• About

    Charmed Life
    Thank you for visiting this blog. I have recently transferred all my post in my new blog. I will not be blogging here anymore. I hope to see you there.
    Life’s a Charm!
    www.lifesacharm.net

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A Baby Story, Part 2

This continues Matthew’s Baby birth story. Read the first part, A Baby Story, Part 1.

So I was under epidural, smiling again but my mother who was there with me in the room was looking all sick and pale after she’s seen the epidural procedure – when my spinal was stuck by a very big needle. I told hubby to watch out on her ’cause I was basically fine already, but she assured me that she’s fine and she just needed to sit for awhile.

So the time for active labor, the time to push, was nearing in when I saw the nurses and the doctor getting busy walking around. All the monitors are also telling us that it was time. I was brought to the position and the coach (nurse) was telling me when to hold my breath for 10 seconds and push as hard as I could like I was doing the biggest bowel movement in my life – her exact words!

But, after 2 hours or so of no success, I was starting to doubt if I was doing it right! I doubted if I was pushing right! The nurse kept telling me not to put force on my feet and all that… but I really couldn’t tell if I was doing it right. I kept asking my mother, who positioned herself on my head area, if I was doing it right, but she’s just told me to just listen to what the nurse is saying.

And hubby just couldn’t stay put. His big teasing smiling face was all over, like he keeps hopping all around the room. While my mother couldn’t move her feet from where she was.

Since I was under epidural, I wasn’t feeling a thing. I wasn’t feeling the contractions, so I thought I wasn’t pushing right because I wasn’t feeling a thing and couldn’t synchronize my ‘pushing’ with the contractions. So I asked them that maybe if we lessen the dosage of the epidural enough to feel the contractions just a little bit, enough to help me with active labor. So they did!

Oh my God, with half dosage of epidural, I started to feel the contractions again, and I was in pain again! But I didn’t want to stop the labor anymore and just get on with it. At that time, I was in serious business, yelling, screaming and cussing with every push! Around my English speaking husband and doctor, my mother scolded me in Tagalog, our dialect, for being too noisy. I remember talking back – ‘Masakit! ‘ (It’s painful!).

I basically have a smooth sailing pregnancy in terms of pain before all that. I didn’t experience morning sickness and there wasn’t any memorable pains during the pregnancy. So I didn’t expect the pain of labor would be that bad!

Then my look was locked on hubby as he was looking down there, and he looked back at me and said ‘Push, don’t stop, the baby is almost out!’. Just then, I felt like big bowling balls chained together being pulled out of me! That was the most painful physical feeling I have ever felt in my entire life. Then I saw baby Matthew. Hubby cut the cord and both of them went to the other side of the room where the baby was being checked and bathe. I was weak with exhaustion, but I managed to keep asking hubby if the baby was alright, and he assured me that the baby is alright taking a bath.

Matthew's Birth Story: Matthew - 7 pounds 9 ounces 49 cms long

Matthew Alexander, Born 7 pounds 9 ounces 49 cms long on August 14, 2006 at 10:42 p.m. at Yokota Airbase Hospital, Japan

At 10:42 p.m., after almost a whole day of labor, Matthew was born 7 pounds 9 ounces 49 cms long.

Matthew's Birth Story: Matthew and Mommy

Matthew and Mommy

Matthew's Birth Story: Matthew and Daddy

Matthew and Daddy

Matthew's Birth Story: Matthew and Grandma (Photo taken August 14, 2006)

Matthew and Grandma

Later on, I found out that I had 2 cuts (episiotomy) and that Vacuum Extractor was used to help pull the baby out. And that after the delivery, while the baby was being taken cared for, I was being stitched. Hubby mentioned that when the baby came out, his little head was funny looking cone shape (that is because of the Vacuum Extractor).

I couldn’t described how I felt when finally the baby was given to me to be held. He was so tiny, wrapped around by garments with his little face showing and his eyes were swollen. He’s so perfect. And then he started to cry, and I panicked. I didn’t know what to do with my own crying baby. I looked at my mother to somehow get a clue as to what to do. My mother just laughed at me, and then I started to feel delighted by the baby cry. Oh my God, it’s just indescribable. The first kiss Matthew got, hubby beat me to it! We took turns taking photos with him.

It was pass 2:00 a.m., when we finally settled in. We transferred to the recovery room, and I was encouraged to walk but I passed out. I think I passed out ’cause I have no recollection as to how exactly we were able to transfer to the recovery room. I woke up the next day, painful all over but delighted by the sight of my baby in the bassinet in the same room with me.

