Monday, December 07, 2009

Although Not Built for Clebrations


Zaki and I both had big days within the last 72 hours, big as in there's more than 5 people within arms reach, had to dress up and we're right in the thick/think of the action. With clockwork precision, we're both down with flu right after. Happens every year.




I'd say, there are a lot of things we can improve on to make it a bigger celebration next year as long as family, friends and dearest ones keep coming. And wifey agrees to handle the bulk of the preparations, again :)

Till then, we can go back to the unexciting, keep-to-ourselves, childish-conversations'-days we are very much accustomed to. Amen.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Something You Can Never Say Enough Of ...

I should probably be creating a new version because that little girl has grown quite a lot already. One of these days ...

Thank you - The Pale Fountains


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Between the Idyllic and the Pragmatic

Lord knows I don't really know what those terms mean and I'd hardly use them during conversations especially with Zaki. Still, I do believe that one of the most enduring conflicts that dominate childhood (or at least from an adult perspective) is how to thread the line between the fantasy stuff and what actually happens.

Coincidentally, there's a brilliant piece about the movie "Where the Wild Things Are" that essentially illustrates this dilemma.


Adding to that is how ever-enduring is the magic of Sesame Street - 40th year (photos), that people of all ages had come to embrace despite what what the hypercritical may label as 'politically incorrect'.


At the end, the lessons may not be as apparent as we'd like to learn at that exact moment, whether at the end of the film or TV show, because truthfully, we can all just trust time to do that. And it never fails.

Love then sit back. Enjoy the ride.

Friday, October 23, 2009

A Day in the LIfe


I read the news today oh boy
About a girl who had me turned away
And though each day just seems to pass
She always makes me gasp
In silence, I would laugh
Now there she stands across the floor
Could something better be worth living for
And if it seems that hopes' beyond
I'd just close my eyes
Could go on but certain that no words could capture all these thoughts








Probably the lowest I've ever felt happened three years ago in October.

Now, each day is, truly, a blessing.




Thursday, October 15, 2009

Tau and Destructive Power of Love

Go ahead, Pacman! Enter politics. It would be better to have a brain that can be corrupted than remain the hero who in the future cannot even recall, why he is revered as such and at same time, wondering why he is still alive. Don't care whether you're doing it to help more people but by all means, realize that it's time to stop, no later.

Few of us would have the sense to recognize that we cheer brutality even if it's something that's happening right in front of our faces. Nowhere is it more apparent than in the field of boxing - which by all accounts remains to be the toughest sport there is. In a way, television has cushioned some of the violence that boxers endure while inside the ring because ask anyone who has watched ringside or has seen fighters spar that those punches thrown are by no means, just pitter-patter slaps.

I love boxing.

I admit, I have such high regard for boxers. Not only do they endure the most difficult discipline of training but even more, most do it for measly sums of money. It's as if it's a test of character, spirit and strength all rolled into one. Inside the ring, it's mana-a-mano. No weapons besides your hands and the skills developed inside the training gyms. It's a virtual mythology happening within your lifetime, of rising from ground up and conquering odds, conquering through all that life has thrown at you. Victory and recognition are fruits made sweetest by the unmatched physical pain boxers go through.

Yet, much as I am ecstatic to see my boxer pull through, the fact isn't lost on me that besides physical punishment, the losing boxer loses even some of his spirit.

But those are intangibles and waxing poetic about health won't move legislation nor blind sports passion. And until a concrete proof comes - that such contact sports do cause harm in a big way, can all of us really stop to consider the consequences of our actions or inactions.

I think that, finally, there's proof or at least I think research on Alzheimer's opened something. Malcolm Gladwell writes.

The stained tissue of Alzheimer’s patients typically shows the two trademarks of the disease—distinctive patterns of the proteins beta-amyloid and tau. Beta-amyloid is thought to lay the groundwork for dementia. Tau marks the critical second stage of the disease: it’s the protein that steadily builds up in brain cells, shutting them down and ultimately killing them. An immunostain of an Alzheimer’s patient looks, under the microscope, as if the tissue had been hit with a shotgun blast: the red and brown marks, corresponding to amyloid and tau, dot the entire surface. But this patient’s brain was different. There was damage only to specific surface regions of his brain, and the stains for amyloid came back negative. “This was all tau,” Ann McKee, who runs the hospital’s neuropathology laboratory, said. “There was not even a whiff of amyloid. And it was the most extraordinary damage. It was one of those cases that really took you aback.” The patient may have been in an Alzheimer’s facility, and may have looked and acted as if he had Alzheimer’s. But McKee realized that he had a different condition, called chronic traumatic encephalopathy (C.T.E.), which is a progressive neurological disorder found in people who have suffered some kind of brain trauma. C.T.E. has many of the same manifestations as Alzheimer’s: it begins with behavioral and personality changes, followed by disinhibition and irritability, before moving on to dementia. And C.T.E. appears later in life as well, because it takes a long time for the initial trauma to give rise to nerve-cell breakdown and death. But C.T.E. isn’t the result of an endogenous disease. It’s the result of injury. The patient, it turned out, had been a boxer in his youth. He had suffered from dementia for fifteen years because, decades earlier, he’d been hit too many times in the head.

