Showing posts with label Family & Friends. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Family & Friends. Show all posts

Monday, April 29, 2024

I have lived in the goodness of God

Wow, I blinked, and it's already the end of April! How did that happen? This year is going so fast, so before I blink again and find it's already Christmas, let me tell you about last year. 

My horrible year. My blessed year. 

Yes, it can be both things at once and I hope one day, when it doesn't feel like a fresh wound anymore, I will only see 2023 as blessed. 

Handa na ba kayo? I don't think I am. So I think this will be a rambling post. It's a year I'd rather forget, that's why I hardly blogged last year. That's also why I'm having a hard time telling you about it. I'm still processing.

Everything actually began months before, in 2022, when I had menorrhagia. I had to have all these checkups and tests and finally a D&C. All that was an unexpected expense so I realized I needed health insurance and a regular source of income. Then nung pandemic, nag-homeschooling kami but yung panganay ko, gustong bumalik sa school so we enrolled him na. He was happy to be back in school and medyo nainggit mga kapatid niya and so we all agreed that in 2023, babalik sila sa brick-and-mortar school. Kaso ang mahal ng tuition. Hindi na kaya ng income namin - my husband's job as editor and mine as freelance writer and editor for a content agency. I loved that job because our clients were fashion and home decor. So easy and so fun. Unfortunately, I was paid by the hour... and I worked fast. 

So I started applying. That was not a happy time for my ego. I kept getting rejected or offered a low salary, but I figured it was okay since I was still homeschooling my two younger sons. The plan was to finish the school year (that's May) and get a job in June. But then in December, an offer came along with a higher-than-average compensation package. I couldn't say no so I got the job, very exciting, and I started work in January.

My office desk

It was supposed to be a good thing, right? But I didn't anticipate the huge shock reemployment was going to be to my system. I've been a work-at-home mommy for 10 years and then quarantine meant I had my sons with me 24/7. Suddenly, I was away for 11-12 hours. I suffered withdrawal like you cannot believe. I was crying every day of January. Literal na umiiyak ako sa MRT, sa office and then pagdating sa bahay, iyak ulit, then iyak bago matulog. In fact, I cried till September. No joke. Hindi na naman araw-araw, siguro weekly na lang. I was that miserable. It took me so long to get used to not being with my family.

That working-mom guilt? I now know what it feels like. I never felt it before because I worked from home. Now, I'm endlessly plagued by the thought I'm not a good mother. I'll tell you just one incident of several but this was the one that iniyakan ko talaga. Near the end of the school year last year, so in May, liniligpit ko yung school shoes ng anak ko when I noticed sira na shoes niya. I asked him kelan pa and he said mga one month na siguro. Sabi ko bakit di niya agad sinabi and he said, "Because you're busy, Mama."

Naiiyak na naman ako typing this. Hindi ko man lang napansin. For a whole month! And isn't that what makes us good mothers? Our ability to notice everything? To anticipate needs, to be alert to the slightest cough, to swoop in before disaster strikes. Hindi ko man lang napansin. 

Now I know some of you will say I don't have to do this. Well, my kids want to go to school. They don't want to be homeschooled anymore. So here we are. 

Anyway, new job, new life arrangements, new everything - that's what was happening outside me. I'm usually okay with external forces. Anyone who knows me knows I can be a bad bitch when it comes to challenges. I always have a "Bring it!" attitude. I call it my "invincible summer."

Unfortunately, internal forces were at play, too. I was going through perimenopause (let's do a whole 'nother post on that!) and I had begun a hormone treatment for my menorrhagia. I was in hormone hell. Still am actually but my treatment is over so I'm feeling lots better. That invincible summer? Gone. I was suffering anxiety and crazy mood changes. I was worried all the time. Afraid, stressed out. And did I tell you I cried all the time? Baka kasi di ko nasabi na umiiyak ako for 9 months.

It was so illogical and very unlike me. I have been through worse things in my life. An unsafe childhood. An abusive relationship in college. Job losses. Theft. The deaths of my parents. But I was never this deeply unhappy. For what??? If you take away my feelings, ang ganda kaya ng buhay ko. Good job, good home, great family, getting-better health. 

Some days I was happy. Most days I was sad. Some days I was fun. Most days I was a miserable mess. So it was a tough year for me and my family because we never quite knew which me they'd get on any given day. 

Then just for fun, I took this online test and... SURPRISE!

And here I thought I was just going mad and being ungrateful. 

I talked to a few friends about this. My sister recommended her therapist. My husband knew, too, of course. But he was also going through a bad time. Not my story to tell but it was hard for us because we were both drowning and we couldn't rescue each other. 