It took us 2 year of trying so hard to conceive him… well, I did – tried so hard to conceive him and hubby was just happy to comply. Matthew will be 4-years old in a few months. He’s an active little man, couldn’t stay put, always smiling, loves to learn, and so ready to be a big brother. We are so proud of him!

Matthew at 3.5-Years Old

Matthew at 3.5-Years Old

Matthew's Age

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Papang

My father was born March 10, 1949. If he lived, he’d be 61-years old, retired from the Philippine Army, a grandpa, and cooking his favorite Papaitan as pulutan (appetizer) for his birthday drinking party. He died prematurely in 1991 at the age of 41 on my mother’s birthday and their wedding anniversary. When he left us, my mother was in her early 30’s. I was 13-years old then, my sister was 11-years old, and my bother JC was a 9-month old baby. He was ‘Papang‘ to us, and ‘Papa Charlie‘ to everyone else.

I have once written about the day my father died. Today on his birthday, my sister, Jessica, writes about how he lived.

My Father on his early 20's

Pang

by Jessica

I may have several men in my life, but few that stayed in my heart even when they were gone. It’s my father’s birthday today, and although he passed away a long time ago, his memories linger in the present.

My father was a simple man. Simple but firm. He left us with too many good memories that even with my young age, i already treasured. My father was one of the few good men I have known in my life. Not even once have I experience any verbal nor physical abuse from him. He might have been a tough soldier back then, but when it comes to his family, he was so gentle and protective. He was very proud of me and my sister. I remember when he and his friends were drinking, he would let me sing in front of his friends and tell them how good my voice was(hehe, this is the reason why i always believed i have a beautiful voice even if nobody agrees). I always sang “The Greatest Love of All”. I memorized it. My father was very good in drawing and math. He always took the time to sit with us and teach us everything he knows and helped us in our assignments. My father, just like my mother is very good in advicing us in how we should see life. He would tell us that we should respect other people so other people will respect us too. He was also keen on discipline. Every morning at 7, he would jog just to make sure he stays fit. Every sunday, we go to mass and visit “Fort Pilar” (a place in Zamboanga for Catholics to worship Virgin Mary). When we go to this place, he made sure that he gave coins to the beggars lined up inside the worship place.

Papa Charlie

My Father on his early 20's

If there was one legacy that my father left with us, it was his thoughs in education. We were poor. My father was a soldier. My mother was a housewife. Although this was the case, my father sent us to the best school there was in our place. He always told us that we might be poor and he might not have any material thing that he can leave us when he dies, but he would be able to leave us the best education and we can carry that even to our grave.

When he died I was 11, my sister 13 and my brother just a few months old, I had that legacy engraved in my heart. I am thankful for the wisdom he left us. My sister and I were scholars in high school and college. We maybe struggling then, but because of hard work and my father’s legacy and my mother’s fighting spirit(which I am also thankful for), we were able to graduate with flying colors. My sister worked as a programmer for a while and now married and happy. I, after a couple of years of trying to find a job that will suit me, is for now content working in a TeleComs company. My brother is already in college and hopefully he would also find what he really wants in life.

To my father, although we have not spent too many years together, I still feel your presence. I will not be who I am today if not for the things that you have taught us. They may not be material things. They are greater! And no one can take those away from us. It is in my heart and in my soul. I love you Pang!

Related Article:

Our Wedding Rites

It’s our 6th Wedding Anniversary. I thought I’d share my wedding memories. To be honest, the events of our wedding is mostly a blur to me. It’s like it happened so fast, and I was just going with the flow. It’s like I had tunnel vision, and I was only reacting because I was just so overwhelmed. If not for the photos, videos and my especially-made wedding rites, I would not be able to remember some of the bits and pieces of it.

We didn’t go traditional on the wedding, because I didn’t want it so long. Also, I was limited with what we can really do, keeping it simple was the best option. It has a mixture of Catholic-Filipino-American ceremonies. I am so happy that  Father Blais, the officiator, didn’t insist on doing the Traditional Catholic Matrimonial Mass, and he was open to do the Filipino-and-American Symbolic Ceremonies.

And although, I am so grateful to my friends who helped us with taking the photos and videos, nothing beats wedding ‘photo and video’ professionals, that we didn’t hire. We concentrated on the ring, the cake, the flowers, and our wedding attires; and of course the food for the small gathering after the wedding ceremony, which by the way were prepared as favors by friends. We ordered the flowers from the nearest flower shop and my mother and I made the corsages, while hubby prepared the candles and ordered the wedding cake from Yokota. And our wedding attires are bought and custom made in the Philippines.

