Monday, December 31, 2012

Year-End Thoughts (Part 1)

Dear 2012,

I still can't put a finger on how I feel about you. It would be so easy to say I HATE YOU for all the challenges my family and I faced this year. 

Daddy passed away without warning in May
3 months later, I was in my doctor's clinic and told I have breast cancer

For anyone else who has gone through painful and major life changes this year, hatred the easiest thing to feel for the year that's about to leave us. I tell you, I am not alone in this. I can name a few people in my network who will tell me they've had it with this year, too. 

A friend lost her Mom and husband in a span of weeks

A cousin lost her father in November and brother on Christmas Day

Another friend lost her brother and was diagnosed with breast cancer months after

4 teenage boys (2 of whom are siblings), the best friends of the son of one of my girl best friends, were killed in that awful car accident in Ayala Alabang 

A young man passed away in another car accident in Valle Verde, the nephew of a friend

Seriously, I can name more.

WHAT THE HELL, 2012?!?!?!

Did you have a bone to pick with any of us? Why? What for? In my mind, you're like this kid bully in school, who is so miserable, he has to make other people miserable, too. 

But you're lucky, I'm old enough to not dwell too much on the bad. So I'll cut you some slack. 

In church yesterday, this line stood out : FINISH WELL. I guess that was the theme of the sermon because it was the last Sunday of 2012, the last worship day for everyone. The year is about to end and it's now time to look back, review, re-assess then end the year right. Many of us believe that we should never usher in a new year with pessimistic eyes. It's like being grumpy and whiny on a Monday. They say your whole week will be bad if your Monday starts out this way. 

It's really a choice one needs to make. Do I want to say goodbye to 2012 with a heavy heart and welcome 2013 with the same? Or do I want to do this...


Lost my Dad
Diagnosed with breast cancer (and experienced every other difficulty that goes with it)


My family is much stronger and we are even closer after Daddy left us

I now have someone very dear to me who intercedes for me up there

Real friends - we now know who they are

My cancer is early stage

My lymph nodes are not compromised

My HER2 test came out negative, meaning my cancer was not the aggressive kind

My first ever bone scan turned out to be negative of any metastasis 

I recovered beautifully from the major surgeries I've had to undergo

I've not suffered the nasty side effects of chemotherapy

The Lord introduced me to wonderful, compassionate and intelligent doctors

The Lord brought people into my life to provide support, wisdom, guidance and friendship!

My doctors introduced me to new friends ... all of whom are breast cancer warriors like myself, and from whom I continue to learn about faith, strength and positivity

I've experienced an outpouring of love and concern from family, relatives, friends, even those I've never even met before - so overwhelming that it reduces me to tears each time!

I've seen and experienced kindness and a genuine desire to help, coming from all directions, like I've never seen before 

MORE IMPORTANTLY, here are the things I've learned, re-learned and gained this year:

Praying from the heart (yes, I thought I knew how to do this already)
That gratitude heals - I promise you it does!
A deeper love for life and everyone around me
A deeper understanding of God's love for all of us

I'm crying as I try to end this entry. Mainly because I still don't know if I should hate or love you, 2012. I gave you the credit you deserve, so I guess you're not that bad. Nonetheless, I can't wait to say goodbye to you tonight. 

I'll never ever forget you, that's for sure. But I know that soon enough, and because 2013 will be AWESOME, I'll look back at you and say

Thanks for giving me all that crap because it's making me appreciate all the amazing things I have today!!! 

Saturday, December 29, 2012

The day I couldn't find my eyebrows

Actually, it was the day my make-up kit went missing mysteriously. The previous day, I left it inside the van when N and I went to Medical City for my 3rd chemo cycle. Our family driver confirmed that he found it on the passenger seat and brought it down when he got home after. He said one of the helpers put it on top of the side table in the living room. The kit has since mysteriously re-appeared but let me just tell you how much I panicked when I realized it was gone!

The next day, we were all set to go out when my kit was nowhere. I looked high and low, asked the helpers to assist, asked the kids if they played with my stuff ... to no avail. It felt like torture (OA) but the thought of going out without eyebrows??? Que horror! 

