Happy New Year! 

Apologies for not posting my greeting a week earlier.  Been super busy lately...plus, our daughter is sprouting a couple more teeth (started after New Year's) and we are trying our best to comfort her.  She was never really cranky or got a fever when her other teeth came out (she already has seven!)...this time, it was different...the notorious molars are to blame.  Her temperature was higher than normal for the past three days and she gets fever at dawn.  She also has flushed cheeks which kinda look like rashes.  Thank God she's feeling a lot better now...we can now get our much needed Zzzz's....and I can write my blog.

Can't believe 2011 has passed and we're now on 2012!  Something I love about New Years is that even though it's an extension of the Christmas festive spirit (or hangover), it makes me feel like I can just wipe the slate clean when I wake up the next day.  A fresh year = New beginnings.  It's like I've been reborn and have powers to erase the mistakes I made the prior year.  Maybe that's the exact reason why people make new year resolutions.  Subconsciously, we are hoping we can correct the mistakes of the past.  But then again, new year resolutions are meant to be broken.  Come on...be honest, do you think you can keep up with your resolutions by June?  or even February???

That's why I no longer made a list of my resolutions.  Instead, my husband and I wrote down our dreams...our plans for this year and years to come...Because for us, resolutions are like burdens!  And when it gets too heavy to carry, you give up (read: I promise to jog every morning)...the resolution falls apart and you'll make another promise to try again next year!  In short, resolutions are normally short-lived.  But dreams...they're different...dreams will motivate you...push you...especially when you pray for it everyday.  Dreams are long term...

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Cheers!!!
We somewhat got this idea from our bible study group a couple of years ago...at the start of the year we all wrote down our wishes & prayers and placed it inside a sealed envelope with our names on it.  We placed all the letters in a box and prayed over them after every gathering.  Then at the end of that year, we opened our envelopes and reflected on them.  It was a thanksgiving for all the prayers granted and also for those that were not.    

I guess this is a better way of welcoming each year...a sense of gratitude for what has been and thanksgiving for what is yet to come.  Reflecting on the year gone by and offering a prayer for the year to be.

Again, Happy New Year and may all our dreams come true.  God bless! 

 
 
It's the first night of "Simbang Gabi" and I'm starting to feel homesick...

The Filipino tradition of "Simbang Gabi" (mass at dawn or novena mass) is a nine-day novena in preparation for the birth of Jesus Christ.  It starts on the 16th of December as early as 4 or 5 in the morning...while the anticipated simbang gabi starts on the night of December 15. 

Here in Los Angeles, the first day of simbang gabi was held in the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels.  I was overwhelmed with the number of Filipinos who attended the mass and was overjoyed to see a lot of "parol" or Filipino christmas lanterns representing different parishes.  The First Reading was in Filipino and about half of the hymns too!  During the offertory, my eyes were brimming with tears...I felt the pangs of homesickness...

Filipinos have the best Christmas in the world because for us, it's not all about the presents...it's not really about Santa, the snow, nor the shopping the day after...For us, it's about Jesus and it's about family...everything is centered on the love and togetherness...it's the reason why we feel warm and fuzzy inside...not the hot chocolate we just gulped down (okay...maybe, that's a teeny part of it...)

After the mass, I was glowing with Pinoy Pride...We have shared our Simbang Gabi tradition with the world...

Now, if only I can find a store selling bibingka and puto bumbong...
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By the way, just in case you're from Los Angeles and need the schedule of simbang gabi masses, here it is:

Dec. 15 (6:30pm)            - Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angeles

Dec. 16 & 17 (5:00pm)    -  St. Basil's Church
                                        637 S. Kingsley Dr., Los Angeles, CA 90005 
                                        (213) 381-6191
Dec. 18 (7:00pm) & Dec. 19 (6:30pm) - Christ the King Roman Catholic Church
                                                          624 N. Rossmore Ave, LA, CA 90004 
                                                          (323) 465-7605
Dec. 20 & 21 (7:00pm)     - Cathedral Chapel of St. Vibiana Parish
                                        923 S. La Brea Ave., LA, CA 90036 
                                        (323) 930-5676
Dec. 22 & 23 (7:00pm)     - St. Brendan Church
                                        310 S. Van Ness Ave., LA, CA 90020 
                                        (323) 936-4656
 
 
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!!

