Tuesday, March 15, 2011


My children just celebrated their birthdays recently.  Vivi turned 2 on February 20 and Luke just turned 5 on March 14.  Jon discovered that Luke is destined to be a physicist as his birthday is not only Pi Day (3.14) but also Albert Einstein's birthday.  I just looked up Vivi's birthday to see if she shares her special day with anyone famous.  Kurt Cobain, Cindy Crawford, Patty Hearst, and Ansel Adams.  So she has the potential to be a world famous supermodel/possible musician who does drugs (who doesn't?), fakes her own kidnapping, and is an awesome nature photographer to boot.  (I'm personally hoping for the photographer...)

So besides mourning the infant years and lamenting over how fast my children are growing, I was reflecting upon my role as their mother.  All through my life, even with my own family or in my various circle of friends, I've always had this feeling of not really belonging 100%.  I always felt like I either got by or got along well with others, but this doubt of whether or not I fit in well always hung over me and still does.  Perhaps I can chalk it up to my need to be perfect in whatever role I assume--relative, friend, co-worker, nurse, etc.  But where I have absolutely no doubt is in my role as a wife and mother.  Granted, I always have that question looming over me of "Am I a good enough wife or mother?".  But what I never question is that I was destined to be Jon's wife and, as a result, become the mother of Luke and Vivian just as they were destined to collectively be the family God blessed me with.  I cannot envision them NOT being in my life.  They are the central purpose to my being and, aside from the one triune God with Christ and the Holy Spirit, my family is my own personal Alpha and Omega.  They are my beginning and my end.  I hope I do them proud in my endeavors to be the wife and mother of our small, special little family.

And the children do me proud with every year that passes.  Vivian is a very loving little girl who definitely knows what she wants.  If she didn't get what she wanted, she lets you know in a very big way.  It's a fine line between being spoiled and self-assured, but I hope that in my efforts fall on the latter side of that line as I raise her.  She loves music, reflecting the passion for rhythm and song that is undoubtedly the Filipina coming out in her.  She's also very loving.  Right now she's in a hugging phase and I adore it.  She still has the squishy, soft body of toddlerhood that makes hugs so extra-special.   Luke is analytical and likes things done in a certain way.  He shows such an early interest for various aspects of science and soaks up all he learns like a sponge.  He will be the one to see things in black and white, much like his engineer father.  He is also becoming more in tune to God and it makes my heart smile.    Praying the Lord's Prayer with him is always a joy.

I hope that Jon and I raise them both up to be productive members of society, confident in their abilities and always aware of the fact that we love them for who they are regardless of the flaws that all humans will have.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Our Summer Vacation Part 2--OBX

 We spent Labor Day weekend of 2010 in the Outer Banks--Nags Head, NC to be more specific.  The last time we were in the Outer Banks was for our first anniversary back in 2002, when we explored Ocracoke and Hatteras in addition to Kill Devil Hills.  After our short weekend in Ocean City, Jon was eager to relive the summer vacations of his youth by returning to the Outer Banks.  He always said how he missed spending an entire week at the beach when his family used to vacation at the Outer Banks.  After our little visit to Ocean City with all ridiculous stores and restaurants lining the main drag, I never understood staying at the beach for that long.  But Jon said he could stay a week in the OBX and now I know why.  There's still some of those crazy restaurants and shops but not as much.  You can choose to be more remote or closer to that part of "civilization"(if one could call it as such).  

  There was one evening when Jon wanted to stay in because of the Hokies game.  I was restless because it was a gorgeous clear night where a walk on the beach guaranteed a clear view of the stars or even the Milky Way.  The sky fulfilled its promise, showing me the vast expanse of starlit beauty while my fellow mortals on earth lit bonfires on the beach, their discussions drowned out by the roar of the ocean waves.  I walked on the cool, wet sand, alongside the scampering of the little sand crabs who felt more securing coming out in the darkness of night.  There was something about standing on that beach, knowing that on the other side of the endless ocean was another continent or two and how I wished I could be on the other side, exploring different countries.  More importantly, I wished that my children would someday travel the world, getting exposed to the different cultures and customs of different countries so they would be aware that the Earth was made up of more than just the United States of America.  So I offered up a prayer to God that night, that He guide my children around the world, to learn the different faces of the rest of God's children in the world, be exposed to their customs, so that they learn we share this fragile Earth with others and are not superior to others simply because of the country they live in.  I hope He was listening.

  With all the bright lights of Ocean City, there was no way I could have had such a beautiful evening on the beach under a blanket of so many stars.  I may not be able to spend a week in Ocean City but I can return to the OBX and stay for a week or more in a heartbeat.  

