random thoughts on a graciously beautiful life

An Afternoon Summer Picnic

I have a “summer list.” It’s in my head. It’s basically a list of things I want to accomplish this summer where most on the list are things that can actually be easily done yet I haven’t, for some reason. For instance, I have always wanted to spread a checkered blanket in the nearby field under a shady tree with a glass of wine, cheese crackers and a basket of treats.

I finally did it today.

I had the perfect setting. My eyes drank in the nice view — a view I pass through everyday but ignore.

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I finally laid down that checkered blanket and a pretty basket of treats.

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I brought along a book too, which I hoped to read but did not.

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The perfect setting allowed for spontaneity. The cool winds from the majestic trees made me sit still to really feel the wind against my face.

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I was content with carefree chitchat.

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I was content to watch my favorite friend laugh against the wind.

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I was content to watch these two creatures. I wonder what they’re doing.

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I was content. It’s moments like this that I wish could last forever.

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An Easter Treat from the Hubby Bunny

Following the quiet days of Holy Week, Constancio heeded the call of the youngest for him to cook us lunch. My husband is a great cook, way better than me. Prince hasn’t seen him cook though because he was too young to remember how his dad would whip up a meal during those times when he had the luxury of being home amid military duties. The little Prince was excited to see his dad cook. Yna was excited to his dad cook — LAMB! Yes, she could wolf down a whole rack of lamb. I was just plain happy to be spending Easter lunch at home.

I did my part. I did a little salad and dressing to go with it, though it was only the little girl and I who are nuts about salad.

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Since it was Easter, the fasting days are over so it’s Hellloooo Cofffeeee for me! I was thinking of celebrating my back-to-coffee days by having coffee in a real coffee shop but I felt it was just as good to have a cup at home.

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Our Easter Sunday ended with a serene mass at our favorite Church. Lunch was great but Easter was more memorable because this year, my hubby bunny is home. It brought back memories of our old Easter-egg Hunting days! I kind of miss that but now that the kids are grown, our days have beautifully evolved too.

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A Planless Lenten Season

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The past years, I remember that the Holy Week is either a plan of taking a break to play hard or extending working days to work harder. This year, no plans were made for the Holy Week. No plans to leave the metro and hit the beach. No plans to spend the long weekend in the countryside. No plans to do overtime work. No plans at all. After everyone’s homecoming, it was a spontaneous decision to just stay at home and spend some quiet time and ‘noynoying.’ It was quite nice. It’s being ‘at home,’ literally.

On a Good Friday, the dad  decided that we visit Grandma and Grandpa in nearby Malolos City. I was glad to see Constancio spend time with his father, talking casually. I always lingered because I loved the feeling of being around, just seeing his father being proud of his son. I could sense that pride in their family. The kids were just happy to see their cousins. Of course, the family’s doting grandmother was all ready with her treats and good food. Though this time, the kids weren’t treated to the family lengua recipe as lenten season was strictly observed.

There, we went around to visit some Churches, to visit the family priest and to join the annual procession for Good Friday. Little did I realize that it was the first time for Prince and Yna to join this religious procession.

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My little princess was looking for prayer booklets to use while doing the Church rounds. She saw this little princess, selling one. We gladly bought from her. Her smile is priceless.

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The Good Friday procession was a five kilometer walk. I was amused that the kids complied with the route with the least complaints. I think they were quite drawn to the images of saints joining the procession in beautifully designed carrozas. I was drawn to the local community’s participation. Over 60 images were in procession. Each image was carried by the hosting family. In our case, the image of Sta. Veronica was with the family ever since my husband can remember. An aunt even mentioned with a memorable laugh, “Constancio, do you remember that it was you who broke the santa’s finger?” My husband just smiled. While hosting families pulled the carroza, local citizens followed in queue, holding candles in a symbol of their faith and hope.

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Along the way, I admired the Meralco office in Malolos as it occupied a block of what to me was a heritage piece of real estate. It was nice to see that they preserved the estate in its old, glorious form…

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I enjoyed passing by quaint houses that reminded me of the rich history of the Province of Bulacan.

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During the visit, we also went to the family ancestral home. We were welcomed by the accomplished elders of the family who we look up to. The home never fails to marvel. This is because of its physical state and the family that thrives in it.

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The kids especially had fun looking at the family tree spread out on the antique table. They earnestly looked for their names and found it.

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Going home to Malolos meant going back to the family. That made this Lenten season more special. It reminded me that to a point, work has to halt, ‘busy-ness’ has to be put aside. Even busy thoughts must take a backseat. We just have to let things be — and then we find that quiet corners of our life and expose ourselves to our personal expressions of faith.

Homecoming for the Holy Days

On a Maundy Thursday, everyone came home.

After a few days in the ship, Dad and the boys are home.

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The family princess, Yna was back from a vacay in Davao, courtesy of a good family friend.