Once again, it's time for turkeys, pumpkin pies and most importantly, family gatherings.  It is also a day to reflect on all the things we are thankful for...

It's already 1:10am and I'm sitting here in front of my computer trying to write a nice blog...I initially wanted to list down all the things I want to thank God for and share it with you, but then if I do that, I'll probably sleep around 6pm the day after Thanksgiving...

I'm very much grateful for the gift of motherhood, for Shandi, for my loving husband, for our wonderful relatives, our good health and the gift of waking up to wonderful "everydays".  This year has been an amazing ride for me...and the joy and excitement is not yet over!  I know God has so many wonderful things in store for us and I'm sooo looking forward to all of it! 

That's the beauty of Thanksgiving...it reminds us to be thankful to everyone, for everything, and for all we've been through...in case we forget to do it everyday...

How about you...?  What are you thankful for?
 
 
Living in Southern California where public transportation is not really considered reliable, people tend to be too dependent on cars.  Let’s face it, the conveniences a car offers…no waiting on a bus stop (especially during winter!), fumbling for change and switching trains & buses…plus, the amount of time you save!

Having taken the bus for more than 2 years in Los Angeles, I’m proud to say that I’m familiar with it and won’t be scared to take the Metro when a car is not available.

The other day, I got to ride the bus again…As I was sitting there doing nothing, I realized that bus (or train) riders can be broadly categorized into the following:

1.  The Tourist

They are the ones who enjoy the ride the most.  Usually with a camera and click, click, clicks away…They take photos of everything including street signs such as Beverly Drive and Santa Monica Blvd.  They usually get off at landmarks and can normally be seen carrying a map (or lost).  If you see them on a bus and they seem lost, try to help them as much as you can…they’ll appreciate it and you’ll feel good about it.  Besides, when you’re in an unfamiliar place, you’ll appreciate friendly locals too!


2.  Newbie

This group is composed of a) those who have never been on a bus, and b) those who haven't been on a bus for an eternity.  Most of them come unprepared...no idea how much the fare is, how to pay and where to get off.  

Once in a while, you'll find a few who "explains" why they need to take public transportation for that day.  They automatically say statements like "oh, I have to take the bus today because my car broke down" and "I have a car but I don't want to drive through the traffic".  Trying to be defensive creates nothing but judgement...a stereotype for bus riders.  There's nothing wrong with taking public transportation...Nobody cares if you have a car but decide to take the train because you want to save on gas.


3.  Make-up Master

These women make me proud!  They can expertly use an eyeliner while the bus is in motion.  They can juggle between a mirror, a mascara and a cellphone.  They get off the bus looking like they just stepped out of a salon.  I will never ever attempt to do what they do…unless I want to look like a clown with uneven eyebrows...and a poked eye!


4.  Irritable Passenger

They’re irritated with everything!  Very impatient with the driver, the traffic, their co-passengers and the smell of the bus.  Every time, I’m tempted to tell them to go buy a car or ride a cab.  If you opt to take public transportation, don’t whine.  


5.  The Germaphobe

You need not tell me how clean public transportation is.  Anything with the word "public" actually gives out a clue on how many germs are present in it.  But in a world where seeing is believing, we're not really worried about our health when we touch the handle bars on a bus.  However, there are individuals with super microbial vision...they carry covers for the seat, tissue paper for the handles and alcohol for everything.  They are the Germaphobes... 


6.  Sleepyhead

They are the ones who doesn’t care about what’s happening around them...Sleeping through the traffic and the noise…They’re either too tired, bored or was just coming home from a party.  What’s funny is that for a Sleepyhead Pro, they automatically wake up when they’re about to reach their destination.
 
