Category Archives: family / personal chatter

Happy Father’s Day 2018

Card with baby footprints and text reading Dad, Well Done I'm Awesome!

Made by one of the lovely ladies of the NICU

Last Sunday was Father’s Day; and there was a surprise waiting for us at Jaenelle’s crib – a Father’s Day card! ‘From Jaenelle’, as it were. Of course, since she is still little, she got some help in making it. Rhys, of course, loves it to bits.

Vincent usually uses a bit of his saved up money (or an unused gift card) to get his Dad a bottle of his favourite liquor with my help – ergo, the boyo gives me the money to pay for the pressie after he picks out what he thinks is the best option. But since I’m still in hospital fighting off infection (which is why I haven’t been ‘around’ per se), I couldn’t help him this time around. I gave a couple of suggestions (albeit a bit late) of options that Eldest Son can get from the grocery. It’s a wee bit of help, but at least he didn’t forget it at all.

Jaenelle is growing well; she’s in positive birth weight now and has been moved to the special care ward and has been getting a mix of bottle feeds and tube feeds. She’s still a bit too little though to really breastfeed, though she gives it a good try, she gets tired too easily and does what they call tongue thrust – ergo the baby’s tongue gets in the way and pushes out something that is put in the mouth, a normally good survival instinct, but gets in her way in this case. I might be able to help her a bit more but for the cannula in my arm preventing me from bending the limb properly.

On other good news – Congratulations to the winners and nominees of the Dragon Awards!

 

Hello Beautiful Baby!

She has her father’s big eyes, only grey.

Our daughter, Jaenelle, was born last week via a medically necessary c-section, early at 34 weeks, 4 days. She is thriving and perpetually hungry, since she has a lot of growing to catch up to. While she is in the NICU as she is prematurely born, I’ve been informed that she does not suffer from things like apnea or breathing issues, and just needs to feed and sleep enough to catch up to growing to her term size. Looks like the corticosteroids worked a treat on her lungs!

The surgery was required as I had placenta previa and a front-lying placenta. I learned something new: you can have a c-section where you cut through the placenta! I was put under general anaesthesia for it, so I didn’t see that, but Rhys was allowed in to take pictures of our baby after she’d been taken out of the womb and cut the cord. Already all that was more than we had hoped for! After finding out that Rhys had worked with sheep slaughtering, the surgeon allowed him to peek at the sewing-me-up procedure (since Rhys was being sensible and staying out of the way) and gave permission to take a couple of pics for me to see. I’m sure that we’ve made an impression as That Weird Couple.

I am still in hospital with post-natal complications (pulmonary embolism, infection), which are being handled. I do not mind the extended stay in the hospital (I’d already been here a good 3 weeks before the surgery due to pregnancy complications regarding blood pressure) as if anything goes wrong, I’m at the best place for that.

Growing Up Asian

So, my housemate links me this video, and goes ‘You have gotta see this.’

He’s a mutt, so before anyone screams racist, his Dad was from India; so when I brought home some indian sweets the other week, he just couldn’t get excited; though he did tell me the store I got it from had some delicious spicy stuff – and I guess that explains his cast iron stomach.

Anyway, a lot of this was relatable – some wasn’t,  because I had an allowance, for example, and while my dad, oddly enough, never really pushed me to have super good grades, my mom kind of did; even though my grades were pretty good (80+ to 90s… well, except PE and Filipino, because I hated those classes) and I spent my youth pretty much with my head buried in a book. I’m not really sure what gave me my study ethic, other than “if I get this all done and out of the way already I can go do stuff I like to do” so I tended to do my homework during recess (which some teachers had issues with, and some didn’t; but this saved my ass in college because holy crap the reams of homework I had to come home with.) These days kids barely have a fraction of the seatwork or homework we had! Such low standards these days… /asianmomgrumbling

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New Game Console

So, my son Vincent decided that he was tired of playing the XBox One, XBox 360, the PS2 and the Nintendo 64 and the DreamCast,  … and he had a Christmas gift card he hadn’t used yet. He decided on a new game console, suitable for 2018 gaming.

That’s what he came home with.

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A Visit Back To The Mother Country

Wedding couple at the San Augustin Church

The wedding had all the ceremonies observed; we did our parts too!

 

The family all visited the Philippines for the first time in 6 years; for my youngest brother’s wedding. It was a short visit, hectic – but ultimately fun and wonderful. I sadly didn’t have time to interview my Mom for stories as I would have liked (so I can start writing those family stories), but she had fun being Lola to her (currently only) grandchildren, and ‘spoiling her baby daughter’ – so I have a load of daster dresses (yay!) and having Rhys and I eat with her at her new favourite food places. I went home with the intention of being able to eat some of the foods I seriously missed while overseas, and while that ambition was partly fulfilled, I feel rather sad that I didn’t get to sample more of the smorgasbord that is Filipino food and restaurant variety.