It was a cold and snowy in Nagano that day, I don’t know how I’ve survived in that dress.

Read about the days leading to the wedding:

Our Wedding

Michael and Charlotte's Wedding Portrait

Michael and Charlotte
March 7, 2004
Okaya Catholic Church
Okaya City, Nagano Prefecture, Japan

Pre-Ceremony Wedding Songwedding-flower-logo

I Can’t Help Falling in Love With You

Wise men say “Only fools rush in”
But I can’t help falling in love with you.
Shall I stay, would it be a sin
If I, I can’t help falling in love with you.

Like a river flows, surely to the sea,
Darling so it goes, some things are meant to be
Take my hand, take my whole life too
For I, I can’t help falling in love with you.

Like a river flows, surely to the sea,
Darling so it goes, some things are meant to be

Take my hand, take my whole life too
For I, I can’t help falling in love with you.
No I, I can’t help falling in love with you …

The Walk Down the Aisle

It was a short walk down the aisle. I was looking at everyone but not really seeing. But when I saw hubby’s smiling face as he was looking at me, I just kept smiling myself.

Michael and Charlotte's Wedding, 2004 March 7 - The Groom Michael and Charlotte's Wedding, 2004 March 7 - The Bride

Exchange of Vows

We made our own vows. I remember I was so touched and teary-eyed after hearing hubby’s wedding vows that I grabbed his face to kiss him, but he stopped me and told me – it’s not time. Everyone was laughing.

Michael and Charlotte's Wedding, 2004 March 7 - Exchange Of Vows
You will always be my angel…
-Michael
Michael and Charlotte's Wedding, 2004 March 7 - Exchange Of Vows
I will always love you no matter what …
– Charlotte

We did the traditional vows as well.

Michael and Charlotte's Wedding, 2004 March 7 - Exchange Of Vows

I take you to be my lifetime partner
to be none other than yourself,
to have and to hold; for better or for worse;
in sickness and in health; to love and to cherish
both freed and bound by our love
for as long as we both shall live.

Blessing and Exchange of Rings

The wedding ring is the outward and the visible sign of an inward and spiritual bond, which unites two hearts in endless love. The circle, the emblem of eternity, and gold, the type of what is least tarnished and most enduring, are to show how lasting and imperishable is the faith now pledged. Let the rings, a fit token of that which is unending, be a symbol of the value, the purity, and the constancy of true wedded love; and the seal of the vows in which is pledged in the most solemn and sacred honor.

Michael and Charlotte's Wedding, 2004 March 7 - Blessing and Exchange Of Rings

For we will laugh and cry,
Support and be supported,
Grow and then move forward into a greater world and
Through our love bring more love onto others,
I give you this ring in solemn token and pledge
Of my constant faith and abiding love
And as a seal of my vows to you,
Whom I will love and cherish above all others, forever.
In the name of the Father, and of the Son,
And of the Holy Spirit.

Candle Ceremony

Two candles that represents the bride and groom are lighted. The candles symbolize the Light of Christ, the same light they received at Baptism and now receive again to lead them in their new life as a couple. Our candles were lighted by the Best Man, Phil and my mother.

Michael and Charlotte's Wedding, 2004 March 7 - The Best Man
The Best Man, Phil
Michael and Charlotte's Wedding, 2004 March 7 - The Mother of the Bride
Mother of the Bride

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men.
(John 1:1-4)

Lighting of the Unity Candle

From the American Wedding Tradition, using each candles that represents the bride and groom, the center unity candle is lighted. This ceremony symbolizes the union of two individuals, becoming one in commitment.

Michael and Charlotte's Wedding, 2004 March 7 - Lighting of the Unity Candle

Then Jesus spoke and said, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.”
(John 8:12)

Veil Ceremony

The veil ceremony is one of the symbolic ceremonies of a Traditional Filipino Wedding. A white veil is placed over the shoulder of the kneeling couple. The veil symbolizes living under God’s protection and being clothed as one.

Michael and Charlotte's Wedding, 2004 March 7 - Veil Ceremony

Veil Ceremony with Friends, Patrick and Lucelle

The man said, “This is now bone of my bones, And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man.” For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.
(Gen 2:23,24)

Cord Ceremony

The cord ceremony is another symbolic ceremony in a Traditional Filipino Wedding. The cord is looped in a figure 8, the symbol of infinity, and placed over the couple. It represents the ties that bind the couple together who will now walk through life as equals.

