Word Curiosity: In Honor of Dictionary Day

(In honor of Dictionary Day and the birthday of Noah Webster, October 16)


I love dictionaries because I love words. I love words because I love stories and language and writing. I grew up reading a lot, talking a lot and, eventually, writing a lot. I wanted to understand well and to be well understood. So whenever I encountered a new word, I had to know its meaning. If it’s a fancy, foreign or fascinating word, I wasn’t satisfied with context clues. I needed its definition and usage, its spelling and pronunciation, and as a bonus, its etymology. I’ve always been word curious.

Thankfully, I grew up with dictionaries in our house and in school libraries. If I was out and about when I encountered a new word and I couldn’t get to a dictionary right away, I would write this new word down and make sure to find its dictionary entry as soon as I can. I’ve always been word curious.

In July 2010, I decided to start writing haiku daily on Twitter to ensure that I would write at least one thing every day. As my writing prompt, I chose Dictionary.com‘s Word of the Day. This daily habit of learning a new word (or remembering a familiar one) and playing with it to form a haiku has helped to feed my word curiosity.

Ever since I started having access to the internet, I’ve been using online dictionaries. Since I discovered the app, I’ve been using Dictionary.com on my phone to quickly search for word definitions. But I still keep a print dictionary at home for when my children need to find something, that is when they don’t decide to Google it instead.

Some people choose print dictionaries; others opt for digital or online dictionaries. Some prefer a Webster; others choose Oxford. I say use whichever tickles your fancy, whichever floats your boat, whichever works for you. Whichever feeds your word curiosity.




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Unresolved Grief: The Hidden Burden of Expat Life

Please don’t get me wrong. I am grateful for the many good things that have come with expat family living and with being globally mobile. Within the last 16 years, my family has expatriated, repatriated, and expatriated again. During these years, we’ve been blessed to have friends from different countries and cultures, holidays in different countries, comforts and privileges in daily living. Moving across countries has made our family closer, our friendships deeper and our adventures more colorful.

Intermittently within the last few years though, beginning when my family repatriated in 2012, I’ve been feeling what was an unexplainable sadness and bewilderment. From that time, it took me about three years to finally feel settled again in the Philippines, and I wrote about my experience in a post last year entitled “My Unexpected Journey of Repatriation.”

After four years of being back in the Philippines, come mid-2016, we moved back to Singapore where we first expatriated in 2005. Many of my friends and family thought that it would be much easier this time around since we were moving to a familiar place. Sure, in some ways, it has been easy moving back to Singapore. But that sadness and bewilderment still nags at me sometimes.

In library@orchard a few months ago, I stumbled upon a book by David C. Pollock and Ruth E. Van Reken entitled “Third Culture Kids: Growing Up Among Worlds.”  I started reading it, thinking that it’s about what my children may be going through as they are growing up across cultures.

Third Culture Kids book

Third Culture Kid (TCK) is a person who has spent a significant part of his or her developmental years outside the parents’ culture. The TCK frequently builds relationships to all of the cultures, while not having full ownership in any. Although elements from each culture may be assimilated into the TCK’s life experience, the sense of belonging is in relationship to others of similar background. (p.13)

As I read on, I realized that I wasn’t only learning about what my children may have been experiencing, but I was also discovering words for the darker side of my own “third culture” experience.

Unresolved grief. This term hit me hard. My occasional feelings of isolation, confusion and guilt were finally given a name. And with the name came an acknowledgement and a sort of permission, as if the authors were telling me that it was ok to admit my on and off lack of confidence, sense of loss and reluctance to get on with this new life.

…it’s not hard to see why repeated cycles of mobility can lead to repetitive losses and the normal, ensuing grief those losses generate. It’s not hard to imagine that changing cultures and cultural rules can make it more difficult or take longer to go through the transition phase to the true entry and reinvolvement stages. (p. 74)

Lack of permission to grieve. When my family and I were in the process of leaving Singapore  in 2012, I didn’t want to talk about the things I would miss. I didn’t want to seem unsupportive of the choice my husband and I had made together. I wanted my family and friends to see that I was fully on board, that I was ready and excited to come home.

