Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Travels with Faith: Re-fitting into the Mold

     Today, we usher in the season of Lent. It is 40 days to journey into ourselves as we journey with the Lord.

     The season begins with the priest's imposition of ashes on our foreheads to remind us all that as mere creatures, we should in all humility, acknowledge the fact that our lives as creatures on this earth is not forever.

Even now, says the LORD,
return to me with your whole heart,
with fasting, and weeping, and mourning;
Rend your hearts, not your garments,
and return to the LORD, your God.
For gracious and merciful is he,
slow to anger, rich in kindness,

     Far from being saintly, I pray for the grace to rediscover the "me" created as I was intended to be by God.  It is like I know I have pushed myself out of the mold, and as I try to squeeze back in, I find that I cannot fit into that mould intended only for me. I have gone away from my true self and need God now in my life to reshape me back into the soul that is pleasing to Him.

     This means coming to terms and facing the excesses I have come to love in this life that I have attached to myself but which are, in fact, not really a good fit for me. I find that I need to recognize those things that are not a good fit for my soul. (Yikes!)  

     As I hope to pray a bit more than what I have let my schedule permit, I know that as I should practice fasting and abstinence on meals, the harder part of fasting and abstaining on this journey would be to let go of the things I have let myself become attached to. The scary thing is that some of the things may have become so deeply ingrained in my system that I may not be able to recognize them or worse, I may make excuses for them. I pray to God that He may let the Holy Spirit guide me in recognizing the things I should let go of, maybe not all at once but at least, slowly, I may be able to give up something of significance this Lent.

Photo from:

A clean heart create for me, O God,
and a steadfast spirit renew within me.
Cast me not out from your presence,
and your Holy Spirit take not from me.
Give me back the joy of your salvation,
and a willing spirit sustain in me.
O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth shall proclaim your praise.
(Excerpt, Responsorial Psalm of the Mass, Ps. 51:12~14 & 17) 

     It looks like a very tall order to accomplish in just 40 days, but at the same time, I take comfort and place my hope in the reassuring invitation that the Lord has for me today...

In an acceptable time I heard you,
and on the day of salvation I helped you.
Behold, now is a very acceptable time;
behold, now is the day of salvation.
(Excerpt. Second Reading of the Mass, 2 Cor 6:2)

Father of Mercy, unworthily I come before You hoping that your mercy and kindness will merit  Your love to see me renewed and recreated in the person you have intended me to be, instead of the person I have created for myself.

Help me to trust in Your love fully that I may give myself to You so that you may mold me once again into something more beautiful and worthy of You.

Mother Mary, I ask for your love and prayers to present to God my petition through the merits of the Most Holy Wounds of your Son, Jesus Christ.


©CherWriter 2011.03.09

Monday, March 7, 2011

Travels with Faith: Have Faith... Will Travel

      There are a lot of cultural traits that make the Filipino distinct from other races in the world.

     Filipinos are family-oriented; hospitable; naturally creative and resourceful; we are known the world over for world-class individuals who have lit up the world stage in theater (Miss Saigon: Lea Salonga, Leo Valdez, Junix Inocian), music (Rock band Journey: Arnel Pineda;  Oprah's prodigy: Charice; Black Eyed Peas: Apl de Ap), sports (Billiards: Efren Reyes; Boxing: Manny Pacquiao).

     An undeniable love for the family has resulted in families being separated by time and distance as well-educated mothers, fathers, sisters, and brothers go out of the country to work in almost all parts of the globe as construction workers, house help, nurses, teachers, consultants in multi-national firms and practically, any job conceivable just so they can send money back home for their children's education and make a better life for themselves and their loved ones. Most Filipinos who work abroad bring with them not only their industriousness, but this self-sacrificing love. You could say that all they have in their backpacks when they leave, apart from a few clothes and pictures of their loved ones are the three theological virtues of FAITH, HOPE and LOVE. In this country where 85% of the population is Roman Catholic, faith of course, is something most Filipinos never live or leave home without.

What do you pack when you travel?