Michael and Charlotte's Wedding, 2004 March 7 - Cord Ceremony

Cord Ceremony with Friends, Arvin and Grace

Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures forever. Love never fails.
(1 Cor 13:4-7)

Marriage Prayer

Michael and Charlotte's Wedding, 2004 March 7 - Marriage Prayer

O God our Father, we honor You in thanksgiving
for the joy, the beauty, and the sacredness of this hour
and for the gifts of life and love;
in life and love, for the gift of Matrimony.
We thank You for our lives, which we now pledged
to live for You, and for each other.
Lord, use our married life according to Your will
and make our love strong yet gentle and true.
In all that we are, let us glorify You.
O Lord Jesus Christ, You are the True Light.
We come before You as unique individuals,
but now clothed as one and bound together in unity.
Together we ask You, to bless us and our marriage.
and with Your light, enlighten our path and warm our hearts.
Strengthen us in the trials of life.
O Holy Spirit, be in our midst.
In the joining of our lives, grant us Your gifts.
When selfishness shows itself, grant us generosity;
when mistrust is a temptation, give us moral strength;
when there is misunderstanding,
clear our minds; give us patience and gentleness;
in pain and in sorrow,
grant us compassion to comfort each other,
strong faith and an abiding love.
Grant that we see long and happy days
and be united forever in the kingdom of Your glory.
Amen.

Nuptial Blessing

Michael and Charlotte's Wedding, 2004 March 7 - Nuptial Blessing

The Officiator – Father M. Blais

We call upon You, Almighty God.

Let each of us now ask God, in silence, to bless Michael and Charlotte, His children as they begin their married life.

(From the book of Common Catholic Prayers)

Father, by Your power You have made everything out of nothing. In the beginning You created the universe and made mankind in your own likeness. You gave man the constant help of woman so that man and woman should no longer be two, but one flesh, and You teach us that what You have united may never be divided.

Father, by your plan, man and woman are united, and married life has been established as the one blessing that was no forfeited by original sin or washed away in the flood. Look with love upon this woman, Your daughter, now joined to her husband in marriage. She asks Your blessing. Give her the grace of love and peace. May she always follow the example of the holy women whose praises are sung in the scriptures.
May her husband put his trust in her and recognize that she is his equal and the heir with him to the life of grace. May he always honor her and love her as Christ loves his bride, the Church.

Father, keep them always true to Your commandments. Keep them faithful in marriage and let them be living examples of Christian life. Give them the strength, which comes from the gospel so that they may be witnesses of Christ to others. Bless them with children and help them to be good parents. May they live to see their children’s children. And, after a happy old age, grant them fullness of life with the saints in the kingdom of heaven.

We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Declaration of Marriage

Michael and Charlotte's Wedding, 2004 March 7 - Declaration of Marriage

For as much as you, Michael and Charlotte have consented together in Holy Matrimony before friends and loved ones, and have pledged your faith and declared your unity. I now pronounce you, husband and wife.

– The Officiator

Michael and Charlotte's Wedding, 2004 March 7 - With Friends
The Commentator, Susette

After-Ceremony Wedding Song

Looking Through the Eyes of Love

Please, don’t let this feeling end,
It’s everything I am, It’s everything I want to be
I can see what’s mine now, finding now what’s true
Since I found you – looking through the eyes of love.

And now, I can take the time,
I can see my life as it comes up shining now;
Reaching out to touch you, I can feel so much
Since I found you – looking through the eyes of love.

And now, I do believe
That even in the storm we’ll find some light;
Knowing you’re beside me, I’m all right!

Please, don’t let this feeling end,
It might not come again, and I want to remember
How it feels to touch you, How I feel so much
Since I found you – looking through the eyes of love.

Michael and Charlotte's Wedding, 2004 March 7 - The Wedding Entourage The Wedding Entourage Michael and Charlotte's Wedding, 2004 March 7 - The Wedding Entourage The Wedding Entourage
Michael and Charlotte's Wedding, 2004 March 7 - With Friends With Friends of the Groom Michael and Charlotte's Wedding, 2004 March 7 - With Friends With Friends of the Bride

Our Wedding, March 7, 2004

Click photos to enlarge photos.

Our Love Story, In His Words (Part 1)

Papi and Baby, Malling, Photo taken 2003 Sep 12

Papi and Baby, Malling, Photo taken 2003 Sep 12

When we were applying for immigration visa for me to be able to come and live in the United States, hubby did all the paperwork. All I needed to do was make sure my name was spelled right and fix my signature.

Anyway, the fun part in the application process for me was the ‘Statement of Initial Meeting and Ongoing Relationship’ , where we technically had to state our love story. The better part of it is that – hubby wrote it.