When we moved back to the Philippines, the experience of reverse culture shock caught me off guard. I had gotten so used to my old life in Singapore that I couldn’t help but compare it to my new life back in the Philippines. However, I didn’t want to sound like what Filipinos call the “Ugly Balikbayan,” someone who keeps complaining about the bad or difficult realities in the Philippines and comparing them to the better or easier realities in another, usually a First World, country. I didn’t want to sound arrogant and ungrateful. I had to try to stop complaining about standstill traffic, inefficient service, slow internet, etc. I had to suck it up and stand by my choice to be there.

I couldn’t show any grief to friends and relatives who have known me for a long time. I didn’t want them thinking that I had changed into a completely different person after having lived abroad, that I’d become a snobby former expat or a snooty world traveler. I was afraid to be judged for the lifestyle I had grown accustomed to. I knew that I had changed, as people change through the course of life, but it became somewhat of a dark secret, something I could only share with those who went through a similar journey of transition and mobility.

Denying grief. This has meant a denial of my own grief, as I hid it from family and friends as much as possible. Those close to me knew how much I missed Singapore when we left in 2012. When they learned that I was moving back to Singapore this year, they all congratulated me and talked about how ecstatic I must be to move back. Most of the time, I had to say, “Yes, sure I am!” I couldn’t admit that I was having mixed feelings – that while I was excited about many things in Singapore, I was also going to miss many parts of my life in the Philippines. I was afraid that they would think or say, “But you loved Singapore so much? That you couldn’t wait to go back to your life there?” And I believed that. I thought that after my grief over leaving Singapore, why should I feel any grief going back? Why shouldn’t I be jumping for joy, as many might have expected?  I didn’t understand myself. I didn’t make sense to me.

In the three times my family has moved countries, I’ve always felt that I should be strong and positive in front of my children and that I should set an example of how we can go through transition with as little grief as possible. (I had failed three times recently when I cried while saying goodbye to my mother, to our family helper and to our dog.) During our recent move, I especially wanted to be encouraging to my children since I know that they didn’t want to move this time around. I never denied their grief, and my husband and I broke the news about the move to our children several months in advance to give them time to process and to grieve, to bond with their friends and to prepare to say goodbye. In the months before and after our recent move, I’ve been hiding my sadness and confusion from my children. I want to be strong and steady, to be the capable and positive mother who will do whatever it takes for her family to be happy and healthy. I want them to see and to believe that we are in a good place and that we made the right decision to move.

What I realized recently is that when I deny my own grief, I am setting myself and my family up for unrealistic expectations and deep disappointments. Saying that it’s all good, even when there are bad or sad times, is a denial that can hurt us in many ways and leave us lost or grieving for a long time.

Long Travel

It has been a little over three months since our recent move. In some ways, it has been easy. In other ways, it has been hard. Learning about this unresolved grief that is affecting my family has been helpful. I’ve learned not to rush my children into making new friends and getting into activities. I’ve learned to give them time and space to be alone, to be sad, and to miss their friends and routines in the Philippines. I’ve learned that we are all still in transition, and the journey is different for each one of us. Some of us may embrace this new life sooner than later. Some of us may be grieving longer than others. And we need to respect each other’s journey and support one another through it.

I am learning to allow myself to sometimes be sad, to feel confused and insecure. In any journey of transition, grief has its place. It is not wrong; it is not bad. I believe that grief needs to be accepted, expressed and allowed its due course. Writing this blog post is one way that I am facing my grief. Perhaps this will help me (and anyone reading this) gain a better understanding on how to deal with this darker side, this unexpected burden of repeated losses and unresolved grief that comes with expat life and cross-cultural mobility.


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When I Breastfed in Singapore

It’s the last day of World Breastfeeding Week, and I thought I would write about some of my experiences in breastfeeding in Singapore. I hope to support breastfeeding mothers in Singapore and to encourage those who are considering it or struggling with it.