     My faith is also a source of security for me. It is a big part of my identity. Where I am living, there are so many reminders of my faith that it's easy to overlook the fact that I needn't exert any effort to practice it.  Even in places of work like the country's premier business districts, it is easy to practice my faith. There are churches or chapels nearby. If not, a priest says Mass during lunch break in certain offices; if not everyday, then during days when there are popular devotions like Wednesdays for Our Lady of Perpetual Help, or first Fridays for devotions to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Here, I am never far from a spiritual lifeline.

      About three weeks ago, I was chatting online with a cousin who has since migrated to Canada. In the course of our conversation, I happened to mention that it was the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes and had just attended Mass. Well, he thanked me for the reminder of the feast day and told me that he would be hearing Mass too later that day. Now with Ash Wednesday only two days away, I am still struck with that conversation I had with my cousin.

     I imagine that he and other Filipinos now living abroad have to exert the extra effort to keep and practice the faith that they were born with. Masses in churches abroad may only be one or two in a day on Sundays, unlike here that Masses are said every hour starting at 5:00am or 6:00am, with some churches having the last Sunday Masses from 8:00~9:00pm. In some countries, you really have to be careful about talking about or practicing your religious beliefs lest you want to be accused of violating someone else's religious freedom. And what about children's faith? How do you cultivate it in a society where talking about religion is almost taboo? For Roman Catholic parents abroad, how do you teach and preserve the beautiful and wonderful aspects of our faith to the new generation when there are very little reminders of the faith around them?

     Nowadays where a typical day is run by clocks, blackberries, meetings, meet-ups with friends, and deadlines, it's getting harder to MAKE THE TIME to slow down and pray. It is easy to forget days which, if they were in the country, would see them attending Mass or paying a visit to a church or chapel which may have been part of their routine once.  Thankfully, new technology has websites like EWTN and others on social networking sites where Catholic Filipinos abroad can reconnect with the faith, and more importantly, participate in the Sunday Mass when there are no churches near where they live or work.

     Admittedly, I still have a long way to go in growing in the faith. There is more to discover and re-discover on this journey in faith. After all, the three pillars of Lent are Prayer, Fasting (and Abstinence), and Alms giving :-) For Lent 2011, I hope to spend a little more time in prayer and share with you little reflections of faith here and on :-D . I hope you can accompany me on the journey. 

     Here's to wonderful life discoveries on a journey in the season of Lent!

©CherWriter 2011.03.07

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

My Friend, the Fry

Forever on your hips? Good!
That way, you'll always be happy! Hehehe!

     Some days you just can't have it all.

     Recently, I listed down some of my guilty pleasures. What an ideal and idyllic world this would be if on days where you find your pep drained by the demands of work, relief from these guilty pleasures would come instantaneously. *sigh!*

     One particular day this week just had me drained and in an unhappy mood at work.The day started with a challenge. Knowing that I had a deadline, I shut out all other requests and concerns to be able to get the work done. The moment that I was able to meet the set deadline, my mood at work became optimistic that this would be a good and relatively easy day from that time on.

     Just before lunch though, things got irritating to the point that I decided to get out of the office during lunch break to walk off the bad mood by the afternoon. Have you noticed that the trouble with walks like this one is that you walk "blind" while your sour mood persists? You do not really notice anything. Nothing is interesting. You walk aimlessly hoping your bad mood gets stomped into the pavement for good. 

     Sage advise: Do not take your wallet with you on these stomp out trips. In the past, I just bought things at random to soothe my bad mood, and ended up regretting my spending spree when reason came back after my bad mood left. 

     Thankfully on this trip, I remembered that I had to get a few things I needed for the office so I only spent good money on essentials. Since I hadn't really planned to be  out of the office during lunch, I did not know what to eat. I ditched my lunch in the office and was suddenly looking disinterestedly at crowds crammed into restaurants and fast food joints. At the time, I felt the last thing I needed was to be crammed into a booth with noisy, happy office workers on their lunch breaks. I walked away from the concentration of traffic and found myself in front of food carts with the attendants busily texting away.  There was a shawarma cart, a fish ball cart and a french fry cart. I just went up to the nearest food cart and ordered, not really caring that I ordered flavored french fries just so I could have lunch and go over the day's events in peace.