I hurriedly looked for an alternative and the only thing I could find was my K-Palette 1-day Tattoo Eyeliner. Good thing I have a brown one. I wouldn't have been able to pull it off if I had one in black (hello ... Bella Flores???). Anyway, it was probably out of extreme desperation that I was able to "draw" my eyebrows successfully. Look!

I can't believe I used liquid liner to achieve this! The thing is, I've tried doing it around twice since this first time and I can't seem to get it right. Hahaha!

The good part is, I know it CAN be done.

I can't stop staring at this photo. My eyebrows never looked better. 

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Lugang Cafe on Christmas Eve

There was a tropical depression ... yup, there was. I woke up on the morning of Christmas Eve feeling heavy and sad. I was both looking forward and dreading dinner and mass that evening. But I don't think I did so badly. I cried all I could during the day and by the time we were all seated at the dinner table, I was fine!

Mama didn't want the usual so we had to look for another place to have dinner. It was our first time as a family to go to Lugang Cafe (in Greenhills). The place was rather packed that evening. Our reservation was at 6:30pm as the resto staff themselves suggested.

Not my photo :) 

Here's what the family chose to eat on that special evening

Steamed Pork and Shrimp Shiao Mai

Stir Fried Spinach with Garlic (a favorite everywhere we go)

Crispy Chicken - that dipping sauce is really something else!

I have no idea what they call this and I can't seem to find it in the menu :))

Steamed Scallop with Garlic and Vermicelli - love love love!

Steamed Lapu Lapu (price varies depending on weight)

Dong Bo Pork Belly

which came with these

Steamed Buns or Cua Pao

Not in photo are the Tofu with Preserved Egg and Crab and Corn Soup

What was for dessert?

Sago Pudding with Fresh Mango

I really really wanted to try one of their shaved desserts but the next table ordered one ahead of us, so I knew how big it would be. My already so filled to the brim tummy would not have been able to handle the size of it.

Hallerrrrrr right???
Not my photo but this is the Shaved Black Sesame and something something, which I think is a popular  choice amongst customers because I noticed that several tables had it. I hope I'll have enough room for this or any of their other shaved desserts next visit. They say one has to try it.

I'm sure my Dad would have loved the place. He was never one to settle for so-so food, especially when it's Chinese. No one said it out loud but all this good food made us miss him even more.

Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas. Now it's time to count down to the new year!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Christmas Without Dad

It'll be our first ever Christmas without Dad this year. 

For weeks since this fact began to sink in, I've been dreading this day. Not because it's totally lost its value (I still get excited every time my kids, especially Sabine, talk about receiving Santa's gifts this year), but because I'm at a loss about how to celebrate my favorite time of the year without one of my favorite people around. 

I was afraid of being judged at first, but I went ahead with not putting up a tree this year. The most I did was to put up our outdoor lights and our parol (Christmas lantern) and that's about it. My kids didn't question, they understand that this year has been tough on all of us. I promised them it will not be the same next year. I know because I believe time heals ... maybe not completely, but it does, in installments.

I'm not going to deny it. I don't know what it's going to feel like on Christmas Eve. I'm starting to feel anxious about it. Dinner and then mass without Daddy? I'm not sure what that's going to be like. 

Our family has decided to skip doing it the same way we did all these years on Christmas Eve. We can't  go back to that all-familiar place where we've been spending the night before Christmas with Dad. No, we don't intend to forget how much fun it's always been. It's just too painful still. As the years go by, I'm hoping the pain of missing him will diminish. This year though, my family will have to do things the way we feel is best for all of us. 

We're not the only ones, I know. One of my best girlfriends lost her Dad 6 days before I lost mine. There are others still. I can only pray that each of our families makes it through somehow, despite the struggle of celebrating a truly joyous occasion with much sadness in our hearts.

The kids' Christmases will never be the same without you but I promise to keep your memory alive, especially on occasions such as this. 

And as this Christmas song goes ... 
But I can dream and in my dream, I'm Christmas-ing with you
I've just one wish on this Christmas Eve, I wish I were with you

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Thank God for Headware

I don't know why it took me months to discover them. If my friends hadn't given me one of the head scarves, I really wouldn't have known that Headware existed.