My family and I first moved to Singapore from the Philippines in 2005.  At the time, my husband and I had in tow a 5-year-old daughter and a 5-month-old son. My son was exclusively breastfed since birth and I had every intention of continuing to breastfeed him for as long as possible.

The Blessing of Nursing Rooms in Malls and Public Areas

I was so grateful to quickly discover that many of the big malls in Singapore, especially in the Orchard Road Area, had nursing rooms. I remember that the nursing room in Paragon was quite fancy and very comfortable, and the one in Takashimaya was spacious and popular (I’d seen other moms and babies when I was there). Having easy access to nursing rooms while I was out was a huge blessing for me. I was able to breastfeed and comfort my baby in peace even while we were out window shopping.

The Challenge of Breastfeeding without Shame

My main challenge in breastfeeding then was having to do so in public places such as the trains. There were times when my baby cried inconsolably while we were on a 15-20 minute train ride to our stop. While ignoring a few anxious or disapproving stares from nearby passengers, I would put on my nursing cover and breastfeed right there. Perhaps I was lucky to have done this in an Asian country where most people would show their disapproval of a stranger’s behavior with their eyes and not with their mouths (I’ve seen videos of people in the United States shaming mothers for breastfeeding in public). Thankfully, I usually had my husband with me and his presence helped to assure me that I was doing the right thing. But with or without him around, I would have breastfed my baby in public anyway.


It is now 2016. Especially compared to a country like the Philippines, I still don’t see many babies in Singapore. And I haven’t seen any other mother breastfeed in public, apart from those in nursing rooms. I hope that there are many mothers in Singapore who are breastfeeding their babies and toddlers, whether in the comforts of their home or in the company of strangers in a public place.  Breastfeeding is about trying to give your infant the best possible nourishment, and doing so in public is about putting your child’s needs first.


I just did a quick search online for “breastfeeding in the train in Singapore,” and I discovered this on SMRT’s FAQ page:

For the comfort of other passengers, it is best to feed your children before entering the station. But we understand a hungry child needs to be fed, and we can make special arrangements for you within our station premises. Please approach our staff for assistance.

There is also a story in The Asian Parent of a Singaporean mother who was warned by an MRT officer to not breastfeed while in the train because she might cause a public nuisance.

I hope that breastfeeding gains more support and understanding in Singapore from mothers and their families, from the government and the rest of society.

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Telescope Viewing with The Park Astronomers

Two weeks ago, I stumbled upon this sign in our village park during my usual afternoon walk with my dog.

Free Telescope Viewing by The Park Astronomers A free telescope viewing! I spoke briefly with the two young astronomers to ask about their project, then rushed to the playground to invite my son and his friends to try it with me. It was about 6:00pm, still quite bright since it was a March summer afternoon, but through the telescope, we got a pretty close view of the moon! I promised to come back later that evening with the rest of my household. I’m so glad we came back at around 9:00pm. We saw not only the moon but also Jupiter, the Orion Nebula and the star Sirius! So cool!

I was so awed by the enthusiasm and generosity of Paolo and Hiromi, the duo behind The Park Astronomers. I wanted to know more about their project so I could share it with other Filipino astronomy enthusiasts and other southern Metro Manila residents who might want to support it.

Here is a Q&A with The Park Astronomers Paolo and Hiromi:

Q: What inspired you to start The Park Astronomy Project? 

Telescope Viewing in the Park“Carl Sagan. We’ve read a lot of his works and he had this vision of making science fun. It was this vision of his that really pushed us into starting this project. He wanted to make science approachable to the regular person, to show others how amazing the universe is. And just like him, we want the same for the youth of the Philippines. We want to raise awareness, to educate, and to awaken the inner scientists in everyone.”

 Q: How did you go about setting it up? Any challenges or obstacles so far?