On top of all that, I got ugly. My hormone treatment made me break out into huge pimples. Chin, jaw, cheeks, nose, temples, eyebrows. Stress made me gain 12 lbs. Perimenopause made my hair frizzy and my skin itchy. My cholesterol skyrocketed and xanthelasma appeared under my eyes. It was bad enough I felt ugly inside, but ugly outside, too? 

Without makeup. This was in December when I actually looked better!

Like I said, it was a bad year.

And yet, I don't want to think too badly of 2023. 

It was my youngest boy's first time in a big school. He started going to chess club, too. My eldest boy graduated from grade school and then he entered high school. I started seeing friends and family again. We went to Manila Zoo, Dreamplay, Manila Ocean Park. I finally got Covid but I didn't die - it was just a bad headache and a loss of smell and taste. I've suffered worse with ordinary coughs and colds. Lean In Manila had its first face-to-face event. And despite my husband and I struggling with our separate issues, together we were fine.  

So 2024, I believe you'll be better! I already feel better so that's a start. With my hormone treatment done, my pimples have subsided so I look better, too. I'm getting my cholesterol and asthma under control. I'm not crying at work anymore because I really do like my job. I just couldn't appreciate it last year with everything else going on. 

So what got me through 2023? Listening to these songs on repeat:

My co-workers hear me singing this all the time. And when I get to this part, nagdadasal talaga ako for deliverance:

I just want to speak the name of Jesus
Over fear and all anxiety
To every soul held captive by depression
I speak Jesus

'Cause Your name is power
Your name is healing
Your name is life
Break every stronghold
Shine through the shadows
Burn like a fire

I lived through 2023. I am alive and getting better. My family and my friends helped, but most of all, it truly was God who saw me through. I don't think I've ever prayed so much and so often in my life in a year that was, in all appearances, a wonderfully blessed year but I couldn't appreciate it because of my hormones. My hormones are still there, wreaking havoc on my body and mind, but I'm taking it one day at a time. I really really hope I've gone through the worst of this perimenopause, but please pray for me anyway. I want to keep living in the goodness of God because He should be my invincible summer, the something stronger and better pushing right back at all the darkness.  

P. S. 
If you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms of depression or other mental health conditions, please seek the advice of a qualified mental health professional. That's another reason I hesitated to tell you this story because my faith and these worship songs, while they helped me, are not a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. 

Friday, April 19, 2024

Our wedding anniversary through the years

Yesterday was our 17th wedding anniversary. It was also our 25th first kiss anniversary. Vince cooked 3 slabs of steak. medium rare, which is how we like it. I would've made mashed potatoes and roasted some vegetables but I had had a long day at work and so we and our three boys just ate the juicy steaks, had ice cream after, then plopped in front of the TV and had chips and chocolate-covered raisins while we watched 3 Body Problem.

And that's how we celebrated our anniversary. I think we're still planning to go out this weekend. So if you see us out and about (which we do so rarely!), please yell, "Happy anniversary, Vince and Frances!" 

One thing I enjoy every year is when Facebook Memories reminds me of the stuff I posted years prior on this special day. So lemme share with you all of them!


Well, this surprised me because I only joined Facebook in 2010! Then I realized it was a Life Event. But I need to edit it because the wedding was on April 18! Never believe everything you see on Facebook, even apparently your own Life Events haha


Aww, I wish I had taken pictures. I don't remember what I cooked! Well, it was the early days of social media when we didn't have a camera with us 24/7. Now it's "pictures or it didn't happen." 


Me, being makulit and Vince having a sense of humor. I think it's a testament to his fortitude that he's stayed married and in love with me for so long. I'm quite a handful!

Aww, Vito! First mention of a child on my anniversary posts! Gosh, what a joy Vito was. That's why we decided to have even more babies because he was just so precocious! The perfect gift to a happy couple.

And this is also the perfect gift to a couple who've been together a long time! Gotta keep the spark alive.

Sigh. Youth. And to think everyone said we were so old when we got married (he was 33, I was 30). Looking at this, though, with my 47-year-old eyes, we looked so young!

Nothing on Facebook, just here on the blog!

I love flowers. I am a huge sucker for flowers! Vince usually gives me flowers on anniversaries and Mother's Days. But my golly gulay, they're so frikkin' expensive these days! 

None this year??? What happened??? Oh, it's because I blogged instead! 

Ooh, this is an odd post. For our 10th/18th, we went to Baguio (where we met and fell in love) with the kids. But why is this my post and not photos of our trip? Well, no worries because I have a lovely blog post about our anniversary trip to Baguio!

This dinner was at Amare in Kapitolyo. The year previous, we celebrated at Amare Baguio so this year, we continued the tradition but in Manila. 

This was at Mango Tree in BGC. The food was sooo good. And the company was great, too. We should do this again. Maybe we'll go eat there this weekend...