First of all, for introduction, Hubby was Active Duty US Army and was assigned in Yokota Airbase Japan and I was working in Japan. So here it goes … our love story in his exact words. I have to adlib though…

22 August 2004

The following statement is explaining the circumstances of initial meeting and ongoing relationship between Micheal and Charlotte.

On 18 June 2003, we met through a mutual friend, Phillip R., who is the supervisor of Michael at Yokota Airbase Japan. At that time Phillip was dating June Y., Charlotte’s friend. Phillip invited June to Yokota to spend the weekend together and June brought Charlotte with her from Shiojiri, Nagano Japan near Matsumoto where Charlotte worked for Epson as a Software Designer.

Nagano, where June and I lived and worked, is 4-6 hours commute by train from Yokota Airbase. June didn’t want to go by herself, and asked me to come along. I went with her because I really wanted to see the airbase, but I think Phil didn’t like that I was there – the unwanted third wheel!

Phillip asked Michael to pick up Phillip, June and Charlotte from the train station in Fussa just outside Yokota Air Base. We were introduced and from that moment Michael believed he had met an angel.

I have to laugh at reading the statement – that he believe he had met an angel. I have once told him that he is only saying that to make me feel special, but he has been really consistent and he is really sweet like that…

Okaya Yamabiko Park, Nagano Japan, Photo taken on 2003 August 23

Okaya Yamabiko Park, Nagano Japan, Photo taken on 2003 August 23

For Charlotte, it was a different story. Charlotte thought Michael spoke too fast and too loud and had a hard time understanding him and had thought she had met the devil.

I didn’t actually thought I had met the devil, but I didn’t like him at first! I thought he was too loud and swearing and cursing all the time. That on a casual conversation, his sentences would have swear words in between other words, plus talking fast, with that American accent. He was just so hard to understand. At one point, while hearing him talk, I keep asking what is wrong with this guy?, I could understand Phil, they are both Americans and they’re suppose to sound the same at least, but … he’s just weird.

But, as the weekend went on and we talked and spent more time with each other, Charlotte realized that she had met a wonderful man and not the devil.

What really softened me to him, is, at the night we arrived (Friday Night), while the four of us were hanging out watching a movie at Phil’s place, Phil and June were, well on their own, while I was stuck with him but completely ignoring him, Michael took my hand and softly bit my finger. I was really shocked at this gesture, but I thought it was funny that he must really like me that he was really trying so hard to get my attention. Anyway, as the weekend progressed, he played the guitar for me, talked about his grandparents and I just started to listen to him more.  Saturday night, we watched the movie ‘We Were Soldiers’. The next thing I know,… I was telling him to kiss me and he did.

Michael and Charlotte in Red, Yokota Airbase, Photo taken on 2003 Nov 01

Michael and Charlotte in Red, Yokota Airbase, Photo taken on 2003 Nov 01

By the end of the weekend on 20 July 2003 we knew that meeting each other was a wonderful thing that happened and thought we should continue seeing each other.

Well, actually I left it to him if he wanted to keep in touch with me. I left him my number without taking his. It was Sunday morning when we left Yokota. Sunday night, I was telling my friend, Susette, about him. She was happy that I had a nice time but she asked, ‘What if he doesn’t call?‘ The truth is if he didn’t call, I thought – it was a great weekend to remember. The reason I didn’t take his number so I would ridicule myself by desperately calling him if he didn’t call, but I was really hoping he’d call like he said he would. That night, at 10pm he called and asked about my travel back and how the rest of my day went. I was so excited …

Continued at ‘Our Love Story, In His Words (Part 2)‘.

Blast From The Past

A few weeks ago, a long time friend Shirley posted this video in Facebook. I was speechless! I have been looking for my copy of this video. Leave it to Shirley to find this precious.

Compliments to Arvin who took most of the video, edited it too; and to Shirley for finding it and bringing it back to life.

In June 2000, nine of us from the Philippines came to Japan. We are all aspirants! We were 20-21 years young then, single, just graduated college and ready to take on the world and make a difference! We were all hoping to make it through the year-long training, then eventually work in our field and basically start a life in Japan.

The nine of us got along well. A few drama here and there but nothing really sticks out that I can remember right now. We were dealing with the sames issues one way or another – homesickness, excitement, and we were all struggling with culture differences and the language barrier. But there were a lot of laughs.

Epson AOTS Training, 2000-2001During our months of training, our first year in Japan, together we had a blast. Just in the first year, we can honestly say that we have maximized our stay in Japan. Our attitude was – we were all hoping that our first won’t be our last year in Japan, but just in case it was, we made sure that we’ve gone through the nooks and corners of Japan and tasted the best food we’ve come across, and had fun while we are at it. So we went on trips to Kyoto and Osaka, we went to Fukouka and Nagasaki to celebrate Christmas and New Year 2001, went to Disneyland in Tokyo; seen the seasons in Japan’s exotic places; and it was party every Fridays at our apartment or at different restaurants. It was so much fun!

