Archive for February, 2011

Only Child

I can’t really begin to imagine what life would be like as an only child. I grew up with two brothers and two sisters, plus dozen or so cousins on both sides of the family, so life was pretty much mayhem on all fronts with regular screaming, hair-pulling, and occasional fist fights (boys vs. boys, girls vs. girls, boys vs. girls, anything goes).

Despite all that, however, we we are now the closest of friends. Looking back, we had a wonderful childhood together. It was nice growing up together.

So now that the Shnufflebubby seems destined to grow up alone I am plagued by a mixture of emotions: guilt that we waited so long, regret that now it seems so difficult, pressure that time might be running out, disappointment that she is not experiencing all the escapades we had when we were her age.

Sometimes I think we overcompensate by giving her too much attention and giving her most of what she wants (which really isn’t much). But still, when she says she’s lonely, or asks to play with us and I can’t due to work or some other thing, it really beats me up inside and I feel like a terrible monster. It’s a good thing she’s such a sweet child; if she had any ounce of being a mercenary she would have taken advantage of the situation a long time ago. (But who knows? She may come to realize this the older she gets.)

But for now, for probably the third year in a row, she has consistently asked when she would have a baby sister or brother. Only this evening she went on a sentimental spiel, saying all her classmates had siblings (except the Chinese boy, I reminded her), and that it was embarrassing to have to say over and over that she had none. (Whoever heard of peer pressure to get your parents to procreate???? And if it was only that simple there wouldn’t have been any need for pressure! Okay, I’m getting beside myself.)

Our answer has always been that God would give us another baby at the right time. But the nagging thought at the back of my head has always been: what if God has decided that there is no right time? That the right time has passed long ago and somehow we missed that train?

Also at the back of my head is the thought that maybe if I wasn’t a working mom this wouldn’t be a problem; that somehow despite everything that a woman can do, if she cannot make children then there is something not right in her life.

I know it’s irrational, but I can’t help it.


Babies! Lots of babies! Where are the babies! — Yosemite Sam


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Organic Lawn Mowers

The recent rains have been wreaking havoc in the garden, cultivating fertile ground for weeds.

Weeding is tedious, and I really can’t afford to hire someone to just weed the garden. Solution? Bring out the lean, mean, mowing machines! Comes with free organic fertilizers too. Just make sure the cats don’t come by to eat them.

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The Shnufflebubby’s school requires students to bring a note from their parents every time they forget to do their homework. The Shnufflebubby is notoriously forgetful, probably because she is an only child and the world revolves around her.XP

A few days ago she forgot to bring home her spelling homework. Anticipating the trouble she would get into (such as suspension of computer/TV privileges), she wrote her own note to her teacher, which she presented to me as “input” for the note she was asking me to write. It read:

“Dear Ms. ____, I must be turning into an old lady for this is the second time I forgot my homework this term.”

I tried to to pull a straight face and scold her but the laughter kept bubbling up in between. No dice.

Shnufflebubby=1, Mama=0.

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Winter Propagation

I’ve been meaning to take some pictures of some recent propagations we’ve done on the succulents. Above is is HB’s succulent (which partly explains why I don’t have its name), which is on it’s second lease on life.

We got it at the height of summer last year, and it was a small, leggy, thing with barely any leaves (it cost something around 6 NIS). We hoped would look better with some care, but as the months passed there was no change.

We kept it indoors, because the desert sun was killing a lot of our plants, succulents included (so much for succulents loving sunlight). Then we went away for a couple days, and when we returned the plant was weak and yellowish with black spots.

HB, whose experience growing plants cannot be contested, chopped everything off except a small part near the roots. He took loving care of it for the next few months and voila! The result is the succulent above, a far cry from its ancestor.

One day we woke up to see that this plant had been trampled by the cat during the night, snapping its stem. (Yes, it always seems to be the cat.) Since it was winter we weren’t sure if it could survive. In an effort to at least save something of it, we detached some leaves at the bottom and tried to propagate it.

Succulents are known to go dormant during the winter. From what I’ve read, they stop growing due to the cold temperature. We took the risk, and a few weeks later were rewarded with this:

succulent propagation

As an added bonus, the main plant grew roots again. It seems not all plants behave the same way after all. Or perhaps not all gardening sites are correct.

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The Shnufflebubby helped me make tapa this weekend. Our tapa is not like the tapa that most Filipinos know, marinated and cooked in oil. It is dry, thin and crispy, cured over a period of days (or hours, depending on how hot the sun is). I’ve never seen it anywhere else except in our island. The recipe was handed down from my dad, who got it from his nanay, who got it from her nanay…. you get the picture.

Anyway, back to the story.

As Shnufflebubby prepared to sprinkle the special curing mixture on the thinly sliced meat, I stopped her. “Wait, I have to pat it dry because it’s wet.”

“I know why it’s wet.” Very serious for an eight-year old.

“Oh yeah? Why?” I was expecting a discourse on evaporation, condensation, and the whole water cycle.

“It’s sweating because of fear.”

(I guess it says something when your kid thinks you can strike fear even in dead meat. Hey, how come I don’t see you sweating for fear of me, missy?!?)

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Nutella cupcakes, take 2.

This time I didn’t go batter-happy with the muffin tins, and I put little dollops of Nutella inside the cupcakes as well. Made a total of 14 cupcakes and hid five for my daughter’s baon next week >:-).

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A friend of mine griped over Facebook a few days ago about some people who accused her of being a bad mother. Said accusers, who were working moms themselves, were of the opinion that if a woman does not stay at home with her children and cook (and clean?) for her family, then that woman is a bad mother.

The irony of it all is not lost on me, and I had a nagging suspicion that not a small amount of jealousy was involved, because my friend is a young and, in my humble opinion, successful lawyer. She is one of the most wonderful people I have ever known, and I would not have any second thoughts vouching for her capabilities as a mother.

But the incident nagged at the back of my mind. It wasn’t just a stab against my friend, but a stab against all working moms, and it is frustrating seeing this kind of mindset at this day and age, and from working mothers to boot.

Mothers work for a variety of reasons. Oftentimes it is to supplement the family income because in our world, bills need to be paid and children need to eat. Some mothers find a sense of fulfillment in working which they cannot find at home. And some mothers just don’t know how to cook (or clean). Whatever those reasons are, I think they are all just equally valid as long as the physical, emotional, and social needs of the family are being met.

In village idiot terms: working mother does not equal family neglect.

It’s a sensitive subject with me, as probably with any mother, especially one who is young and just starting a family. Any normal mother wants the best for her children, even if it means taking on more workload to pay the bills, or going hungry so her children could eat (extreme case, but entirely probable in our society).

All mothers do their best. Of course they make mistakes, of course sometimes they fall short, but it’s hard enough making things right without having other people impose their own values and pass judgment on them.

In my dream world, I am a housewife who bakes pretty cakes, sews her kids’ dresses, curtains, and bed sheets from scratch, and putters around in the garden ala Martha Stewart while money from the trust fund automatically comes in every month. (Libre mangarap, di ba?)

But we don’t live in a dream world. In this world, a woman has her own identity separate from her husband and her children. Her family is part of that identity, but it is not the only thing that defines her. In this world, a woman can decide what she wants to do with her life (and yes, that includes staying home and sewing curtains). She can even decide not to have a family (imagine that, Neanderthals!). And in my opinion, in this world it is also advisable for women to have their own source of income. (Para wala nang gulo kung gusto kong bumili ng abubot, di ba????)

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