  I think the pictures speak for themselves:

Daddy and his little girl by the water

Hanging out with the kids beachside

Going for a stroll along the beach...

...although the last time we were at the OBX we didn't leave stroller marks. :)

Vivi showing off her beach diva abilities

I love baby footprints!
At the Wright Brothers Memorial in Kill Devil Hills

Yup, even bunny made the trip.  Never leave home without him!

Enjoying sunset on the bay after dinner.
Daddy showing Vivi where the dolphins were playing out in the water...

A great sunset shot of Jon and Vivi...

Enjoying a sunset stroll back on the beach...

The beauty of sunset at the beach...

Flying the kite--isn't the beach gorgeous?

Monday, January 31, 2011


  Do you ever hold your children and wonder how you actually helped to create them?  Everytime I play around with Luke and I'm tickling him in the ribs, I often think "Wow, I helped to create each and every rib".  Or I watch Vivi sleep with her full lips forming a perfect "o" and I'm amazed by the fact that the lungs inflate with every breath were made by my egg and Jon's sperm.  Naturally, all the credit goes to that omnipotent and omniscient Creator, God Almighty.

  But I still marvel at that.  The science of their bodies--each breath they take in as they slumber peacefully, the grasp of the fingers, the delightful song of their laughter.  It's beautiful and I'm so grateful that Jon and I have been blessed with their presence.  It is a gift and I know to not take it for granted.  In my line of work, I've seen how easily dreams can be crushed.  I know my children and be called back to their Creator whenever He thinks it's their time.  I can only pray that my children outlive me.  But for now, I delight in their very existence and spoil them with as much love as possible.

Beautiful Day

  The song "Beautiful Day" by Edwin McCain is playing and it's appropriate.  Today has been a beautiful day.  It's the first day in a long while that the day has ended on a good note.  No melancholy, no overwhelming sadness or despair.  After months of patience in the presence of irrational thoughts and a depression that has felt like a lead weight in every fiber of my being, I feel like the new medication is putting me on a path to wellness.

 Depression came after me like a bloodhound, hunting me this past summer.  It rolled in like fog, a slight mist at first and, before I knew it, I was submerged in such a dense cover of fog that I struggled to find the right way forward, stumbling with each step, my rational mind tired of battling the irrationality of depression.  I tried to ignore it, look past the little snips of irrational thoughts that would start to nag and nip at my rationality before I pushed them aside.  In the fall, I could no longer push past the heavy weight of the disease.  JK Rowling's literary creations of dementors is quite appropriate, thoughtless creatures who seek only to suck all the happiness out of every fiber of your being, leaving only a shell of what you are behind.  Having gone through the experience of depression herself, cheers to that apt description Ms. Rowling.  You have truly nailed it on the head.

  Months of experimenting with different doses of Prozac and resuming talk therapy did nothing to calm that inner turmoil that seemed to escalate.  The irrational thoughts were winning, to the point of trying to convince me that my physical existence was worthless and that its absence would not be felt by anybody.  Thank God my rational mind piped in that while friends, acquaintances, and family out-of-state might not notice, my husband and children would deeply mourn the loss of a wife and mother.  And that was the turning point where I told my therapist and physician that my drug therapy needed to change--drastically.

  I write of this publicly for nobody else but my children.  I hope someday in the future you will come across this and find some sort of explanation for why you  may have memories of Mommy being abrupt, easily frustrated, constantly tired, and always wanting, needing, to rest.  As young children, you are energetic and deserve the best attention possible from your mother.  The disease of depression takes that away from me, as well as from my family.  My suffering affects those who love me and have to live with the depression that weighs heavily on my shoulders.

  But my medication has been changed to one whose dosage, as my physician says, can be more easily fine tuned to respond to my depression.  It comes with it significant risks, such as cardiac arrythmias, and thus requires close monitoring.  If such potential side effects are the risk I take in bettering myself for my family, then so be it.  Luke and Vivian, you are the absolute joy of my life and desire to be better for you and your father alone.  The reason that depression has not won yet is because God has planted that seed of knowledge in my being that all children need their mother.  You, my lovely little darlings, are what ground me to this physical earth.  I have to fulfill my job as your mother to guide you to adulthood properly until God, and not the evils of depression, calls me home to Him from this life.

