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