Category Archives: A Mother’s Narrative

Kale

I went to the Farmer’s Market today and found a wide variety of fresh produce.  I usually just buy my usual veggies:  broccoli, mushrooms, carrots, snap peas, lettuce.  But today, a box of kale caught my eye.

I heard about kale and how it is supposed to be a wonder veggie, but the only time I actually bought it was from a grocery store to use for my chicken soup.  My tinola had kale instead of the usual green papaya and malunggay.

I decided to buy a bag and asked how else I could prepare it.  The stall owner, a Filipino, was surprised that I have only eaten it cooked.

I nibbled a leaf.  I liked it.  It was chewy and sweet.  The taste was definitely different from the packaged bag I picked up earlier from the grocery store.

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I haven’t eaten enough of it to know if it was because it was fresher, or because it was organic, or just because it was a different variety.  But I liked what I tasted.

Baked Kale chips are becoming popular too.  They are quite expensive in specialty stores, so I thought of getting several bunches to bake for my kids.  The verdict:  my daughter likes it, but my son doesn’t.

Nothing can be easier than preparing this nutritious snack–kale, olive oil, salt.

Kale Chips

Kale leaves
olive oil
salt

Preheat oven to 350F.  Remove the stem from the leaf and cut leaves to about an inch to inch and a half.  

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Rinse and dry very well.  Cover a baking pan with parchment paper.  Lay the dried kale being careful not to overcrowd.  Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt.  Bake for 10-15 minutes. 

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When the tips start to brown, remove from the oven.  Serve right away.

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Click here for the nutrition facts for a cup of uncooked kale

Meal Plans

Báon is a Tagalog word that means food, or items packed, specifically for a trip.

Ang báon ko ay tinapay. (I brought bread.)  Nag-báon ako ng maraming libro.  (I packed a lot of books.)

It can also mean monetary allowance for a trip.

Magkano ang báon mo?  (How much money did you bring?)

Báon is also the word used to refer to food packed for school.

Anong gusto mong báon bukas?   (What snack/lunch do you want to bring to school tomorrow?

I pack my children’s snacks and lunches for school.  With the invention of Thermos and ice packs, there is really no reason for me to spend extra on hot lunches or salads at school.

Palagi silang may báon. (They always bring packed food.)

IMG_0127    IMG_0027Adobo wings

Occasionally, I would pre-order lunch for them in school, especially on sushi days.  But regularly, nag ba-báon sila (they bring packed food).

My children know what to expect for their báon.  I post the menu of the week on my refrigerator door for easy reference.

It is not always easy for me to follow through with my weekly menus, but when I do, I feel I am organized and in control.  I have less food waste, I have more time to do other things, and I don’t overspend on food.

Planning our weekly menu is a family activity.  My son would go through the recipe books I have, and then he would choose several dishes.  Usually, I would be able to cook his choices.

IMG_0016Bacon quiche from a recipe book

I would then buy all the ingredients and cook a week’s worth of food for báon and dinner. I would store them in leak-proof tempered glass containers so they can easily go in the microwave or oven.

My daughter would then decide on which days the food would be served. She would help write the menu.

IMG_0113Menu for this week

Something could definitely be said when all you have to do is take a couple of containers from the fridge and dinner is served.  You have more time to spend with the children.

Thank You!

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 5,500 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 9 years to get that many views. Considering that I started mid-year, not bad.

Click here to see the complete report.

Qualities of a Leader

My 8-year old son came to me complaining about his 6-year old sister not wanting to help clean up.  He was very upset because he has put away a lot of things, and the two things that he requested his younger sister to clean up, she wouldn’t.

I inquired if he asked his sister in a nice way.  He muttered under his breath, and then marched to talk to his sister again.

Then I heard him grunt, groan, whine, and command his sister to do what he was demanding her to do.  My daughter ignored him again.

My son stormed back to my bedroom to gripe.  This time I told him that if he wants to be followed, he needed to be a better leader.

A great leader is calm, but assertive (not aggressive). 

I suggested that he talk to her again in a calm voice (since he really did not do it the first time around), and explain why he thinks she should help clean up. (I think I threw in as an example a former teacher that he dislikes because she was, in his words, bossy.)

He went down the stairs again to face his sister, but this time he was much more calm.  I heard him say,

I think you should put these toys away because I already put everything away.  We should help each other clean the house if we want a play date.  Please put these two things back to the bedroom.

Just like a charm, the younger sister did what she was told to do.

Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.  I am just grateful that it did that time.  It was 10AM on a Saturday morning, and I really didn’t want to put my book down and get out of bed.

IMG_3919Happily doing a project together

Filipino Halloween

It is Halloween!

I enjoy pumpkin latté  and carving pumpkins, but I really don’t care much about the costumes nor the trick-or-treating event itself.  Wearing costumes was never a tradition in Manila.

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I heard that this is slowly changing though, as families in posh neighborhoods are starting to give out candies to little witches and ghouls (and their nannies).

