Balls of Yarn

My first attempt at knitting correctly was cut short by the realization that I had started knitting with a yarn that I barely had enough to do three feet of a 6 foot scarf.  I gathered more scraps and found quite a selection.  There were some yarns that I had several spools of, but I thought I’d leave those bigger projects for later.

These scraps can be good to use as trim for plain hats or caps, or maybe even scarves, or if I can only decide on a patter I can use, for a floral brooch.

I haven’t done much in the last couple of days.  I have been busy taking care of my little boy.. the yarns aren’t going anywhere after all.

People are actually reading my blog?.. !

When I decided to write a weblog, I did it primarily to find a channel of expression and a means of documenting my day to day thoughts and feelings and memories, specially of all things related to my now one year old son, Angel.

Never did it cross my mind that others would actually read and react to the things I wrote here.  After all, I was not writing on politics — it was enough I wrote as a Filipina in New York, and then by extension, as a Filipina Francophile in my other blog:

But people do read my posts, as evidenced by e-mails I’ve received.  So I thought I’d start a new category today and share those e-mails and my responses to them with you.  I have to backtrack a little but so far, I only have 3 so there isn’t much.

Keep the comments coming!

Nikky Denied

I can’t say it was unexpected because I knew I was being overly optimistic thinking Nikky would get a visa.  I received a text message a few minutes past noon Manila time (midnight our time) telling me he was denied a visa.  The interviewing consular officer didn’t even browse through his documents.. he was just asked a few questions and handed the dreaded white paper which signified the denial.  If you were handed the yellow sheet, this reportedly boded well for it meant you got to go to the United States.

I was holding Angel in bed and nursing him when Alan walked in with the phone ringing.  Just as he was doing that, I saw my cellphone screen flashing the alert that a new message had come in.  I returned the call and spoke with both Nikky and Offie, my sister.

Even if it came as no surprise, I was numbed by the confirmation of my fears.  What are we to do now with Angel?  I was looking forward to telling my boss that I only needed special accommodations until the end of this coming week when my brother would be arriving to help out with Angel.  Neither Alan nor I wanted to deal with planning for this eventuality, because we wanted to remain hopeful about how things would turn out.  Reality check..

Counting the Hours Til Nikky Faces His Fate

It’s almost 5PM and it’s almost 5AM Friday in Manila.  My brother, Nikky, has a 10:30 appointment with the US Embassy in Manila for his application to enter the United States.  He needs a visa.  And like the hundreds of hopefuls that will be lining up at the US Embassy tomorrow, he is pinning his hopes on being given a visa to enter the United States.

I want him here for selfish reasons.  I need a baby sitter and I miss him so dearly.  Nikky has been such a big part of my life ever since we decided he would become our youngest brother in 1985.  I have been sending him to school and he is now a Junior Physical Therapy Major.  He has grown up to be a good natured young man and I’m very proud of how he’s turned out. 

Just can’t wait to have him here..

Maggie Gyllenhaal Speaks Her Mind Out

I have read about what actress Maggie Gyllenhaal said and the reported furor that it stirred.  I am not out to crucify her nor praise her for what she says, but I just wanted to say people seem to forget that we live in a democracy and everyone is entitled to their own opinion. 

I am not an American.  I am a Filipina living in New York and allowed to stay in this country by virtue of a Permanent Alien Resident Card or what we refer to as a greencard.  I come from the Philippines which is deeply divided between its love-hate relationship with Uncle Sam.  Personally, I have no gripes about the superpower that America is, but there are a lot of things that Americans do not understand about how the world views them, in the same way that the world often misinterprets or refuses to understand what America is all about.

From a foreigner’s point of view, many will agree with what Maggie Gyllenhaal innocently said — that America is partly responsible for the events of 9/11.  In this great country’s pursuit of democracy, it has in many instances, accidentally stepped on the toes of more conservative countries who view our idea of democracy as a threat to their existing ways.

While Americans are well-intentioned, there have been many instances in the past and in the present when there were many sacrifices made by other countries as we tried to promote freedom in other lands.  A case in point is Iraq.  The United States went there to get rid of Saddam Hussein and the threat he posed to the free world — from the outside, that is all fine and dandy.  But for a country torn by internal strife, Saddam Hussein was the strongman who held the country together, keeping the insurgency in check, and while his ways were far from being right, some view the state of Iraq today as far worse than before the Americans came.

Again, it’s a matter of opinion.  Even the widespread hatred of America across the seas is something that many Americans cannot understand.  This, I believe, is what Ms. Gyllenhaal was speaking to — that it was the duty of America to start asking questions to arrive at the truth.  That as a superpower, it was incumbent upon America to bear responsibility where it lay — and to recognize that horrendous as the 9/11 attacks in truth are, there are reasons which bring us back to how America is perceived outside the United States, and how its actuations can invite such a heinous display of disdain from those who do not share its views.