     I do not know if it is just me, but don't you think indulging in fried foods really do hit the spot and are a great aid to reverse an otherwise bad mood? (Psst... do not tell my cardiologist about this entry! ;)) So there I was, munching on deep fried carbo-loaded matchstick potatoes and as I prolonged the life of the small pack of fries, my concerns earlier in the day slowly left me. It has been a while since I had fries and somehow, even as I became more aware of the taste and feel of the oil in my mouth (not really off-putting, just slightly disturbing after trying really hard to keep away from fast food quick fixes), my world made a little more sense and I was a little more forgiving of what had transpired that morning.

     Is there some sort of chemical reaction that goes on between a vat of hot oil and a bunch of matchstick sized potatoes, or anything fried for that matter that humans simply cannot get? How can something touted as bad for your health relieve stress? Way cheaper than a massage or spa treatment (although I would not say no to a pampering session anytime!); and you know exactly what you are going to get, unlike a box of chocolates; lighter than a book; certainly flavorful like good comedy, how can you go wrong with french fries for company?

     For any of my loved ones who may be reading this, do not worry. I am not about to go back to being the fast food junkie that I once was. Goodness knows it's really tough to burn through all these calories that love me so much and just would not leave to show off a skinnier me. Hehehe.   :-)

     Some days you really can't have it all. But sometimes, you can too! Hey, lunch was affordable that day; I got things off my chest that would have probably gotten my BP reading into the high range; I got an hour's worth of peace and quiet, and I got back to my office with a smile on my face with people from the office totally clueless why.  Now I know why they ask you at the drive thru window: "Do you want fries with that?" All thanks to my friend, the fry.

©CherWriter 2011.03.02

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Sweets: The Irresistibly Sweet Blog Award

     As a newbie blogger, I have the whole blogosphere to learn from in maintaining my little blog. It is one of the things that perks up my day, and preserves my sense of self after a stressful day of earning my keep.

     More than personal fulfillment, knowing that there is an added dimension on how you can reconnect with and touch another person's life is wonderful and rewarding. Getting a validation like The Irresistibly Sweet Blog Award is just another version of receiving a wonderful gift of a guilt-free cream cheese frosting on the wonderful cupcake of life. So...

     1. Thank and link back to the person that gave this award:

  • MyMommyology, thank you for your wonderful insights on motherhood that I know your family and friends (and hope) Dada D, Sam, and Jamie will appreciate in the years to come. Here's to the first title on the bestseller list! :D

     2. Share four guilty pleasures that you have:

     Guilty Pleasure #1: Dark chocolate.    

     To me, dark chocolate is accessible, affordable, healthy, enjoyable "gold." The Aztecs would have indulged in this from the cacao plant in its purest form, and not even as milk chocolate. Ahh!!! They knew a good thing when they saw one. Even Renée Zellweger's character, Barbara Novak in the movie Down with Love has high praises for it too, although, it's chocolates in general. It does not hurt that in moderation, it's good for the heart too!   

     Guilty Pleasure #2: Massages.

     Pampered from head to foot, smelling clean and fresh afterward. The stress relieved from your tired, aching body. All because you love (your family) and would like to give the best of yourself to them. That one hour or so of having nothing in the world matter but you, connecting with yourself... and hot chocolate or tea afterward... ahh!!! Heaven!

     Guilty Pleasure #3: Reading Children's books with a cup of frozen yogurt in one hand. ;-)

     In the noise and bustle of everyday life, one of my escapes is to turn the pages of children's books. Mainly to remind me that life can be simple. There is a joy in simple things. There is clarity in simplicity. There is even strength and wisdom at times in meekness and humility. In fact, it starts out simple for everyone, for we all come into this world as children. I think kids are lucky because children live in the simplicity of a very chaotic and confusing world. Aaahhh... may we not lose this child-like view of the world as we go through this life as adults. 

     Guilty Pleasure #4: The Big Bang Theory and The Nanny.