The Tombstone Hamburger Stack challenge

We didn’t have the time (it was late at night) to try this challenge, alas.

(To our amusement, the kids simply adored Jolibee, though Vincent found the burgers ‘too small’, and Rhys could eat three Filipino-sized servings of food by himself.) I didn’t get a chance to eat fishballs, or Goldilock’s Cathedral Windows, but I did manage to have some Red Ribbon (and introduced Vincent to the joys of mamon, that fluffy Filipino angel food-sponge.)

I did bring home lots of powdered juice mixes and Mom, upon finding out that Nescafe Berry Coffee was something Rhys – the consumate tea drinker – deeply enjoyed, made it a point to ensure that her only son-in-law had a package of single-serves to bring back to Australia. Note to self: next time, bring even LESS clothes, and bigger suitcases for the children, because while I sent home two balikbayan (return to homeland) boxes full of pasalubong (‘welcoming’ gifts) we got given so much there’s a huge plastic chest of stuff we couldn’t fit on our baggage allowance (30kg per person) that Mom says she’ll send in parcels – with more food things that we liked, but didn’t get a chance to bring home more of. (Waah, I realised just now I left behind my little cookies with the little drop of hard icing on top. I wanted to nibble on those while on the plane ride home!) The pasalubong will mostly go to folks my Mom knows; as they’re mostly ‘thank you for taking care of my Mom for me’ appreciation gifts.

I will have to learn to make taho myself though. =/

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Trying something new

Mocha Chiffon Roll Cake with Mocha Italian Meringue Buttercream

So tomorrow is Brandon’s birthday, and I decided to make a mocha chiffon cake roll using  this recipe. It was me trying out new things, all things I haven’t done before: chiffon cake, roll cake and Italian meringue buttercream – all things I was scared to do because they’re easy to mess up. I’m happy to say that my fears were overcome! I’m still not super awesome at frosting the cakes, and the roll wasn’t very smooth in rolling, but from the nibble of crumb that I had, the cake is delicious, and it was sooooo fluffy!!!

It’s a Filipino style mocha cake – there’s no chocolate involved here.

We’re having fried chicken for the lunch; it’s marinating in buttermilk right now; and then I’ll be making cookies and cream cake for Vincent (well, devil’s food sponge with cookies and cream cream cheese frosting.)

Looking forward to having the roll cake tomorrow!

Geeky delights

Eldest son had his birthday recently, and of course, got presents. He’s older now, and it’s actually easier to buy him things, given his recent introduction to manga – he blew through the various ones I have that we parents deemed okay for him. He loves Card Captor Sakura – we pushed to get the 4 omnibus set; and is excited to learn that CCS: Clear Card is currently ongoing. His response when he found out that Skip Beat! isn’t over yet: “NOOOOOO!!! I have to wait!” Sometime recently he asked me if there were going to be any more books in Dave Freer’s Dragon Ring series (I don’t know.) and soon he’ll be old enough to be introduced to Monster Hunter International, and later, The Dresden Files.

Reading boy = happy parents.

He also loves video games, of course, but we don’t go out of the way to get the latest and the newest consoles (our house has a Sega Dreamcast, a Nintendo 64, Xbox 360/1, I thiiink we have a PS2, but that thing isn’t hooked up and is somewhere… maybe a PS3 now, inherited from my brother-in-law) because we tend to play on PC for the most part (insert PC Master Race joke here), but it’s the holidays.

Well, this was his big pressie – a full scale display model (ergo, it’s purely decorative and not sharp) of Frostmourne, the sword of Arthas the Lich King. Aff got him a small Arthas figure and some awesome tech swag – a desk-mat, a Genji themed mouse, and Heroes of the Storm Turtle Beach headsets – sort of a mix of birthday and Christmas pressies, really.

The sword replica is almost as big as he is too, and he had problems lifting it, remarking repeatedly that it was heavy and huge and he couldn’t imagine how Arthas would swing it around… then his father picked it up one handed, to his glee and delight.

We’ll have a ‘proper’ party for when some friends will be around (School holidays = kiddies go off to Grandparents to visit, usually.)

