Sylvania (and Love) on My Mind

26 Sep

I had been dreaming of these for years, and it took a while to make these dreams happen. It seemed like Fate played a big hand in them, as who’d have ever thought I’d be able to go to two of my “bucket” places in one month? And yet, they did happen, thanks to my husband’s generosity and his penchant for surprises.

In June of this year, my husband brought me to London, where my first stop was this- the Sylvanian Families store (SSK) on Mountgrove Road in London. I did look funny, dancing a jig on the street, but how could any Sylvanian fan not dance for joy? Surrounded by all those wonderful little critters and a wall-to-wall assortment of Flair Sylvanian Families products, I wanted to stay forever. Honest! We went back to the store a second time a couple of days later, this time accompanied by family. I was thrilled to share this moment with them, though I think my nephews might have wondered if their aunt had a loose screw, heehee. (Hello, Gabby and Darren!) :-)

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Woohoo!

Less than two weeks later, I made another trip, this time nearer to home but no less exciting than London. This was not the first time I would set foot in Japan but it was my first visit to the Sylvanian Families Theme Park in Grinpa. *dances for joy- again* My aunt, cousin, and two-year-old nephew Tsumugu went with A♥ and me but I think I had more fun than all of them combined. I can’t put into the words the giddiness and excitement of this particular occasion but suffice to say that it was all I could talk about for days.

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Yay yay!

I remember these trips with a lot of fondness. They were extra special for me because I shared these wonderful moments with people I have not seen in many years. I love that when I think of SSK or Grinpa, I will always think of the people I left behind, people I still miss today. I pray that a reunion with them be possible in the future. In the meantime, I have these to hold on to.

Most of all, I love that my husband made all these possible for me and that he continues to help me fulfill my dreams each day. When I look at these pictures, I try to imagine myself at the other end of the camera. I imagine myself as A♥ and wonder if the happiness he gets by giving is compensated by the joy he sees through the lens. I hope he knows how grateful I am for everything he does to show his love every single day. And I hope he knows that even with all these wonderful, precious gifts, just waking up beside him every day is enough for me.

Kawaii: Not Just for the Young

10 Sep

kim 22You would think that an older adult would probably be one of the last persons alive to enjoy a Kawaii convention, but leave it up to THIS old person to actually LOVE it!

I was at the Kawaii in Manila 2 convention last Saturday, a first for me because I had only heard about this event last summer from friends. Months ago, my gaming friends and I had planned to go together that day. Nearer the date, however, scheduling became a problem for them and they could no longer attend the event. Lucky for me, I didn’t have to go alone because my husband generously volunteered to be my date! (Well, Nimes tagged along.)

So now you can imagine an old couple doing their best to fit in a crowd of beautiful young people, and although one would most likely snicker at the absurdity of this idea, it turns out that my husband and I felt quite at home among these young ones. Never mind that we were both dressed in uniform black in a sea of colors or that we were sporting unfashionable gray hair (him more than me, heehee), there was so much fun to be had in an event that promotes not only “cuteness” and beauty, but acceptance and positivity, as well.

We came in at exactly eleven, when the doors opened, and left almost two hours later. We would have stayed longer but we also had to do our parent chores for the day. We missed out on a lot of the fun stuff, like the workshops that came free with the purchase of a ticket, or the fashion show (I love those Himegyaru styles; alas, I am old!) , but we managed to get real life glimpses of what it meant to be “kawaii” in attitude and perception, which, in the end, is what really counts beyond fashion, fun, and fluff.

I have some pictures from the event, a mix of iPhone and Nikon J1 photos. These were taken early in the day, before the venue filled up considerably. I read in Kawaii in Manila’s community page that they were only expecting 500 people to come and were amazed that 1500 showed up to support the event. Makes you wish there was a Day 2, right? I hope you enjoy my photos. And maybe next year, you’d like to come along with me?

Attendees are met with these giant letters in front of Whitespace. Kawaii marks the spot!

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 Nimes is ready for some action and takes her place in center stage. :-)

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She can’t seem to stop raising her hands in glee, heehee. :-)

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Meanwhile, we go around for a look-see of the booths in the venue. Look at all the things one can see and buy! Cuteness of every kind!