In Manila, I was a witness to countless demonstrations by the so-called “left” who accused the Americans of being imperialist dogs.  In the University of the Philippines where freedom of expression is sacred, I saw students organizing for mass actions against the United States.  In in those times when people took sides, I stood back and and did not choose to condemn the so called multinational imperialists.  To me, the presence of the United States in my country was but a consequence of a third world country trying to make it in the real world.  If it wasn’t the US, it would be another more powerful country.  My husband has a totally different color politically, but we manage to respect each other’s views, fell in love and actually sleep side by side night after night.

I think we should give Ms. Gyllenhaal credit for saying what she said the way she said it. I just hope she doesn’t get crucified for exercising her freedom of speech in this country which prides itself to be the best democracy on this planet.

Nilagang Baka

I never really learned how to cook until I got here to the United States.  I have always jokingly told friends it was an undiscovered talent which didn’t come out until I was left on my own with the responsibility of feeding Alan, and now, Angel.  But even from way back, I had a knack for replicating tastes and flavors and cooking from scratch.  So despite a lack of knowledge about meat cuts and its translations in Tagalog, I managed to discover on my own that I could cook Nilagang Baka without going to the Chinese grocery for ingredients.

Soup bones with marrow are sold dirt cheap even at the local Waldbaums we go to.  However, they are already cut into small pieces which are, at most, an inch thick.  The good soup bones with tons of marrow are available for $1 a bag, though, at my favorite Chinese grocery in Main Street (here in Queens) called HONG KONG SUPERMARKET.  I usually grab a bag which would have a piece or two of good tendons and then at least 2 pieces of 2-3 inch long bones with ample marrow. My favorite part of Nilagang Baka has always been the kinste (kinche?) which turns out to be the not so cheap beef shank here.

I had to call my Mom long distance to find out how I could cook this right.  She said to simply boil the meat in enough water to cover it, tenderize, then add whole black pepper, some patis (Fish sauce), an onion, and cook until tender.  The bone marrow should be added later, but any bone parts with meat clinging to it should be cooked ahead.  Vegetables were to be added later and cooked through but not to the point of wilting.

One thing I have discovered is that you cannot microwave the marrow because it liquifies into fat.  So when I develop a craving, I do my nilaga.. a taste from home, serving one.

Another day done

Alan got lost on the Air Train like I did, so he’s trying to make his way to the correct train to get to the Long Term Parking lot.  I got lost on the Air Train, too, after I brought Mom to the airport for her flight home.

He should be here just around 7PM which makes me think I ought to be cooking dinner instead of waiting for him to get here.  I was thinking of meatloaf but Angel kept me pretty much occupied through most of the afternoon, I barely had the chance to put the finishing touches on my Nilagang Baka.  (Doing a separate blog post on that one..)

He’s been a good boy, actually.  Sometimes he’s just being the kid that he is, so he is so full of energy and just all over the place.  He constantly wants me by his side, and although he hasn’t been good taking his usual milk from the bottle, he has been nursing on demand.  That doesn’t do well for my attempts to start weaning him, but I guess I can do it a little at a time.  I’m thinking of starting to introduce whole milk in tandem with formula, and then shifting him to whole milk altogether.

Things were rather quiet on the work front because my boss lost her voice.  So she just shot me a short email and then all email traffic stopped in her mailbox.  The poor lady finally found an excuse to just rest.  It wasn’t as quiet in the office, though, because a colleague told me about how those covering for me were griping about having to do my job.  I guess they had forgotten my rank among the admins in the department, and how they would still be the ones covering my post no matter what the situation was since their bosses were under my boss.

The thing is the boss wasn’t even there, and the only thing they had to do at best was to answer my boss’s line.  I really can’t do anything about their griping because there are things I have to prioritize, and between pleasing them and taking care of the boss, taking care of the boss takes priority whether they give me flak or not.

It’s just so disappointing to hear them doing that because when I’m there, they can’t tell it to my face.  I guess that’s the corporate world for you.  They won’t be griping tomorrow because I’m going to work.  Alan and I made a deal that he would be the one staying home tomorrow, so I can get some work done in the office.

Time to get dinner ready.. he must be hungry.

Just my baby and me

It’s almost 8PM and Angel is still napping.  We’re having dinner the minute he stirs.  Meanwhile, I grabbed the chance to tidy up a bit (just a bit) in the one hour he’s been asleep, and start boiling some beef for his and my lunch and dinner tomorrow. 

It’s been a long day.. I couldn’t believe how hectic it could be trying to catch up with my boss who was calling me from halfway across the globe in Hong Kong, dealing with things in her calendar that needed to be taken cared of, and then trying to resolve some matters remotely from work.  I could sense the exasperation in my boss’s voice, but there’s really nothing she or I could do about it.  I could’ve just called in sick, but instead, I am working from home, trying to talk to her as Angel was crying out, and doing e-mails in between trying to nurse the baby and make him sleep.