Obviously, we have moved on. A few are still working in Japan. Some are trying out other ventures, raising a family or what not. We still look back with much fondness at those days in Japan as a professional stepping stone and as a marvelous life experience.

Of Humility and Gratitude

Answer to the prayer of a man experiencing great trials: Be still and take it! . . . and learn patience, humility and gratitude. – unknown

With all the earthquates and tsunamis, and the terrorism happening in our lifetime, I feel humbled and grateful that I am still alive today and enjoying the pleasures of life.

Having lived my early years in the south of Philippines, I have quite an exposure to maybe mild case of terrorism. I am proud of the city that I came from but I can not deny that there were/are cases of bombings and acts of terrorism. Believe it or not, the reason why hubby and I did not get married in my hometown in the Philippines, which I would have preferred, is because my hometown is restricted to tourist especially Americans.

Also, there was a time in my high school years when some policemen were in the school as additional security during school hours because of bomb threats. It was also strongly discouraged then to go to malls and movie theaters because of bombing threats and attempts. As a teenager, I felt defiant of this restrictions to go out that I reasoned out that if I was to die, then it was my time. But then older and wise cousin, asked me “What if a bomb went off and you were there, you won’t die but just lose a leg, wouldn’t you wish you have taken precautions just by not going out during this critical time? ” I was dumbfounded. I was naive.

I’m grateful that I have so far no first hand experience to bombings or anything similar. And I continually pray that it remains that way not just for me, but to my loved ones as well; and that all this terrorism all over the world will just stop.

Then I came to Japan. One of the first things I’ve learned about Japan is that the whole country is earthquake prone. Japan is basically a big rock , surrounded by water, sitting, actually almost floating, on top of larger blocks of rocks (tectonic plates), that are constantly in motion underwater. And yet, within the 8 or so years that I lived in Japan, although there have been lots of reported instances of light earthquakes in the region where I was, I can remember only one time when I actually felt an earthquake. It was brief and not at all shattering or devastating, but it was alarming enough for me. And this earthquake in Haiti – Hubby was in Haiti years ago, but last week when the earthquake happened, he was here with me.

I can’t even imagine how the victims are feeling over these devastating times. And I am embarrassed to admit that it almost always take their trials for me to look at my life and feel humbled, more appreciative and grateful. Thus I pray …

O Lord that lends me life,
(At all times) Lend me a heart replete with thankfulness.
~William Shakespeare

‘Sweet and Sour’ Dish

Just a few months after hubby and I got married, I made this dish that has been a hit in my family in the Philippines – Escabeche (Sweet and Sour Filipino Style) but rather than using fish, inspired by a Filipino Cookbook, I used breaded pork chops.

Everything was done from scratch especially the sweet-and-sour sauce, which means I had to mince the garlic, and slice the ginger, and every ingredients are fresh. (I could have used some ready-made Sweet and Sour sauce that is readily available at the BX (grocery ), but I didn’t!) Anyway, I was so into my cooking. I lavished the aroma in the kitchen. I love this dish and I am so excited to have my dear hubby have a taste of it for the first time. Hubby would drop by the kitchen once in a while, look around and drop comments like – ‘Looks good.‘, ‘Smells good.‘, ‘Is that ginger?‘, like he is curious and interested, and that is so encouraging to me.

I was excited to announce when dinner was ready. Then hubby said he’s having sandwiches for dinner. With surprise, I said, “But I cooked.”. And then calmly he said, “I don’t eat ginger.” Sigh, this information would have been really useful before I started cooking, heck, while I was cooking so I didn’t have to cook a lot!

Later on, on a similar circumstance, I found out that hubby doesn’t eat pineapples on dishes as well. He’ll drink pineapple juice, or even eat pineapple fruit slices, but won’t eat any dish that has pineapple on it.

Summing Up 2009

Friends,

I hope and pray for a great and prosperous 2010! Let 2010 be a celebration of life and love for each and everyone of us and our loved ones!

From Life’s a Charm! Family

Daddy and Matthew on Daddy's Golf Cart, Photo taken on July 14, 2009

Daddy and Matthew on Daddy's Golf Cart, Photo taken on July 14, 2009

It’s hubby’s 2nd year as a tactical officer at a military school in Alabama. He considers this school year relatively easier than last year. He thinks that the cadets are better behaved and they are more active with school activities. But this means that—although cadets get into less trouble, they are busier! And busy cadets mean busier tactical officers! He is surely happy that he got himself a new golf cart last summer. With busier cadets and with a golf cart, it became easier for him to go around the campus.

