The Maternal Memories

When I was about five years old, I told my parents my tooth was loose. Mind you, they were very old school, traditional Filipino immigrants so this wasn’t a celebration by any means. No magical being was going to show up in the middle of the night and put a quarter under my pillow because what does a five year old need with money? And free money at that?

Oh no, this child of immigrants was taken next door to her aunt, a medical profession, a nurse.

A nurse is NOT a dentist.

My auntie Delen (short for Magdalena) carried me and sat me up on her tile kitchen counter. “Where is it?” she asked.

I opened my mouth, pointed, and just as I was about to say, “It’s right here–”


She pulled out that fucker before I even knew what was happening. I don’t remember much after that except for lots of blood and tears but I lived. I learned valuable lessons in trust that day:

  • Can’t trust my parents, separately or together
  • Can’t trust my aunties
  • Especially can’t trust that auntie
  • Can’t trust my family in general

While I eventually got over these issues, I remember that I was taught that every sister of my father and every sister of my mother (who sadly I have not met my mother’s sisters to this day; one passed away when I was younger and the other still lives in the Philippines) was like another mother and I needed to treat them as such. Same as their brothers on both sides. In our Filipino community back in the day and I’m sure it is in many Filipino communities today, this extended to their family friends. Pretty sure my teachers thought I was lying about ANOTHER uncle passing way. (Sure, you’re going to his funeral. Again.) But that’s how it was and that’s how I teach my kids now.

It was with great sadness that we celebrated the life my auntie Delene last week. Family members set aside their differences (hopefully permanently but what do I know) to pray and be with each other at this time. She was married to my dad’s brother so I saw many of her relatives from around the country, all of whom saw me grow up and met my husband and children for the first time. It’s funny that even now I think about all of my aunt’s family. I never thought of them as her family, just as family.

There were Filipino (specifically Ilocano) rituals and Catholic rituals that we followed. And although my husband converted to Catholicism a few years back, he still prayed the rosary, an activity that is strangely strictly female. He didn’t have to be blessed by my auntie Leonore (auntie Delene’s sister), he did anyway.

My brother did too. He’s a dork. I can say that though; I’m the sister.

There was a lot of food. Family members took turns cooking. Actually that’s wrong. They ALL cooked to relieve the burden of preparing food on my cousins but that’s what they do. That’s family.

I don’t have recipes and I didn’t have room in my stomach to try everything but I can assure you from past experience that this food was amazing.

Rest In Peace, Auntie, and no, you still can’t look in my mouth. 

The Ugg Challenge

Being active has never been difficult. 

Staying active? Well, that’s a whole different ballgame.

When I taught PE last month to elementary school kids, I had no choice but to clean up my diet to keep up with seven classes daily. I averaged 12,000 steps a day and was sore and exhausted by the time I got home. 

All of that was worth it because I lost a dress size! Coworkers were baffled at how much I lost. I don’t think I lost that much but it was certainly noticeable in a short amount of time. 

Our trip to Disneyland last week challenged me to keep up the physical activity and even now, I’m finding myself choosing more vegan and vegetarian meals as well as getting better at saying no to junk food (I’m talking to you, sweet tooth!). 

Yesterday the kids participated in a race as part of the last final miles of the California International Marathon. They felt like they did better than last year eventually. The middle was upset because she thought she was last (she wasn’t and even if she was, who cares?) and the baby said she was going to pass out (she didn’t). In fact, they seemed to get better when they started getting freebies from vendors. It was truly a miracle that they recovered in time to go to the mall for lunch!

I was proud of them but realized too late that I should have joined them! I hadn’t run in a couple of years (yep, three half marathons in a calendar year prob wasn’t a good move) but I was wearing boots and there was no way I’d be able to go too far without hurting myself. The middle was sad that I couldn’t finish with her but she did it and she did superb! 

Good job, kids!

The Gray Growth

Like my father before me, I went gray in my thirties. It wasn’t noticeable until recently when I took the plunge to cover the gray and in doing so, I committed myself to maintenance schedule. 

In another time another beauty requirement to my routine would not have been a problem. I had the time, money, and most of all, the vanity to lead the way in quest for outer beauty. 

Decades later while I still struggle to find a new and more evolved fashion identity I am not driven as I once was. The occasional mani-pedi and the monthly box of Target hair dye was and is enough. 

But is it?

I get a lot of compliments on my hair color. The color ranges from a dark auburn to a light brown depending on what hair color I buy in a box. The color stays for a few weeks until it starts to fade… in a good way. This dark burgundy is fading which means I have a cool Deadpool red amongst my black and gray roots.


I looked up different shades of black and gray and found that some women are wearing a black gray ombré. Others have even mixed in silver.

Then a light bulb went off in my head. Could I pull it off? Do I dare? Even if I don’t like it, I could go to Target and get another box, right?

There is a yearning for me to return to what’s natural even if it’s been so long that I’m not quite sure what natural is anymore. Maybe this change will help transition my hair for what’s to come. Now if only I can bring myself to pay more than ten bucks for this change, I’ll be set. 

Gah, even now I look at this picture and I cringe. Oh well. It’s not like you’re seeing this in person and even if you did I’d trust you not to stare. Thanks, kind reader of inconsistent blog. Aren’t you an optimist?

The Couch Challenge

The girls and I are off track this month (that’s year-round talk for a third of our “summer vacation”; we’ll be off track again in April) but the whole family has been celebrating for a couple of weeks.

You’ll notice someone missing from these pics… my husband! 

He’s almost halfway done with university but couldn’t afford to miss any classes and time from homework. 

