularly good in the kitchen, so the easier the recipe, the better off we all are. I got this muffin recipe there, it’s called Ultimate Muffins. Sets your expectations very high, doesn’t it? It’s good though. I like making muffins because I can make them with all sorts of ingredients. Some of the things I’ve tried with this base are cheese, oatmeal, peanut butter, cinnamon, bananas, and blueberries. It’s quick and painless, and great for school snacks.
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 cup whole milk
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
I’ve made a couple of minor tweaks with the original recipe. Buttermilk isn’t easy to find in Metro Manila, so I use whole milk instead. (I hear they have it at Salcedo Market, but it’s out of the way for us.)
Preheat oven to 230°C. Line muffin tin with paper liners. I prefer to coat it with a little of the melted butter.
Combine flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder in a bowl.
Beat together the milk, butter, egg, and vanilla in another.
Pour into dry ingredients and stir until combined. Don’t overmix! Divide evenly among the muffin tin cups.
Bake for 5 minutes, then reduce temperature to 200°C. Continue baking until golden brown, around another 12 minutes.
Edit: Tried it with buttermilk instead of milk. OMG, it is so. much. better. If you don’t have buttermilk, mix 1 cup of milk with 1.5 tablespoons of lemon juice, and let it stand at room temperature for 10-15 minutes before using it as recipe requires. (Include the curdled bits!)
Cor’s teacher told me that he cried in class today. A bit unusual, as he’s been adjusting quite nicely to preschool. Apparently, they read a book and studied letter sounds, and “M is for mommy” triggered something and turned his mood around. He tried to fight it and rubbed his eyes, but the tears fell. At this point of the story, I couldn’t help but laugh. I could just picture it. He gets that way when he hears particularly melancholic songs, too.
“I miss mommy.” He was told I would be back soon to pick him up and was offered a hug, but he wouldn’t take it. “I want to go home.” Then he lay down on the floor and went rigid for maybe five minutes. He basically checked out until he could regulate himself and join the class again.
I gave him many, many hugs on our way out.
When we got inside the car, he told me, “I cried in school today, mommy.”
Me: “Why’d you cry?”
Cor: “Because I missed you and I was sad.” Holding up his fingers to count, “1, 2, 3, 4… 10 feelings.”
Me: “You had many feelings?”
Cor: “Yes. I defeated them all.”
3 years and 7 months old now. He looks and acts older most of the time that I tend to forget he’s still so young. We’re still learning all about feelings, but I think we’ll be okay.
Jeff and I went to Japan last week for a couple of shoots. Our first shoot was in Tokyo, and we had a free day to go around. You better believe I spent most of it in Tokyu Hands and Loft. I LOVE paper. Pens, too. Fountain pens, Japanese gel pens, pigment ink pens. Jeff said I looked crazed inside the shops, and I’m inclined to believe him. I lose touch with reality when I’m around writing and art supplies.
I’ve heard about Pilot’s Frixion pens before, and was psyching myself up to walk right past them, but they’re erasable pens. By friction. It was pointless resisting. I got the markers and highlighters at Tokyu Hands. On the way home, at Kansai International Airport, I picked up blue and purple Slim ballpoint pens as a last hurrah. Should have gotten more. They turned out to be my favorite of the bunch. Hoarder problems.
The ones on the right side of the photo above, the Point 05s are available in Manila. Got those at National Bookstore a couple of days ago. As far as I know, they’re the only Frixion pens available here as of now. (If you know where they stock the others locally, do let me know!) They have black, too, but I didn’t get it because it looks more grey than black.
Which brings me to the giveaway: the highlighters. They’re called Frixion Light and the colors are so lovely, but I just realized after trying them out on my Moleskine above that I really have no need for them. I considered selling them to buy more pens (haha), but I’ve been really happy lately and figured it’d be nice to make someone else happy, too. So, if you like pens and live anywhere in the Philippines, you can join by leaving one comment below. Say hi, tell me something you love about your day for some good vibes. I’ll draw a random number from Random.org and match it with the comment number to draw the winner. Raffle closes on Thursday, October 30, 2014, 8PM GMT+8.
Update: Thanks for joining, everyone! Glad I made it a raffle, because I couldn’t possibly choose. Drew a number at random from 1 to 26, and got 24. Congratulations, Najee! Will email you in a bit.
I remember five years ago, when Jeff and I got hooked on vinyl records, we couldn’t find new records anywhere in Metro Manila. There were old ones being sold at Makati Cinema Square and Cubao X, but that was mostly it. I had to ask relatives to ship new ones to me from overseas. One time, a whole bunch of records got bent from shipping. I may have cried a bit from the heartbreak. So when Satchmi launched and started selling records in Astrovision branches, we were thrilled. We got to have a steady supply of vinyl, at last. We limit ourselves to one new record every month now.
Been following Satchmi on Instagram so I knew they just opened their very first shop in SM Megamall a few days ago, but it was my friend Benz‘s message with photos of the place that convinced me to drop by. I went there and fell in love, as expected. There’s lots and lots of records to make any music lover happy. There are a couple of listening rooms. There are books, letterpressed notebooks, coffee, and film. It feels like they packaged all the things I love into one little analog lifestyle shop. Definitely worth a visit.
Satchmi | 4th level, Fashion Hall, SM Megamall | @satchmi on Twitter | @satchmiteam on Instagram
I’ve always found childhood to be this magical thing, and I always used to return to the bits of mine I remember whenever things were rough, but I don’t anymore. I’m in yours.
You’re still two years old. You won’t remember much of these days. You won’t remember laughing so hard your little round face looked like it was about to explode when your father and I lip-synched Queen to you when you were three months old. You won’t remember you and I raising our index fingers and wiggling in the car to Semisonic when you were barely a year old. You won’t remember jumping around and squealing with happiness while finger painting. You won’t remember your father going down the giant slide with you, and reading you thousands of stories. But I will. I get to keep these things forever, and that is where you’ll find them if the time should ever come when your memories aren’t enough. Until then, I’ll keep them safe with me.
I think your childhood is filling in all the little cracks in my soul.
Whenever Jeff and I are shooting abroad, I always clear an hour to pop by the nearest Typo shop. I go nuts for their little knick-knacks and stamps and paper. Basically, it’s a bunch of ridiculously cute things you don’t really need but want anyway.
There’s been a little stall in Trinoma that’s been under construction for what feels like a year now with Typo written over it. I’ve gotten used to seeing the tarpaulin cover every time I pass by, but today, they finally opened! Typo is officially now in Manila.
There are lots of charming little notebooks and chalkboards that I didn’t get around to taking pictures of. Should be worth a visit. Enjoy!
Update: Below is a panoramic shot of the shop by Jenki Fernando.
Typo | Ground Floor, Trinoma Mall, near Cotton On
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