I've been wearing my wig a lot, thanks to a very generous, Super Friend who sent it (and another one) to me all the way from California. But seriously, there are times when I'm out in public and I'm so tempted to take it off. It is just so hot to wear in the kind of weather we're having. 

Yesterday, I decided to use one of the Christmas presents I've already received from friends. It's the most basic kind of Headware in a really pretty design.

I instantly fell in love the minute I put this on. Even my daughters told me I should only wear my wig/s when I really have to or on special occasions. This is really a lot lighter and more convenient to wear on a daily basis. 

Their tagline, "Keep Your Head Happy" is so appropriate. I wore this the whole day yesterday and not once felt bothered or burdened. It was so liberating!

If you go to Headware's official website, you'll find that there are so many ways to wear this basic style. This means, it's not something I need to give away when my hair grows back. I can keep it and use it as  a headband, a neck scarf, a face mask, or even as a bandeau!

Good thing I had a last minute errand to run before dinner. I went to Greenhills to have some things exchanged and walked over to Planet Sports in V-Mall to find maybe a couple more of these. 

I bought the first one in Planet Sports and then for some reason, I found myself inside The Travel Club (looking at suitcases, I don't know why!) and saw they carry Headware too. The tie-dye and solid gray ones are from there. 

According to their Facebook Page, these are made of 100% Polyester Microfibre. They're breathable and elastic. I'm already thinking of who I can give these to for Christmas. 

I'm hoping to find a really nice black and red one and then I guess I'm done. The basic style (depending on the design) costs as low as P290.00. Price will go up if you get their Limited Edition styles, but I still don't think they're too expensive, given the many ways you can use them. 

This isn't a paid post, btw. I'm just really so excited about this discovery. 

Now which one to use when I go to chemo cycle 3 today? Hmmm...

Sampling On-going

I was bummed when I missed out on Sample Room's first wave of samples. I waited and waited for them to be officially launched and then I had to step out of the house for errands. People grabbed and how! I think their website had issues for a while due to the volume of people availing, so in the end, I had nothing. Boo hoo hoo!

Luckily, I was able to catch the second wave just in time. It took me a while to decide but I finally went for this

Céleteque DermoScience Brightening Eye Tuck plus Dark Circles Lightener has Eyeseryl® Tetrapeptide Complex that effectively counters the formation of loose skin around the eyes by improving skin elasticity and fighting water accumulation, the 2 main drivers of puffiness around the eyes. It also significantly lightens the skin around the eyes for a brighter-free look, in just 4 weeks.
Full Size: 15 ml
Price: PHP 299
Sample Size: 1 pc. 15 ml (full size)

Yup, it's a full-sized sample! Wheeeee!

I chose this over the other Celeteque products in this batch because, I've been neglecting my eye area for the longest time when I really shouldn't. I'm a late sleeper but I wake up early for my kids. Lack of sleep is something that's not new to me. Even after my breast cancer diagnosis, I still can't get into the habit of getting a full 8-hour sleep. I don't have a nasty case of under eye circles but why wait? 

I've been using this for the past 2 days, I guess it's too early to tell if there really is any difference. Perhaps I'll give it another week before I review it. 

I just want to say that Sample Room's service is superb. I got this 24 hours after I sent them my payment for the shipping charge (via G-Cash). 

If you haven't registered yet, don't forget to do so. Everything is absolutely free and it's really easy to earn points. You pay for shipping only and that's that! 

Visit SampleRoomPh to know what I'm talking about :) 

Saturday, December 8, 2012

On Cloud 9

My eldest must still be floating. Just hours ago, she received her first ever medal as a member of her school's High School dance crew, Terpsichore. The team joined the annual Lactacyd Confidence ConfidAnce Finals this morning and took home the championship title --- for the 2nd time in a row.

Rewind to her Freshman year. She was already a member of the Pep Squad. She had been so from the time it was formed. But as early as two years ago, she already tried out for a spot in Terpsichore. This crew is really good, they've always been known in dance circles as a team to reckon with. So Anissa was heartbroken when she didn't get in. As a parent, your heart bleeds almost literally for your child when she/he is hurting. Mine did! But I had to give her the proper advice. I told her to keep trying until it happens. If it's meant, God will surely make it happen but not when SHE wants it. 

