Thursday, December 29, 2011

Christmas Joys

Luke 1:38
"A grateful heart is a joyful heart" 

Dear Sabrina Banana,

Christmas came and it was, as expected, a great time for you and all the kids in the family. One struggle we have as your parents is how to make sure you still appreciate the gifts even when it comes in bulk as they normally do in Christmas time.

This year, most of what you asked for are books and you loved all of them. You poured over each one and lovingly went through the pages, perusing each photo and mulling over new words. It was a beautiful sight.

One of your godmothers gave you a present wrapped in an opaque plastic bag. When you opened the gift, you saw the plastic bag. You smiled and said "Oh wow! A plastic bag!" and you smiled as if it was the best gift ever. I was so happy that you had a grateful heart. I was so happy that you take delight in receiving any sort of present. Imagine your surprise then when you found out that you were not only getting the plastic bag (lol) but also the shirt that was inside the plastic bags.

I asked you what was your favorite part of Christmas, you said "Giving presents to my cousins". My heart melted.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Conversations with Sabrina - Growing

While giving Andrea a bath I told her:

Liv: I'm going to water you now cause you're my plant. Grow plant grow.
Andrea: It's not working at all.
Liv: That's cause you have no leaves! We should color your hair green to make it look like leaves.
Andrea: NOOOOO. I love my hair. I love my skin color. I love me tummy. I don't want to change myself.

Awwwwww. Must document this and show it to her when she's around 16 and wants to put a tattoo on her nose or something

Friday, November 4, 2011

Tomorrow is Coming

Dear Sabrina Banana,

We've always had our bedtime routine. You can be sure that when it's 9pm, it's time to sleep. This routine was challenged when I went back to grad school as I would normally be home past 9 and you would try to wait up for me. Now, when I would tell you that it's time to sleep you would always ask why. And I would always respond by simply telling you that it's 9pm.

In the past, saying it's 9pm was enough. Now, you would still follow BUT you would start showing me your ever dramatic sad face. I would then say something like:

Liv: Do you know what the day is going to be tomorrow?
Andrea: Friday?
Liv: And what are we going to do tomorrow?
Andrea: (you will name the activity we have planned)
Liv: How can we do those fun things if you don't sleep now?/How can it be tomorrow if you don't sleep?

This technique has worked for months. Normally, you'd be all excited about going to sleep so that you can do the fun things we have for the next day. Yesterday, you decided to call my bluff and you said:

Andrea: I will just let Jane (your nanny) sleep tonight. I will stay awake.

I had to laugh. That was creative, I'll give you that. But no can do still have to sleep.

Love you,


Booby Trap

Dear Sabrina Banana,

Last Monday, out of nowhere, you asked your dad. what Booby Traps are. He explained a bit but admittedly, it is a bit hard to explain what those are!

I decided to ask you to embrace me as I was laying on the bed. Then I wrapped my arms and legs around you and said:

Liv: This is a booby trap! You're stuck here forever!
Andrea: NOOOOO. Why?
Liv: So I can embrace you and tickle you forever and ever and ever.
Andrea: (Giggling) No, let me go. I want to be free.
Liv: I'm sorry, you'll never be free.
Andrea: I can get free
Liv: Nope, you'll be here till you're 83 years old.
Andrea: That's forever!

And, you wiggled, and you squirmed, and you got free. That is how you learned about booby traps, and our new nightly trap and tickle tradition was born.

Love you,


Lessons in Geography

Dear Sabrina Banana,

Two Sundays ago we had this conversation. 

Sabrina: Mommy have you seen a kangaroo before?
Liv: Yup, gramma and I went to Australia when I was a little girl.
Sabrina: What country did you go to?
Liv: Australia
Sabrina: That's not a country! That's a continent!
Liv: No it's both a country and a continent.

It took a few more minutes of discussion to convince you of this fact but eventually, you conceded. I loved how you argued with me. I think that's precious. I also love that you remembered what your teacher told you in class. 

I found out during a conference with your teacher that you have discussed these countries: China, Philippnes, Japan, Italy and France. She said she's surprised because you're the only one in class who remembers all the details discussed. I proved that when I started asking you about the countries! I realized this was something you're interested in so I decided to capitalize on it. 