     Even though the TV show The Nanny has stopped airing, I love the character's take on life.  Fran Fine's positive outlook turns trouble into opportunity. But my favorites are Niles the butler and C.C. Babcock's delicious, smackdown repartees. As for the Big Bang Theory, I love the way the show has turned the world on it's head by making smart people shine and stand out!
     3. Pass the award along to 6 other Sweet Bloggers:
     a. The Chef's Wife: Her blog on life in the land down under is what inspired me to start my own blog. She was a schoolmate in elementary and high school, and is mother to Kat, Zechy, Hannah and superwoman wife to Mr. K. 
     b. Catharsis: Transplanted from the Philippines, this mom shares her life lessons on her introspective blog.
     c.  Because Candy Says So: Candy's blog reflects her personality. It's all glitz and glam without being over the top. It's a look at a slice of life from Manila's fashion forward and stylish people.

     d. Market Manila has got to be one of the blogs I follow in my "must read list." It is a good reference for people who are just venturing into the wonderful world of the kitchen, and it is a haven for foodies and gourmands alike. It's insightful, simple and deliciously wicked in making you appreciate everything that goes into food more. Not to mention that MM's feeding program is always a double thumbs-up in my book.

     e.Not Just Minerals: This site is wonderful if I would just like to keep abreast with what's available for "girly-girl" days, thanks to a make-up loving SAHM. :-)

     f.  Dessert Comes First: Lori Baltazar's food blog is a sweet treat without the guilt. Plus, I love her photos. She's a no-nonsense writer that would make you look at desserts and food in a different wonderful way.

** I would like to share this award too with Soccermomof4boys who's witty, entertaining and insightful blog often leaves me in happy giggles.

©CherWriter 2011.02.23

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Mise en Place: Oven Toaster Pizzas

      Have you racked your brains over left-over food in the refrigerator? Have you ever had to hit a panic button over the sudden arrival of guests at your house with nothing ready or suitable to offer them for food? I have on a number of occasions, and thankfully, one of the things that have come out of the kitchen is my take on oven toaster pizzas.

     It's a good thing you can do a bunch of these ahead of time and stick these in the freezer, wrapped in freezer or just ordinary clean plastic bags and just pop them into the toaster for a quick food fix. :-)

What you will need:

Ready made tortilla or pizza dough
Left over spaghetti sauce, pizza sauce, or store bought pizza sauce
Grated cheese (mozzarella, cheddar, Parmesan, or whatever is in the pantry)
Oregano / Basil (dried or fresh) (Optional)
Your choice of toppings (leftover from breakfast, or again, whatever is the orphan in your ref or pantry). Here are some of my suggestions:
 -- Salami
 -- Spam
 -- Hotdogs
 -- Pepperoni
 -- Green / red bell peppers
 -- Pineapple tidbits
 -- Onions
 -- Sliced tomatoes
 -- Roast chicken

  1. Thaw tortillas if frozen.
  2. Place a little pizza sauce on the dough, working your way from the center outwards to near the edge of the tortilla.
  3. Add oregano / basil if using.
  4. Sprinkle cheese.
  5. Add toppings.
  6. Place in toaster oven and cook to preferred doneness.
  7. Enjoy with friends!
One of the three pizza variations I did this afternoon. Yum!

©CherWriter 2011.02.20

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Eco Echoes: Typhoon Ondoy Makes Muntinlupa See Green

     (Note: This entry is inspired by both MyMommyology and O.C.Mominmanila's recent entries. Thank you, ladies!)

     I think O.C.Mominmanila's blog post on MyMommyology's recycling efforts is very timely because there was a recent television news report saying that since January 18, 2011, Muntinlupa City has enforced City Ordinance No. 10-109.

     In essence, the ordinance puts a ban on the use of plastic bags and styrofoam materials as packaging for wet and dry goods in palengkes (wet markets), groceries, and other establishments. The news report further said that even a gigantic mall and fast food chains like McDonald's are changing the packaging for their Muntinlupa branches to comply with the ordinance (Why not in other areas in the country as well? It would be good for the environment, anyway, right?)

     I am proud that at least one city in Metro Manila has had the courage to propose a law like this a year after typhoon Ondoy (international name: Ketsana) devastated much of Metro Manila with the worst flooding record in history, and have it passed and implemented a year after. You can see photos of a clean-up project a few friends and I did right after the flooding  in Provident Village, Marikina here and here. (Mahalo, Mike E! :-) )

     I think Muntinlupa is only ranked 5th in terms of land area among the cities that make up the metropolitan region. Nonetheless, what it has done by way of this ordinance is a very laudable move in leaving  gigantic positive tracks towards eco-friendly living. It isn't easy to get people to follow and really live their lives thinking of how to save the planet and care for the environment because the use of plastics and styrofoam products have just been second nature to this generation at least.

