Manang

A pile of McDonalds Chicken McNuggets, as boug...

A pile of McDonalds Chicken McNuggets, as bought in America. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

She is now almost a rarity in the country. An on call  60-year-old lady who washes and iron our clothes to perfection. Aling Amanda or  “Manang” has been with us for more than ten years. Recommended by a friend while we were in the middle of a household crisis, she came as a conquering Amazon ready to tackle our mountain of dirty clothes.

I pride myself as a stay at home mom but I am nothing without her. Dust I can eradicate, Josh I can discipline, frozen chicken I can turn into adobo. BUT my SAHM superpowers usually disappear at the laundry. My husband is impressed with her. She can keep his white barong white and iron it to an executive crisp.

I consider her my multi-tasking, secret weapon for she can be called to do other household chores. Want someone to cook an additional dish for the family Christmas lunch? She can whip up a mean caldereta complete with olives. Are the weeds in your garden growing fast by the second? She can shear them to death. Who can bathe the five pesky dogs in the yard? She can do it quickly with some words of endearment to the canine bunch.

She has re-entered our lives for my maids have bid adieu. “Manang!” I gleefully called out to her as she arrived weeks ago. I was almost tempted to jump up and down.  She looks the same– dark-skinned and still on the hefty side. Oh yes, she still likes her cigarettes which prompted my son to admonish her .” That is bad for your lungs,Manang!”

 My son is getting to know her again after a year’s absence. I told my son I have to leave him with her to do an urgent errand. ” No Mommy!” declared the five-year old tyrant. ” But she can cook much better than Mommy,” I countered. He went straight to Manang for the inquisition. ” Is it true Manang? You can cook? How about my favorite chicken nuggets?”

Amused, Manang answered,  “Yes, of course.” She has won him over.

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Clean House

This is a picture of a stiff whisk broom, a ge...

This is a picture of a stiff whisk broom, a gentle scrubber sponge and a micro-fiber cleaning cloth to symbolize stages of cleaning. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 Armed with a broom, dustpan and microfiber cloth, I recently don one of the numerous hats of a SAHM ( stay  at home  mom) — that of a cleaning lady. 

Nothing chips away any pretensions a woman has about herself than cleaning one’s house. I think it is the great leveler of women. Stripped of make up while wearing a ratty shirt, we all tend to look commonly bare. 

I did not feel helpless when my maids left for I don’t abhor household chores. Thanks to my mother who was a SAHM for many years and a cleaning diva. I remember that she would shoo my brothers and I to play outside  so  she can clean the house to her obsessive heart’s content. Once allowed to come in, we were sternly reminded to tiptoe across the waxed floor or else we won’t hear the end of it.

Cleaning house, though tough on my lower back, has proven to be cathartic as the motions of dusting and mopping give a consistent rhythm to my day. I can never reach the cleaning standards of my mother but at the end of the day I feel light and satisfied.

Love at First Vroooom

He saw his first BMW at an office basement parking. And, oh boy, was it love at first sight.

” Wow! Whose car is that Daddy? I like that!” He could not stop talking about it. There began my son’s obsession with what he calls ” fast, nice cars.” We bought him toy cars of all sizes, color and types and car magazines as well. He has memorized all the car logos. A favorite pastime for him is to identify these logos when we are cruising along the expressway.

BMW 3-Series (E90)

During a trip to HK,  the hubby and I found ourselves lugging around huge boxes of his favorite toy cars. The hubby spent most of the night packing these tightly so as not to get squished on the plane. An overseas call from our son specified five cars, not four or three but five homecoming gifts.

His PSP 3 tapes are all about car racing which he can play until the wee hours of the morning ( which only happens when I am not around). What is it with cars that mesmerize boys like Joshua? Is it because they play with the power of speed? Does it have something to do with the mechanical side of it?

I know his fascination with cars will continue ad nauseam. A few months ago, he suggested to the hubby to build a second garage in the house.  ” And why is that?” asked my husband.  With an ” isn’t it obvious look on his face” Joshua answered ” So when I buy my BMW I can park it there!”