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Two things come to my mind when I think about this time of the year:

  • Semester break
  • Paying respects to my relatives who have passed

The school year in the Philippines is from June to March, and November is the halfway mark.  As a student and a teacher, I always enjoyed a couple of weeks off from school around this time.

November 1st and 2nd are special non-working holidays.  In the Catholic calendar, these days are called All Saint’s Day (Todos Los Santos) and All Soul’s Day (Undás), respectively.

Everyone takes advantage of the time off from work (and school) to go back home to honor their dead relatives.   My experience has taught me to bring a book —if I am not driving, and pack a lot of patience–if I am.

My first stop when I arrive in Manila.

Once in the cemetery, my family lights a candle, pray the rosary, and regale each other with stories about our deceased relatives.  I never met both of my grandfathers, so I appreciate hearing stories about them.

Now that I have adopted a new home, I am encouraging my children not only to participate in the American tradition of trick-or-treating, but also to observe the Philippine tradition of Todos Los Santos and Undás.  

Sure, they will wear costumes—this year, army soldier and ballerina witch.  But we will also say a special prayer, have flowers, and light candles at home in honor of those who have gone before us.

Trick-or-treating at the zoo

I am hopeful that they will continue to embrace this new tradition.

Beautiful Blogger Award

Thank you to Corporate Housekeeping for nominating me for the Beautiful Blogger Award.

Your entries make working, taking care of kids, and blogging look so easy.  I love that I can feel your passion in the random things that you talk about.  I certainly admire the places that your adventures take you.  Some of these places I have been to as a child, or I have seen pictures or postcards of, but your stories make the places more meaningful. Keep up the good work, fcg!

Here are the rules for this award:

  1. Post seven interesting things about myself
  2. Nominate other bloggers who I feel deserve the award
  3. Let them know about the nomination

“Interesting” is a word that I frequently use with my students when I want them to include more details to their writing or artwork.  I think we can all agree that these are just trivial facts about me…

  1. I am a certified open water scuba diver. Growing up in a country that boasts of world-class beaches, I just had to. My intro drive was in Palawan with one of the marine biologists of Palawan State University.  I have never tasted fresher oysters than those we brought up to the surface to eat.  My last dive was several years ago in Kauai.  Maybe the dive master chose a bad spot, but that spot in Kauai did not compare AT ALL to the marine life in the Philippines! In Tagalog, walang binatbat.
  2. I took ballet lessons from kindergarten until junior high.  I loved it.  Then, my mom thought that I should concentrate on piano instead.  I can read notes and play, but not at all at the level of someone who has had 4 years of piano lessons.
  3. I have numerous scars from biking accidents, but I don’t know how to ride a bike.  After a fall, I ended up in the ER with a doctor whose bedside manners were lacking.  That may have sealed the fate of biking for me.
  4. My goal is to have an empty refrigerator.  An empty refrigerator means I did an excellent job planning my daily menu and buying grocery.
  5. I do not like roller coasters.  I enjoyed them when I was younger, but not anymore.  In theme parks, I stick to Star Wars ride, bump cars, and lazy river.  My daughter still keeps me company because she isn’t tall enough to ride the big ones yet.  Soon, I will be left by my lonesome eating churros and turkey leg waiting for everyone to come back from Log Jam.
  6. I like salty food more than sweet.
  7. I still speak with a Batangas accent (puntong Batangueno–ano ga?!!) when I talk to my siblings, or to anyone who speaks to me with that accent.

Here are some of the blogs that I follow and try to read regularly.  They are listed in no particular order.

  1. Czech the Flip
  2. Domestic Urbanite
  3. Moms Run San Jose
  4. Sexy Cuisine
  5. Diana Does Food
  6. Bunny and Pork Belly
  7. Reena Reigns
  8. Slapp Shot
  9. Over 50 Under 5
  10. Life Prints

For Papa

For Papa

This week marks my father’s death anniversary.  For close to 40 years he worked in a Jesuit institution as a teacher, administrator, and consultant.

His passion had always been teaching, but to honor the request of my widowed grandmother, he followed in his father’s footsteps.  He finished his law degree, passed the bar exams… and then went back to teaching.

I was very fortunate to attend the same Jesuit university that he served.  Because he was just a parking lot and a soccer field away, it was easy to schedule lunch dates with him.

Unbeknownst to my mom and my siblings, my dad and I would go to a Japanese restaurant in EDSA.  We had a favorite hole-in-a-wall restaurant in Greenbelt, but that was too far to go to for lunch.  We settled for the one closer to school, and would order tekka maki, California sushi, and tempura.  He loved salmon sashimi.

I would think that we talked about how I was doing in school over lunch, but I really don’t remember.  What I remember vividly is the table where we usually sat, the food that we ordered, and the happiness I felt of having that special moment with him.  Our little secret.

When I was a senior in high school, I told him that I wanted to major in Math (gasp!).  If you know me, you know that I am terrible in math.  My math grades show that.  My brother who tutors me knows that.  But, my supportive dad just said, “Sure, if that’s what you think you would like to do.”