The following year, she tried again. And again, she didn't get in. WOW. I was beginning to question whether the Terpsichore was really for her. I slowly tried to convince her to think things over. That maybe staying in the Pep Squad was the thing to do. But ... you know what they always say. If God wants something to happen, He'll make it happen. In the summer of 2012, Anissa excitedly told me that she was invited to join the Terps' summer training. This was it! To cut the long story short, here we are today!

She tweeted this photo earlier and said : 
It's still so surreal. Thank you so much for giving me the chance to live my dream, Coach! 

I teared up because I suddenly remembered all those times she came home disappointed and crying and me, trying to fight the urge to cry with her and telling her to just wait for the right time. She did and and her patience and perseverance totally got her to where she is today. 

No longer just dreaming and hoping :) 

My kids may not be aware of it but whenever they're happy, I'm always several notches happier. 

I'm so proud of you, Anissa. May this be the first of many! 

To God Be All The Glory!

“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31)

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Snail Mail Surprise

It's the digital age. Everyone communicates using either a mobile phone or the internet. Although my MBAir, iPhone and I are inseparable, I'm still very traditional. 

In a meeting, I'd be armed with a memo jotter or a notebook and a pen instead of a laptop or an iPad for taking down notes. At home, I still prefer to write everything down. 

Here's my Cath Kidston-looking spiral notebook which I happily-snagged from Saizen recently. Those are my notes for our planned party to celebrate Sabine's 7th birthday hehe. Everything is in this notebook : my reminders, my to-do lists, things I want to take note of. You'll find none of these lists in my laptop or my iPhone. 

So it was a really pleasant surprise when this came in the mail today

I know a few who still do this yearly. Sadly, I'm not one of them. I really should get back into the habit of sending out handwritten notes and cards, especially during Christmas. After all, I have relatives who are still not on Facebook, Twitter or don't check their email inboxes everyday. 

It's also sad that our kids won't really take this habit up. Well, not all of them but surely most. 
This is the first card I've gotten this year though. So I doubt if I'll get any more to fill up a small space on a wall (I used to do that at work). It's a dying tradition waaaaahhh! 

But thanks to my Canada-based cousins for going the old and almost forgotten route to send us their holiday love! 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Kids Menu at Aria Cucina Italiana

Yes, this is the famous Italian restaurant in Boracay and one of my favorite places to eat on the island. They're in now in Manila, at Boni High Central in The Fort. Plus ... there's an ongoing contest to help introduce and promote their new Kids Menu.

Just follow these really simple steps to join: 
Take a picture of your child/children coloring their new Kid's Placements and send it to them. The best photo will be chosen and a Make Your Own Party for four will be given away as prize! Make sure to share your photo entry on their wall at to qualify.

As a Mom, I really appreciate it when restaurants go all the way and create a menu specially for kids. You don't have to wonder if a certain dish is kid-friendly (i.e. not spicy, no weird ingredients, etc) and that's a load off everytime you eat out, right?

The Kids Menu is simple and straightforward and has all the stuff a kid would want to eat. 
Kudos to Aria! Now I don't have to fly all the way to Boracay to have some of that authentic pizza.

Sincerity Chicken

It's the chicken that reminds me so much of my childhood. Yes, I tend to reminisce a lot these days ... about my Dad, about the years that have gone by so quickly. Sincerity Chicken is also my favorite chicken in the whole wide world! 

We discovered, thanks to a very close Uncle, that Sincerity is now in the Banawe area in QC, so much nearer and a lot more convenient to go to compared to Binondo! 

No thinking twice, no hesitation. We had lunch there that day we found ourselves in the area because of a delayed and important errand. Mom wanted to go with Dad's relatives who lived around the same vicinity. We hadn't seen them since the wake so it was a good time to catch up. 