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And those Totoro pouches are sooo adorable!

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More fun stuff to be had, all sorts of things to wear and don. :-)

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These are not only delightful but earth-friendly too. I had my eye on the Potchi pouch. :-)

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How about some sweets for your sweet?

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That’s me, rocking that Guy Fawkes mask! It’s my favorite photo of me from the convention. :-)

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And me again, with my friend Ingrid of Provenance DesignsandCrafts. Right then, I regretted not being able to stay longer for the clay workshop. Ingrid has those magical crafty fingers that can transform those lumps of color into art!

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I also looked into Japanese language classes, uhm, not for me, but for my son. There’s a manga (comic) drawing + language course being offered by the Kudan Institute of Japanese Language and Culture. He might want to explore this avenue after college.  It’s a great way to see more of the world.

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There was also an Art Exhibit showcasing works by different artists. Below are just a few of those that caught my fancy. These are some very talented young people, I must say. :-) If you’d like to see the rest, there’s an online exhibit and directory you could access, courtesy of Kawaii in Manila.

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Nimes loved best this piece of art from words by Ms. Francesca Mae Acpal.

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There’s a faux cherry blossom tree right in front of the venue and it really is pretty. Nimes just had to have her picture taken under it.

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My best discovery of the day was finding a Wendy Weekender in one of the booths. I was told that she belongs to one of the organizers. Nimes wanted a photo with her, and the person minding the booth kindly obliged. However, we didn’t bother waking up Wendy anymore. She must have been pretty tired (along with her momma) after all the things they did to make the convention a success. I just wished I could have met her owner in person. I haven’t met too many Blythe owners and not young ones at that. :-)

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This fabulous jeepney was parked right outside the venue hall. It was just screaming for a photograph!

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Before we left, I took one last photo of Nimes with the Kawaii PH standees. It was definitely a unique experience, one worth coming back for, in my opinion. While Kawaii in Manila was perfectly packaged to cater to the young, this middle-lifer enjoyed it as much as everyone else. Truth is, everyone needs sunshine in their lives, and Kawaii in Manila filled everyone who came with sunshine and joy, kawaii-style, of course.

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So will we see a Part Three next year? I’m crossing my fingers!  Here’s to next year, Kawaii in Manila!

Sanrio Surprises!

27 Aug

I haven’t blogged about Hello Kitty in a while but this batch of Sanrio imports was definitely something worth sharing: the Tokidoki x Hello Kitty Reunion Collection designed by Simone Legno. These items have limited availability locally and will not be restocked readily so if you want them, do get them before they run out!

tokidoki hkFrom left going clockwise: crossbody bag, shoulder tote bag, metal lunchbox, and backpack

(Not in picture but also available: a handbag)

The bags are made of durable woven nylon with lining and faux leather trim. Unlike their more expensive Tokidoki x HK collaboration counterparts which were made with genuine leather, these bags are meant for everyday use. Hardy, yet light on the pocket (and we all know collaborations usually cost a bit more than your usual Sanrio merchandise), these bags are perfect for  Kittyholics of all ages.tokidoki hk2

The crossbody bag retails for PhP2229.75 while the the shoulder tote goes for PhP3699.75. The handbag retails for PhP3349.75 (see picture on right, sorry for the lack of clarity).  Those who hanker for the good ol’ days of metal lunchboxes (think ’70s, teehee) may very well enjoy a bit of nostalgia with the embossed tin case for P1099.75. And if you’re thinking of hauling more than just the usual kikay kit, then a backpack may just be the one for you, going at PhP3299.75.

This collection is available at Gift Gate’s Sanrio Surprises at the 3rd Floor of SM Megamall Building A. Again, these items have limited availability so once they’re out, you might not see them again. Race you to Megamall then!