Mind you, not once did he say, “Really?!?” or “Have you seen your math scores lately?” or “You are not that smart, dearie!”  Instead we talked about why I thought Math was it.

In the end, it became clear to me what I really liked to do —and learning about parabolas was not it.  My dad didn’t wait for me to fail miserably (because I would have), but he didn’t tell me what to do either.  He let me figure it out.

My father lived a simple and committed life.  I know that I am a better teacher and mother because of him.

Elementary School

A couple of years ago, my husband and I sat in the classroom with my son’s first grade teacher.  She had called us in to talk about my son’s behavior, and how unmotivated he seems to be in class.

After going back and forth about ways to help him enjoy first grade (because it was clear that he wasn’t), the teacher asked us about our child-rearing practice.

I told her that at home, we encourage our children to express their opinion as long as they are done in a respectful manner, that we believe that they should be given options (if we can afford to give options), and that we use logical consequences instead of punishments.

cake or cupcake ?

Much to my surprise, the teacher said, “I am surprised then that you chose to send your son to this school.” Then she went on say that the school is blah-blah-blah-blah-blah.  Honestly, after that bombshell, I had no interest whatsoever to listen to what she had to say next.

We could not have pulled my son out from that school any sooner.  He still finished 1st grade, and even started 2nd grade.  But by the time the first anniversary of that enlightening conference came around, my son was already making friends in a new school. It is geographically farther by a few miles, but the commute is well worth it.

We now have interesting conversations in the car on our way to school.   The topics of our discussion ranges from Greek mythology (which I know very little of), to their car wash services, to the next Manila vacation, to the prices of homes, to whether or not Michael Phelps should endorse a product that he does not use.

There are families (not to mention, teachers) who truly believe that teachers should rule the classroom; children should always be told what to do; and anyone who reasons out with a teacher is rude.  And, I respect that.

There are families who believe that a mark of a great teacher is measured by the length of the homework, or how straight the line is when the kids go out from the classroom.

But, I don’t.  Just like families, different schools have different philosophies.

So I looked for a school that had a teaching philosophy similar to mine.  I am thankful to have found one.

Breakfast

School started for all of us this week.  If you are running a household without any additional help (aka a maid), then chances are you are in the same boat as I am.  You too wake up a bit earlier than you want to, so you can prepare a healthy breakfast, and pack snack and lunch for the kids.

I have several favorite breakfast fares.  The food becomes my favorite if:  it is easy to make, can be prepared ahead of time, and has grains and protein.

(Sidenote:  My daughter was asked in preschool to sort the food in the play kitchen.  She sorted the plastic food according to grains, protein, milk and milk products, fruits, and vegetables. Teacher was impressed.)

 

Frittata is one of my favorites.  I can throw in any vegetable that I have in the fridge.  It takes 7 minutes from the time I crack the first egg, until I put the hot pan on the table.  Pretty good, I think.

Spinach Frittata

5 large eggs

2-3 cups fresh spinach

½ cup milk

2 Tbsp water

salt and pepper to taste

½ cup-1 cup cheese to sprinkle

olive oil spray

Heat oil in a large ovenproof pan over medium heat.  Wilt the spinach in the pan.  In a medium bowl, whisk eggs.  Add milk, water and pepper.  Pour over the wilted spinach and wait until the eggs set, around 3 minutes.

Preheat the broiler.  Sprinkle the top of the frittata with cheese (cheddar or parmesan) and put under the broiler.  Cook until the top is golden brown, usually 2 minutes.  The frittata will look fluffy. Be careful not to overcook the eggs.  Cut into 8 slices and serve with toasted baguette.

Liebster Blog

In the last month, my blog was nominated for two awards.  I have only been blogging for three months, so I am clueless about these awards.  Needless to say, I am both excited and flattered at the thought of a blog award.

Each award, I learned, is guided by different sets of rules. These blog awards are meant to refer newbie bloggers (like myself) to the rest of the blogging world.   But the intention of all awards, as far as I can tell, is to generate more traffic.  In return, the recipient (me) has to refer back to the person who nominated the blog, and then nominate others.  And the cycle continues.

Czech the Flip nominated me for the Liebster award.  Czech the Flip is a candid blog of a Filipina mom who is discovering and chronicling at the same time her experiences in her husband’s homeland.

For this particular award, I needed to refer five other blogs.  This was the biggest obstacle for me (and the reason why it has taken me this long to write a post about this).  Although I follow several blogs myself, none of them meet the criterion of having less than 200 followers.  I am sure there are a lot of worthy newbie bloggers that I will soon discover, but I do not have time at the moment to scour wordpress.

So for now, I would like to acknowledge Czech the Flip who nominated me for the Liebster Award. I truly apologize for acknowledging her one month too late.  I would gladly display this banner when I have completed my homework.  Until then, this is a post of gratitude to Czech the Flip for my very first blog award.