Which leads me to wonder if this was the cause of the behavioral changes that happened to Billy Collins after that tragic fight which ultimately led to his death. It was easy to attribute his broken spirit to the beating he took and failure to live to his celebrated potential thereafter.

Yet, it seems that what we have here is actually a direct correlation between head traumas and drastic behavioral changes which manifests as alcohol abuse, unexplained headaches and strange, out-of-the-blue violent outbursts.

I'm not sure how this will change sports such as boxing and football but people should know what they're cheering inside that sports arena and face the facts. Boxers, promoters, sports officials and sponsors are not entirely to blame.

We could be just as guilty as they are.

Related:
Kevin Iole on HBO's Assault in the Ring

PS: Also addressing it to you, Zaki, so you may not get the idea that Daddy is blood-thirsty as you may think just because he is a big boxing fan. Because, more than boxing, I care about boxers (and the well-being of all humans) even more.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Hans 2009

He probably would be the 2nd unofficial family member after marrying our dearest Neng - exactly when, I could not remember at the moment.

He mostly kept to himself but always ready to to help with whatever chore with never a hint of dismay. Always with a ready smile, he seems a content with how life is most often, a struggle to find a steady wage. Yet, his biggest enemy remains to be his asthmatic condition. For years, it has been such a pain with the suddenness of attacks which made it more difficult for him to do what he can do best - to work in construction jobs.

Alejandro or Hans finally succumbed to asthma just past midnight today. Although we never had much contact the past few months, he is very much in our thoughts, his company expected whenever we get a chance to go North Metro for a visit.

Seems we won't get a chance to see him or talk with him again soon. But with the works he has done, in my old room, our house and even here in Las Pinas, I'm sure we will never forget him. A pity Zaki didn't get to play with you as much as she wanted.

Bye, Hans.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Unconditional


Like most first-time parents raising kid/s, the urge to get it right often leads to plenty of research and book expenses. We're we for the better for it? Or was it all about approval for our parenting methods as a result of our own childhood experiences. In any case, I feel helpless and confused. Worse, Zaki would be the one who suffers the most.

There must be a better way. I'm not looking for perfect! Thanks, Alfie Kohn!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Septem-whirl


You may not be able to remember this in a few year's time, Zaki but this was one week where we spent consecutive days going on daily trips even as the rains kept pouring. Sure, it was a Monday holiday (in honor of Mr. E. Manalo who passed away just a few days prior to that), but we never did get some rest. Starting with the weekend, we just got ourselves into trouble going to Alabang and ended up going back and settling on SM Southmall.

Monday was no different as we both went to the office to retrieve some stuff I needed to bring early Tuesday morning for the Y4IT event. And it did not end there as after that, we proceeded to go to Nasugbu - Calaca in Batangas at almost 12 in the evening hoping to get a glimpse of the supposed apparitions at the pilgrimage site. And how memorable it was for the surprises that greeted us there at almost 2 am of September 8.

The rains were relentless and the ground wet with mud. Still, what was more surprising were the number of people who were there! Talk about devotion in pursuit of things of the spirit.

It was a miracle that none of us got sick after that arduous trek that I even went straight to work without the benefit of sleep that almost lasted 37 hours. I was worried that we would be putting you in harm's way by letting you come with us but again, it wouldn't be the same going without you.

Then, of course came another special day - you're Tito Mike's and Tita Sharon's wedding. Nothing special if it were not for the fact that you'd be the flower boy, err, girl. It was pretty memorable topped off by the loss of my wallet containing not only IDs and a ATM payroll card.


Shall we do it again soon?

I certainly hope so and the sooner the better to make those pilgrimages. Otherwise, you may well be carrying dad and not the other way around. And if we can do some other things besides offering eggs for a better weather, then we'd be doing ourselves (and our laundry) a great favor.

Friday, August 21, 2009

CAH and it's weight in Gold

Controversy on the Caster Semenya case ... Debate will be either philosophical or scientific/medical standards. Debating sex ...

