Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Christmas musings

"What is the best Christmas gift you received this year?" posted one member in a parenting e-group I belong to.

Hmmm... Well last Christmas I got cutie pajamas, John and Stasi Eldredge's Captivating, a Kenneth Cole keychain, a tie-dyed top and shorts set, and food items--all welcome gifts. :) I could have wished for a kiss and a hug from my big 10-year-old son but he has declared that he is already "almost a teenager" and therefore is way past the kiss-and-hug-parents stage. Poor me.

So, what are the best Christmas gifts of all? For me, they're the ones that last: my intact family, my supportive friends, my loving son (in spite of the No Kiss, No Hug rule now), the privilege to write, and an awesome God who loved me so much He sent His only son so I can know Him.

BOOK OF THE WEEK: After reading all the books in the Left Behind series, I knew I had to read Babylon Rising, the first in the new fiction series written by Left Behind author Tim LaHaye. Greg Dinallo is his co-author here. This is not really a Christmas read, but it's quite a pageturner, perfect for whiling the time away during the Christmas break. Follow Biblical archaeologist Professor Michael Murphy's exploits as he goes from an abandoned warehouse in North Carolina to the deserts of Samaria in search of centuries old artifacts.

VERSE OF THE WEEK: Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. Luke 2:11

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Christmas wish list

It's two Saturdays before Christmas and I'm not done yet with my Christmas shopping! That's why I'll be braving the human megatraffic at SM City North EDSA today at 10 a.m., about an hour away from now. It's also a three-day sale weekend. But our trusted driver Jamin is here, which means I don't have to drive and line up forever for parking space, and that makes shopping more exciting today.

While in front of my dresser mirror the other day, I glanced at the various bottles on my table. As of last count, I have six perfumes/colognes, of which three are still unopened for more than a year now. One is still wrapped in a fancy giftwrapper. I do appreciate these gifts and the people who gave them, but I'm not really a perfume person. I like light colognes better.

And that got me thinking, if I were to choose my own Christmas gifts, what would they be? And so here's my list.

1. Perfumes: They make me dizzy.
2. Stuffed toys: They just gather dust.
3. Horror/sci-fi books: I'm just not into them.
4. Jewelry: Nice to have, but for years now, I rarely wear anything beyond my stud earrings and watch. Rampant crime made me paranoid, I think. So, it's something I can live without.
5. Brand name wallets: I still have some unused brand name wallets, simply because I can't use them all at the same time. So I wait for the current one I'm using to get old or to get ripped, so I can use the next new one. I don't want to add a new one to the queue.

1. Clear books: Not something you'd expect, huh. But just recently, I had to go over my portfolio of published works (1989 to 2005) and there are so many articles not in clear books yet. I think I need at least 10 new ones to accommodate all.
2. Books, books, books: I again spotted Gifts from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh, which I've been wanting to read for a long time now. I'd also welcome books on art, Christian living, writing, personal finance, classic novels, fiction, etc. Oh that reminds me! I have to get The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis for Alec.
3. Food: Always welcome, whether home-baked or store-bought.
4. A spa gift certificate: I'd love a massage, a foot spa, a facial, etc.
5. Photo albums: In 2006, I hope to be able to put every photo in an album for easy viewing. Right now, all our photos for the past 2-3 years are in two boxes. I'm being realistic, so I've set a doable deadline for that project: Dec. 31, 2006.
6. A knockout sturdy chair: Away with these computer ergonomic chairs! I need a chair with a full backrest for my back problem.

WHAT I REALLY WISH FOR (I can dream, can't I?)
1. Free unleaded gas for life
2. A bedroom makeover
3. Jobs for the jobless
4. Help for all the sick who can't get treatment due to poverty
5. for people to realize that at the end of their lives, it's not fame, riches or good works that matter. It's all about your personal relationship with God.

BOOK OF THE WEEK: A little book with the title What to Do When You Don't Know What to Do by Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend caught my eye at National Bookstore a few days ago. What do you really do in such cases? "Draw closer [to God]! Love God in that situation," write the authors. Makes sense.