As for me, I planned to take a vacation this year to the Philippines but that didn’t happened. I got myself a learner’s permit to drive, but hubby is so hesitant. (This is a long story to go into details!) Anyway, he said, I will have to find someone else to drive with me because my driving scared him.

My blog however has expanded to include 2 subsites – the ‘All Things Bloggy’ site for contest and giveaways and the ‘Charm! Designs’ for my custom web design business. ‘All Things Bloggy’ site has now has more the 170 subscribers. It caters giveaway enthusiasts like myself and giveaway host for listing the contest in their sites. As for ‘Charm! Designs’, although I have not officially launched yet, I have already created a few templates for wordpress and blogger, and there are a couple of blog sites that I have designed.

What I am so happy about this year is Matthew’s progress. He turned 3 years old on August 14. We had a modest celebration, just the three of us and he is more than happy with the Transformer toys he got. I have always thought that it has been the peak of his toddlerhood as his vocabulary and skills increased. Matthew has learned to operate and ride this John Deere tractor toy. He has learned to sing and most importantly he is now potty trained! But it is not to say that it has not been hard—taking care of a toddler, because it is hard! But every little rhyme he sings, every successful trip to the potty, every new word he learns, every little conversation he makes himself, every little kiss and show of affection—all makes Michael and me proud parents and makes up for the hardships and the tantrums and the pouting he throw.

Matthew at Gatorland, Orlando FL, Photo taken 2009 June 2

Matthew at Gatorland, Orlando FL, Photo taken 2009 June 2

As for the family, early this year hubby’s Grandma Maxine passed away. We braved the winter cold to go to her funeral in Michigan. On a happier note, holidays and school breaks seems to be associated to Florida. At summer break, we went fishing on Grandpa’s new boat and visited Gatorland in Orlando. On thanksgiving, we spent it with them as well as Christmas. As for the New Year’s Eve, we will be spending it home in Sweet Home Alabama for a well deserved rest.

As for my family in the Philippines, my mother and brother in my hometown Zamboanga City are doing great! My mother is still looking for a boyfriend (as far as I know). My brother has a few challenges with his college education but he got them sorted out now. My sister, who’s working in Makati experienced the big flood last November, that she was stranded in her office for a few days. Her apartment was flooded and damaged a few of her belongings. But other than that, she’s been well and back on her track again. I miss them terribly!

The biggest and the most exciting news about this year is that—just a few days before Matthew’s birthday, we found out that we are expecting our second baby. He is due on April! It has been confirmed over and over that, it’s another trooper—it is going to be another boy! There had been a few concerns during the 20th Week Fetal Anatomy Checkup but during the follow up targeted ultrasound, we are relieved to find out from the doctor that the concerns are gone.

A Baby Story, Part 1

This is the event that happened three years ago. When we were welcoming a precious little angel into this world.

Hubby and Me at almost 9 Months Preggy, Photo taken on 2006 July 30 at Tama Hills, Japan

Hubby and Me at almost 9 Months Preggy, Photo taken on 2006 July 30 at Tama Hills, Japan

It was Friday, Hubby and I saw my doctor on a regular appointment at Yokota Airbase Hospital. We were still living at Yokota Airbase  in Japan that time, and had been privileged to see the capable doctors at the base.

The doctor said I’m almost ready, in my full term pregnancy at 38-weeks, but since I haven’t shown signs of labor, he gave me an inducer pill. The doctor didn’t want me to go further in the pregnancy since I was diabetic. There are risks like the baby will get bigger in the womb that it will become hard labor. So I was induced. It should take effect in a couple of days.

I went back to work and finalized my maternity leave. That day was my last day before the leave. Hubby on the other hand, had filed his leave weeks prior mine! My mother had been with us for a few weeks already. She visited from the Philippines to help out with the baby.

That night I had been feeling pain, which I thought was contractions. After a few tabulations of the intervals of the contractions, I called the hospital. I talked to a nurse and she asked me series of questions. Later on she evaluated that it’s a false alarm. She said that if it was real contractions, I wouldn’t be able to speak on the phone so calmly as I did because of the pain.