“Initially, we just set up our mount and scope on our driveway with a sign saying ‘Free Telescope Viewing’ and waited for interested passersby. We moved on to setting up at our village park with the hopes of gaining a bigger audience. That’s where we got the idea of visiting different parks. As of the moment, our telescope mount is starting to give up on us. That’s one of our main obstacles. You can also say that location, village permission, as well as weather conditions are some of our challenges.”

Q: How did you become astronomy enthusiasts?

Paolo: “It all started with this video I saw back in 2009.  I was amazed and humbled to see how objects can be so large yet appear so little in our sky. I gained an existential epiphany upon realizing that even with all my problems combined, it all meant very little to the universe in its entirety. Carl Sagan once said: ‘The universe seems neither benign nor hostile, merely indifferent to the concerns of such creatures as we.’ I think it takes a lot to be able to grasp this reality.  Ideas like this are what define me as an amateur astronomer.”

Park Astronomers Hiromi and Paolo

“When Hiromi and I started going out, I shared my Carl Sagan books with her. There was this one book, aptly called ‘Cosmos’ which tackled the whole universe. We enjoyed countless nights walking around my village and just talking about distant stars, galaxies, planets, even the possibility of aliens! This went on alongside my telescope until we had the idea of a free telescope viewing initiative. We wanted to share what we felt when we first saw the moon because people often take it for granted. We see the moon 2 weeks in a month but give little to no thought to what it would look like up close.”

Q: What do you hope to achieve with The Park Astronomy? How do you see it a year from now?

“A youth that is more conscious not only scientifically but also existentially. We want our participants to gain a better perspective of our place in the universe and what we can do about it. Hopefully a year from now, we’ll have extensive operations including workshops, astrocamps, focus group discussions, and have more volunteers to aid us in facilitating our activities.”

Stars (photo by The Park Astronomers)The Moon (photo by The Park Astronomers)*********************************************************************************************

If you want to join The Park Astronomers and see the moon, stars and other planets in the night sky, check their Facebook page for updates.

If you want to help Paolo and Hiromi continue and grow The Park Astronomers project, please consider making a donation for a new telescope and for funds to support their project expenses through The Park Astronomers gofundme.com page.



We Can, I Can: World Cancer Day 2016

I just learned recently that today, February 4, is World Cancer Day. It is an initiative started in 2008 by the Union for International Cancer Control. It aims to promote cancer awareness and education and to campaign for governments, groups and individuals to take action.

In the last few years, cancer has become personal to me. I’ve seen friends and relatives, adults and children, battle this terrible illness. Like so many others, my life has been forever touched by cancer.

“We Can. I Can.” That is the tagline for World Cancer Day 2016-2018.  It’s an invitation for all of us to reflect on what we can do, as individuals and as part of communities, to help fight the battle against cancer.

Just as cancer affects everyone in different ways, all people have the power to take various actions to reduce the impact that cancer has on individuals, families and communities. World Cancer Day is a chance to reflect on what you can do, make a pledge and take action.

I CAN educate myself about making healthier lifestyle choices. I CAN continue to support my friends who are battling cancer.

With my family, WE CAN educate ourselves so we can create a healthier environment and lifestyle. WE CAN talk about cancer prevention and early detection.

In one way or another, all of us are affected by cancer. Whether we choose to help a hospital or an advocacy, a family member or a stranger, a hundred people or one person, we can make a difference in someone’s life. We can take part in this global fight against cancer.




My One Word for 2016: PRESENT

One Word: Present

Late last year, I got the idea from a friend (who also blogs and homeschools her children) of choosing One Word for the year. I think it’s a clever way to help me be more focused on my resolution to better myself during the new year. I used to make a list of new year’s resolutions around this time. As the year would go by, that list would be forgotten and I wouldn’t know if I had become better in any way at all.  Having ONE WORD, one theme that I can easily remember and readily visualize, will hopefully help me become a better me in 2016.

My One Word for 2016 is PRESENT.  To be present in the moment. To live in the present, to relish its joy and embrace its meaning.

