Monday, February 18, 2008

Another Peek

What a way to start a new week! First, I didn't have to wake up so early because the KiDS have no school today, to make up for our being in school last Saturday for Family Day. Second, after sleeping in the studio for the past few days, woke up today with DH in the house. And last but not least, this exciting message from Jenn that I had won A Peek Into Yesterday's Pillar of Strength contest. My layout is now resting comfortably in their home page. Part of the perks of winning aside from the $25 GC from their online store.

I entered one of my favorite layouts, I Know Her Heart, with a major revision. I included an accordion-style hidden journaling, written to my mother to comply with the requirement of the contest that I should indicate why that person is my pillar of strength.

Here is the hidden journaling. I got the idea of putting the journaling under the square quote from Marj's Dance with My Father LO.

Dearest Mommy, Manang Marissa tells me you were just 16 when this photo was taken. You looked so young, carefree and innocent. How I wish I had known you then. I know that raising me and my 7 siblings wasn't the easiest task. You faced many difficulties and challenges just to make sure that we had food on the table and we all had a good education. Truly, it's the miracle of your, and daddy's love that we all finished college. How you managed it a government employees' salaries, I still cannot fathom. I hope that with my own family of 3 children, I have even half of your strength and resilience. You taught me that with your family behind you, anything is possible. You remind me that indeed, only good will come from a parent's love and dedication. In my eyes, you are always beautiful. Love, Pinkee

Hope this week continues to be a good one. :-)

Random Acts of Kindness

I read somewhere that the week of February 11 was Random Acts of Kindness week. I hope I did my share of being kind as I went through my week, but then they wouldn't mean as much if I listed them down here.

But I'd like to share with you some acts of kindness that friends bestowed upon me last week, as random as they were unexpected, as a thank you to them.

To Manang Marissa, for giving me a gift subscription of Creating Keepsakes and Simple Scrapbooks magazines, to Beth, for my subscription of Scrapbooks, Etc. and Memory Makers. I finally received my first issues (except for Simple Scrapbooks) last week, courtesy of Beth who was mailing address in the U.S. and Maricar, who brought them home with her. Now at least I am only two months behind in my magazines compared to waiting months for back issues to appear at Book Sale.

Thanks to Donna for giving me some Dream Street papers, perfect for a boy page. And to Candy for the two pieces of Bo Bunny papers, but more than that the encouragement to join the Bo Bunny contest. I didn't have time to make an LO but I'd like to share that Candy won 2nd prize in that contest.

From Marj, a surprise package, "for no reason at all." I knew last year that she was giving me a bottle of Prima flowers (she had sent them to Donna last year) but I was quite surprised with the other items inside the bag. Thanks Marj, I can certainly use these because these are items I would never have thought of buying for myself.

From the RAK table at the Scrapbooks Exchange EB, which I crashed. (I am so sorry, I thought it was an MLA sales event.) Right after our Family Day, Candy picked me up from our house (I just had time to change my shirt) to bring me to Nette's house in Alabang. I was quite excited cause I had my eyes on some goodies from her store. Thanks to Timi for sharing her laces and ribbons and thanks to anyone who shared the stuff they couldn't use but I could certainly use.

And last but not least, thanks to Au and Nita, for the friendship and for the dinner at Kopi Tiam (even if I had to pay for food I hardly finished hehe), for caring well enough to take me out to dinner. Love you, guys. Sorry no picture cause DH had my camera.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Stray Cat

There are two things my kids, aged ten, eight and six, are obsessed with - pets and babies. They always get excited when they see their friends' younger sisters or brothers. And go berserk when they are around someone else's pet. Be it a cuddly puppy, twittering parakeets or clueless hamsters. These are things we do not have at home so they feel kind of deprived.

Our townhouse is not a good place to raise pets. There is not enough room for them to run around. There isn't even a patch of soil they could roll and get dirty on. I also fear that my kids would catch some disease from them. Like asthma from their fur. I know babies are a different matter entirely, and the only things contagious about them are their smiles and giggles, but then you can't just tell a baby - sit, roll, play dead!

But with three rambunctious grade-schoolers, no way was I going to have another baby. A pet seems more attractive by the minute. Though well-meaning friends tell me that raising dogs or cats is as costly as raising another child. But not to be deterred, I was sure it was only a matter of finding the right one. Is a pet that could take care of itself too much to ask?

