Wednesday, December 31, 2008

pamasko and pasalubong and regalo! oh my...

just an fyi - i have a new post up at filipina moms titled, pamasko and pasalubong and regalo! oh my.... about gifts, regifts, balikbayan boxes and filipino charities.

first things first, happy new year! manigong bagong taon sa inyo! (thank your lucky stars you can't hear me butcher that pronunciation...)

personally, i'll be spending the start of our new year caring for the sick and contagious at home. they caught colds on our recent california holiday - probably on our southwest flight back to chicago. during the six + hours in transit, inbetween drawing on a doodle pad for one child and dressing/undressing dolls for another, i actually managed to read this article in sw's spirit magazine about regifting by kimberly garza.

in the article, she recalls early memories of her mother regifting into a balikbayan box, "I got my introduction to regifting on my sixth birthday, at the hands of a true master. I eagerly ripped into a present from a classmate only to reveal an exact replica of the Dream Bride Barbie I already had. I scowled, but my mother gently placed Dream Bride Barbie back in the box. “Your cousin Eunice would like this very much,” she said. Then she turned and placed Barbie in a large cardboard box labeled “For Manila.”

sound familiar? my mom STILL does this... as does my stepsister and all of the other matriarchs of my family. i don't actually have any boxes, i just contribute to theirs... :) in addition to new "unnecessary" things that we received as gifts, we would also put our gently used things in as well. i used to think my mother was telling a stale joke saying that one could tell who our relations were in iligan because they would be wearing my old handmedowns. and then, i visited and saw for my own eyes that she wasn't kidding.

at one point, i remember complaining to my mom saying, that a balikbayan box wasn't "enough" that we could/should be doing more by donating money to charities in the philippines. but she replied that she didn't trust any organizations in the philippines, she wouldn't be able to tell if her money would actually reach any one in need or just a corrupt few. her sentiment was seconded by the other aunties and uncles i knew of her generation. unfortunately, her concerns and my father's firsthand stories of institutionalized bribery, fraud and exploitation scared me away from filipino based charities as well.

it wasn't until i went back to manila for my sister's wedding that the idea of donating to a filipino charity crossed my mind again. every so often i saw a commercial for children's hour on tv, "a fund-raising and grant-giving organization that taps individuals, employees, and corporations to donate at least one hour of their earnings once a year to fund projects committed to promote the welfare of our Filipino children". although i didn't commit to anything, i started to research other charities when i got home and found these:

gawad kalinga- translated in English means to “to give care”, and it is an alternative solution to the blatant problem of poverty not just in the Philippines but in the world. GK’s vision for the Philippines is a slum-free, squatter-free nation through a simple strategy of providing land for the landless, homes for the homeless, food for the hungry and as a result providing dignity and peace for every Filipino.

cu foundation - a non-profit, non-religious, volunteer-based charitable foundation which provides financial and educational assistance through scholarship to under-privileged children in Ballesteros, Cagayan. The Foundation further delivers requested educational resources and equipment directly to public-based Day Care centers, schools, colleges and libraries in the Philippines.

pinoy kids-envisions a stable and viable community that will uphold the rights, welfare and aspiration of filipino families especially the children towards authentic human development.

teresa charities- provide life-sustaining rice monthly to the elderly poor in Vietnam and Philippines working through a network of churches. Three dollars buys a month's supply.

children's shelter of cebu-Orphaned children in the Philippines need more than just shelter...we provide food, medicine, education and a loving home through three residences and a school.

operation christmas child-enables caring individuals, families, schools, churches, businesses, and other organisations to fill ordinary shoe boxes with small toys, school supplies, sweets, and other gifts for needy children around the world.

haribon foundation- a membership organization dedicated to the conservation of Philippine biodiversity. It aims to build a constituency for environmental issues that will call for prioritizing conservation actions on habitats and sites, based on solid scientific and socio-economic research. We are the pioneer environmental organization in the Philippines.

pearl s. buck foundation- has three distinct functions that operate as one with the common mission of continuing the legacy and dreams of Pearl S. Buck - her commitment to improving the quality of life and expanding opportunities for children and promoting an understanding of the values and attributes of other cultures, the injustice of prejudice, and the need for humanitarianism throughout the world. coincidentally, of the black eyed peas was sponsored by the foundation as a child.

peapod foundation- this is the black eyed peas foundation. it supports innovative programs for children and focuses attention on universal needs including music/artistic education, shelter/housing and healthcare. some of the donations go directly to charities in the philippines.

