coronaviruschronicles, motherhood, teaching

Teacher and Parent Duties

Today is packed with teacher and parent duties. In the morning, after I was done with a couple of articles (a new one and a revision of another), I attended a meeting where our principal updated us as to what The Ministry of Education plans for this school year. My co-second-grade teacher and I had to put together a new timetable that takes in consideration both synchronous and asynchronous classes.

Later on today, I have to attend a Zoom meeting for secondary school parents. There will be a discussion on Pfizer vaccination for students ages 12 to 17. I am looking forward to this, as my son has asthma. I have been waiting for a chance to get him vaccinated. He will have his own Zoom meeting – a karate session with his dojo since their instructor and fellow dojo members would not be allowed to meet face-to-face. Teacher and parent duties have to adjust to new setups that arose due to COVID-19.

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health, motherhood, personal

Mother

My mom will be travelling to the Philippines come Monday/Tuesday. I forgot if she was leaving Monday, Dominican or Philippine time. She will be arriving here just in time for Mother’s Day.  That is not her intention, however. She did not even plan on visiting this year because of health issues and responsibilities at work. Still, she is on the way home because she wanted to be with me when she heard about my Tarlov cysts. Whether I go through surgery or not, she will be here – that’s what she told me.

Even with her own scoliosis and congenital heart disease, she will be braving two to three days of travel alone. Dad has too many patients and medical students to accompany her. The usual route is Dominica-Puerto Rico-Miami-New York-L.A.-Manila. I don’t know if she opted for the European route this time around. I forgot to ask.

My mother and I have a weird relationship. We love each other terribly but when we fight, we sound like the best of enemies. Yet, we can count on each other. We can count on the other to forgive because our bond as mother and daughter is strong and has become stronger when I became a mother myself. As a mom now, I realize that I am slowly turning to a version of my mom. Though I look like my dad, my facial expressions are starting to match hers.

I am proud of her and what she is about to do for me by visiting despite her own health issues. I am proud that when I was a child, she never paid teachers anything just so I could get good grades. We did not donate refrigerators. We did not bribe teachers. She and my dad believe in me and in my brother – in our capabilities. My brother and I, in turn, also believe that our parents will do just about everything to ensure our safety, our health, and our development into good persons. This upcoming visit is one proof of that.

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personal, rant

A Relationship with Pain

In fifth grade, in the school lab where classmates were afraid to prick their fingers for an exercise that I now understand to be questionable, I pricked mine. Like young vampires hungry for a single drop, boys and girls flocked to get a donation. I was pleased in a strange way – strange because I was never the sort to really care if people wanted me to be part of their clique. If someone wanted to be my friend, then fine. In college, I had my share of several true friends. We were a mix of guys and girls, rich and poor, cheerful and jaded,  but we all had one thing in common: a love for the arts and computers. We were animation students.

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In high school though, when things were a little bit lonely, a prick of a finger can turn into art. Droplets of blood became a miniature painting of a rose. They asked if I was alright. I was fine, really. I discovered that physical pain is better – easier to endure, at least – than emotional pain.

As a mother giving birth, pain was glorious and necessary. It gave life to a wailing infant, alive and hungry for more about living. A shot of Vicodin was still a bonus, though.

As a mother, however, pain has become equal to fear. There is the fear of leaving somebody behind, someone precious and beautiful. Youth can make you embrace risks but experience teaches caution. Caution is boring but wise.

Life is a relationship with pain. We all have to go through not just surgeries and physical wounds but also heartbreaks and disappointments. We just have to understand when to endure pain and when to overcome it.

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health, personal, rant

Update: Tarlov Cysts

The good news is that I won’t be undergoing surgery any time soon. My nerves are not pinched significantly by my protruding discs and Tarlov cysts. The bad news is that the cysts do need to be monitored regularly. I am set to undergo another MRI in three months’ time to check if the cysts are growing. At 4 cm in diameter each, the cysts manage to be not so problematic, but things could change if they grow even an inch each.

If things go for the worse, I might undergo surgery. Surgery plus hospital accommodations and doctors’ fees will total to approximately 400,000 pesos. The money is a small fortune here in the Philippines. It will also take two weeks for one to recover from the spinal surgery. Also, there is that strong possibility of the most excruciating pain imaginable. We are, after all, taking about a spot where a bundle of nerves lies.

Right now, though, I am still feeling a little lucky. I am set for two weeks’ physical therapy to strengthen my spine and to hopefully correct the protruding discs. I have been prescribed more than three months’ worth of Lyrica, a strong nerve pain reliever. I am also taking care to avoid carbonated drinks that block the absorption of calcium. I am drinking milk twice daily to hopefully correct three decades’ worth of nutritional and lifestyle mistakes. By lifestyle, I don’t mean one that is full of vice because I do not drink, smoke or eat lots of fat. In fact, I choose the meat when the maid and I go grocery shopping. I go for lean meat, fish, and veggies. There are fruits all the time, too. Juices are abundant. Unfortunately, I often shy away from milk and water. Somehow, though, a generally healthy-living medical doctor’s daughter ended up with lots of health problems: tarlov cysts, degenerative scoliosis, protruding discs, asthma, kidney stones, mild fatty liver. My dad and uncle are medical doctors. My brother is a medical intern. I am the sick one.