VERSE OF THE WEEK: Last Friday, I was asked to fill out a survey, slumbook-style, at school (more on that in another post one of these days). I was asked what my principle in life is. This came to mind: "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men." Colossians 3:23

Monday, December 05, 2005

My Tiya Pacita

"Alec! Alec!" My Tiya Pacita would call on my son as soon as she would step in our home. She would usually come once a week or once in two weeks to go to the mall with my mom, her younger sister. Always, she would bring little treats for my son, like chips or chocolates or candies.

Sometimes when we had some clothes that needed alteration, she would use my mom's sewing machine and cut the hem of pants, and sew on zippers that work to replace those that don't. She loved to sew, and we have curtains, pillowcases, and pajamas that show off her handiwork. Just last night, I complimented my mom on the new orange plaid duster she wore. She said my Tiya Pacita made it and gave it to her a couple of weeks ago.

Among all my maternal aunts, I was closest to Tiya Pacita. And more so when she became a born-again Christian. We would lend each other Christian books, talk about my mom and how we pray for her, and talk about her daughter Tess, my cousin. She is my Tiya Pacita's only daughter, and Tiya Pacita stood by her during those difficult times when her marriage crumbled.

Tiya Pacita was a loving, generous woman. She lived a simple life. She was not rich, yet she lived a rich and fulfilling life. I can see her smiling now, thanking God for a wonderful life. She went to heaven last week at the age of 79. And though she had to share a tomb with my lola at the cramped North Cemetery, I know she has a better home up there, where there is no more crying, no more sickness, no more pain. To God be the glory!

P.S. In this photo, that's Tiya Pacita, my cousin Imelda, and me

BOOK OF THE WEEK: Anyone who wants to be a good writer has to read On Writing Well by William Zinsser. First written in 1976, the book recently had its 25th anniversary edition. Although it tackles principles of writing creative non-fiction, it does so in a non-textbook-like way. Worth reading and rereading.

"I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." John 10:10

Monday, November 21, 2005

State of our economy

Please forgive me for not posting so often. I guess that's what happens when you're busy living life; you can't sit down to write about your life. :) Well I hope to turn a new leaf now and write more often here.

Just yesterday, we went to Crustasia Restaurant at The Power Plant Mall for a 3 p.m. lunch/snack--it was lunch for my sister and her family, and snacks for my mom, my son and me. Now crabs, fried rice, shrimps, and spring rolls don't exactly qualify as snack menu, but it was my sister's birthday after all. Food's great, but service was not so great, as they forgot my son's tofu. But that's ok, since we were so full anyway that there wasn't room anymore in our tummies. In fact, we skipped dinner last night.

Last Monday, I got to interview one of our country's bright economists, Dr. Cielito Habito of the Ateneo, for a story in a mag I write for. He was also former NEDA director-general and former socio-economic planning secretary during Ramos's time. And he explained in simple terms what we will more or less face next year: higher prices, not enough jobs, no wage increases--basically what we're experiencing now. And that calls for more belt tightening, he says.

Well yesterday was sale day at The Power Plant and the place was swarming with people, although, not quite Megamall on a 3-day sale. Still, there were so many people. And they were buying and buying at Fully Booked (20% off on cash purchases, 15% off on credit card buys), Bayo, Marks and Spencer, and even Lacoste was full! And that got me thinking: Are we really getting poorer as our economists say? Looks like life's a blast at The Power Plant yesterday. I bumped into whole families eating Coldstone ice cream (P150 per cup; buy one take one yesterday), saw men ogling the new Benzes on display and even taking them out for a test drive, women with shopping bags in tow.

Hard times? Maybe not here. But it's out there, on Agham Road in QC where we saw a little boy pulling his toy car (two wooden blocks placed on top of each other with four bottlecaps as wheels), on Mindanao Avenue where streetkids show you their dirty palms as they ask for change so they can eat...I could go on and on.

BOOK OF THE WEEK: My friend Cielo let me borrow her book Wild At Heart by John Eldredge. It's about "discovering the secret of a man's soul." There are three things a man needs: a battle to fight, an adventure to live, and a beauty to rescue. Too often, we women (moms/wives/friends) curtail that wild side in a man and so men turn out to be wimps. A great read! I'm just halfway through it but it's so amazing.

VERSE OF THE WEEK: Luke 12:22b-23;25-26: "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?"