     Sometimes, on the way to work, I see trashcans on the sidewalk clearly marked for the city's effort's for garbage segregation and sadly see people beside it, unmindful of the markings and just throwing their garbage into any trashcan
(Pet peeve alert! While it is pitiable practice, I would take that over inconsiderate people throwing their cigarette butts and candy wrappers on the sidewalks or plant boxes even if they are already standing beside trash cans.)

     Admittedly, the practice of bringing reusable bags to the malls still takes getting used to, and personally, I think I need to remember to do it more often. We also reuse plastic bags here at home. Though we do not sort the bags by color or type or designate a particular type of bag for a particular use, it feels good to give these plastic bags more than one use.

      Think about the humble bayong. It is literally the quintessential FILIPINO MARKET BASKET. I grew up seeing this used by my grandmas whenever they went to the market. It was also packed into the car on long trips out of town to carry mostly kitchen essentials. It is basically a sturdy, reusable woven mat traditionally made of buri palm strips. Some modern bayongs are made out of plastic strips instead of buri palm for recycling efforts.

Traditional Philippine bayong made of buri leaves


Modern bayong

Modern bayong detail, made of plastic
laminated food labels / packaging

      With the adaptation of the grab-and-go lifestyle, that symbol of rural, peasant living, the bayong, came into disuse. The prevalence of plastics and the "disposable lifestyle" then became the norm. Sadly, today we face the problems of lack of landfills and sanitation problems because our garbage has caught up and is threatening to overtake our lives. Please, God forbid, that another Typhoon Ondoy tragedy strikes the city, or any other part of the country, what with the crazy global weather nowadays.

     Though some may argue that it may be a case of too little, too late, I do not agree. I think every little bit helps. I hope the bigger cities like Quezon City would follow suit. Maybe we can overlook the small gripes people are likely to vent out once a program like this is implemented. Think about the money the city can generate in savings from better working drainage systems, less ecological waste, less flooding problems, less people displaced from their homes during typhoon season, better health for city residents, and all of this credited to whoever is the current city mayor. A crowning achievement in local government administration, all because a typhoon named Ondoy came with a fury and such a force to drive home a lesson in caring for the environment.

©CherWriter 2011.02.19

Monday, February 7, 2011

Writing Exercise No. 1: The Pizza Delivery Guy!

    WD Writing Prompt: Create a character that has an unusual phobia. Write a scene that causes that character to face his fear.

Pizza! Hot ! Fresh! Pizza!

   She hated being in this predicament. What she hated more was admitting this to herself. Rationalizing, she tried to be stern and chided herself for her behavior. Face her fear! Grab the bull by the horn! Go! Surely, every adult on this earth surely must have one type of fear or another, was it? In fact, she thought, it's probably one of those things that make people unique in their own way.

     She continued to stand there, immobile. Her hands twisting and clutching at her blouse so tight, that one of the buttons started to become loose. Her legs twisted; her feet, digging into the threadbare carpet.

     It was not going to be that hard, she told herself. But she could not help but be angry with her nanny for leaving her all alone. Why today of all days did she have to leave for town? Her long time nanny knew very well that she couldn’t cook. And while she knew that it was out of her nanny’s concern why she found herself in this predicament, she still couldn’t help but be angry.

     They were moving tomorrow so movers had taken away all the furniture in the house earlier. The paper plates and cups were on the kitchen table. All that was missing was the food they’d be having until tomorrow morning. If only her nanny delayed her departure until the man at the door got there, she would have done okay.

     Her stomach growled as the doorbell rang for the third time. With a great effort, she spoke tentatively from behind the door.

     “Who is it?” she asked.
     “Pizza delivery, ma’am! Please open the door.”
     “Could you find a way to slide the pizza through the door, please?”
     “You want me to do what, ma’am?”
     “Could you find a way to slide the pizza through the door without my having to open it?”
     “I don’t think that would work, ma’am. Your door is flush against the front step. Is your door busted, ma’am?”
     “No. Not really.”
     “Then just please open it, ma’am. I would appreciate it. I still have several deliveries to make. I pay for cold pizzas delivered, you know.”
     “Yes, but I am sorry. I can’t.”
     “What do you mean you can’t?”
     “I have this fear of opening doors.”