Still, I have to keep on fighting. I have a young son who is relying on my survival. I pray that this stage of my life is only a reminder of my mortality – that I should take things slowly because I tend to work as if there is no tomorrow. I don’t want to be right – about that tomorrow I mean.

(Image of me as a nineteen year old working at my dad’s clinic as secretary. This was in Dominica before I went back to the Philippines for university.)

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motherhood, personal

Joreb Walks the Runway

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Last Saturday, October 20, Joreb joined the Smart Parenting Model Search 2012. It was the model search’s third year but it was our first time to join the contest. In 2010, when Joreb was a year old, I wanted to enter him in the said competition. Unfortunately, he went sick a few days before and during the actual date of the go-see. So, obviously we could not go. The following year, we couldn’t go either because I still had to attend Saturday MFA classes then. I definitely would not skip a class for a go-see. What kind of example will I be setting for Joreb if I did? Finally, this year, we found time for the go-see.

We didn’t expect that there would be a modelling ramp. During the model search’s two previous years, photographers only took photos of the kids. The kids didn’t have to walk the runway. So, I was a little nervous for Joreb. We didn’t practice anything at all because I don’t like forcing him into doing what he does not love, or at least like. I was afraid, however, that he would get scared of the ramp or would fall off. Thankfully, things went well even though he was a little uncertain at first. He gave the photographer his best smile and went walking on the ramp all by himself towards the judges. That’s awesome for a three year old first timer!

My husband and I decided to let Joreb join the model search because we want him to develop self-confidence. It was also a good opportunity for him to see and play with other kids aside from those he plays with on the condo’s 7th floor playground. If he manages to get a spot on the top six, we would be very happy. He would end up in the pages of Smart Parenting magazine. If not, it does not really matter because we had so much fun – so much that I fell sick right after going home. I am still sick with a cough and recovering from the flu. But, whatever. 🙂

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health, motherhood, personal

Nearsightedness: A Genetic Problem?

It has finally been officially diagnosed. I had long suspected that Joreb has myopia (nearsightedness) because he likes sitting on the chair closest to the television when watching his cartoons. I presented my suspicion to his pediatrician, who then referred us to an opthalmologist. The opthalmologist was a little hesitant to check him at first, but I told her that he knows his letters and numbers. Joreb was very cooperative, so the checkup went smoothly.

According to the doctor,  toddlers naturally don’t have 20/20 vision yet but it is still good to check if Joreb’s eyesight is right for his age. He should be at around +100 (100 grade for farsightedness), but his eyesight is already at -50 (50 grade for nearsightedness/-0.50 diopters). The doctor does not recommend eyeglasses yet, however, but Joreb has to come back in a year’s time. His eyesight has to be monitored properly.

Why does he have myopia? Well, he likes to “read” books and play games on his tablet. He enjoys watching television. Nearsightedness also has a genetic factor. Children who has one or both parents with the same problem will more likely develop it. My eyes are at -600 and -650. My husband’s eyes are at -125. I just hope that Joreb’s eyes will be closer to his dad’s level of nearsightedness and not to mine.

Next year, I will make sure to bring him for another eye checkup. Two of his playmates (ages 4 and 5) already wear glasses. Children nowadays are more exposed to devices that can cause all sorts of eye problems.

Here is a photo of Joreb after going home from his eye checkup:

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MFA, motherhood, personal, web content jobs

Life as a Home-based Writer

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I never thought I’d end up working at home. I used to work as a college instructor at Ateneo de Naga University, teaching Programming (ActionScript), Adobe Photoshop, Presentation Skills, Scriptwriting (for short animation), and other subjects related to my degree, which is Bachelors of Science in Digital Illustration and Animation. I graduated cum laude from the same university and thought that I would be serving the school for more years to come.

My family (me, my husband, my brother and the maid) moved to Manila in 2007 basically because my brother was about to start medical school at UST. My family is very close-knit. Something good came out of the move, anyway. My husband is now about to take his comprehensive exams for Masters in Marketing. He works as a manager for a major social and entertainment hub. I now have 18 units of Masters of Mathematics and am almost through with my MFA – and oh, I shouldn’t forget  the four days of law school. 😀

When I found out I was finally pregnant after a year of getting treated for infertility, I was eager to prove to people that I can still work at an office and brave the daily commute (I took a train and a bus to work) until the eighth month. Unfortunately, I was frequently sick. At only two months pregnant, I reluctantly resigned from my office job because my office mates were – and still are – such lovely people. I still stay in touch with some of them. My former manager even became one of my son’s godfathers.

After the sickness stopped, during the fifth month of my pregnancy, I applied to the same office as a home-based writer. Luckily, I was taken in by the company. I still work for them as a home-based web content writer, covering SEO articles, press releases, short news items, and more. I worked on other gigs at the same time.

I went back to working in an office setup on September 2011. I worked as a test creator and rater for mostly Korean test takers. Again, I was in a pleasant environment. My toddler, however, was acting out and was mad at me for working. So, I resigned but I still work part time for the said office, as a rater.