Last Sunday, you started asking me about the United States and I promised you that I'll make a presentation for you so that we can learn about it. Why did I do this? For so many reasons:
  1. I want to teach you about geography and culture
  2. I want to see how much of what I teach you will be retained
  3. Because after I present to you, I am going to ask you to "teach" daddy 
  4. Because I know this will whet your curiosity and you'll want to learn about other countries after this (and yes, this has already happened) 
  5. I will eventually teach you how to make your own presentation and how to find things yourself. 
The result of this presentation was so funny. I posted most of what happened in FB and I'll just copy-paste them here:

So I just finished my presentation for Andrea. She generally liked it but commented that I forgot to put pictures of Disneyworld on the slide which focuses on things we can see in the US (like the statue of liberty and Niagara falls). 
She particularly liked the slide where I posted the photo of the continent of North America. She said "Oh wow, it's near Canada and Mexico". She then exclaimed that she's so happy her grandmother lives near Mexico because Dora lives in Mexico. 2 hours after:

Andrea: Mommy, mommy I just remembered. Justin Bieber lives in Canada?
Liv: Really? Who told you that?
Andrea: The teachers from Junior Nursery Seals (NOTE: This is not her section, not even her grade level. Why these teachers talk to her about Justin Bieber is beyond me)
Liv: Oh wow.
Andrea: Do you know him? He sang "Baby, baby oh"

Oh dear God. We're learning Geography based on pop artists and cartoon characters.

Andrea: Mommy, mommy I just remembered. Justin Bieber lives in Canada?Liv: Really? Who told you that?Andrea: The teachers from Junior Nursery Seals (NOTE: This is not her section, not even her grade level. Why these teachers talk to her about Justin Bieber is beyond me)Liv: Oh wow. Andrea: Do you know him? He sang "Baby, baby oh"
Oh dear God. We're learning Geography based on pop artists and cartoon characters.

And it continues: 

Andrea: What do the 13 stripes in the American flag mean?Liv: Before, the entire country was part of UK (translation: was under the British) and there were 13 groups (colonies) who worked together and told the British "No we don't want to be part of your country. We want to be our own country?"Andrea: But why? United Kingdom is sooo nice.

Hahaha. Euro-snob? Not really, you just really like the United Kingdom because they have a queen! So today, we're going to learn about the UK. Truth be told, I'm going to be learning with you as I don't know much about the UK..



Thursday, September 1, 2011

You Can do Anything...Except That!

Dear Sabrina Banana,

Around two weeks ago, my daughter and I had this hilarious yet disturbing exchange:

Andrea: Mom what's Daddy's job?
Liv: He's a manager?
Andrea: What does that mean? 
Liv: He goes to the office helps people and tells people what to do.
Andrea: No he doesn't! That's not his job his job is to take care of me cause he's my daddy. 
Liv: He does that too....
Andrea: Do I know other money...manye...what's that word again?
Liv: Manager?
Andrea: Yes managers
Liv: Hmmm, I don't know. I guess me! I was a manager before I stopped working but now I'm a student again. When I'm done studying I will be a psychologist. 
Andrea: A what? A psyholojuice?
Liv: NOOOO. I'm not a drink. A psychologist listens to people's problems and helps them solve their problems.
Andrea: What about me? What's my job?
Liv: Nothing yet, you're still a kid. But when you grow up you can be anything you want to be. 
Andrea: I think I want to be a doctor. 
Liv: That's nice. Why do you want to be a doctor?
Andrea: I have a toy stethoscope at home. Can I use that?
Liv: Sure.
Andrea: I want to be a boy too.
Liv: WHAT? Why the hell would you want to be a boy?
Andrea: Because when they weewee while sitting on the potty their penis will get wet..

That was how the conversation ended. Such a strange conversation. Then this morning.

Andrea: I don't want to be a doctor anymore. 
Liv: Okay.
Andrea: Mom is a superhero a job? Can that be my job when I grow up? But I need to go to flying school

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Simple Joys

Dear Sabrina Banana,

Daddy and I don't have much, but I never feel like we're short changing you. I don't think you have any less fun in your life because we don't buy you your own iPod, or computer, or wii, on the contrary I feel like your life is better because you don't have these things.