Saturday and Sunday came by. Hubby was playing with his XBox and my mother was doing cross stitch. We are all anxious for the baby to come. I can tell that my mother’s anxiety was becoming more and more apparent with every sigh she makes when she looked at me. And with a frown, she tells me ‘Manganak ka na kasi! ‘ (Rough Translation: Be in labor already!). I was still able to go around the house, and do some light housework and a few times we walked around the block. I felt pains now and again but nothing serious.

Monday came. It’s my next appointment to the doctor. We went like every other doctor’s appointment. But I was congratulated. The inducer worked, I was dilating. It’s time!

The nurse strapped me with their gadgets to monitor me and the baby – our heart rates and even the contractions. I was having contractions but the intervals were still irregular. I wasn’t feeling any severe pains. I was stapled in bed, anxious and just waiting. Hubby came back home to pick up my packed stuffs and my mother. She wanted to be there when the baby’s born.

I wasn’t allowed to eat anything except ice chips and water. Made me wish I ate a hearty breakfast! Lunch came, then dinner but no changes, I was still in manageable pains. I was feeling more hungry pains than the supposed labor ‘pains’ or contractions. I frequently implied to the anesthesiologist and the nurses that I am having the baby the natural way, no epidural necessary. At this point, Hubby was playing with the video camera, going through the hospital gadgets, and just acting funny, and we were just laughing along.

Matthew at 5 months

Matthew at 5 months

Then the doctor checked me out. My contractions were getting more regular and more frequent, almost every 5 minutes or less but my water did not break yet. When the baby’s heart rate was getting erratic, the doctor decided to break my water herself. This is a really really painful procedure! I felt a whoosh of water from me. From then on, I just felt so weak with pain with every contraction. I don’t know how other women in labor was able to yell out loud. I was just in so much pain! I had blurred vision, I couldn’t even breath right because of the pain. I felt like my hips were being crushed and all my insides are being pulled out. Then the nurse asked me if she should call the anesthesiologist. All I could manage is to whisper ‘Yes, please.‘.

At this point Hubby was getting excited, his smile was all over the room. We all knew that the baby is coming anytime very soon. My mother was trying to massage my back to try to relieve my pains. Then the anesthesiologist came, and performed epidural procedure on me.

I was on the seated position during the epidural procedure. Hubby was hugging to support me and prevent me from moving during this very delicate procedure. While all this was happening, my mother who was right next to me, had to sit at the other side of the room at the sight of all this. After it’s done, I was smiling again, relieved and free of pain. Thank God for epidural! Then, I saw my mother all pale and looking like she’s going to pass out! Maybe it wasn’t a good idea for her to be there …

Continued at A Baby Story, Part 2.

Backstage Beauty

My question for this week’s Aloha Friday is inspired by the Binibining Pilipinas (Miss Philippines) Pageant that happened in the Philippines last week. I still have negative feelings with its results. I know I have to get over this. [Read more]

Anyway, …

Have you ever participated in a beauty pageant? Do you watch beauty pageants?

Since I was young, I like watching beauty pageants. Pageants are entertaining! But I never had any aspirations in joining one. I am not tall and my beauty is not the pageanty kind ;). However, I have a lot of times been involved with coordinating and organizing school or community pageants or helping out a candidate, back in my high-school and college days(1991-2000). My pageanty friends know that I can do hair and makeup, so I had been asked a few times to help out backstage. They also find me helpful with their speeches. I wrote a few speeches for them. I coached them how to say their memorized speeches, while I do their hair and make-up.

I have witnessed something at the backstage, that is totally different from the glamour that the audience see. While some pageants were fun and in the spirit of good competition, others were vicious, where the audience do not have a clue that between the smiles and hugs and kisses and holding hands between the candidates on stage, there are bickering, name-calling and sabotage-attempts backstage. Too much drama, I know.

One of my most unforgettable experiences backstage is a fight I have witnessed between a candidate and her drunk boyfriend, who disapproved her makeup and her sexy outfit. So ridiculous!

Aloha Friday originated in Kailani’s An Island Life is becoming my favorite meme. If you would like to join in the fun, simply answer the question as a comment then visit Kailani’s An Island Life for more details. However, your answer and comments are welcome even if you do not want to participate.

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It was a bleak, hot Monday morning

It was a bleak, hot Monday morning. While my sister and I was waiting outside our house for the jeep that was going to take us to school, my aunt came over. Her eyes were swollen but very calmly she said that we will be skipping school that day and she was going to take us to the hospital where my father was taken.

My father collapsed the day before. Good neighbors took him to the hospital. My mother who wasn’t home at that time went directly to the hospital when she found out. We, kids, stayed home and waited. Another aunt stayed with us during the night to take care of us especially my 9 month old baby brother, JC, since neither one of my parents came home that night. Continue reading