Quite honestly, I think he was relieved to not come with us to the Happiest Place in Earth. We (I) take advantage of military discounts, including a great rate at the Disneyland Hotel where we started staying after R’s accident so he didn’t have to trek too far if he needed a break from the parks. Anyone who stays at the Resort hotels can get into the parks AN HOUR BEFORE EVERYONE ELSE. 

And as you may or may not have noticed, I can be a little…


I like to be in line before everyone else– we are in an line an but before the park opens.

I like to bring food from home– we bring pop tarts and fruit and drinks into the park.

I like to have a schedule.

I can’t help it.

But I can’t also help but notice that we were all quickly getting exhausted from early wake up calls and late nights so on the third day, we swam.

I would’ve had a drink too if I weren’t so hyped up about the next day. We surprised grandma with a special breakfast with some special people.

It was amazing and exhausting and was happy that R didn’t mind too much. 

Fast forward a week and here I am, updating my blog that I have neglected while everyone sleeps. R has to wake up at 4 am and the boy still has school. I was about to retreat to my favorite couch in the loft because I don’t want to wake up to R’s alarm when what to my wandering eyes should appear?

Three sleeping children without a sofa for me!

I thought about waking them and sending them to their beds because I surely didn’t want to wake up when R did.

But then I realized that if that is my biggest problem, I am pretty lucky.

The Pizookie Perfection

Today I taught PE which I absolutely love. I can never stay in one spot for too long which is probably why I get it when kids start to get antsy in their seats. I had a teacher training last week and had to sit down all day! I don’t know how regular people do it!

Like last year, I will teach a dance unit in December. Like last year, there are a certain list of things that I need to do each day to be able to function:

  1. Drink 96 ounces of water a day which results in me going to the bathroom at least 96 times– not the easiest thing to do when you’re a teacher!
  2. Eat breakfast and not some sugary Starbucks shit that I think I need.
  3. Eat a smart snack mid-morning. Again, not sugary shit from Starbucks even though at 11 o’clock at night, it sounds divine! Someone get me something from there! Quick!
  4. Eat a high protein lunch with as little animal product as possible. It’s weird but it works for me.
  5. Don’t drink soda. Even if it’s diet. Even if it’s just one.
  6. Eat a lot of fruit.
  7. Eat a small dinner.
  8. Get more than 12,000 steps a day. Easy peasy when you’re teaching dance.

It’s amazing what a difference one day makes. I feel good. Really good. 

R asked me if I was taking my pills and I said no. I wasn’t out but sometimes I forget to take them and he definitely notices.

It’s hard to hear but it’s the truth. I can’t function normally, I can’t be happy, I can’t be a good wife or mother without them and it’s sad that one tiny little pill taken each night, usually after an evening of Modern Family reruns, can totally destroy that.

It’s harder to control a lot of things now that I’m 42 but I feel like it’s much easier for me to accept it. R and I would joke about how our 30s was a time to undo all the damage we did to our bodies in our 20s. If that’s the case then I think the purpose of our 40s is finally accepting all of it.

I accept!

The Unretractable Observation

I turn forty two years old on Saturday. It’s not so bad really. I can’t move or eat like I used to but at 42, I’m able to get over it as soon as I realize it’s no big deal.

However the first year of high school is a big deal. In fact, it’s a fucking huge deal. Our son has been having trouble again for the second term in a row. I am atop a fence looking for the balance of trying to be supportive while not interfering with the fact that M needs to take the initiative to talk to his teachers.

M told me that a lot of kids had poor grades in his classes but after having dinner with a friend who’s son is in the same classes, I realize that her son has A’s in his classes. When I came home this evening, he was the only one left awake. R had to go to San Francisco again early the next morning and the girls have to stick to their 8:30 pm bedtime. Frustrated, I blurted, “This kid doesn’t have D’s right now. He has A’s.”

M looked crushed. He replied, “But I’m not him.”

And my heart broke twice. Once for breaking his and another for realizing that my kid has an asshole for a mom. 

I immediately regretted it and apologized and I can feel him push me away. I don’t blame him.

He already feels so inadequate, unathletic, unintelligent. I made it that much worse.

No need to remind me that parents make mistakes, that that was a pretty unsensitive thing to say, that I should think about what I say before I say it.

I already know. 

The Wake Up Call Conundrum

Today is Monday which means I got a wake up call at 3:45 am.

Well, I didn’t. I don’t have to wake up at 3:45 am to get to school in San Francisco by 8 am.

But I wake up.

R’s alarm sometimes wakes me up too but I’m more concerned when it doesn’t. 

I can’t believe some mornings I sleep through everything: the alarm, his shower, going downstairs, getting ready down there.

He’s not making a ruckus when he gets ready but all of a sudden, I wake up and he’s gone and for a split second I feel like he’s deployed again and emptiness takes over. 

This morning I slept through his getting ready but woke up to the emptiness. Too late to go back to sleep. Too early to get out of bed.

So I check my email and there’s a message from the boy’s math teacher. The second term has started and already the boy has straight D’s. I admit that this was not the best email to read at 4 in the morning but I am absolutely grateful and touched that his teacher cares so much to compose an email on Sunday at 9:38 pm.

I replied with thanks and shared our son’s difficulty with his first term of high school. I wrote about how we were very surprised that he did well his first term and would he mind highly encouraging him to go to after school tutoring? 

Our son M is a great kid and we are so very lucky with the way he’s growing up. I’m so grateful that he is surrounded by adults who are there for him, that he has teachers who care.