I used to belong to this group..sleeping on the bus like I’m on our living room sofa!  I stopped doing that after a crazy drunk dude brought a pocket knife inside the bus and scared the heck out of all the passengers…and I was there, barely one meter away from him, asleep!!!  And no one even bothered to wake me up!!!


7.  Never-ending Conversation Maker

They go far beyond the “hi, hello..how are you?” question.  They will let you know what their job is, where they live, how many kids they have and their neighbor’s favorite tv show!  Seriously, these guys won’t take your non-responsiveness as a clue that you don’t care!  In case you're sitting next to one...just pretend you're a Sleepyhead, it will probably shut them up...just don't miss your stop!


8.  Phone-absorbed

Their cellphone is the center of everything.  They can spend the whole ride making updates to their Facebook and Twitter accounts.  They check their emails and text messages.  I also consider bookworms and gamers part of this group.  They're generally quiet...boring.


9.  Excess Baggage Carrier

Once in a while, you get to see them.  They're the ones with so many luggage...they occupy three seats (or sometimes, the whole aisle).  They're generally nice and apologetic...but it doesn't change the fact that you're standing for the whole ride when you could have been sitting on one of the chairs...


10.  M.Y.O.B. passengers

Mind Your Own Business (M.Y.O.B.) passengers are the wall paper of public transportation.  They're neither bored, excited nor happy about the ride.  You won't pay much attention to them since they make no sound.  However, be on guard...that person might be writing a blog about you.


Take a bus once in a while…it’s fun!  You might actually enjoy it....Then tell me, in which group do you belong?

 
 
I can still remember when I saw the September 11 bombing of the World Trade Center on tv...it was 10 years ago...but the terror and grief it brought to many will last a lifetime.

It has been a decade but I don't think America (or the whole world) ever recovered from it.  Millions of dollars and lives were lost in trying to seek justice for what happened.

What's justice?  And what's the peace everyone is supposed to have? Last May, Osama bin Laden was killed by the US army...was that the justice the victims and their families were waiting for? 

A week ago, I read an article in Yahoo news about a friendship between a very unlikely pair...the mother of a 9/11 victim and the mother of Zacarias Moussaoui, an al-Qaeda member and believed to be a part of the 9/11 attack.

As a human being, it was easy to pass judgement on the mother of Moussaoui...to some extent, blame her for what became of her son...but after watching the video and hearing what she has to say, I cried.  She too, was a victim.

True peace comes from forgiveness.  As what Phyllis Rodriguez, the mom who lost her son to the bombing, said  "I don't forgive the act, but trying to understand why someone has acted in the way they have is part of the process of forgiving. Forgiveness is being able to accept another person for being human and fallible."

The two mothers, in their agony, saw each other's courage...in their loss, found a friend...

Please click this link to read the article and watch the video.
 
 
From the moment I found out I was pregnant, I have been bombarded with thousands of advices from well-meaning relatives, friends, and yes, even strangers.  Of course, knowing nothing about being pregnant and raising a kid...I tried to follow it all...until I got tired...

Best advice I ever got?  DO NOT heed them all!!

Seriously, if I do everything everyone told me to do, I would go far beyond crazy!!  I don't mean to dismiss all the suggestions (and sometimes, criticisms)...just follow what you feel will work best for you and your baby.  Eight months of being a mom is not a lot if you compare it to 30 years of experience my mom had...or to Octomom's expertise with raising her octuplets...or to the knowledge single moms have...you get my point?  Each of us is different as our babies are unique.  What might work for one parent would not necessarily be a hit with another.

Being new at this, I don't pretend like I know everything...truth is, I know nothing.  That's why we need supportive family and friends to help us make the transition from being childless to being a parent.  It's just that with all the suggestions on how to do things, it will be overwhelming.  Suffocation from information overload.