I remember reading the New York Times article by Tony Schwartz entitled “Addicted to Distraction.” It reminded me of how my family and I are almost constantly immersing ourselves in distractions. We carry our smartphones and tablets with us everywhere. While at home, we use our devices on the dining table (even while we are all together seated and sharing a meal) in the dirty kitchen and even in the bathroom. When we are out in restaurants and cafes, we almost always ask for their wifi password. When we are choosing accommodations for a family holiday, we look for those that include free wifi. I’ve seen my children using their laptops and tablets/phones at the same time (that type of “multitasking” is beyond me). I’ve seen my husband and my son watch TV while playing games on their mobile devices.

My addiction to distraction has been keeping me from being present in the moment and being present with my family. While I’m helping my son with his lessons, I keep my phone nearby and respond to every Viber and Facebook message as soon as it comes. While I’m at my daughter’s football training, I’m checking emails or planning my blog. While I always plan to start my day with morning prayers, I end up turning my phone on first to see any new Facebook or Twitter notifications. While I am preparing our dog’s meal, I stop to answer a text message, get distracted by new stories on my Facebook feed and forget that our dog is hungry.

In June 2015, I was painfully reminded of my tendency to prioritize productivity over presence. I wrote a blog post entitled “When I Chose to be Productive Instead of Present” where I recounted that day when I broke my son’s heart. During his last day of summer basketball, he played his best game ever. While he was playing his best game, I was at the bank running an errand. It broke my heart to hear him tell me afterwards, “I really can’t tell you with words. I just wish you had seen me.”

Many times, I’ve missed the joy and meaning of being PRESENT: seeing my children score goals or play well, hearing my children joyfully talk about what they did with their friends, relaxing with my husband after he has a long day at work, playing fetch with our eager dog, enjoying conversation with family while at the table, and allowing my mind to be quiet and my body to be still so I remember to appreciate my breath, my life, my blessings.

This year, in 2016, I choose to be more PRESENT (starting with leaving the phone behind when I go to the bathroom).


If the Ghosts of Christmas Visited Me Today


Image taken from page 78 of 'A Christmas Carol ... With illustrations [from drawings by S. Eytinge.]' A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens is set in 19th century London. In this story, the old miser Ebenezer Scrooge was visited on Christmas Eve by three ghosts (in modern times, they would more likely be called spirits): the Ghost of Christmas Past, the Ghost of Christmas Present, and the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come. After these ghosts showed him various moments in his past, in the present time, and in the possible future, Scrooge is overwhelmed with regret over how he has become a selfish, unkind man and transforms into a caring and generous one.

As I finish my traditional Christmas read, I ask myself, “If I were to be visited by the three Ghosts of Christmas, what would they show me?”

The Ghost of Christmas Past might show me this:
My brothers, sister and I are in our pajamas on Christmas morning, checking our stockings and underneath the tree for Santa’s gifts. Our parents are sitting nearby as we excitedly open presents. I give Mom and Dad my handmade greeting card, decorated with a crayon drawing of a Christmas tree. While still in our comfy pajamas, we enjoy breakfast together before it’s time to get dressed for Christmas Day mass.

The Ghost of Christmas Present might show me this:
Some weeks before Christmas, my daughter tells me that Christmas doesn’t feel as exciting as it used to be. She says that it felt more exciting years back when we were living abroad and traveled to Manila every December for the holidays. The anticipation and preparation for the trip, the back-to-back get-togethers with relatives and friends in Manila, the visits to shops and restaurants we miss when we are abroad – all of these make for an exciting annual holiday celebration.
A few days before Christmas, my son tells me that he wishes Christmas Eve this year would be more fun and exciting than the previous one. He says he is hoping for more than the usual playing of video games with cousins and sitting around the dining table before the gift giving at midnight. He is hoping for a new, fun and meaningful way to celebrate Christmas.

The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come might show me this:
On Christmas Eve, the children are playing Christmas-themed games. At gift-giving time, we exchange handmade Christmas cards. We bring out our Gratitude Jars and remember the wonderful blessings and favorite memories of the past year. We listen or sing along to Christmas carols. We say a prayer of thanksgiving for the shared joy of the season.