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And I, after some work and a well spent visit to my father, have come home from Zambales. As much as I love going home to the countryside, I equally find happiness in coming home to our city abode, knowing especially that the family is waiting in the wings. I prefer to travel just before sunrise. The beautiful view of Mt. Arayat in Pampanga calms my heart as I know I would soon reach home.

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It’s great to be all together again.

 

At Home in Dad’s Ship

Before Holy Week, the boys visited their Dad for a few days while I went home to Zambales. I spent a day with them at the ship before I attended to my own business.

Christian and Prince were excited to see their dad. (And the ship, I think.) It always makes me happy to personally pick up their dad at the airport. This was not any different. I was happy driving to the ship stationed nearby for awhile to finally see Constancio! The anticipation is the height of the experience! It was a much nicer experience to finally see the ship he navigated for the past months. The boys especially loved it! After the welcome hugs and kisses, we eagerly went around. It was a novel experience for me but the novelty soon faded. I’m still a girl.

But the boys, the boys! They were all heart about exploring. I especially noticed my eldest, Christian. There was a genuine sense of interest and curiosity in him which I rarely see. He is normally quiet and keeps to himself most of the time but that afternoon, he fired me with questions like, “Are we going to ride the chopper?”, “The navy has a pilot or Air Force yan?,” “Is that weapon for real?,” “How big is China’s ship?” He is more comfortable asking me these questions but I struggled to find answers. I hope that soon, his dad would brief him on a soldier’s life. I was taken aback by his change in attitude every time there was a new exposure to the life of the military. Come to think of it, most of his questions and statements the past year were about it. This is especially relevant because in his career orientation program, the assessment revealed that his interest is leaning toward the following careers: Military officer, air force pilot, a policeman or an architect/ engineer — in that order. So, this really got me thinking. He’s in his last year in high school, after all.

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On the other hand, the little boy simply viewed all these as his “new toys.” So much for robots and matchboxes. I have known the little Prince to be a bit mature for his age. He didn’t go through that serious love for boy toys — Lego’s Bionicles, Matchbox cars, Nerf guns — it didn’t appeal to him that much. This time, he and his dad agreed that the ship, the ‘copter and the weapons were all his new toys for the time being. I laughed at that one! IMG_5101photo 1 copy 2

While their Dad worked on the ship, my sons had the time of their life — enjoying the cool air conditioning inside the ship amid the scorching summer heat, the stillness of the environment, their independence from Mom and of course, their special, bonding moment with their Dad.

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I’m thankful to the captain and the crew! …for hosting my boys for a few days. Next time, the girls will be around.

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On Her Own: My Daughter’s First Vacation Alone

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I have always felt Yna is a carefree spirit, a young lady ready to burst into the world to claim her rightful space. She mentions of traveling the world, of being inspired by a young stewardess aunt and of being an international ambassador. I felt her dreams to be appropriate of how I know her as an individual.

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When our family friend invited her for a vacation in Davao and knew that she liked that possibility, her Dad and I allowed her. It was not until she left that I realized though that this was her first vacation alone, meaning, not with any family member. Her cousins were in awe saying, “Wow, you allowed her to go islands away from you! That’s cool. My parents won’t even let me go to town alone.” I wondered. Were we too indulging of her freedom? But my insides said otherwise. If I were to be asked who among the three children would I be worried the most when they left home, it would not be Yna. I know her to be strong-willed, resourceful and free-spirited. I know that sooner or later, she needs that freedom to soar into life! It’s just a matter of time.

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It’s been almost a week that she has been gone. Of course, I miss her. Here are a few things I specifically miss about her:

  1. Her beautiful photos. I asked the little Prince to take photos for me, for this blog. He was just plain lazy!
  2. Her playful banter with the boys in the household. There’s no one ‘annoying’ the boys these days so it’s relatively quiet.
  3. Her pesky shuffling around the house. She hovers in and out of rooms, inspecting everyone’s lives.
  4. Of course, the selflies! Her phone is always overused because of ‘over-selfies.’ Gosh.
  5. Her LUMU (her words of affection that she personally coined which stands for LOVE U and MISS U)

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Before she left, we went to a wedding. There, we spent a few, nice moments. She cried when I left her but I knew that would last only for a while for when my daughter is set to take a step into the world, she’s always ready to take the plunge, to soar, to live life…with selfies at that.

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6 Things I Love About My Son’s Soccer Coaches

Two years of being a soccer mom to Prince, I saw him being led by a handful of sports coaches who exemplify values that I embrace in life — faith, family, humility, fairness and respect. I have seen them as parenting partners important to the development of my son in various aspects of life. In many ways, they help me raise my son.

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They help build my son’s character. 

Winning a game. Losing a game. Being benched during a crucial game. Being assigned the team captain for a pressure game. Showing up for practice. Watching your teammates play. Having to shoot a penalty kick with frantic screams from coaches, parents and an excited audience. Wow! These are things that teach you about life’s toughest lessons. I cannot teach these life lessons all with just words. The experience of sports comes with the gift of building character. I am glad my son is given the chance to experience this.