Monday, May 30, 2005

Oh my aching back!

I've been quiet these past weeks--for almost two months now. I hurt my back. A week before Holy Week, the pain started on my lower back. I didn't mind it then. But when two weeks passed by and the pain was still there, and worse, it was getting hard for me to sit and stand (I was like an old lady holding my hip), I knew it was something different.

I went to see my sister's best friend, a physiatrist at St. Luke's. I was diagnosed to have sciatica. A disc on my back is pressing on the sciatic nerve, causing pain and tingling and numbness. I was put on meds and had to undergo 18 sessions of physical therapy. I praise God that He heard our prayers and surgery is no longer an option. I'm still on meds (and dazed!) but am hoping to be fully well soon.

One thing I learned: We should take care of our bodies. Go ahead, take a break. Rest and be quiet.

BOOK OF THE WEEK: This week I'm reading Rich Kid Smart Kid by Robert Kiyosaki. Basically he's just repeating what he has said in his previous books like Rich Dad Poor Dad, that working hard as an employee won't make anyone rich. It's quite practical though as he gives parents tips on how to teach their children these financial lessons from age nine onwards.

VERSE OF THE WEEK: Blessed is the man [whose]...delight is in the law of the Lord...He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; And whatever he does shall prosper. (Psalm 1:1-3)

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Notes on a Quiet Holy Thursday

Ok, I know, I know. It's been quite a while since I last made a post. February came in a blur as deadlines overwhelmed me. One thing I learned that time was not to take in more work than I should so I can keep the evenings and weekends to myself. :) That was also the time my son and I had a food poisoning incident from eating a slice of egg pie. That was tough. Ewww.

So I'm back and I hope to post something new here at least once a month, whether or not I have readers. hehe

In case you're wondering, this blog is called Quiet Stream because I imagine it to be a place where I can think my thoughts aloud. Sort of like Steve's Thinking Chair in Blue's Clues. It's also inspired by a verse from my favorite Psalm, Psalm 23:2-3: "He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul."

Today is Holy Thursday. I'm glad we'll just stay home this Holy Week and just...be quiet. My mom and sister are going to Tokyo tomorrow to be with my brother and my sister (going there from L.A. on the first week of April) so the rest of the family is staying put in Manila. Last year, Good Friday fell on my dad's birthday. We were in Tagaytay when my dad announced we'll be going to Matabungkay Beach and have lunch on a raft on his birthday. That was a different experience--having inihaw na bangus and manggang hilaw with bagoong on the raft with a table and roof while all around us the rest of Batangas--so it seems--swam.

BOOK OF THE WEEK: Voracious reader that I am, I always have a book with me. Right now I'm reading The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck. Quite interesting, as it gives one a peek into prerevolutionary China. I am struck by how industrious the farmer Wang Lung is, and his fortune is so Gulong Ng Palad-like: from poverty to riches, from hunger to excess. This novel won for Buck the Pulitzer Prize back in the '30s, and it made it into Oprah's list. Oprah seems to have a thing for depressing books, no?

VERSE OF THE WEEK: In this blog, I'll share Bible verses that became meaningful to me lately. This week, it's Proverbs 3:5-6: "Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight." Food for thought.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Quiet Day At Home

It's a hot afternoon as I write this. My nine-year-old son is working on his military base made of Lego blocks and toy soldiers on my dad's table just a few feet away from me. He's supposed to be in school, but he's down with colds and a nasty cough again. I am beginning to wonder why he has this colds-and-cough bit every month since November. I hope it is as he says--it's because he doesn't wash his hands every day in school, thus bringing all the germs home with him. Hope it's not because of anything worse than that.

Although I would like him to be in school now so I can work in peace on my writing, it feels good that he's home the whole day. When I came back from doing errands this morning (go to the bank, pay bills, etc.), he said, "Mom, I made you iced tea!" Aw, that's so sweet. Never mind if he poured the whole pouch of Lipton Iced Tea Mix in the pitcher when the package said only half a cup to a pitcher of water. :)

Earlier I extracted from him a promise that this will be his last absence for the school year. And he also promised to work on two pages in his cursive writing exercise book. Now he's beside me as I write, reading what I'm writing!

Ok, gotta go. He wants to make his own blog.