wikipedia also has a long list of charities in the philippines here.

honestly, even after all that reading, i was still having trouble getting over my handmedown biases. finally early in december, i ended up donating two shoeboxes to operation christmas child - one for a girl the same age as the paloma and another for a boy the same age as the porkchop. although samaritan's purse sends boxes to the philippines, i couldn't specifically request where our boxes would go. in a way, i felt like operation christmas child was the best of both worlds - a box of gifts coupled with a charity that also served children in the philippines.

i am disappointed in myself for not doing more, for not taking a larger leap of faith. but, i took an itty bitty teensy weensy baby step which is better than nothing i guess... and tomorrow, i'll have a whole 365 more days to take a few more.
...and by all means, please feel free to continue my education on any filipino charities you support/read/hear about in the comments!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

happy 3rd *coughbelatedcough* birthday porkchop!

i'm stuck in christmas cards' newsletter writer's block limbo, so all i have to offer is the standard birthday meme to commemorate the porkchop's birthday which was on sunday, december 7th:

1) Go to Wikipedia
2) In the search box, type your birth month and day but not the year.
3) List three events that happened on your birthday
4) List two important birthdays and one death
5) One holiday or observance (if any)

i'm going to throw caution to the wind and name three of each since he turned three. it's a stretch i know.... :)


1941 - World War II: Attack on Pearl Harbor - The Imperial Japanese Navy attacks the US Pacific Fleet and its defending Army Air Forces and Marine air forces at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. (coz no one ever gets it when i say, "a day that will live in infamy!")
1972 - Apollo 17, the last apollo moon mission is launched. (some people were born this year.)
2005 - Rigoberto Alpizar, a passenger on American Airlines Flight 924 who allegedly claimed to have a bomb, is shot and killed by a team of U.S. federal air marshals at Miami International Airport. (no idea this happened. i was under the influence of an epidural.)

birthdays: (define "important")

1910 - Louis Prima, American musician (d. 1978)
1949 - Tom Waits, American singer, composer, and actor
1966 - C. Thomas Howell, American actor

deaths: (this was all a stream of consciousness... de lesseps = realhousewives of nyc, graves = high school angst, scoggins = familiar childhood tv)

1894 - Ferdinand de Lesseps, French diplomat and entrepreneur (Suez Canal) (b. 1805)
1985 - Robert Graves, British author (b. 1895)
2004 - Jerry Scoggins, American singer (b. 1913)

holidays: (besides pearl harbor day)

Colombia - Día de las Velitas (Day of the Candles)
India - The Armed Forces Flag Day
International Civil Aviation Day

i woulda posted the links, but it's snack time and they're going to kill me if i don't get their veggie booty stat.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

on drawing pumpkins and circles....

i'm going to pretend that i haven't blogged since june... i suggest you join me... i MAY even explain later...

(like anyone is actually reading this...)

so, the paloma came home a few days ago with this drawing that she did in school. it's amazing to see how far she's come with drawing and coloring. she's actually following directions and using the "correct" colors for things like purple for grapes, red for apples, yellow for bananas, etc... although, when it's just the two of us, she's still coloring things all willy nilly - making them striped or polka dotted...

it was the pumpkin in the middle that reminded me of something that happened to me in grade school.

i don't remember how old i was but i had a teacher who had given us a similar project. my teacher was pretty gifted artistically. she made a cornucopia out of brown construction paper and tacked it to a large corkboard in our classroom. then, she gave each of us a fruit to make as an assignment. it was really just busy work, since i was given a precut, blank, pumpkin cut-out to trace, cut out and color in. all i had to do was trace onto orange construction paper, draw in the ribs of the pumpkin and color the stem... no tendrils, no vines, no seeds, no blossom end - just give the blank, pumpkin cut-out a little more depth.

well, my pumpkin looked pretty much like the paloma's above. i'd drawn the lines straight up and down NOT like the printed pumpkin underneath where the lines are convex and attach to the stem. admittedly, i was rushing because it was the end of the day and i wanted to get home, but i thought my pumpkin was fine.

my teacher did not. in fact, she was so disappointed, she refused to put my pumpkin up and told me that i had to sit in my seat until i made a pumpkin properly. well, it must have been eight or so rejected pumpkins later that she finally let me go home... after the janitor had cleaned our room... after everyone had finally grown tired of the monkey bars and the merry go round... i walked home absolutely weary and defeated by a stupid pumpkin drawing battle.