About two years ago, a grey and white pusakal (pusang kalye) started coming into our garage. I didn't want to teach my children heartlessness by driving the poor thing away, but I did tell them not to pet it or feed it so as to discourage it from coming. Of course, my kids, ever pining for a pet, pusang gala or otherwise did just the opposite. They fed him bits and pieces of bread when no one was looking. My youngest daughter took to emptying her lunchbox on the garage floor for him. And pretty soon, not quite surprisingly, the stray cat has taken residence in our garage. Every night, without fail, it would come and stay. Always, he would leave in the morning to do what it is that stray cats do.

We named him Mao, no not after the great Chinese leader, but after those plaintive cries that he made. He didn’t meee-ooow. He just went “maa-aw, maa-aw.”

One day, he stopped coming. The days turned into a week, and still, no cat. The KiDS started missing him. They took to waiting by the gate and calling for him, hopeful that he would come. My husband and I believed he found a more hospitable garage - where the homeowners actually fed him real food.

I was working late one night when I heard him "maw-ing" in the garage. I went down and started scolding him, "O saan ka galing. Akala namin namatay ka na." He started maw-ing nonstop in answer, as if telling me a story. Then he limped towards me. And I was horrified to see him dragging his hind leg at a very awkward angle. His right leg dangled limply and uselessly behind him.

My husband theorized that he must have been run over by a tricycle and that he stayed in some ditch to heal before finally finding the way to our house. I was touched that out of the many houses in the village he chose to find haven in ours. With his broken leg, he couldn't go out and fend for himself anymore. He is fair game in the world of strays.

If I couldn’t drive him away before, the more I couldn’t turn him away now. So we took care of him and fed him. He hardly ever leaves the house now, except to relieve himself. (That’s the advantage of adopting a stray. He’s already potty-trained. The great big outside is his toilet.) When he hears our van arriving, he would drag himself from the street into our garage. He doesn’t run, he sorts of glides across the floor. The KiDS love him, imperfect though he is. He's provided enough distraction the kids have stopped asking for babies, thank God.

I do believe that cats communicate to their humans and to their fellow cats. Mao must have let out the feline equivalent of a village cry because pretty soon, other stray cats started spending time in our garage, rushing away only when they hear us coming. As we park our car in the garage, we would see gray cats, white cats, calicos, cats of all colors, leaping out of the way, squeezing their scraggly bodies under the gate. Maybe they are his barkada and they visit him. He certainly doesn’t seem to mind sharing his food with them. Maybe he's left word on the street, "Come, this is a happy place to live in. A good family to live with. Welcome, y'all."

Yes, indeed. I'd like to think that.

Late last year, there was one female cat who stayed with Mao more than the others. The KiDS took to calling him Barra. That’s my family name without the “I”, as Mao is my DH’s family name without the “I”. Sometimes, my KiDS are so smart they amaze even me. She got pregnant (Mao had to endure endless ribbing for his “prowess” because of that), but when she gave birth, none of her kittens survived. We looked for where she gave birth but couldn’t find it. It was raining nonstop then so we were worried about them. Eventually Barra brought home one kitten, but it has been so exposed to the elements it soon died.

Last week, Mao didn’t come home for a long time. My yaya reported that she saw blood outside in the street and we were worried something had happened to Mao. When he finally resurfaced, his face was swollen like something or someone hit him in the head. I took him to the vet and I was told that with his injuries (his mandible was broken and necrosis has set in), he was extremely dehydrated, and his age (the vet estimated him to be three years old), there was only a slim chance of survival even if we insisted on a surgery.

I had to make the difficult decision of putting him to sleep. The doctor said it was painless, but until the last minute, I saw Mao trying to escape from our grasp. He was a survivor to the last moment. I stayed with him the whole time as I didn’t want him to feel abandoned as he was in the early stages of his life.

Breaking the news to my KiDS was even more difficult, and soon all of us were crying. We all mourned Mao, even if he didn’t have pedigree, or even if he wasn’t the type of pet my KiDS could freely cuddle and hug. He was family.

In his collection of short stories, “Smoke and Mirrors”, Neil Gaiman writes of a stray cat which was adopted by a family. Each morning, his new human would find him badly wounded and he wondered what the cat has been up to, to sustain such injuries. One time, the injuries were so bad that the adoptive family didn’t let him out of the house until his wounds healed. During the time that he was locked in the basement, the owners of the house experienced setbacks. When the cat was let loose again, the family’s streak of bad luck ended, But still, each morning, they would find the cat wounded. So the owner decided to spy on his cat to find out what was going on. It tuned out that the cat was protecting the family against a recurring evil. Each night, evil would come visiting and each night, the cat would fight her, ending up wounded and battle-scarred. Each night the cat would lay his life on the line for his adoptive family. That left the his new human in a dilemma – should he keep the cat safe, or should he keep himself and his family safe?