What these possible scenes from my Christmas Past, Christmas Present and Christmas Yet to Come are telling me is this – We can and should find ways to make Christmas meaningful. We can make new traditions, new celebrations that will make the Christmas spirit of love, peace and giving real to us. With the help of family and friends, we can make the season purposeful and meaningful, and ultimately a truly joyful Christmas.

How about you? What would the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Christmas Present and Christmas Yet to Come show you?

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The Kindness of Walking

Girl - Tower of LondonI needed to go to BDO bank today to make a downpayment deposit and to send a gift. Being a trafficphobe and being fortunate enough to have a branch of that bank nearby, I decided to walk rather than drive. And what a brilliant decision that was.

From 1:00pm to about 1:40pm today, I was blessed with a wonderful 40 minutes of my day. It was a brief walk filled with kindness and a precious respite from the bustle of the holiday season.

Though the sun was out, the wind was blowing nicely and keeping temperatures fairly cool and pleasant. With an umbrella in one hand and a box of mamon (Filipino sponge cake) in the other, I took a 5-minute walk from my house to the village gate. Since I was on foot and in no rush, I was able to stop by the security/reception area to give the box of mamon to one of the guards as we greeted each other Merry Christmas. As I walked by the guard manning the boom barrier for the village entrance, he and I also exchanged Good Afternoons and Merry Christmases.

Feral Cat EatingAs I continued my short walk to the bank, I saw three feral cats taking turns eating food from a bowl placed on the sidewalk between two concrete posts. I saw that it was a native woven bowl lined with banana leaf and filled with some rice and meat. Someone had purposely placed food there for these feral cats.

I proceeded to walk to the bank and was there within 15 minutes of leaving my house. With the heavy traffic and full parking I had seen along my way, it would have taken me maybe 20-30 minutes if I were driving. My business at the bank was done in 15 minutes. Though I had to stand in queue for about 10 minutes, I wasn’t feeling stressed or rushed. And while there, I witnessed two ladies, probably regular bank clients, giving Christmas gifts to smiling and grateful bank employees.

A relaxed 10-minute walk and I was back at home. During the walk home, I was thinking about what Fr. Albert Alejo, SJ said in his homily during last Sunday night’s mass in the Church of the Gesu. He talked about asking ourselves what is the source of our joy during this Christmas season, and how we can find it through having a serene attentiveness to reality.

My brief experience of walking instead of driving today has given me a glimpse of serene attentiveness to reality. When I am not in my car, I am free to walk among people, to hear the street noises, to feel the breeze and the warmth, to stop and witness sights of beauty and and acts of kindness. We know that walking is a kindness to the earth, to the community and to the body. Yet in our rush to get here and there, in our car-centric societies, we forget that walking is also a kindness to the soul. It is a simple yet powerful way to give and receive kindness and to find a peaceful connection to our souls and to reality.

Not only during the busy holiday season but throughout the year, may we make the time to walk more, to be kinder to our world, our bodies and our souls.





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When My Child Doesn’t Like Me

Teen AngstI’d always wanted my children to like me, to enjoy being with me, to think I’m a cool mom. This was fairly easy when my kids were toddlers, preschoolers and then preteens. I was their regular playmate and companion. We are homeschoolers, so I’ve also been their teacher for several years now. During some of our earlier homeschool years, I made our lessons and my children and I enjoyed learning together. We made arts and crafts, read and sang together and went to our own little field trips. My children liked me and I enjoyed it.

Two years ago, I lost a preteen and gained a teenager. Gradually, my relationship with my elder child changed. Since becoming a teenager, she has been spending less time with me and more with her friends. She no longer wants to do lessons or learning activities with her younger brother and me. When at home, she spends most of the day in her room, away from the rest of the family. I know that she is trying to form her own identity, but it felt like she was drifting away from me. It felt like she didn’t like me anymore.