So, what do I do when someone approaches me and tells me a "better" way to take care of my baby?  I listen first.  If it's something I feel would help me, I welcome it.  There's nothing wrong with giving it a try...if it doesn't work, I let it go.  There's no sense brooding over why it works for others and won't work for me.

Listening is the key.  When someone's giving out parenting advice, listen.  Everyone is just trying to help (or so, they think!)..so be nice.  If it's something you've heard before or something you know won't apply to you...try to say something like "Thanks, I've tried that before..but I found out _ _ _ works best for me and my baby".  If the advice is totally useless, just smile and say thank you.  At the end of the day, just pick out the useful information and throw the rest out. 

Bottom line is, you are the parent and you know what's best.  We have all heard about "mother's instinct" or "parent's instinct"...you have it.  Listen to the inner voice inside you, couple that with good information and I think you're good to go. 
 
 
When I was in highschool back in the late 90's, there was a song which quickly became my favorite...it's actually not a song...it's more like someone reading a speech with some background music.  It's called the "Sunscreen Song".

Through the years, I forgot the lessons a bit...and lately, I tried to look for the lyrics and read it once more.  Also, found the history behind it here ---->   http://www.bondon.com/sunscreen_song.html

Just want to share the song with you guys and hope that, like me, you'll find a line or two (or more) which you can apply to your life..
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Lyrics to "Everybody is free (to wear sunscreen)"
    by Baz Luhrman

Ladies and Gentlemen of the class of '97,

Wear sunscreen.

If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it.
The long-term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists, whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience. I will dispense this advice now.

Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth.
Oh, never mind. You will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they've faded.
But trust me, in 20 years, you'll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can't grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked. You are not as fat as you imagine.

Don't worry about the future. Or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind, the kind that blindside you at 4 p.m. on some idle Tuesday.

Do one thing every day that scares you.

Sing.

Don't be reckless with other people's hearts. Don't put up with people who are reckless with yours.

Floss.

Don't waste your time on jealousy. Sometimes you're ahead, sometimes you're behind.
The race is long and, in the end, it's only with yourself.

Remember compliments you receive. Forget the insults. If you succeed in doing this, tell me how.

Keep your old love letters. Throw away your old bank statements.

Stretch.

Don't feel guilty if you don't know what you want to do with your life. The most interesting people I know didn't know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives. Some of the most interesting 40-year-olds I know still don't.

Get plenty of calcium. Be kind to your knees. You'll miss them when they're gone.

Maybe you'll marry, maybe you won't. Maybe you'll have children, maybe you won't. Maybe you'll divorce at 40, maybe you'll dance the funky chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary. Whatever you do, don't congratulate yourself too much, or berate yourself either. Your choices are half chance. So are everybody else's.

Enjoy your body. Use it every way you can. Don't be afraid of it or of what other people think of it.
It's the greatest instrument you'll ever own.

Dance, even if you have nowhere to do it but your living room.

Read the directions, even if you don't follow them.

Do not read beauty magazines. They will only make you feel ugly.

Get to know your parents. You never know when they'll be gone for good. Be nice to your siblings.
They're your best link to your past and the people most likely to stick with you in the future.

Understand that friends come and go, but with a precious few you should hold on.
Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle, because the older you get, the more you need the people who knew you when you were young.

Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard.
Live in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft.

Travel.

Accept certain inalienable truths: Prices will rise. Politicians will philander. You, too, will get old. And when you do, you'll fantasize that when you were young, prices were reasonable, politicians were noble and children respected their elders.

Respect your elders.

Don't expect anyone else to support you. Maybe you have a trust fund. Maybe you'll have a wealthy spouse.
But you never know when either one might run out.

Don't mess too much with your hair or by the time you're 40 it will look 85.

Be careful whose advice you buy, but be patient with those who supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia.
Dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off,
painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it's worth.

But trust me on the sunscreen.