This year, I applied for a regular home-based job. I only needed to be online four hours a day from Mondays to Fridays. I write three blog posts daily for the company’s three websites. I write on entertainment, SEO and travel/festivals. So, I now work daily for two companies and have other part-time jobs while I am almost at the end of the MFA program at De la Salle University (now writing my thesis proposal and have started some essays for my nonfiction thesis).

Working at home is ideal for a mom and graduate student like me. In the mornings, I write for one company. In the afternoons, I am online and available for the other as I work on blog posts for its sites. At night, I get to work on my thesis.

Of course, I do have time for my toddler. I bathe him in the mornings and play with him, albeit a few minutes at a time, during the course of the day. We both spend the afternoons in the living room with the nanny, anyway. During bedtime, I read him three to eight story books, complete with gestures and varying voices. Fee Fi Fo Fum! He loves story time! 🙂

Not everything is perfect about being a home-based writer, though. There are no bonuses and benefits. So, I pay for my benefits as a voluntary contributor. People also think that I am an unemployed mom just waiting for my husband and my parents to hand me money each pay day. The moms in my condo building are either unemployed (with or without nannies) or completely engrossed in their jobs (doctors, office workers, etc). I feel out of place.

In school, it is the same thing. Most of the other MFA students are very young (22 to 26 years old), younger than my brother who is now a medical intern.

I try to make the most of being a home-based writer and see the best that I can get out of it. The flexibility of hours is amazing, of course. I can buy the weekly groceries on Wednesdays at 4 pm. I can go for a mani-pedi in the morning. I can bring my son to the doctor when the need arises. There is no need to go on a leave. The problem is I really am never on vacation. I am always on, almost 24/7. I say ‘almost’ because I do sleep. Sleep is not as refreshing, however, when your son’s toddler bed is right next to your bed and he sometimes pees a lot to wet the covers – at least that is the case lately what with him drinking too much milk and juice during the day (sometimes as much as 4 Big Mango Zestos, 3 large bottles of milk and more). 😀 But yes, at least I am with him. He is my priority, and that is why I am a home-based writer.

Next year, he starts kindergarten. By then, I hopefully would have my MFA degree. I will first get him accustomed to going to school and then I will check if I can get back to an office setup. I am considering jobs as college instructor, SEO writer, or translator (well, I do have to review Spanish). My son and I do have to learn how to be independent of each other. If things don’t work out as planned, there is always the flexible life of a home-based writer.

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health, personal, rant

Gym Membership and the Lazy Home Office Worker

I just had my gym membership account frozen for the third (?) time. I had not been working out properly for over a year, So, I am just paying monthly for a membership that I don’t really avail of. I just cannot do it when I am worrying about what time I will get home (even though the gym is located in the mall next to our condo building). There is just too much to do in terms of work and school, and it is getting hard to leave my toddler home. When I leave without him, he asks me “What are you doing? Where are you going?” I’d end up worrying about him whenever I am away.

The condo has a gym but it has only a couple of treadmills and one skiing machine. I have to wake up really early just to be able to use one of the treadmills. Even when I do, there are usually some men and women in their forties or fifties already using the gym before they go to work. I would end up using one of the bikes halfheartedly. But yeah, I just might do that tomorrow – wake up early and end up using the bike. Then, I will just do my crunches and weights at home. Ugh. If I do get up early and if my back does not hurt and if I don’t get tempted to work on an article due Monday. The reluctance is pretty strong, I know.

Also, tomorrow, at about ten in the morning, I have to bring Joreb to the optometrist for his first ever eye checkup.

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MFA, motherhood, personal, rant, web content jobs

The Return of the Prodigal Blogger

It has been a long time since I have written for myself. The last sort-of-blog that I wrote was a note on Facebook promising more updates –  that never came. This is not such a surprise given the fact that I work as a web content writer. Most of the energy that I put into writing is spent on writing for clients, who now own the right to everything that I have written for them. Don’t get me wrong: writing is still fun even when I am doing it for other people. I get to read stuff that I would not in a million years have read if I had to rely on my own personal preferences. I learn a lot of things every day. Sometimes, I would even talk about those things that I have written to family and friends, gushing about newly found knowledge. By talking about the things that I wrote, I get to relay them as myself. I am not a ghost writer then, but a story teller.

I am also an MFA student. I write some fiction when I find the time. I am still learning my literary style as I used to only love genre fiction, such as horror, science fiction, fantasy, and the like. I am expected to graduate next year, 2013. Hopefully, I passed all of my comprehensive exams so that I could move on to the next chapter – the almighty and scary thesis.

You probably think that life must be very busy for me – and you’ll be right about that, and yet that’s not even the full story. I am also a wife (of more than five years now) and a mother to a three-year old. This is why I embraced the home-based job setup. I want to be the mom that my little toddler can call to whenever he wants. Of course, there will come a time when I have to say bye to him every weekday morning when he starts kindergarten next year. For now though, we are enjoying each other’s company – a lot.

I hope that I will be able to fill my blog with lots of content in the coming days. Hopefully, someone will come, read, and want more. For what is content without a reader?

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