Ooh my favorite photos! Gosh. So happy and carefree! We're still happy, okay? But life threw us a few punches through the years. And we also have been so tremendously blessed. There's a general feeling of exhaustion (kids, old age, bills) but also a quiet enjoyment and appreciation for everything. 

I have no memory of this hahahaha Did I get drunk???

So thankful I still get to laugh with my husband. By this time, the world was recovering from the pandemic. We made it through. Alive. Still together. Still happy. We can't take that for granted.   

Who are these kids??? I don't know how old we were here or even where we were. Goshness, we've been together for so long, I don't remember things anymore! Must've been pretty early on because I still have my buck teeth. I had braces when I was 27. Or 26? 

And this is this year's post! Another blast from the past! To my kid, the distant past hahaha

Memory Lane is a fun place to stroll through when you're still happily together. It's not perfect, our marriage. But there are very few things to complain about and after 25 years, that's pretty wild. We've seen dreams come true. We've had dreams crushed. We've had plenty, we've had barely enough. Always we've had each other. 

We're very lucky. One day, this will all be gone and it will just be memories. So I'm grateful, so very grateful, for every day I'm still loved and get to love. 

Saturday, February 10, 2024

I'm making the Year of the Dragon a happy year!

Xīnnián kuàilè! Kung hei fat choi! Gong xi fa cai! Happy New Year to all my Chinese readers! In the photo is me and my kids at Binondo, the oldest existing Chinatown in the world. That was yesterday, when Mommy Ginger and I and our families took the Pasig River Ferry and got off at Escolta to go exploring old Manila.

It's the Year of the Wood Dragon and I'm a Dragon! Well, I'm a Fire Dragon so it's not EXACTLY my year but I feel a lot of good energy this year anyway. I'm not Chinese and so I don't really follow the horoscope but let's humor ourselves.

The predictions say that industries with wood in them will prosper this year. So I guess it's time to publish my second book (paper)! I hope I can get your support again. I still can't thank you enough for the success of my Not Invisible book. Let me know what you want me to write about next, although I already have book plans for 10 books! Ambisyosa! But I know I can count on you so thank you!

The predictions also say, however, that it's not going to be a good year for Dragons. Oh, what irony haha The advice is to keep a low profile and don't spend money (oops, there goes my book!). Also, health won't be good. I'm already taking steps to take care of that since last year, my body was going crazy and so this year I just want to prioritize my mental and physical health.

Last year, I didn't feel too well. I was down and unhealthy and didn't feel positive about anything at all. There was this massive cloud of doubt, anxiety, and despair all over me. I promise to blog about it and I'll do so this week. I'm just glad that that's over.

This year, actually, around December last year, I felt that terrible cloud dissipating and then finally disappear. So I feel really good about 2024. I'm excited and happy again. For me, the new year actually starts on February, or whenever Chinese NewYear starts. It's true! January always feels like an extension of the previous year - I'm still paying bills for stuff I spent during the holidays, I'm still cleaning up last year's mess, and this January, I had to do something I've not done in a decade - I had to do an evaluation of my performance as an employee. So January 2024 was still all about 2023.

So today, a new year has officially begun not just for the Chinese community but for me! And despite all those negative predictions, I'll just do what I usually do. Live one day at a time! I think this year is already better because I'm not depressed anymore. I don't need to make any career changes or succeed or get rich or whatever. As long as I'm not struggling with that awful cloud anymore and my health is okay, I'll be okay.

After all, there's horoscopes and astrologers and fortunetellers. But I have God to see me through. And that's more than enough for me! It will be a good year, a happy year. And you'll be with me so it's already off to a good start!

Happy New Year, everybody! Praying for blessings of health and love and purpose for all of us!

Friday, January 12, 2024

When we were all together

Our first family photo in quarantine

As I was hanging the laundry to dry with my youngest son helping me, he said out of the blue, "Mama, I liked quarantine." 

We both agreed we didn't like the reason for it, but staying safe at home with the people we most love in the world was the best time. It was a magical time when it was just the five of us. When we were all at home. 

I'm going to just fill this blog post with photos from 2020-2022. They're not related to what I'll blog about, though. My journalism training says the photos should always support the text. But today we'll disobey. I just want to share pictures of those years when we were all together and write about the year we went off to do our separate things.

When we were all together. This will never happen again. Have you realized that, too?

My boys have all gone back to school. I've gone back to the office. This is why 2023 was so exciting and so excruciatingly heartbreaking for me. So many massive changes as we all returned to a world I wasn't quite ready to go back to. If I had my way, I want us all to stay home again. 

I could actually. I was earning well, just not regularly - when you're a freelancer, it's so hard to collect! But that was okay because homeschooling made education so affordable. It also made me realize that I am an awesome teacher. There really was no need for them to go to a brick-and-mortar school. 