Healthy Cooking for Happy Kids: A Review

27 Aug

I owe my kumareng Leirs this review. I had given her a copy of this short piece after I had come back home from Japan (and before my Dad got sick), but with all the things that have happened since then, I had been unable to attend to my blog to post this. So Mareng Leira, this comes with a lot of love and appreciation, as also my apologies. Thank you for sharing the cookbook with me. And thank you to Josh for “signing” my copy.

healthy cookingOne of the things I learned last as a married woman was cooking. Until I had children and, by necessity, had to learn to feed my family, my culinary experience was limited to a few specialty dishes that came in handy for impressing the occasional family guest. As the kids grew up and demanded a heartier-and healthier- fare than Spam and rice, I learned to work on my kitchen skills mostly by way of television cooking shows (Alton Brown was one I could easily relate too, being a geek myself). Then too, a library of cookbooks, and, later, recipes drawn from the Internet helped add to my self-acquired knowledge. Cooking was always a joy, although it was also often a hit-and-miss experience.

If there’s one cook book I hope every parent would have in his/her library, it would be Healthy Cooking for Happy Kids by Katrina Ripoll and Lara Saunders. Having read it and used it as a guide for my menu planning these past couple of weeks, I am glad to say that it is one great resource for parents on the lookout for healthy but easy ways to feed their kids. As a mother to almost-grown men (one is 21, the other, 19), there is still much the book offers even to those like me who’ve been kitchen cooks for the last two decades. The recipes are remarkably simple to prepare and follow; most do not require extraordinary ingredients but ones readily available at your local market or supermarket. And because they are simple and fuss-free, they don’t strain the household budget.

I like that the recipes are organized into sections that feature the main ingredients, but makes special the categories of breakfast and merienda, which, incidentally, is a lot of help as Filipinos are huge on great breakfast fares and snacks. The Chicken and Beef & Pork sections come very handy in spicing up our rotating menu. The chapter on Vegetables is a little thin but then again, other vegetable dishes can be found sprinkled in other sections. My favorite section would have to be Sauces and Marinades because those can be used in more ways than one can imagine and on just about anything!

Healthy Cooking for Happy Kids inspires parents like me to think outside the box when it comes to feeding our kids. Eating healthy is always a choice, and it is best we remember that our children’s choices begin with the ones we make for them.

 

Daddy

30 Jul

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We laid Daddy to rest on Sunday, July 20, among verdant greens and marble tombs, beside his mother’s grave.

We had prepared for rain, but the forecast was wrong.  The sun shone on us and gave us our first glimpse of natural light in what seemed like ages.  For weeks, we were holed up in windowless rooms, shielded from the outside world and rooted to the same spot Daddy left us in when he had his stroke on the first of July. On that Sunday morning, as we breathed in the scent of freshly-mowed grass and wet, fertile soil, we raised our faces to the sky and imagined Daddy looking down on us.

Daddy passed away alone, in his own room at the nursing home where we had brought him Sunday the 13th. In the weeks we had been in the hospital, we kept a steady vigil around him, round the clock. We never left him alone. When one child would leave, another would come to take his/her place. My youngest sister Jasmine and I were his constant companions. We stayed whole days and alternating nights until Alphonse made it known he needed me home too.

We had decided among ourselves that Mommy should go home each night to sleep on their bed. The hard leatherette couch in the hospital room was too uncomfortable for her old bones, we thought. But, unused to being separated from Daddy, she stayed wide awake most nights and puttered around needlessly, looking so often at the now-empty spot where Daddy used to sleep. So Mommy kept night vigil with Jasmine in the second week and she had her first real taste of restful sleep with Daddy in the same room with her.

My siblings and I had prayed for complete healing but by the end of the first week, after Daddy suffered new bleeding in the brain, we knew that a functional recovery was no longer possible. Even as we mentally prepared ourselves for goodbyes, we kept hoping that he would still wake up. The man who defied the odds by living through seven strokes, the one who survived a thoracic aortic aneurysm that had ruptured days before surgery, surely, he was made of sterner stuff than most mortals? He would outlive us all, we said. We were desperate for hope.

All we wanted was for him to wake up. He didn’t even have to say a single word or move his limbs. We knew we were always prepared to take care of him.

I was the pragmatist. As painful as it was to crush dreams and drag everyone back to reality, I was the one who reminded my siblings that we were fighting a losing battle. Still, buoyed by Jeff’s indefatigable hope, Joee’s incessant prayer, Jasmine’s uncharacteristic optimism, and Kuya John’s comic encouragement, I started to hang on to that sliver of hope too.