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Small Amusements and Memories

 

I like cups with funny sayings on them – funny to me, mind. A source of very minor contention in my household is my tendency to accumulate mugs – lots of mugs, a lot of them with amusing little phrases (one has an old-fashioned poison logo on it). I also have some plain mugs, and a while back I saw on Pinterest that there was someone who took a sharpie to their plain mugs and wrote on them, then baked the mugs to make the writing permanent.

Well, to satisfy my wanting more funny mugs, I decided to write on my plain mugs and not bake them, so that when the writing washes away, I can put a new funny saying. David was saying he needed a mug that had little lines on the side, measuring “Don’t talk to me… don’t talk to me…” and at the bottom, “You may now speak.” I retorted that he would probably never put the last bit on his mug, and he laughed and said I was probably right.

~~~

Mom told me today that she was unable to sleep because of memories triggered by a documentary about the Philippine Martial Law era. She remembered how my father came very close to being arrested along with one of his friends, who was also a student activist – like most of the students of the time. They were to meet at the University of Diliman campus, but Dad was a little late. By the time he got there, he saw his friend being hauled off by police. The friend, Vic Mendoza, was able to discreetly signal to my father to pretend that they didn’t know each other. So my father, heeding that, walked past him, looked past him, even though it likely hurt him deeply to pretend that he didn’t know his friend.

Vic Mendoza was detained for a long time. Just before my father and mother were married, he was finally released. One of the first people he visited after his release was my Dad. Previously a man with a mischievous sense of humour and intelligent wit, he and Dad were known as a pair of clowns. Afterward he was a rather changed man – quieter, my Mom remembers. When my father asked him how he was, and what happened, Vic said, “Let’s not talk about it.”

Mom says that he and my father were very popular with the girls back in their college years because of their love of bouncing repartee back and forth. They were popular because you spent a lot of time laughing at what they said and how they said it.

She says that Vic later became a doctor, and indications that he hadn’t completely lost his mischievous nature from what torments he suffered while imprisoned surfaced around then. He had an American classmate, and for one reason or another they needed photo IDs. Vic offered to obtain one for the fellow. When the friend agreed, Vic got him an ID… with Vic’s face on it!

A Cloudy Day

The sky over here where I live in Australia is overcast. In the US right now, it’s September 11, but because I’m ‘in the future’ it’s Sept 12. (For the humor-impaired, that’s a mild joke, the bit about being in the future.) Nevertheless it seems more fitting than the blue skies and warmer weather had for my yesterday.

 

Sept 11 has, over time, become a combination of meaning for me. I do remember the horrible day the biggest terrorist attack in the world happened in New York, and the day holds significance for me in that regard. Why wouldn’t it? That was the day our world changed forever. (And yes it did. We have farcical situations like this one that Sarah Hoyt describes, for example, and the more generalised one in her blog post, which goes more into the societal change.) Incredible stories of that day still hit hard, the heroism of United Airlines Flight 93, the willingness of this female pilot, and, for me the lingering horror and tragedy of the Falling Man and the 200 odd who jumped… for me that is the strongest memory of the Twin Tower Terror attack. Flight 93 makes me weep tears of gratitude and pride, a fierce feeling of wanting to honor the people who fought back. The people forced to jump make me weep in sorrow and sympathy…and understanding.

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Swiftness of the seasons

Lately I’ve been struck by how quickly time flies, mostly in relation to Rhys and I.

13 years together – it shocks me sometimes, when I look back. I have a photo of him and Vincent as a newborn, sleeping together. I see the photo and note how young and … light… Rhys looks in that photo. It brings tears of joy to my eyes. Tears of sorrow too, because I know why he aged, and it’s not just the passage of time. We’ve both aged, and the scars still bleed.

Still, somehow, we’ve survived and we’re somehow still going on.

So as part of getting myself back on the thing of drawing after a long hiatus due to health and RL concerns, I’ve been drawing. I’ve had some images stuck in my head inspired by various pieces of music. I’ve been drawing them as best as I can; the others are not finished yet, but this one I kind of didn’t want to continue touching up any more, because of the emotions it conveyed for me.

Thirteen years. Wow. It seems like such a long time but it sure flew by really fast. If I feel like this now, I wonder how it’ll be like when we’re both in our sixties, or older. Continue reading

Books Old and New

So, my son literally (hahahahaha see what I did there?) devoured every single Matthew Reilly book I have, except for The Tournament. He barely had put down The Four Legendary Kingdoms and was already looking for more. (He was VERY upset with what happened in Scarecrow.)