Brings to mind the past and quite possibly, what athletes who have CAH has in the future.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Parenting: When Quantity Trumps Quality

Ayelet Waldman on time with kids:
“Quality time doesn’t work with kids,” she says. “If kids had to decide between spending one hour a day with an attentive, loving mom, and 24 hours with a bitterly suicidal mom, they’ll pick the suicidal wretch every time. They want you 24/7.”


It is much easier to say that it was because of CAH that we quit our jobs to dedicate ourselves to your first 3 years of life. Yet, I think it was divine grace giving us the butt-kick to really pursue what we felt could be the most important task of our lives.

That is to spend as much time with you.

True - that my parenting skills are far from ideal and oftentimes, frustration and impatience turn me into a scary menace. Still, you have shown us how deeply you care for us by turning a blind eye instead and letting it all pass with quick wit and wacky gestures.

Time, indeed is love, actuated.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Endocrine Importance

Under threat?

There's a good post about EDC's (Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals) that highlight environmental threats. We don't know really if these chemicals are harmful, but the evidence is mounting.

Deformities, threats to immune system as well as hormone disturbances would be the ones worth keeping an eye on and so far investigations on frog deformities may shed more light on agricultural chemicals interacting with water supplies.

Keeping the endocrine system functioning at optimal level is more important than one might care. Trust us, living with Zaki and CAH made us realize that.

On another note, read about the relationship between the stress hormone, cortisol, hunches and how they may prove better than the brain in identifying threats.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Bit Hurried For A Long Movie

I'm not sure you're going to remember this after some time but with me and mum, you watched your first Harry Potter on the big screen a few days ago after almost a week of "Are you going with us or staying at home" discussions.

And so finally, we all went to watch Harry and the Half-Blood Prince amidst the backdrop of a dark, stormy weather, finding comfort inside the Mall of Asia not unlike our house, with buckets on the floor for a leaky roof and a bucket of popcorn in toe.

To say that it was horrible would be too much but it was too much calm before the storm of the next movie. It felt as if almost 3 hours were spent to drum up anticipation of the next film and most which are conversations and explanations for which a child, such as Zaki, isn't expected to appreciate.

Fortunately, she's as big as Potter fans as my wife and I are, so all things are easily forgiven.

It also felt good that we didn't pay to watch in IMAX.

We're now on our 5th Harry Potter movie hopefully for the 4th day in a row. And, yes, we adore Alfonso Cuaron's Azkaban.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Hey, Doofus!

First, pardon the language. Zaki's been picking up a lot of stuff especially on TV and owing to her genes, she's bound to be extra receptive to irreverent stuff. Much as I want to apologize, this dad can't help it. Innate punk.

But it doesn't mean I'm up to no good at all.

Failings and all, this is for you, Zaki.

I Believe in You from Jon Gordon on Vimeo.


Thursday, July 09, 2009

Pill-popper

Zaki started oral steroids since day 4 but it was only last night that she was able to take it without us having to dissolve it before giving it to her.

How'd we do it? Wrap it in chocolate.

Now, she is a certified pill-popper. Pics to come.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Nothing Worse than a Health Scare




Health maintenance and prevention are like cost-savings from company efficiencies that turn incoming cash flow into profits.

A week ago, Zaki started having slight fever but nothing Paracetamol didn't cool down. She also had been suffering from a minor case of colds even before that and based on past experiences, we simply brushed it aside as one of those normal 'sick' days she's having. Besides, she's still as strong as an ox, mind you.

With no other unusual signs associated with H-fever or any infection (even aH1N1), Zaki enjoyed a fever-free day last Saturday and was her usual whirling dervish self - dancing and singing to the songs we were playing at full volume, a regular weekend activity. It seems that everything's good. Boy, if only we knew what was coming!

By Sunday morning, I was holding Zaki in my arms, feverish and with uncontrollable chills, having vomited about 4 times already. Giving oral medicines was out of the question so I just had to make do with giving her a sponge bath to cool her down, something difficult to comprehend when holding someone who's like freezing to death. Fortunately, it worked.

All the while, wifey had been preparing things we need for confinement only to find out at the
hospital that there were no rooms available so we were forced to spend a whole morning inside the ER with other parent with their sick kids. With all the health threats inside the ER, staying in there is like attracting more problems so as soon as Zaki's condition stabilized, we signed a waiver that we're leaving. Lab results were inconclusive that Zaki wasn't even prescribed antibiotics but which I decided to give by myself anyway.

At home, it's obvious that Zaki was feeling a bit weak but still pretty normal if compared to other kids. She still has that good appetite for anything she can think of which we promptly give her. But by this time, we knew we had to be on guard for any warning signs.