I tried to be the cool mom. I met her friends, gave them rides every now and then, and welcomed them into our home. I let her go to the mall with close friends unsupervised. I went clothes shopping with her once and, after seeing for myself how hard it is to find nice but fairly conservative shorts, I convinced her dad that our daughter’s shorts don’t always have to be mid-thigh in length. Though her dad and I draw the line at anything tiny and stringy, I went with my daughter once to shop for her sporty bikini. I bought her little knick knacks when she asked for them. I was very flexible with what time she needed to sleep and wake up, when she could and couldn’t have friends over, and when to do her homework. As much as I could, I allowed her what she wanted because I wanted her to still like me.

On a few recent occasions, I’ve had to be more strict with her homework and her social activities. I found myself saying no to her more often that before. And this made me a very unlikable mom. I know she was very unhappy with me then (I remember being a teenager too, and definitely not liking it when my mom didn’t let me go out with my friends), but I was surprised at how unhappy I felt when I saw how disappointed she was. And the realization hit me. By not setting clear boundaries and values, by trying to be her friend, by wanting to be liked, I was failing as a parent to my child. I was failing to love her, to guide her well in her own journey to becoming a respectful, responsible and resilient woman.

I was reminded that liking is for cute things, cool movies and crushes. Loving is about a commitment to the beloved’s growth and wellbeing. Liking is about feelings that come and go. Loving is for honest relationships that stay with the ups and downs.

I’ve learned that I have to live with the moments when my child won’t like me. I will remember that these growing pains, these struggles in the parent-child relationship will not break me or my child. I will remember that these difficult times make us more resilient persons. My child doesn’t need me to be a likable friend. My child needs me to be a mother who loves her unconditionally, steadily and wisely, not only during the happy “yes” days but also during the angry “no” days.


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My 5-Point Christmas Wish List

I recently came across this blog post on moneysavingsisters.com entitled “4 Gift Christmas Challenge – Want, Need, Wear & Read.”  Here, blogger Chrystie talks about how she put an end to her crazy Christmas holiday shopping. She realized how her children were getting so many gifts, most of which ended up being forgotten, and she didn’t want that to continue.

This was the first time I came across the idea of the Want-Need-Wear-Read gift list. The few blog posts I’ve read talk about how parents applied this method to stop themselves from buying their children too many Christmas gifts. I was surprised when I first read this because I didn’t grow up with that tradition and I am not doing the same with my children. Among my family, our relatives and friends in Manila, we grew up wishing for and receiving one Christmas gift from our parents. Together with the other presents from relatives and friends, we did end up receiving several gifts, but only one from Mom and Dad. And that was normal for us.

I did like the idea of the Want-Need-Wear-Read list. Instead of making it a gift challenge for my kids, however, I’ve adopted it into a wish list and added a fifth point or category – experience. So I came up with an edited version – a 5-point wish list. (I like making wish lists. As a list maker, it helps me choose the things I would find useful and enjoyable. As a shopper and giver of gifts, seeing wish lists of family and friends help reduce my guesswork and better ensures that the gifts I give will be used and enjoyed.)

5-POINT WISH LIST          5-Point Wish List

  • Something I WANT
  • Something I NEED
  • Something to WEAR
  • Something to READ
  • Something to EXPERIENCE

I’ve asked my family to join me in making our individual 5-point wish lists. I was relieved when my husband, our teenage daughter and our young son were all stumped with “Something I Need.” They all said, “I don’t really need anything.” I’m glad we are all aware of how fortunate we are to have everything we need and much more. For our lists, we tweaked our definition of need to fill in that list item, from something we can’t live well without to something useful.

I’m using Pinterest for the first time to make my 5-point wish list.

Follow Learning Hippie’s board My 5-point Wish List on Pinterest.

Do you have a wish list? Care to make and share your 5-point Wish List?

P.S. One important thing I’ve made clear with my children when it comes to wish lists is that these are wishes. There are no guarantees that we will receive every single item on our wish lists. They understand this, so we won’t end up with meltdowns, tantrums or complaints about why they didn’t get item #2 or #5. Gratefulness for any gift received is important.