Coach Donna, one of his school coaches is quite strict during actual games. I hear her scream out encouragement to follow their strategy or her scolding when someone is not up to par.

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They teach the value of discipline and dedication.

Coach Lando, one of  his first coaches is such a dedicated coach who made sure training schedule was consistent and always on track. Even outside school days, he encourages the children to train and play, making the initiative to set up practice time. I saw Prince diligently comply. I can count on my fingers the number of times he has missed soccer training.When it comes to his sports schedule, he is relatively more in order. He fixes his bag. He keeps track of his jersey, making sure his uniform is available and complete. He prepares his water jug and walks to the field independently. I’m still in a constant battle with him to have him clean his shoes and pick up after his mess when he comes home from practice. I hope we get to that soon but as to the more important facets of dedication, he has committed himself to the sport he has fallen in love with.

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They nurture my son’s passion. 

I remember when Prince was 5, he was still clingy and quite withdrawn. When his uncle Daniel from Europe came home, they played futsal just for fun for the first time. Daniel saw Prince could play well. Since then, Prince was with a soccer ball in tow. His dad found Coach Clifford, a player from the Philippine Air Force. Together, they played informally in the nearby field. I watched. For the first time, I saw Prince being oblivious to me. He was playing, not knowing I was around, not minding me at all. He had direction, I sensed. I knew it was passion unfolding before my eyes and it was beautiful. Since then, he never stopped. Thus, my life as a soccer mom. Every weekend was a schedule of football tournaments and youth league games. He has never stopped being passionate about it.

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I see him read his “Everything About Soccer” book and doodle his own soccer shoe design. When he was younger, his dad and I would watch happily as he made origami football goals and player markers to do pretend play of a soccer game.

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The coaches play a big role in nurturing this passion. I’ve seen kids who have suddenly stopped playing because they were discouraged by coaches or parents. I’ve seen kids improve dramatically, playing more passionately because of coaches, encouraging them enough to unleash their potential. His uncle Daniel and Coach Clifford are perfect nurturing mentors. Today, even as he has moved on to other coaches, they ask about his progress. Once in awhile, they play in the field. I see Prince excitedly showing off what he has already learned.

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Perhaps, one of my son’s coaches who I have come to respect the most is Coach Joseph Gensaya. Coach Joseph is actually a co parent in the soccer team. He is a football player,a coach and a match commissioner. Even his day job has something to do with sports. His wife Josephine tells us stories of how dedicated he is to the sport that she had to support his passion in ways that she never imagined. Eventually, she has come to love what they do and it shows! Coach Joseph goes out of his way to develop the children because he saw their passion and their potential. He is responsible for getting the kids to experience the professional youth league. He has blended players from all over, hosting some of them in his home. He coaches the kids himself. We see his little sacrifices in the name of training our children. As co parents, it is just right that we support our children the best way we can. With these hardwork and sacrifices, he does all these things happily. I guess that’s what true passion does!

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They appreciate the children in an honest way. 

…and criticize them just as honestly. I remember Coach Joseph telling my son, “You were zero balance today. You were not giving your 100%…I expect you to do better next time.” I also remember him saying, “To me, you were today’s Man of the Match! That was good defense.” I saw Coach Lando talk to my son fervently every time he cried after a game’s loss when he was younger. The coaches’ pat on the shoulder, hand brushing of the child’s head or their playful pokes mean much to the children. As a parent, I see these gestures coming from a sincere place.

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They help me let go of my son and just let him be. 

Allowing my son to be a soccer player also provided me a chance to step back or step aside. I remember telling Coach Lando, ” You don’t have to worry about me. I entrust him to the team. It’s your call.” Then, I have learned to have faith in them, as coaches. I’ve taken the backseat and just cheered during triumphs or wept in silence during heartbreaking losses. Through it all, I saw the coaches begin in big hopes, rejoice in victory and tie up loose ends after each match, win or lose.

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They remind the children and us, parents that even in the midst of serious competition, the game of life should still be fun! 

The children and the coaches have their silly moments. It’s always heartwarming to see that. I remember the kids and Coach Donna excitedly getting Dairy Queen ice cream or a cup of taho after every practice. I remember Coach Lando wrestling animatedly with the kids. I noticed with my son’s teams that every after game whether they win or lose, after a coach’s debriefing, they go back to the field and do casual play in an relaxed but excited manner. I’ve seen a team playing so well so scientifically. Man, were they good! I noticed though that every time they play, there was silence as if everyone was concentrating so vividly. After each game, they are happy to win but they just go and pack up after the debriefing and head home. I wanted that for my son for a time, to be in serious play but I realized that it was scary too. It was good to see the element of fun in their games. It was comforting to know that even as they strive to be better at the sport, they’re still children and it’s still supposed to be fun.

Just like life. It’s supposed to be fun and happy and spontaneous.

Thank you to my son’s coaches.

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