  And I am thoroughly enjoying the two of you now.  Luke, you are almost 5 and have a mind like a sponge.  You soak in all these facts from the PBS shows, especially Wild Kratts.  You really like that one now.  You keep informing me of the habits of wild walruses, monarch butterflies, the honey badger of Africa, etc.  It's amazing.  You are a wonderful big brother to Vivi and help me immensely simply by listening to me.  You are open to learning more about God and I am grateful for that.  I love that you still want to cuddle up with me and have no qualms about telling me or your father, out-of-the-blue, that you love us.  It warms our hearts.  I cannot get over how big you are.  You are getting so tall and acting like such a little man, it saddens me that you are not that little baby Daddy and I brought home almost 5 years ago.  Our firstborn is growing up at such an alarming pace.  It's both humbling and just a joy to behold.

  Vivi, you're starting to talk more.  "Tan-chu mommy"(Thank you, mommy), "Me me, mommy" (Excuse me, mommy).  It's simply adorable.  And you have this game that you play at dinnertime where you fix us with this darling stare and you hold it until we stare back at you.  We had a church dinner last night and you demonstrated this game to everybody at the table to their great delight.  You are excited to see me in the morning ("MOMMY!"), and your kisses are so sweet and soft.  Your delicate skin is just as lovely to kiss back when I cover your face with kisses.  And I marvel at the sheer beauty of your creation every time I stroke your hair or hold your soft body to mine in a simple hug.

 Depression may try as hard as it can to win, but the two of you are my greatest weapons against it.  The knowledge of that warms my heart and infuses my spirit with a strength that can only come from God Himself.

  It is a beautiful day, indeed...


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Our Summer Vacations 2010--Part 1 The Midwest

We spent 10 days in the IL/WI/IN area.  It was really exciting getting to see Chicago and Milwaukee again.  We were the uber Chicago tourists for a couple of days there--Field Museum, taking a water taxi to Navy Pier and then walking over to the Air and Boat Show, eating dinner at Gino's East all in one day.  Luke claimed he didn't like Sue the T-rex at the Field Museum but a few days later was roaring like one with a new friend.  He also said he didn't like the Air and Boat Show.  I somehow find that hard to believe being that it was the Blue Angels...

my future paleontologist and dino-phile...

Views of my kind of town...

Blue Angels at the Chicago Air and Boat Show
At Gino's East
Vivi was unimpressed, though.. 

Another day we headed to the Shedd Aquarium where you just can't go wrong as far as the kids are concerned.  We watched a feeding in the main tank, the new Fantaseas show, and Luke got to spend a few minutes as a penguin!  

We also visited the Marquette campus and walked around a bit.  Luke was unimpressed and more focused on trying to find a place to play ball with Jon.  I however became very nostalgic and was attempting to explain to Luke why Marquette was important to me because of who I met here.  I don't think it fazed him at all.  The decision to come to Marquette was a very pivotal one for me.  If I didn't go to MU I might never have found out about Holy Family Services, I might never have decided to go to Panama City with my girlfriends that fateful week when I met Jon, and I could very well be going through life without my best friend and Parkinsonian-gait partner, Tara.   So it holds a dear spot in my heart.

 While I didn't run into anyone I knew on the MU campus, I was able to catch up with Julie, my college roomie, as well as my best friend Tara and our friend Roger from the College of Nursing.  Tara currently lives in ME and was on her way to MN.  So for our paths to intersect back in IL is quite ironic.

And speaking of nostalgia, any trip to the midwest really ends up being a reunion of sorts with close friends and family.  There were some pleasant surprises this trip around.  When we went to visit the kids' godparents, Jun and Eileen Paredes, and their family, we also caught up with my Ninang Nina Recker (Eileen's sister) and her daughter, Julia Recker.   The Reckers have been living the Navy life around the world with my Ninong Steve and were visiting from Japan this time around.  Of course, as you can see from the pics, things get a little crazy when Kuya Jun is hanging around the kids.

And of course, the main purpose for any IL visit is for the kids to see Lolo and Lola...

In Indiana, we visited with our Samala/Castillo/Ola cousins and ate at BUB's home of the Big Ugly Burger Challenge where Man vs. Food taped.

 Jon and Tito Doc went out to play golf (I think that was the highlight of his weekend) while I took the kids to the Indianapolis Children's Museum with the Castillos.  (I think we got a little too carried away in the Barbie and Rock 'n' Roll exhibits...)

Family photos...

at the IN Children's Museum--my little dinos

  Dale Chihuly exhibit--Luke channeling his inner Chihuly...
Working Barbie's front desk...even Luke got in on the action

  Cza working the Barbie catwalk

Prego Barbie!

Rock and Roll!!! 

 "Landing" in Egypt