Awwwww

2008 Taipei In Style - Outdoor Fashion Show: A...

2008 Taipei In Style – Outdoor Fashion Show: A clothing rack with clothes. Русский: Вешалка в виде стойки. Гардероб. Suomi: Erilaisia vaatteita vaatetangossa. Gaeilge: Éadaí. Gaelg: Radling lesh eaddeeyn er. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was twirling away late one night as I tried on the dresses that I got from my good friend Sheila. She runs a fantastic shop called Funky Plum Vintage. A stylist by heart, she has set me off to out of the box clothes experiences that made me look young and, without sounding boastful, fabulous. The hubby, probably not used to seeing me going gaga over some clothes, had an amused look on his face. ” What do you think?” I asked. A question so innocent but as most enlightened husbands know is akin to having a gun stuck to one’s head.  Diplomatically, he grunts an ” Ok” as he tries to read the newspaper. I would have wanted a more enthusiastic reply.

I pushed the thought away and told myself that Sheila is a genius. I was in a fashion rut for some years as I continued to gain unwanted pounds through my 50s. But last year I lost a total of 25 pounds and I was feeling good. I had a personal epiphany as I went into a healthy diet and exercise. I know the clothes fitted me well but I wanted an affirmation of some sort. The following night I wore one of my new clothes for Sunday Mass. As I was walking down the stairs, Joshua saw me, surprise written on his face, and pipes up, ” Mommy, you look so pretty!”

I felt tingly all over. It was the first time ever he called me pretty.

Cartoons 101

Finn (on the left) and Jake (the yellow dog) d...

Finn (on the left) and Jake (the yellow dog) doing their trademark fist bump. The teal-colored video game console on the far right is Beemo. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

” Look Mom. Princess Bubblegum is dead,” says Joshua excitedly pointing to the TV screen. As my son rattles off the story of one of his favorite cartoons, I tuned him out  for a few minutes.  Still infatuated with Colin Firth, I had just watched ” The King’s Speech” the night before.

I came back to earth and  listened to him as Princess Bubblegum’s friends – Finn, the human and Jake, the dog -frantically try to save her. The cartoon characters are out of this world and so are their looks. My son has never been a fan of the cute  Mickey Mouse cartoons.  I used to love them ages ago– Disney cartoons with their sweet and simple storylines, characters drawn painstakingly to make them look real and songs you can hum forever.

Nope. Mickey is too boring for my son. He devours “Oggy and the Cockroaches” and is a big fan of ” Mr. Bean.” Rude cockroaches and a British character with basset hound eyes.  Hmmm So many things to learn. At first, as I watched Joshua’s favorite cartoons with him the OC Mom in me reared its ugly head. I did running commentaries  like ” You should not be like him. Mr. Bean can be rude.” or ” Don’t you think the cockroaches are too violent?” Until one day, tired of my fear that he might turn out to be a monster of a son, Joshua blurted in exasperation, ” Mom it is just a cartoon! It is not for real!”

I laughed, and embraced him. He may like Mr. Bean but my Colin is better looking.

A Neophyte at 52

The Kraken roller coaster ride at Seaworld in .

The Kraken roller coaster ride at Seaworld in . (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yep that’s me. Got married at 38, tried to have a baby after, was not successful and decided with the hubby to adopt a baby boy ten years after. Sounds so simple isn’t it? Only in print.  I knew I was in for a roller coaster ride.  I closed my eyes, crossed my fingers and went for it!

So here  I am five years later– mother-wise, exhausted yet having fun. How is that possible? Only motherhood can give you so many ironic twists and contradictions.

Who is the source of all this? Joshua. A bit small for his age yet packs an energy equivalent to Typhoon signal number 3 ( the strongest one in our part of the world). A future girls’ crush with his thick eyelashes, bushy eyebrows and nice set of even teeth.

But girls are not yet in his radar. He lives and breathes PSP 3, a gadget which I do not like for he can be obsessed with it. And yet it is the perfect babysitter for a busy stay at home Mom like me. Didn’t I tell you about the contradictions?

Well, I am still learning being a mother. Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks? Whoever said that is a pessimist for sure.