Friday, October 24, 2014

Too Close to Home

Our teenage son recently joined The Royal Canadian Air Cadets.

He was reluctant at first but agreed to enroll. We thought it would be a great experience for him - he would learn many things and learn how to fly.

This program also builds confidence and leadership skills. It will also give him a sense of purpose and pride to serve his community.

As this week's stunning events unfolded in the nation's capital in Ottawa.

It struck a chord in the hearts of all Canadians.

A young soldier, who stood on honorary guard at the National War Memorial was shot from behind. This sacred monument represents honour, bravery and the ultimate sacrifice from Canadians who fought in past World Wars. In 2000, the Canadian Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was added to the memorial. Again, to symbolize the sacrifice of every Canadian who died for their country in conflicts around the world.

And yet, this soldier had fallen there.

Corporal Nathan Cirillo was a father, dog lover and who dreamed of becoming a full-time soldier.

He joined as a cadet when he was just 13 years old.

My son is 14.

Too close to home.

While the country mourns, and citizens gather around the National War Memorial to pay their respects.

We think of our veterans and those who serve in uniform to keep our country safe. We are proud and forever grateful for your service.

Our freedom shouldn't be taken for granted.

It should be cherished.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Thankful

It was the Thanksgiving long weekend.

We spent time with Mr. O's family on Saturday and celebrated with my side on Monday.

And even though my father-in-law and my mother are no longer with us.

We can still feel their presence.

This year, I hosted Thanksgiving Day for my family. I set the dinner table with Mom's beautiful crochet table cloth. I wanted her to be part of this special occasion.

If she was alive today, she would have hosted Thanksgiving, and prepared a feast for us to enjoy!

She loved cooking for her family.

And how we miss it!

There are favourite dishes I need to learn. We loved her Filipino cooking- pancit, lumpia and puto; blended with a traditional Canadian Thanksgiving meal of turkey, ham, and apple pie.

This year was simple- shepherd's pie, salad and turkey. And for dessert, fruit salad, brownies and pecan pie.

Not the usual spread my Mom would make but it's a start of something new.

I guess it's time that I carry the Thanksgiving tradition, I know Mom would be happy to see us all together.

Thanksgiving is all about family. Treasuring the time we have together.

So much to be thankful for.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

High School

It's official, my son is in high school!

A.R attends a French Immersion secondary school.

I'm so thankful he wears a school uniform too. No need to worry about his outfits every day!

And when I asked how his first day was; he replied, "It was okay."

A young man of few words.

His schedule is new and different from his elementary years. He now wakes up at six-thirty in the morning, showers and has breakfast. Then leaves by seven-thirty to catch his bus.

I was a little worried that he had to walk by himself to the bus stop.

I have to remind myself that he's fourteen years old and not a little boy!

Sigh.

Although, one of his teachers said there was still a gap between the grade eight and grade nine curriculum. I think he is adjusting well to high school life.

Geography, Religion, Math and French are his subjects for this semester.

Good luck, A.R! You survived your first month!

We hope you have a great year at your new school!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

TIFF 2014

The Toronto International Film Festival 2014 is almost over but what a line up of movies to watch.
There's a buzz in the air for movies such as Foxcatcher, The Judge, The Imitation Game and Wild.
And of course, my brother and I made it to some of the red-carpet events this year. 

Here's a panoramic view of Roy Thomson Hall. Many of the films premiered at this venue.




Denzel Washington brings star power at the gala presentation of The Equalizer.


Tina Fey is a crowd pleaser, she stars in This is Where I Leave You.


There were many celebrities to see - Al Pacino, Robert Downey Jr., Reese Witherspoon, Channing Tatum, Jessica Chastain and many more! The highlight for me was seeing Ethan Hawke and getting his autograph! He plays a drone pilot in the movie Good Kill.


It was another great year of TIFF! I can't wait until next year!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Family Camping Trip

This was our most memorable camping trip ever.

Even though we stayed for a few days at Pinery Provincial Park. It was time well spent at the beach. Enjoying the sunny weather, cool breeze and the choppy waves.


Sandy dunes, a beach that stretches 10 kilometres along the shores of Lake Huron and a beautiful park that offers a full range of activities - hiking, canoeing, swimming, fishing, biking, bird watching, Natural Heritage Education program and winter activities. There is so much to do here!


I've seen plenty of sunrises in my lifetime but not enough sunsets. National Geographic ranked Pinery as among "The Top Ten Best Sunsets" in the world! Now we know why!


Roasting marshmallows over a campfire, eating s'mores and gazing at the stars. This was a wonderful getaway for our family.

Pinery, you didn't disappoint.

We are definitely coming back!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Automatic

Once a meal is done, I'm left alone to clean up the mess.

Dirty dishes, empty ice cube trays, and a milk pitcher left on the table. Soiled napkins, and plastic wrappings that are crumpled and should be thrown in the garbage!