     Silence followed. “Well, I can understand that ma’am but I’m not about to pay for a pizza that you ordered and got delivered cold simply because you are afraid of opening the door. It’s easy. It won’t bite. Just gently put your hand on the handle, unlock it and turn it slowly.”

     She'd either starve or just open the door in this predicament. So with a deep breath and one eye closed, she turned the latch and held the cold doorknob with her left hand. Slowly, she turned the knob until the door opened and pulled.

     “Here’s your pizza. That’ll be $10.00.”
     Disbelieving what she just did, all she could do was faint.
     The End.

©CherWriter 2011.02.07

Saturday, February 5, 2011

MOVIE LIBRARY: Kit Kittredge: An American Girl

Movie poster for Kit Kittredge: An American Girl

     It's been months since I last saw a movie in the theater. Not because I've gotten tired of it, in fact, I like watching movies. It's just that at the end of the work day, my feet and brain's homing devices are locked on HOME.

     Today, being down with fever, I had the opportunity to scan what's on the TV. I did a double run through of the channels on cable and other than a rerun of National Geographic's Great Migrations series, nothing else interested me. Randomly, I punched out numbers on the remote control and saw credits for a just concluded HBO movie. So, I decided to check out the next feature film.

     In the opening credits, I thought it was just going to be another period movie, what with the 1930s~1940s feel and memorabilia being shown. I even hardly glanced at the screen, while trying to get comfortable and scheduling my next round of meds. What caught my eye though was that shot of an old camera propped against a wall. I thought... "Hmmm.... what an old camera... nice prop!"  Next, I heard the unmistakable tap of typewriter keys being punched. That sound made me nostalgic of the time I was still in school and was still using typewriters to do my reports. Ahhh... the rhythmic typewriter tap... Definitely music to my ears. That made me stop, sit up straight on the bed and pay attention. Little did I know that that camera and typewriter set me up for one of the best movies for kids that I have seen.

     Have you ever noticed that amount of cussing and cursing injected in movies nowadays? I feel dismayed by it. I feel as if the scriptwriter's only way out of writer's block of what to make the characters in a movie say is to pepper the dialogue with expletives and inappropriate language.

     In this movie, thankfully, in the opening scenes, I found the characters dressed up so conservatively and talking in complete, polite sentences charming. I knew then that I would have a reprieve from all the "macho-cursing" and "bully" language present in every other movie in Hollywood.

     The story of Kit Kittredge: An American Girl is about a 10-year old girl living during the Great Depression. She (Abigail Breslin) lives with her mother, Margaret (Julia Ormand) and father Jack (Chris O'Donnell). In her tree house in their backyard, she types up stories of the goings-on in the neighborhood in the hopes of becoming a reporter one day and seeing her stories printed in the Cincinnati Register newspaper.

     As Kit works on fulfilling her dreams, their friends and neighbors' dreams shatter as job losses and home foreclosures increase. Here is where viewers are given a sharp insight into what prejudice and social segregation does in society. I am thankful though that the story shows that while her mother's friends have drawn the line between the haves and have not's, Kit's family have extended a charitable hand and heart to those whose futures have suddenly become bleak.

     As the Depression continues, Kit's family is suddenly torn apart as her father leaves home to find work in Chicago. Left to fend for themselves while her father is away, Kit's mom moves them into the attic and then to the sewing room to accommodate boarders to make ends meet. They share their home with Mr. Berk, a magician (Stanly Tucci), Miss Dooley, a dance instructor (Jane Krakowski), and Miss Bond, a mobile library driver (Joan Cusack).

     Because of hard times, a series of crimes have been committed in the neighborhood, and even Kit's house was not spared. All of these were blamed on hobos who lived in a jungle near the Ohio river. Here she meets hobos Will (Max Thieriot) and Countee a.k.a. Constance (Willow Smith). When the muggings and robberies are pinned on Will, Kit refuses to believe it and sets out to investigate with her friends Stirling (Zach Mills) and Ruthie (Madison Davenport). 