So I gave him what I had of Diane Duane’s Young Wizards series, scraped together the money for  Games Wizards Play and it arrived just as he got through The Wizard’s Dilemma. I read GWP first of course, but hesitated on giving it to my son initially because of the sexuality/relationships subthemes. Son has a puppy-love girlfriend, but he isn’t mature enough yet for the more complicated hormones-sexuality-etc soup; and since I’d told him to come to me and ask if he had any questions, the introduction of a couple of young openly gay characters wasn’t something I was sure I’d explain just yet. So I went to have a chat with my son about the book.

Turns out though, he already knew that ‘gay’ = people who date/fall in love with the same sex, so while he doesn’t know/care about the nuts and bolts of it, he knows about that. (How, he’s not really sure. Kids pick up stuff.) Since Games never goes into more detail than ‘he’s/I’m gay/have a boyfriend’, I changed my mind on that score. Since we were talking about it already, I explained, very simply, what asexuality was, since that crops up too. (Son knows basic biological scientific sex; e.g. what makes a baby.)

I know there are some folks out there who will scream ‘censorship’ but, quite honestly, sod off. My son might be more emotionally mature than most kids his age (the death of two siblings will do that to a child who’s old enough), or perhaps a bit smarter (reading will do that) but I am pacing what he reads based on what I observe he’s ready to handle, or understand properly, or understands so he can properly enjoy or react to the work.This is a kid whose level of relationship is that ‘you’re boyfriend and girlfriend if you like each other and kiss and hold hands.’

In much the same way I wouldn’t hand him any of Anne Bishop’s books, and I love her writing, and am waiting until he’s a bit more mature before I give him any of Larry Correia’s Monster Hunter series, and going by current development, the boyo might not read the Monster Hunter Memoirs books until he’s 14 or 15.

Toward that end I’m trying to get my hands on hardcover David Eddings books; and trying to find the first trilogy of Dragonlance.

It’s rather interesting that most of my book purchases of late haven’t been new release books, but trying to hunt down older ones. I prefer hardcovers now because they’re more durable and stand up to re-re-re-re-reading. I got lucky and found a Domes of Fire volume that has Larry Elmore’s art on it.

This is the reason why ultimately, my Dragon Awards nominations are rather sparse.

Best Science Fiction Novel : Star Realms: Rescue Run by Jon Del Arroz

Best Fantasy: Monster Hunter Memoirs: Sinners by John Ringo & Larry Correia (I know Larry recused himself from further Dragon Award noms, but John Ringo’s still game for it)

Best YA novel: Would have voted for: Games Wizards Play – Diane Duane (released too early to qualify; first half of 2016)

Best Horror Novel : Etched in Bone – Anne Bishop

Best Graphic Novel: Jim Butcher’s The Dresden Files: Wild Card

Best Movie: Dr. Strange

Best video game: Would have voted for: Nier: Automata (released too early to qualify; first half of 2016)

Best Mobile Game: Would have nominated : Shadowverse by Cygames or Sword Art Online: Memory Defrag

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Devouring Books

Earlier this week I noticed that my eldest son was almost done reading Matthew Reilly’s The Six Sacred Stones, mostly because he was asking if there were any more books in the series. I proceeded to dig out my hardcovers of the next two volumes, The Five Greatest Warriors and The Four Legendary Kingdoms, and handed them to him. He happily puts them in his room, and I figure he’ll be entertained by that for a while.

Two days later, the boyo suddenly starts talking about something that happened in The Four Legendary Kingdoms over dinner, and I interrupt, saying, “Hang on, didn’t I just give you those books practically yesterday?” Continue reading

Zest and headaches

Of late I have been suffering from severe headaches. They start out as tension headaches then become migraines. I have been trying out several different pillows, rotating them. So I guess it will just be a matter if time before this resolves itself.

Sadly this has been limiting my screentime. Some days I am rather light sensitive so I can’t leave my room in those days. I save the painkillers for the days when I do have to go out. Continue reading

A bit of colour

Just got home from running some errands. Been craving fruit; I guess as a response to my getting repeated 48 hour flu sessions over the last month. I can’t resist the seductive scent of Golden Delicious apples. There is a pomelo and two Japanese Fuji apples too; they smelled so good!

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The Illusion of Memory

Recently I watched two sci-fi movies that I deeply enjoyed; Sword Art Online: Ordinal Scale, and the live action version of Ghost In The Shell starring Scarlett Johansson. Despite vastly differing source material, they touched on related themes. Memory – or what is perceived as memory, also played heavily in the movie The Arrival. All of these were excellent movies that I highly recommend watching, as they both entertain and, for me, are incredibly good science fiction stories, full stop. Speaking of stopping, if you haven’t seen these, you’d probably want to stop here.

(Spoilers abound, you’re forewarned.)

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