And when I have finally tidied the kitchen, and put away the cutlery, glasses and dishes for the day.

Why are there more plates, and cups in the sink the very next morning?

We didn't have breakfast yet!

It baffles me all the time.

Did the kids think that everything is done automatically?

That the dishes will be washed, ice cube trays will be full and milk bags will be replaced every single day?

Seriously?

Grrrr.

I think I'm going to turn my off button for a change.

I need to recharge my batteries.

And for the remaining days of summer, it will be set on manual for the boys.

Good luck!

Monday, July 21, 2014

The Cottage Life

Hello summer!

When my cousin invited us to the cottage for the weekend. I knew I couldn't refuse!

I have fond memories as a little girl of summers spent at the cottage, swimming, and playing with my cousins.

I packed all the essentials, prepared dinner and headed off to Balsam Lake.

We arrived in the late afternoon. My cousins were already there with their families. In the front yard, there was an intense game of volleyball. Other family members lingered in the backyard or near the dock. The younger kids were playing in the sand.


As soon as we unloaded our gear, J.P wanted to go in the lake.

He didn't waste any time. Would you?



J.P and his cousin took a ride in the peddle boat. And swam and frolicked in the water!

In the evening, we all gathered around the fire pit, and roasted marshmallows and ate s'mores! It was definitely a s'more fest. I think Mr. O had one too many!



Fishing, karaoke, jamming on the guitar, eating and hanging out in the kitchen with my aunt and cousins.

There's nothing more I'd rather do than spend
the weekend with my family and relatives.





Oh, the cottage life!


Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Forty Days

It's been forty days since my mom's passing.

And to tell you the truth, it hasn't been easy.

The day after her funeral, we celebrated A.R's Confirmation. A week later, it was S.E's third birthday and then J.P's birthday.

So many family celebrations - moments of joy and laughter without her.

I was teary-eyed when A.R walked down the aisle with his classmates for his grade eight graduation in June.

A day I reminded my mom; wishing she was there to see him graduate with honours.

And last Saturday, J.P had his first violin lesson.

My mom would have been so delighted and proud!

We're doing our best to go on without her.

Finding ways to cope.

The garden has been a place to reflect, and be serene.

I planted Peony in the front yard in her memory.



It will bloom every May-June.


Forty Days you left us to be with our Lord, Mom. We gathered with family - your brother and sister, relatives and close friends prayed and celebrated your life once more. We miss you and love you so much!

Monday, June 9, 2014

To Our Loving Mother

Dear Friends,

My heart is so heavy.

Just when I thought we could move on, we lost another loved one, so
dear and precious to us.

On Wednesday May 28, 2014, we said farewell to our beloved mother.

This one is so hard to bear. I'm inconsolable.

Within two months, my boys have lost a paternal grandfather, and now a maternal grandmother.

Unbelievable.

The last few weeks, we prayed, waited and hoped but it was her time to go.

I was with my dad, brother, aunt and cousin in her final hours. Keeping vigil, and ensuring she was comfortable and given medication whenever she was in pain.

On that May afternoon, she passed peacefully, surrounded by her loving family.

Mom was just seventy-one years old.

She was a wonderful mother, grandmother, sister, aunt and friend.

And she left us too soon.

It gives us great comfort to know she no longer suffers and she is now at peace.

Mom died on her terms, she was able to see and say goodbye to all her family, relatives and friends. She had no regrets, and no bitterness in her heart.

Her faith was strong, she was a devout Catholic. She always wanted us to pray for her.

All of those people who visited her were touched by her courage, strength and love. She enjoyed every moment with her family and friends especially with her granddaughter, S.E.

Before her passing, she made several requests. One of them was for white flowers. Her wish came true!



Mom, our lives will never be the same without you. Dad, L.A and I will miss you so. You will live in our hearts forever!


Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Mother's Day 2014

"Mom, you know what's awesome?"

"No. What?"

"You!"

J.P was the first to greet me with hugs and kisses.

What a sweet little boy!

And on Mother's Day, here's how my boys treated me.

A bouquet of spring flowers. How thoughtful!



And my favourite chicken souvlaki dinner.




They know their Mama well.

Why can't Mother's Day be every day?!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Welcome Home

There has been a new addition to the family.

My brother and sister-in-law became parents when they met their daughter in a Philippine orphanage.

As you can imagine, it has been an emotional journey for both of them.

After six long years, their dreams finally came true.

For a few days, they spent time at the orphanage, getting to know their little two year-old girl. They stayed in a guest house with her.

The transition wasn't easy. Confusion, and anxiety separation from her house parents set in. Their daughter would gaze outside the window, stare at her friends and look at the house she lived in all her life. She wouldn't eat all day, and would cry herself to sleep.

Mommy and daddy couldn't bear to see their daughter so hurt, torn and inconsolable.

A decision was made to leave the orphanage early.

More paper work; a farewell party and the trio were on their way to a new life!