weeks earlier, the same teacher had me stay after school because i didn't color in one direction and within the lines. the janitor came and went that day too, as did my classmates' afterschool playtime.

i doubt my teacher called my home to tell my mom about keeping me afterschool. i'm not sure i ever told my mom. i was a latchkey kid and was usually home before she got off work. and i don't think my grandmother lived with us yet. you'd think i'd be over this, but in reality, i'm not.

a little while back, out of some inexplicable frustration, the thin man was trying to get the paloma to color in the lines. and i responded with a knee jerk reaction to defend her and her milestones... i was little emotional about it and i realized i was transported back to that empty classroom and that empty feeling. i didn't want her to feel that. eventually yes. but not yet. not now when she's 5.

the thing is this... (and this is where i clue you into my blogging disappearance) at the beginning of june, we met with the paloma's preschool teacher who out of the blue gave us a laundry list of things that she'd been doing that year. things that she thought were age inappropriate. she didn't say that she thought that the paloma needed to be evaluated. but the laundry list looked like a behavioral checklist for an evaluation of a child with learning disabilities. and then, she told us that the paloma cried at least ONCE a day, EVERY day that school year.

and this meeting, at the END of the school year, was the first time we were hearing about it. even though, we'd met with her at the middle of the year and i walked the paloma to school everyday. we were never told that she had cried for a whole year.

i was devastated. i felt like i was the worst mom on the planet. what kind of mom doesn't know that her child is crying in school every day?! what kind of teacher doesn't tell a student's parent that she's crying in school every day?! so, after i cried and criticized and stewed over it, i finally got my act together. i called a behavioral therapist to talk about the paloma and set up an appointment for the paloma to be evaluated by the city of chicago for any learning disabilites...

when we got to the testing site at the local library, i was shocked at how many people were already waiting and how tough it must be for parents of children with learning disorders. for the most part, the paloma (who is very active and talkative and bored easily) was very well behaved and patient. the other parents had children with obvious behavior issues and i really sympathized/empathized with them - especially for the parents of two or more. i was lucky that a generous friend of mine came with her child and read with the porkchop in the kids room while we waited and finally got tested. most of the parents had all their children together. that waiting room was another level of hell for some, i'm sure...

anyway, the paloma flew thru the testing with flying colors. the evaluator saw nothing out of the ordinary and said, "your daughter is not exhibiting anything that i can see. you've been here a few hours right? you've seen these children? she is not like them. maybe she's just not a montessori kid. maybe she's bored. my advice is take her out of that environment, enroll her in your local public school and see how it goes. public school is much more structured and if she does exhibit any issues they can catch it there."

so, i visited the local school and talked to the counselor there who reassured me the evaluator was correct that if there were any issues, they would see them and they would take care of her.

when the school year started, i met with the paloma's new teacher. a neighbor told me that she specialized in special education and was a favorite teacher for all of her kids who are older and "normal". i gave the paloma's new teacher the laundry list that her former teacher had given us. after she read it over, she called to tell me that everything the former teacher had noted/pointed out were behaviors she considered age appropriate. she reassured me that she'd keep an eye on the paloma but that she didn't think that we should worry.

well, it's been more than a few months now, and i finally feel like i can take a breath. at our first report card pick up, the paloma's teacher only had good things to report, she's doing well academically and has a few things to work out behaviorally, but nothing outside the norm... and before i left, she said, "if you haven't done it already. i want you to tear up that letter. it can only do you and the paloma harm. don't worry, she's fine." at home, the paloma's tantrums are fewer and infrequent. she's becoming more and more of a little grown up to which i almost always respond, "you don't have to grow up so fast. there's no race to win here."

so today, the paloma is drawing inside the lines but not drawing an anatomically correct pumpkin... we're aware of it and no one is keeping her afterschool because of it. and best of all, no more secret tears.

last but not least, i realized while i was away that blogging and the bloggers who i have met online and IRL mean more to me than i thought. in real life, when things start to go downhill, i respond by staying home, being quiet and internalizing stuff, dealing with issues by myself when i can... mostly because i don't want to be my friends' depressed and depressing friend.... i hate to be a lead ballon. so, when i stopped blogging, i realized it was because i didn't want to be a lead balloon online either... so, i think i've diagnosed myself as a fairweather blogger. i'll blog about drive-ins and cat barf and john lennon and parenting and being brown in a white world, but don't expect me to blog about depressing stuff when i'm depressed. 'cause i just can't do that to you. and i won't.


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