That night, her temperature began to shoot up again that by midnight we were again busy preparing our things to go to any hospital the second time, albeit to a different one and hoping to find an available decent room. We were fortunate to find one in a general hospital not so far from our place. After the lab tests came in, there wasn't any doubt about an infection.

Despite the lack of any clinical signs of pulmonary congestion, except for colds and even confirmatory lab tests the previous morning, it turns out that Zaki was in serious condition.

The diagnosis: Pneumonia.

We spent 2 days at the hospital at the only room we can get, a shared one where there's no TV, which Zaki, as a regular hospital vacationer, noticed immediately. (Wifey and I were not complaining though, even if shared, it's quite big and adequately separated. No TV means less noise and besides, she's a remote-hog!)

We're now in the last few doses of antibiotics which we continued at home. We've tried not to fall too much behind with office work but coming from that kind of experience just puts a toll on you both physically and mentally. As much as I'd hate to admit, I'm throwing creativity for a while and just try to survive for the next few days. There's no time out from being a parent especially to one who has to take some medicines daily for her entire lifetime and exacerbating that condition with other health threats can just leave you feeling spent.

But then, I'm not one to mope and as a popular Pinoy saying goes, 'I've been worried most of my life that I can't worry further anymore.'

Special thanks to the hospital staff for the exemplary care given us round-the-clock (that robs you of continuous sleep :) and to family, friends and Twitter acquaintances who have kept Zaki in their prayers and also to a few who went out of their way to surprise us with a visit. We feel blessed. Amen.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Sick Day Quotes

Trouble with sick kids is that first sign that fever subsides, it's back to clowning around! It's in the jeans!

She has fever. My assessment is that it's not Swine Flu even as many are threatened these days. Fortunately, wifey is here, but it still will need a concerted effort, not just the necessary medicines to give the best possible care to little kid.

Weak as she is, you can't stop her from being silly.

"Dad, look. My cough sounds like fireworks! Awesome"

Asked on her preference of doctors, kid answers, "Dr. Banner (Hulk), Dr. Manhattan (Watchmen) and Dr. Connors (From Spidey). Why? "They don't have friends!"

Brain-fried.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Movies for Life

F/Poster Parent

Couple of things that happened Sunday/yesterday.

1. Was able to watch 2 movies at home on TV. If you have a kid and you have a TV set, you know this is rare. First movie we watched was Knowing and the second was Mulan. Funny but it seemed that those were good films about fatherhood and was trying to tell me something about the day. Watch and weep.

2. First time that Zaki greeted me Happy Father's Day! I'm not sure if she really gets it but she just came up to me while we were walking and greeted me with a hug. Sucker punched!

3. Went out early for groceries and terrible day to go to the malls. Call me grouché but I really am not into celebratory kind of moods created by commercialism.

4. Was kind of hard on Zaki for not getting her 'shapes' right but discovered that online kids' games sure are helpful especially those with vocals that ask questions. Besides, I was already 6 or 7 years old when I learned about those so I will have to remind myself to give her some slack .

5. I still have a lot to work on to be the best dad for Zaki. Hope it's never too late.

Not so dumb question from Zaki:
Why would someone like Anakin later turn bad and become Vader? Thinking that she won't get it if I spoke about greed, I answered: He wanted all the power for himself. While she thinks of power in superhero terms, I think about people's fundamental need for it as it relates to control over things external but never for that which is within.
We both repeated ourselves at least twice more and left it at that. Both perplexed about the statements we made.

Better if we just watch the movie ...

BTW, Zaki loves singing along to the song Little Wonders and we love listening to it, too...

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Beginner's Mind

Kid and her new kingdom

I had been wrestling with a project at work for almost 2 weeks now to the point of obsessing over it and not getting restful sleep - not that I had been getting any ever since Zaki has occupied almost half of the bed between mum and me. Or has it been ages even before that, probably.

Anyway, regarding the project, I had kept reading and referencing stuff and other materials every time I am in front of the computer which is something I'm proud to be quite adept at already. Yet offline, my brain still seems to function as if it were processing data on every possible outcome of the project - the answer to which is still hanging even as I write this piece. It is paralyzing, really and as a consequence, I am not able to fully appreciate time and life as a whole. It is easy to cry for a break but doing so is a different matter - especially when the reins are coming from inside. Mental, as we all would say.

Which has led me to again to tap into that internal resource for coping well which isn't as easy as pushing buttons but then events and surroundings have a peculiar way of offering help. Here goes:

1. It's back to school time for Zaki starting yesterday and how lovely it is to see school premises and bolted gates to keep kids from leaving (and parents from staying) again. New shoes, uniform and polished new smiles from kids who again embark on new adventures holding loads of books and unbelievably big luggages. So? They do have these different bags (Zaki's got Marvel Avengers :) yet none of the baggages. You see open hearts and open minds. Non-critical and in sync with positivity. There's more than a bit to that.