One week in Manila, their two year-old transformed into a bubbly, happy girl.

S.E ate and slept more.

She enjoyed day trips, shopping, eating out and watching Disney's "Frozen".

More smiles, hugs and kisses.

And even took a selfie with her new family!

Then two weeks ago, my brother, sister-in-law and S.E arrived back to Canada.

They received a warm homecoming from her grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins.

What joy, love and happiness she has brought to all of us!

Welcome home!


(Click to read more on their story.)

Friday, April 18, 2014

Happiness Awaits

It has been a few weeks since Papa's passing.

And although, we still think of him and miss him dearly.

We continue to do the things he would have wanted us to do.

Every Saturday, after A.R's guitar lessons, we drop by the same bakery as we did before.

We have lunch at our favourite Chinese restaurant.

He's still very much in our thoughts, prayers and daily lives.

His portrait now sits on top of the piano.

I say a simple hello to start the day. As if he never left us.




And these were the flowers I took home after we said our final goodbye to him.

We enjoyed them for a week. It gave us some hope, beauty and comfort. A little consolation from all

the sorrow we felt.




And my African Violet is in bloom. Spring is here and happiness awaits around the corner!

A sign of better days to come.



Monday, March 31, 2014

Our Beloved Papa

On March 1st, we celebrated my father-in-law's seventy-fourth birthday.

Little did we know, it would be his last.

Three weeks later, he passed away suddenly.

And like so many people, I was in complete shock!

My mother-in-law called me earlier in the day, and told me he had a mild heart attack.

I told her we would visit him in the hospital after Mr. O comes home from work.

Unfortunately, we didn't get to see him before his last moments.

Mr.O, my mother-in-law, and my sister-in-law didn't even have the chance to say goodbye.

It was too late.

Last week, we had two days of visitation, the funeral and the internment on Thursday.

The boys said heartfelt speeches, and A.R played guitar for his grandfather.

It was so beautiful and touching. Not a dry eye in the room.

And there were prayers said all week. A family united in grief; sharing and reminiscing happy and wonderful memories of our beloved Papa.

Now, Mr. O has gone back to work and the kids have gone back to school,

Back to normal.

Life goes on, without Papa.

We will miss him so.

And he will be in our hearts forever.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Little Discoveries

March Break has come and gone.

Back to the same old routine.

Thank goodness!

It's been a long week with the boys, but here's what I discovered:

My boys no longer play with toys - no more Lego, cars and action figurines.

Their toy box is left untouched, collecting dust in their bedroom.

A.R is a teenager so I can understand but the younger one has lost interest.

Instead they play with their computer and laptop, using Skype to talk to their cousins and friends.

But for their lack of physical activity and creativity,  I made them go out in the snow storm last week, and asked the eldest to help me shovel the snow. And I told J.P to make a snowman while we cleared the sidewalk and driveway.

I was able to discern that when given a task, they readily accept and accomplish it!

Another thing I noticed, kids today have a language of their own.

Using words and phrases I never heard of!

Their banter is entertaining, often saying "I'm trolling with you!"

Huh?

Like, "YOLO!" (You only live once.)

"Mom! No, please."

Apparently, I'm no longer cool.

Sigh.

And finally, despite the physical changes and growth spurts.

I can truly see how both of them are happy, intelligent, funny and caring young boys.

I'm so lucky to have them in my life!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Sochi 2014

Have you been watching the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia?

Proudly waving your country's flag and cheering on your favourite athletes.

You can say I have Olympic fever.

So much so, I've forgotten to sign my son's school agenda - two days in a row!

I was amazed with Netherlands in long track speed skating, Norway in cross country skiing and all the women who competed in the first ever ski jump event in the Winter Olympics.

But in the last 24 hours, my heart has been racing, and pounding at each shot taken by the women's hockey team. And then the men's team in the semi-finals.

You see, Canada is hockey nation.

From coast to coast, we live, breathe and play our national sport with pride.

In skating rinks, on frozen lakes and in the streets. The sound of hockey sticks and pucks fill the air.

Hockey defines and unites us as a country.

It is who we are.

And now that the women have won gold.

We wait anxiously for the big game on Sunday.

We hope it's golden!

Sochi, it has been a wonderful games so far!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Listen to your Heart

Hello 2014!

Forget the winter blues!

The first week of January stirred a fire in me while the deep freeze fell upon us.

It made me think how I wanted to spend the new year. Just some thoughts and questions to keep those embers burning.

How can I make this year memorable than I did in 2013?

What do I want to accomplish? And do differently?

How can I grow and become a better person?

There are certain things I've discovered about my marriage, parenthood and about myself.

Truth is, I realized you can't just sit around and wait for things to happen.

You have to go out there, and get what you want!

What's stopping you?

Fear? Rejection? Low self-esteem?

Are you willing to take a chance? To take risks?

I've learned, it's all or nothing.

And it's only when you listen to your heart, you will find out who you truly are.