It always makes me happy to see you take delight in such little things. Last Christmas you asked for a few things, these are 1. Books, 2. Flashlight, 3. Broom. You got the books and the flashlight and you were as happy as a bug in a rug.

Last week, while we were buying you a pretzel, the saleslady handed the pretzel to me inside a brown paper bag. I asked for another paper bag and kept that in my purse. When we got home I told you we're going to be making our own puppet. Boy were you excited.

We're not artists so this is what we came up with:

Looking at her makes me giggle. She looks funny doesn't she? You decided to call her Gray and as of today we have decided to let her grow her hair AND to make clothes for her. You love her so much you look for her first thing in the morning.

I hope you remember, that you can make yourself happy. You don't need to rely on computers and other things to have fun.


Sunday, August 21, 2011

You're Making Us so Happy

Dear Sabrina,

I picked you up from Sunday School this morning and the teacher told me that you were given a special prize for being the most behaved and most attentive in class. I felt really proud of you. Daddy and I both agree that while we value your intelligence, it's really the character and attitude that's most important. I'm glad you're not falling behind in this criteria.

Last Wednesday I took you to a faraway place where you were assessed by several developmental pediatricians. The thing that stuck to me was when two of them talked to me about what a joy it was to test you because of your attitude. =) What a wonderful thing to say! I couldn't be more proud.

It was already 4pm when we got home, 4 hours after your last meal. I knew you were hungry and thankfully I had a cheese roll for you. Here's our conversation:

Mom: Honey are you hungry?
Sabrina: Yes mommy
Mom: I have a cheese roll for you.
Sabrina:Only one? But what about you? Are you hungry too?
Mom: Yes we only have one, it's okay. That cheese roll is really for you.
Sabrina: But what if I eat it all? What will you eat?

I wanted to squeeze you! I can't believe that a 4-year-old can be that selfless. It was the sweetest thing and I really thank God that somehow you are learning this. Because God knows how even I fall short when it comes to these things.



Tuesday, August 9, 2011

How Hard Not to Spoil You

Dear Sabrina Banana,

I think it's clear by now just how much your dad and I love you. We're crazy about you and we want nothing more than to make you happy. Everyday we struggle with our urge to do everything for you and to give you everything we can...because we love you so much. But we can't! We shouldn't! Because giving you the world now would mean robbing you of the joy and fulfillment you would feel when you are able to conquer the world through hard work.

I have so many "somethings" for you today from the book sale but I know I shouldn't give it to you just yet. I'll let you earn them, that way you can be really proud of yourself.

Love you,


Sunday, August 7, 2011

You're Blooming

Dear Sabrina,

You've always been very wary of big groups. You particularly hated having to perform in front of people. We were fine with that. We acknowledged your fears yet we gently encouraged you to expand your horizons bit by bit.

And we see now how you are trying, and growing and blooming. You're becoming a little bit more confident. I'm not proud of how well you sang or danced. I'm proud of how much you pushed yourself outside of your comfort zone.


Thursday, July 21, 2011

The World's Not Nice All the Time But I Hope You Are

Dear Sabrina Banana,

I am feeling a bit sad. I just found out that one of your cousins who is just 6 years old is now refusing to go to school because he is being bullied. This cousin is such a sweet boy, very kind and polite and it's making his parents wonder if they should just teach him to fight back.

Another cousin of yours is going through a similar thing. His classmates are hurting him and kicking his bag, etc. His mother taught him that he should fight back. That's what he's doing now and I don't think it's okay but that's really not my call.

It makes me sad how we try to hard to instill the values in our kids and it leaves you and your cousins vulnerable to other kids whose parents didn't focus on disciplining their kids and teaching their kids right from wrong. YES, I blame their parents.

It makes me sad because I know you are vulnerable to this. You have such a sweet and gentle disposition that  I know I have to teach you how to deal with this kind of attitude. I don't want you to fight though, please don't think that fighting is okay.