2. Twitter: A daily dose of wisdom.
Quit Often To Succeed In Life . Strange but once you read it, you'll be enlightened. 3. Comparative Religion. I call it as such because I do believe that different religions convey something similar in their teachings though I'm partial to Jesus and Buddha by way of upbringing and interest. And so I thought that I wasn't working as efficiently on the project to the point that it feels like walking with weights and being caught in a whirlpool at same time. I knew I had to employ a different tact to make it all work and give my best self to it. Then comes Beginner's Mind.

But what about Jesus, I silently pondered. Surely, He would have something to say about this. True enough, she was in front of me all along.

Excuse me while I go and work some more...

Monday, May 25, 2009

Questions To Brush Aside (for now)

Jesus.

I don't know how other parents manage to take a lot of their young kids to attend Sunday mass. For quite a period of time, I'd just be adding more to my sin count trying to subdue Zaki from being the hyper kid that she is that I thought it better to not just attend mass. Of course, the alternative of going ourselves wasn't too appealing either as I'd rather spend as much time with her.

Fortunately, it might be because she's bit older now that we've started having better time now at church. Though she'd still occasionally move up and down seats which distracts other people fearing she'd be getting herself into an accident, we've managed to calm her clowning down a bit without employing scare tactics.

Still, we're not completely freed of the concerns associated with attending mass. This time, Zaki is on a philosophical assault.

If Jesus was good and has a lot of power, why is He on the cross? How come he has enemies? Why didn't he fight back? He is a superhero, right?

On the side, but related:
Even as a baby, Zaki's been a huge 'perspirer' that at home, she'd be most likely wearing just undies running around and playing. As a result, we often have a difficult time whenever we're supposed to go out and she has to put a dress on.

One time, in exasperation, wifey says, "Zaki, you can't go out dressed in panty/briefs! Better put some clothes on, otherwise, Jesus will get mad at you!"

Sad to say, that in this argument, she reasoned, Jesus up on the cross, was on her side.

Indeed, He has a soft side for all kids. Amen.

Monday, May 11, 2009

The Mummy

Zaki,

Honestly, Mom's Day is just commerce. Probably better to 'spend' those regular days celebrating time you have with mum and show how much we appreciate her for what she has done and for being the person that she is. Besides, it's apparent that, more and more each day, you'd end up a carbon copy of her so be nice or the transformation will speed up ten-fold!

Yes, terrible pic that is but it does serve as a (painful) reminder of what had happened this week.

1. You're no boxer and despite professing that you would like to be a boxer someday, thanks to Pacquiao-Hatton, hematoma doesn't look great on the face.

2. Always be careful! No need to run amok all day because you'd never know when the floor would prefer something else than your foot. Plus, Dad isn't there all the time!

3. We nearly went for a VTR who saw potential in you for TV ads as a child actor (or villain, perhaps). Maybe, someday when they remake the Hulk, as a prequel.

One more thing, that violet thingy is to remind you about the lolas, too. So, let's both be good to our mums and turn a new leaf . Keep that chin up, pun intended!


Love,
Dad

Monday, April 20, 2009

No Kidding


Came across a post, no, a rant against having kids. I'm pretty sure my wife and I have felt the same way plenty of times the last four years, especially when we chose to be stay at home parents then. There were a lot of things we were not able to do (and truth is right up to today.) Personal space, as much as it is important, seems but an illusion already. The post, from Penelope, even provided references that bolster the case that 'kids not equal to happiness" but for a few personality types.

It's far from perfect, but .... guess, either were one of those few, Zaki.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Thursday, March 19, 2009

School's Over




It all went by so fast and now Zaki has just finished her first year of school. Although it wasn't smooth by any standards, her time at school has been really educational. Not only has she started developing quite an interest in alphabets, numbers and books in general but she definitely learned a lot about how to make friends and learning to play with other children. Much so with boys, if I may say so.

*Pics taken during last day of school

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Valentine's Weekend 2009

Cue in Prefab Sprout's Wild Horses and/or Horsing Around because the kid loves to ride 'em horses and carousel won't cut it anymore....

While Mum is all smiles because of a shopper's paradise just a 'kalesa' ride away.


Friday, January 09, 2009

Back to School for the New Year


Just a quick post that the holidays are apparently over and that Zaki is itching to go back to school but not itching to wake up early for it. Oh, well - bus driver and nanny duties, here we go again!