I loved to watch Angel asleep and lost in la-la land.  He looks so peaceful each time.  I couldn’t resist how nice it was outside and I decided we would go for a walk to the stores around the co-op, but halfway through, I couldn’t help but have second thoughts about doing it all because Angel was really heavy!  We managed to get there and pick up a few things, then I headed back.  My boy has really grown.  I can’t imagine how I did it last Monday carrying him and carrying the laptop in my tote on one shoulder.  Today seemed doubly difficult.. still, we managed. 

I wanted to set him down on the grass to take pictures, but it is such a struggle trying to put him into his sling I was afraid if I even attempted to take him out of it, I might end up carrying him home without it.  So I settled for a walk. 

My precious boy is really growing up.  He seems able to comprehend simple instructions now and would sometimes “argue” his disagreement when I have him drink his milk or when I ask him to lay down to nap.  He does it in a non-aggressive way, though, but you can see his little brain working here.

He loves to playfully try to raise my shirt when he wants to nurse, but once or twice has agreed to just nap without nursing.  He has to be cuddled and tapped to sleep, though, regardless.  Even when he is deep in slumber, I kiss his head and whisper I love you — so he would know and hear it even when his conscious mind is asleep.

I wish I would win the lotto so we can spend our days together and I can see him grow up day to day.  Then I wouldn’t have to worry about putting him in daycare which may be soon if my brother fails to make it here.  I dread the thought of leaving him anywhere without the familiar face of his Kuya Mikey, his Dad or his Lolas. 

A friend said it’s a matter of letting go.. isn’t it way too soon for someone two weeks shy of turning a year old?  Or for someone who has a baby in that stage.. too soon if you ask me.

An Interesting Day with Angel

I had to bring Angel to work to pick up the FedEx pack from my boss.  I still had to lug my laptop (which, thankfully, fit in my huge tote) and I just brought the small diaper bag.  We rode the express bus into the city and then the Q32. 

Angel was surprisingly people friendly from the bus to work.  He was smiling at everyone who said hello to him, so different from his usual display of stranger anxiety when people greet him.  He was quiet while eating a snack but suddenly discovered how wide a space he could crawl around in, there was no stopping from him.

I tried leaving him momentarily to go to the ladies room, and while I was doing everything with the speed of sound, I still wasn’t fast enough for him not to miss me and cry. =(

We got back on the Q32 and then the QM1A.  The bus started spewing out smoke from the rear, so we had to wait for a new bus to take us home.  Instead of taking the second bus all the way to Fresh Meadows, I got off to get on the Q75 which dropped us off 2 blocks away from the house.  Angel was behaved and groggy from napping. 

Going out with him on a sling and the weight of a laptop on one shoulder effectively limiting me to a one-hand balance was quite a challenge, but it wasn’t all that bad.  Angel miraculously still fits in his Snuggli, and he now knows how to cling to my arms as I carried him.  I didn’t let the sling take his full weight, so I still carried him, but it was much easier knowing that the sling had him attached to me.

The kid is now sleeping soundly.  He was out just after 7PM after I fed him an early dinner after 6PM.  I finally got a chance to do some work from home, now that my boss is waking up to her morning on the other side of the world.

It just feels like there’s so much to do.  I have to clean his bottles and containers and sterilize what needs sterilizing.  I haven’t even changed him — later when he stirs.. he was just pooped and needed to nap uninterruptedly.

It would’ve been nice to just walk the streets of Manhattan on a nice day like today.  I wanted to get off the bus at the New York Public Library where the newly planted pink tulips now adorn the front of this New York City landmark.  But with the laptop on one shoulder, and Angel’s practically 30 lbs hanging in front of me, it just wasn’t a good idea.

But these are days I truly feel our connection as mother and son, as people compliment me on how beautiful and cheerful my baby is — how he has such a personality.. and I love to see him react to them with such good naturedness.  Exactly the personality I am trying to mold him into — full of cheer and always open to others. 

As he lay on the floor napping, I whispered to him to try to always be a good person.. no matter what he becomes later on in life, he should always try to be good to others.  Simple enough..

Nobody Does it like Elmo

The boss woke Angel up from his nap giving last minute instructions for when she would be away.  Thank God for ELMO!  He watches this DVD we have so intently it’s just a miracle he can actually keep Angel tuned in.

I still didn’t get the chance to tell her of my childcare issues.  I’m hoping I can get away with it somehow.  So tomorrow I will probably be there early, and then I will just leave her midnight which is our noon.  That should make my life a tad bit easier.

Meanwhile, still getting ready to be on my own the next three days.  I have enough to work on tomorrow to keep me busy.  Angel and I will be okay.. I keep telling myself that.