Don't be confused because this branch is called Sincere Cafe and Restaurant. I wonder why they had to change the name? Anyway, I'm just so glad that the chicken tasted the same. SARAAAAP! As expected, I ate like there was no tomorrow. Everyone had thrown in the towel, while I waited for my 2nd order of the Chicharo with the shrimps (see pic) because the veggies were so crunchy and fresh! 

The best part? Their prices are still as friendly as ever. There were 10 of us and our total bill was Php 2,200. That was BEFORE my Mom and all my aunts and uncles took out their Senior Citizens Cards. Winner!!! Don't expect super-sized, a la TGIF servings though. Theirs are just right.

So to those of you who've always had to make the long and arduous drive to Chinatown, you no longer need to. Banawe may not be as accessible as other areas but it's definitely easier to go to than busy Binondo. And wait! I thought all this time that the San Juan branch closed down. I was wrong! They were just renovating and have re-opened! More happy news for me because we live around the area. Yay!!! 

The San Juan branch is called Wuxiang (see, a different name again?) and it's at 1230-A V. Ibanez Street, just off J. Abad Santos Street. 

Other really good dishes that Sincerity is known for : Oyster Cake, Duck Soup, Kikiam and Pata Tim.

Please don't tell me you've never tasted Sincerity Chicken! You've missed half your life so far. 

Prom Mom

Life didn't stop just because I was diagnosed with (breast) cancer. That's probably the worst part of getting sick, for some people. It's having to deal with the illness on top of all your other "things to do". In my case, I'm just so happy that I had to be confined just once and that was it. My chemo treatments are all out-patient, so except for the brief downtime, I always feel okay and go back to regular routines in no time. 

Anissa's 16 and a high school junior, hence, the title of this entry. She'll be having her prom in February and we are slowly busying ourselves with the preps. I signed up to be part of the PHCT (Parent-Homeroom Collaboration Team) this year, mainly because of the Prom. I've never been a Batch Parent Rep(resentative) before because work was already too much. I wanted all my free time to be for the family. This time though, I have no excuse not to be involved ... especially because the Prom is such an exciting milestone! 

The dress, the hair and make-up and oh ... the date! We still don't have a date up to now. That's largely due to the fact that Anissa is not your typical party-going teenager. Her world has been all about school and dance and all her dance friends. She's slightly panicking about not having one but is hopeful about it. Anyway, last resort could be any one of my friends' boys hee hee. Wish us luck! 

This is such a bittersweet time for a Mom like me. I'm totally excited for her to go and yet ... it just tells me how grown-up she's become! In a little over a year, she'll be 18, officially an adult! I'll cross that sad bridge when I get there, though.

In the meantime, back to preps and finding the right people to do the Prom photos and video/s because that's the specific committee I'm in! 

Hope you all have a safe Tuesday! 

P.S. My thoughts are with our brothers and sisters in Visayas and Mindanao, for their safety from super Typhoon Pablo. Lord, please take over. 

Monday, December 3, 2012

My Giveaway Winners (Old Navy Crib Shoes)

Finally done drawing the winners of this first ever venture haha! Thanks to my super helpful 6-year old, Sabine, who excitedly picked out the names. No, I didn't have to use Rafflecopter. But one day, when I'm getting 10 times more traffic, I will! :))

Here are the winners

JAMINA PADILLA is the winner of the crib shoes for boys

ARIANNE REGALA is the winner of the crib shoes for girls

Congratulations and thanks for joining! 

Please wait for my email :) 

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Happy Birthday, my dearest N!

I am celebrating you today, for all the wonderful things that you are. Thank you for taking care of me! This journey is better because I share it with you. 

"God bless you and keep you, 
God smile on you and gift you, 
God look you full in

 the face
and make you prosper."
(Numbers 6:24-26, MSG)

12 years ... 12 birthdays.  This one may be your most memorable one yet, with all the things that have happened this year and the challenges we've had to face together.  I am so thankful to have you with me, holding my hand every step of the way since Daddy died and the time I was diagnosed in August.  The burden is so much lighter because I have you here to share it with. 

God has been so good to us. He sees how good you've been to me. I can't wait for Him to reward you. When that day comes, I'll be the happiest because I know you truly deserve it.