     While I am not really going to divulge the exciting climax, I'll just tell you that what the kids uncover brings the characters in the movie into a new light. The movie also shines a light on true dignity... how it shines in times of adversity, and tells us that with determination, spunk, and keeping her father's words "Don't let it beat you" to heart, any obstacle is surmountable, and any dream can be fulfilled.

     For anyone out there still looking for value laden, wholesome movies, keep a copy of Kit Kittredge: An American Girl in your video library. It can't be beat. ;-)

Rating : 5 Popcorn Tubs 


©CherWriter 2011.02.05

Sunday, January 30, 2011

My Nanny Weekend

     My nephew and niece are at an age where they are practicing their independence. At ages eight and six respectively, they have just recently been introduced to the concept of SLEEPOVERS.

     I remember the time too, when my cousins and I were at their age, we too had regular sleepovers at each other's houses during summer vacation. We had one week to raid, pillage and conquer the chosen castle, uh, I mean camp out at the designated cousin's house before we were returned to our respective parents at my grandmother's house the following week.

     I think giving kids this type of experience, even at the tender ages of six and eight is a very good idea. It teaches kids how to plan ahead, make choices, get along with other people, adjust to living conditions and house rules that they are not accustomed to, take responsibility and take care and be respectful of their and other people's belongings.

     Although what I can only recall now is how much fun we had as kids in those sleepovers with my cousins, I did not realize how prepared their houses had to be for such an invasion of minimum five kids per week of summer vacation. It's only now when my mom and I babysit for my nephew and niece do I realize what a well-stocked pantry and a very creative "baby sitting activity list" can do for your and your little guests' sanity and relaxation.  :-)

     Doing the "learn to eat what is on your plate" sermon, though a very good lesson to teach kids while they are young is really not the best way to deal with picky eaters. And while a hotdog and fried chicken smörgåsbord would be the most painless way to get them to eat for the duration of their stay with you, I do not think it's very sensible from a nutritional and healthy-eating habit point of view. Though they would have their moments, these two are beginning to open up their palates to new taste experiences whenever they are here at home.

     So, my dilemma this week was how to keep these two kids occupied so I can finish chores around the house. Well, after breakfast and a little time for cartoons on the television, I called the two over and gave them each a pad of paper, and watercolor pencils. To keep the mess at the minimum, I just told them that those are colored pencils and the small brush in the kit was just put there by mistake... :-P

     Then, I told them that I for the next hour or so, they would be competing with each other in making a storybook, with a story that they each made up. I expected my niece, being younger, would protest as she is just beginning to spell and draw, but she gamely rose to the challenge like her brother! Good job, sweetie!

     I just gave them key words to jump start that hour of productive housework, uh, I mean creative fun. I touched on things that they loved to do and toys that they played with to make into a story, and within five minutes, I was told that that they already had their story ideas down pat. So, after laying down the ground rules (share the pencils, no fighting and poking each other in the eye with the pencils, and make the most beautiful storybook that you can), I left them on their own.

     I really did not know what to expect and was on the alert for someone giving up the task because of boredom or frustration. Surprisingly, these two kids kept at it until they finished their storybooks, and right on the hour at that!

     The kids came up with simple and imaginative stories that were fun to decipher and read. As to the winner, well I gave them both a prize for creativity, imagination, and best of all, peace and quiet co-existence for an hour all in one weekend! :-)


      Cheers everyone!

©CherWriter 2011.01.30

Friday, January 14, 2011


We can be sick, not only of the body, but also of the heart, the mind, and the spirit. By this prayer, we ask not only to be healed from our bodily ailments, but even from our ailments of the heart, the mind, and the spirit.


O, God our Creator and Father, You love us so much that You sent Your divine Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, to help us in all our needs, and above all, to save us. And so, to show His concern for us, He went about doing good, healing the sick, and even restoring lives to some. The disabled, the lepers, the paralytic, the blind, and many others — they were all restored to their normal health by the touch of His hand, by the word of His mouth.

O Jesus, our Divine Savior and Physician, touch us by Your hand, and let the healing power of Your love flow unto us. There is nothing impossible with You. You will it, and we are healed.

Heal me from my bodily ailments that can badly affect my performance in my daily activities and work. Give me the health and strength of body that I may be able to cope with my responsibilities in life effectively.

More importantly, dear Jesus, heal me from my sicknesses of heart, of mind, and of the spirit.