I know that our cat is not that cat. He doesn’t battle lady (bad) luck from coming in our house. But he has surely brought compassion and happiness into our home. May his soul or spirit find peace in the great beyond.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

January Recap

Whew! Been very busy lately, but productive busy.

First, the project proposal I wrote for a non-profit organization was "approved in principle" by the UNESCO. I just need to work on a more realistic budget for the $26,000 that they are giving. We are now just waiting for word from the Japan Foundation, but we are optimistic that will come through soon. I don't get paid for any of this, my MIL volunteered me, but I do not mind doing it. It keeps my brain sharp and it is something verifiable that I can put in my resume should I decide to work again. I don't think anyone has been hired by development foundations for non-stop scrapbooking. Hahaha.

Second, been busy at my KiDS' school, like I always said, if I must be a SAHM, might as well be Super SAHM. Wink wink.

Third, I actually reached my target number of LOs for January. An LO a week, and January has 5 weeks, therefore, 5 layouts to share.

You've already seen my Kaya! layout which was voted favorite for January. Thanks to all who voted for my LO, much appreciated.

But I cannot share yet my Round Robin LO until everyone are done with their interpretation of Christine's layout by the end of this month so we will have to wait until then for it to be unveiled.

It Must Be Love

This is my first traditional layout featuring myself and my husband as a couple. It's not that I don't think my DH and I make a cute couple (har-har), but somehow I have always been hesitant to scrapbook our relationship. DH and I are not a touchy-feely couple and we have few photos (usually taken by our KiDS) of just the two of us.

I started this LO during a fun scrappy afternoon at Alby's in Cavite. You can read Christine's account here. But I have to mention that it was a learning experience scrapping with Cookie, Christine, Nina, Alby and Pia. I picked up alot just watching them make their LOs.

Hidden Journaling:
Seriously, it's too mushy to be made public.

Materials Used:
PPS and diecuts- Prima; Alphabet Stickers - Creative Imaginations and Provocraft; Rubons - Provocraft; Stamps - Inque Boutique, Autumn Leaves; Ink - Colorbox; Embossing Powder - Ranger; Fabric Paint - Pebeo; Ric rac - unknown.

The Process:
First time to use Pebeo paints, thanks Cookie for helping me overcome my fear of making mistakes. I heat embossed the word LOVE using crystal sparklers but unfortunately it didn't turn out so sparkly. I'm not sure what I did wrong, must practice heat embossing some more.

Love Elsie Challenge

The next two layouts are for Visual Creation's Love Elsie challenge. I bought the Zoe collection pack because I knew I could use the papers and embellishments to make LOs about my KiDS love for art. Really trying to justify the cost here so made two LOs.

The Scrapbook Plan

I will have to admit the papers influenced me to try to scrap like Elsie. I didn't quite work out, but still, I was happy with the final result. I went overboard with the fabric paints. Love the dimension and colors they added to my LO.

Here's a PLAN:
- sleep less (only growing children need to sleep for 8 hours a day)
- watch TV less (you do not really need to know who the Desperate Housewives are sleeping with)
- disconnect from the internet and scrap

Materials Used:
PPS, diecuts, rubons, stickers from Love Elsie; Pen - Staedtler Tri-Plus; Paper crimper; Fabric Paints - Tulip and Pebeo. I like using the Tulip brand more than the Pebeo as the paint flows more smoothly, the tip is also just right. For Pebeo, I learned from Cookie that there are other sizes of tips available.

Paparazzo Parent

Now with this LO, I finally let loose and just scrapped as I liked. I love the PPS with the many cameras so I took my cue from that and used it to make, what else? A camera! Everything in this LO is about my obsession with taking photos. I took the photo myself facing a mirror. I turned the photo upside down to be true to the principle of camera obscura (ok, it's not real world colors but I had to convert it to black and white so it won't compete with the colorful papers I used to form the iris or lens.)

of every moment...
every detail...
everywhere, everytime
and to SCRAP them soonest.

Materials Used:
PPS, rubons, stickers from Love Elsie; Pen - Staedtler Tri-Plus; Fabric Paint - Tulip, template to create the iris, heat gun to make the fabric paint puff.

So there you are, I am on track so far. I hope that I will still be able to hold my own this February. Still many things happening, what with birthdays to celebrate almost every weekend (Diego's, Kahlo's, my mom's and my mom-in-law's).