With Daddy stable and no longer hooked to a ventilator, we started to plan around a life with a sleeping Daddy. We made arrangements for family visits, divided tasks, and wrote down lists of things to bring him. A Sacred Heart picture to hang in the wall of his temporary room. His favorite blanket. His music. A large refrigerator to hold all sorts of treats for his visitors. More sundries and medical supplies.

And then, all our hopes died late in the evening of July 15. Daddy’s nurses stepped out of the room to get his midnight meal ready and when they returned just minutes later, he was gone. Just like that.the long ride

That he died alone, without any of us around him, when he had clung to life so steadfastly in the weeks we were at the hospital, makes me feel like we have somehow failed him. And yet, a part of me would like to think that he chose to face death bravely on his own. That Daddy did us another kindness by sparing us of this moment rather than let us be witnesses to it.

Daddy always knew we could not let go.

In the early hours of Tuesday, July 16, amid heavy rain, we followed the ambulance that brought Daddy’s body to the funeral parlor. Daddy never knew that typhoon Rammasun heralded the first day of his new life in heaven, but it was so like him to do things like that. Daddy never did things in half measures. He always knew how to live with kindness and generosity. And he gave so much of himself to everyone he met that during his five-day wake, we were always surrounded by people who always had a kind word to say about him. He was everybody’s Daddy Pons.

I wish you could have seen them, Daddy. All those people there just for you. Then again, maybe you did, looking down on all of us from where you are now.

I love you, Daddy. I’ll see you again, I know, but I miss you still.

Wake Up, Daddy

3 Jul

After months of preparation, my parents moved in with us just four days ago so I could help care for my dad. Dad has gotten more frail since last year and caring for him has gotten harder. Mom, as his primary caregiver, was emotionally and physically overburdened. With my husband’s and siblings’ permission, we decided moving in my parents with us would be the wisest thing to do. And because I am at home almost every day, I would be in the best position to care for and serve them.

Since their arrival Sunday afternoon, Dad has been playful and happy, even gamely posing for a selfie with me. Although tired from the move and its disruptions to his routine, Dad was in good spirits. His appetite was markedly improved and he enjoyed being spoonfed by Alex when he got tired of holding his spoon (ahh, the perks of being a Lolo). On Monday night, we sat down for a family dinner and Dad and his namesake, Alphonse, shared watermelon slices for dessert. He watched Godfather, his all-time favorite movie, with my sister Jasmine before bedtime. When we kissed him good night Monday evening, we did not know that what awaited us in the morning was darkness again. This morning, Daddy is asleep still, two days post-op in the Neuro ICU, after suffering a massive bleed in his brain.

Please wake up, Daddy. Alex and Alphonse are waiting for you. We are all waiting for you. We want more family dinners with you and Mom. We want you home with us. We need you. We love you.

Wake up, Daddy. Please.

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Hello… Again!

26 Jun

If you’re wondering where I’ve been these last few weeks, well, I’ve been traveling with my husband.

Kittymama in LondonOne was a surprise trip that had me gobsmacked and chuffed to bits, the other was planned since last year, with tickets that were amazingly yasui (cheap). Still, they came so close to one another that we barely had time to shrug off jetlag before we were up and away again. In between those two trips, my husband and I had to attend to our duties at work (him) and at home (me), making sure the boys would be well-provided while we were gone. We rushed our errands, paid bills, did grocery shopping, and bought medicines and last-minute necessities to keep the household running smoothly.

We didn’t really encounter a major problem when we left the kids home, thanks to my sister’s babysitting expertise. However, she reported that after a few days, Alphonse started having nighttime issues. He would not turn in early most nights and would fight sleep to wait for us to come home. When I imagine him sitting in the garage all those nights, waiting for the gates to open to signal we were home, it still makes me Kittymama in Osakafeel horribly guilty that we could not bring him along. Alas, those sleep issues will haunt us for a while, I know, as we re-condition him to having us around the house again. Wish us luck!

I’ll have more stories when our lives get back on track. I have a bit more pictures to upload and resize from my camera and my phone. Till then, cheerio and arigatou gozaimasu!

 

 

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