When you were 3, your classmates would grab your toys and you would just look sadly and move on to other toys which the other kids would then grab. This is why we had a game at home. I pretended that one of your dolls (Donald Duck) grabbed your toy and we practised how to deal with it.

The other day, while we were riding your service a little boy elbowed you and you got hurt. This happened in front of me and in front of his mother. I was aghast. If the kid had the audacity to do this in front of his mom he obviously doesn't think it's not right. You wanted to move elsewhere and get away from him. I didn't let you. I know it seems cruel but you have to learn how to deal with bullies. I told you to tell him what you feel about what he did. You said loudly "Hey don't hurt me!", somehow that scared him and he was the one who moved away from you.

The smile of satisfaction in your face after you did that was priceless. I knew at that moment that you felt empowered. I hope you realize that you do have the power to make things stop, or if you don't God does. Daddy pointed out that we also need to teach you when it's time to just move away and let things go. I hope we'll find another opportunity to teach you.


Thursday, June 30, 2011

Larry Boy!

Dear Sabrina Banana, 

Let me tell you about your current obsession....Veggie Tales.  I don't know what I was thinking since I have never even seen this show but 2 weeks ago something told me to look this up online. You watched the first episode on youtube and you were hooked. I would have to admit, I was hooked too! It was just so funny. 

Yesterday I found 3 CDs on sale and I snatched them up. You don't know that I have them yet. I'm giving them to you one at a time. I hope you like them. 

Love you,


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

I Hope You Dance

Dear Sabrina,

It's often times hard trying to sum up everything I want for you. I don't want your life to be perfect...I want you to have the tools you need to be able to hurdle all the imperfections life might throw your way. And through it all...I hope you dance:

I hope you never lose your sense of wonder You get your fill to eat But always keep that hunger May you never take one single breath for granted God forbid love ever leave you empty handed I hope you still feel small When you stand by the ocean Whenever one door closes, I hope one more opens Promise me you'll give faith a fighting chance 
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance I hope you dance I hope you dance 
I hope you never fear those mountains in the distance Never settle for the path of least resistance Living might mean taking chances But they're worth taking Lovin' might be a mistake But it's worth making Don't let some hell bent heart Leave you bitter When you come close to selling out Reconsider Give the heavens above More than just a passing glance 
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance I hope you dance (Time is a real and constant motion always) I hope you dance (Rolling us along) I hope you dance (Tell me who) I hope you dance (Wants to look back on their youth and wonder) (Where those years have gone) 
I hope you still feel small When you stand by the ocean Whenever one door closes, I hope one more opens Promise me you'll give faith a fighting chance 

Love you,


Lessons While Cooking

Dear Sabrina, 

This morning you wanted to help daddy prepare our lunch. You've been doing that since you were little...helping us cook. You really love being surrounded by family and just being helpful in general. Daddy assigned you this very important task, you were to remove the tails from the bean sprouts.

Your heart was willing, oh but your gut is weak. Hahaha. You don't like holding slimy, wet, cold things. You're easily disgusted by those. Yet you tried, you persevered...and eventually you asked for help. Then when you saw me working beside you you said "Okay mommy, now it's your turn". I asked if you will help me, like I helped you and you said "But I'm finished doing it already". It was funny. I laughed, but I didn't let you go. Sorry but I had to teach you about finishing what you started, no matter how unpleasant. That's just too important for you to learn. 

Love you, 


Saturday, June 25, 2011

Oh How You Are Loved

Dear Sabrina Banana,

I don't know if you know this but you are loved by so many people your dad and I are awed. We have, at multiple points in our lives, paused, looked at each other and exclaimed "What a lucky girl we have". You have no idea how many people are hopelessly in love with you--just because. They don't love you because you're pretty or because you're smart or because you're obedient. They just love you - period.

My grandmother, Nani, loves you enough to prepare a snack for you every single school day.That way you have something to eat after your school. She calls the grocery daily, trying to catch the fresh batch of chicken skin to make chicharon which you love.

Your dad's grandmother, Lola Mommy, made clothes just for you. They're incredibly cute too. She also chuckles in delight every time she calls and you're the one who picks up the phone.