But in 2023, I had to go back to work. I may want us to stay home forever, but my kids were oh so ready to get out of it. They wanted to see new places, meet new people, learn new points of view, and make friends. And they wanted this every day. They wanted to go to school. And tuition is so expensive so off I went back to earning a regular salary.

It's not so bad. It's actually a good thing! I'm very grateful, make no mistake. I love that my kids are healthy and happy. They have new friends. They're doing so well in school. I love that we can give them a good life. 

But I also loved it when it was just us. It was so simple and sweet. We were all safe and sound. I got to know my husband and sons thoroughly because that's what happens when you're together all the time. 

Now, we're all running around. Busy busy busy. We're all so tired. I feel like I'm losing them. I feel like I'm losing me. So I have to work harder to make sure we don't become strangers. And that's so exhausting, too, you know?

It's okay. It's inevitable. 

Besides, it wasn't meant to happen, those nearly 3 years indoors. But it did and we came out of it okay. I was so scared all those years because of the pandemic but I was also so happy. So very happy. I was with my most favorite people in the world. What more could a mama want?

They had to learn how to dress up again because it was finally time to go outside.

Thursday, December 28, 2023

Scenes of Christmas past

As I was very busy with my day job, all the holiday prep, and parties - these on top of all my usual chores and daily tasks, I totally forgot to put up my Christmas tree. Loyal Readers know I always have the tree up on my November birthday. This year, December 20 arrived and the house was not at all Christmasy. And my kids finally noticed.

"Mama, when are we putting up the tree?"


"Mama, I took out the boxes of Christmas stuff so you can start putting up the tree."

"Thank you. Tomorrow, I'll do it."

"Mama, we need the tree for all these gifts."

"Yes, we do but I'm too tired."

And finally...

"Mama, can we do the tree today?"


And so they did. 

And they busied about happily, making lots of noise and mess, chatting about everything and nothing, and I glanced up from my laptop (this time, I was checking emails from their teachers), just to quickly check on how my baby boys were doing.

My eyes went to where I expected them to be - near the bottom of the tree, with chubby hands trying to grasp slippery glass balls, fascinated with glitter on tiny fingers, and their eyes alight with wonder, their toothy grins wide with excitement.

Instead, I had to look up, my old, weary eyes sliding up higher, higher to watch my boys now nearly as tall as the ridiculous pink tree my then-new husband gave me as a first-married-Christmas gift. And our boys were now surrounding it, hanging the little trinkets they made from Christmases past, no longer needing our help to lift them up so they could place a sparkling star on the very top.

They can do it on their own.

And I burst into tears. And my boys looked at me in surprise. And I blubbered out some silly melancholy sentimental nostalgia and they looked at each other awkwardly like teens and tweens do. And I cried harder and they started chuckling and they patted me on the shoulder. 

There, there. It's okay, Mama.

Does the heart ever recover from this dizzying mix of joy and sadness, pride and longing? No? Never. And this will be my Christmases forever.    

Oh, my heart!

Merry Christmas, mamas. 

Sunday, June 25, 2023

Life is so full, I can barely breathe

Photo dump! Today's blog post will be a catch-up because my last time here was April 30. That was almost 2 months ago. This has got to be the longest I've been away from you all. I missed you! 

The last 2 months were packed to the brim - no, it was overflowing! - with sooo many things happening, I could barely breathe. Here are a few:

Mother's Day!
Iñigo's birthday! More pics in another post soon.
Vito's spiritual retreat was his first ever time spent away from us. I had dreadful separation anxiety. But I'm so glad he had a good time and he was a lovely boy, being all appreciative of his family.
Vito's graduation!
He won 2 awards, too!
I'm so thrilled!
With my two big boys
And here's my husband with our littlest boy.

Lots of stuff I haven't been sharing! Here are more photos from the past year!

At the sea wall. The kids haven't seen the sea in forever so I found it amusing how amazed they were.
Piero joined a chess club.
The kids also visited the dentist and all's good!
Dessert date with the boys!
Vince had a book signing at the Philippine Book Festival and his book was sold out!

Oh, I have soooo many more photos and stories but work - my day job + my real job as writer and editor - has been a LOT so I haven't been able to update you. Really just wanted to drop by and tell you life's been overwhelming. I'm overwhelmed, to be honest. Like I said, sometimes I feel I can't breathe. Sunod-sunod kasi talaga!  

But I'm not complaining. I pray to God, "Lord, give me strength, give me more years. Everything is tiring me out but I want the whole human experience. I don't want to miss out because I only have this one chance to live the abundant life You promised." 

Abundance! Claiming it every day. Thanks for still being here, dear Loyal Reader. May God grant you endless blessings and favor!

“I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” John 10:10