Heal me, dear Lord, from my pride and arrogance that make me feel superior over others, or even despise or treat them with contempt. Heal me from my cynicism that make me take spiritual things for granted, indifferent, and snobbish towards You and my neighbor. Heal me from my conceit and self-centeredness that make me see and exaggerate the good in me and the faults of others. Instead, give me true humility.

Heal me, dear Jesus, from my greed and selfishness that make me desire inordinately material things to the point of losing my taste for spiritual values, especially my love for You. Instead, give me the spirit of generosity.

Heal me from my lust and sensuality that make me desire inordinately illicit pleasures of the body and even abuse my human sexuality or exploit others for my own gratification. Instead, dear God, give me purity of body and soul. Help me be decent in thought, word, and deed.

Heal me from envy and jealousy, dear Master, that make me desire unreasonably the good that I see in others. Help me love them, instead, O Lord.

Heal me from my anger, my tendency to lose my temper even over little things, and in the process make my disposition irritable and irritating. Instead, dear God, make me patient and forbearing.

Heal me from my hatred, from my bitterness and resentment against those who may have offended me, from my desire to revenge or to be vindictive. Remove any grudges from my heart that can destroy my peace of mind and inner joy. Instead, dear Lord, make me charitable and loving to others.

Heal me from my laziness, from my inordinate desire for comfort and ease that make me forget or even neglect my responsibilities. Instead, dear Lord, make me diligent, conscientious, and zealous.

Heal me from my memories of unpleasant events, hostile persons, and evil places that have caused me embarrassment and shame, or marred my past life.

O Holy Spirit, the Divine Paraclete, make me experience the strengthening effect of Your grace. Drive away my fears and doubts, my anxieties and worries, my feelings of insecurity and frustration. Enlighten and guide me, strengthen and inspire me, as I go through my daily life committed to Your Will.

I ask all this through Christ our Lord, Amen


     I found this prayer 12 years ago in the chapel of a hospital, during the time Daddy was sick. It is a very beautiful prayer that I hope all of you would be able to draw strength and renewal from.

©CherWriter 2011.01.14

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The New Year's Resolution Solution

     Well, it's been a little over a week into the new year. For those of you who've made New Year's resolutions, have you been keeping them so far?

     Personally, I no longer make new year's resolutions. To me, they just look good on paper, and nothing else. It is burdensome too in those times that I attempted to fulfill one. I successfully and spectacularly fail rather than fulfill those on things I repeatedly put on the list anyway! Hehehe!!!

     So, to do away with feelings of guilt, panic, anxiety, and foot-in-mouth disease (which is a very stressful way to start the year), I have resolved to just start the year with a prayer like this:

You know O Lord, that I want this year rockin',
Please grant me the things that were not stuffed in my Christmas stocking.
Like a 26-inch waist, nipped and tucked in the right place,
And soft smooth skin, with nary a wrinkle on my face.

To white hairs that peek ever so slyly on my crown,
I wish O Lord, they remember that they looked better growing brown.
My thighs and arms, look Lord, they are all at an excess,
The charity to donate it to, lead me, for You know who needs it best.

A good job that provides well, and keep the bills at bay,
A job with no stress arriving every passing day,
These O Lord I deign please provide,
That my health be good, and I be kept sound of mind.

But seriously, Lord, here is the real reason I start this year in prayer,
Knowing I cannot exist or do anything alone outside your care...
Please have it in Your heart to listen to this little list of wishes,
That in the year, we see them come to pass, and be left laughing in happy stitches...

Good health and safe voyage each and everyday,
O Lord, grand my loved ones night and day.
A hand filled to excess with blessings and riches,
Help me give away to those whose homes are made in ditches.

Help me discover more of myself as you made me to be,
With the help of new friends, and those old true and trusted by me.
With each day, teach me love, and teach me true prayer,
To praise Thee, with all that I am, now and forever.

 A happy heart, mind and joyful soul,
Free of sickness, debt and thoughts of coal,
All these I ask to prosper in my hands,
That when You account for it, I give you excess, and not any lack.

O Lord, your blessing of another year has come,
For us to think of what we have and have not done.
For all the blessings that I have received,
Thank you for these and those to come indeed!

©CherWriter 2011.01.11


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