Your Lola Rosa has only met you once but has already given you a small party for your birthday.

My mom and aunt, your gramma and abapi. Call me incessantly when there's rain to check if you're safe, and check on you every hour or so when you have the slightest of colds.

You know what, yesterday in class my professor talked to me about your Wowa. She was surprised to find out that your Wowa is her dear friend. She then told me that your Wowa's crazy about you and that she talks about you all the time. Isn't that so sweet?

This is just a handful of the people whose lives you touched and who have loved you so much since you were born. And I'm humbled by how loved you are. Just because, I hope you grow up knowing and feeling this love.

Love you,


Friday, June 24, 2011

Typhoon Falcon

Dear Sabrina Banana,

You got to stay home today because there's a typhoon in town. The typhoon is called Falcon. To tell you honestly, I'm really scared. I'm afraid it will be just like the typhoon we experienced way back in Sept 26, 2009. That was a huge mountain our family had to go through. It was during that time I realized just how amazing your dad is.

After that typhoon, our home was pretty much a wreck. In order to keep you safe, I decided to send you to your gramma's house. You and your nanny stayed there while dad and I cleaned up the house. It was incredibly painful. Imagine seeing everything you own covered in dirt, most of them destroyed. I remember sitting on the mud covered floor feeling absolutely numb, I just kept scrubbing and scrubbing. Your dad was scrubbing right beside me. I learned so many lessons during that time:

1. I was illogically in love with you. I have only known you for 2 years at that time, but during the flood my only thought was how to keep you alive if ever I die. It didn't even matter if I died, I just wanted to make sure you remained safe.
2. Your dad is amazing. Your dad walked for miles, waist-deep in floodwater, just to find milk or water or food for us. He also made sure your wowo and ninong are safe. He was a rock. He was amazing. I hope, when you grow up you will find a man like him.
3. The only thing that matters in life is your family. We stayed in an evacuation center for one night. It didn't matter who was educated, who was rich, who had great fashion sense. At that point everyone was equal. The only thing that made it bearable was being with people you love...your family.
4. Don't get attached to material things. My shoes, clothes, bags, even some jewelry disappeared. 80% of my books did to. I was devastated for a while. Then I realized how little need I had for them.

All of these things come back to mind as we wait with bated breath for Typhoon Falcon to pass. I hope that we won't have to go through the drama of the flood again. But you know what? If ever we did, I'm sure we can get over it again.

Love you,

You asked daddy to help you pray to Jesus tonight. You prayed that we're not going to get flooded. I love it when you tell your dad "Daddy can you show me how to pray?" ;p

Have an Obedient Heart...Please?

Dear Sabrina Banana,

These past couple of weeks, your dad and I have been trying to teach you about having an obedient heart. It's generally easy making you follow things but now, before following you ask so many more questions. We have no problem with your questions. In fact, we love them. It's just that we need you to understand that God wants you to follow your parents. Learning obedience is very important. I am just struggling with having to explain this to you at your age.

"Honor your father and mother." This is the first commandment with a promise: 
Ephesians 6:2 

I hope I'll be able to explain this to you soon. 

Love you,


Who Do You Want to Be?

Dear Sabrina Banana,

I wonder what you really want to be? Now, at 4 you tell me you want to be a panda. Sometimes, when the mood hits you, you want to be a knight-in-shining-armor, then you switch it up and you want to be Pocoyo.

I hope you do end up as affectionate as a panda, as strong and resilient as a knight and as playful as Pocoyo. But just in case you change your mind  or if the panda thing doesn't work out....remember:

Watch your thoughts, they become words.
Watch your words, they become actions.
Watch your actions, they become habits.
Watch your habits, they become your character.
Watch your character, it becomes your destiny.
- Author Unknown

Love you,


Dear Sabrina Banana

One of my greatest fears is dying early and not being able to teach you things I think you should know. I also fear not being able to let you know who I am as a person, or not being able to share with you things or words which inspire me. I long to have conversations with you in the future discussing life and love and people...that may or may not happen. Just in case that doesn't. At least I'll have this blog for you to read. So to my dear Sabrina banana. This blog's for you.