The other night we heard of the passing of a dear family friend. “Mommy” is what we called her. Even though her nickname was “Bing”, and she’s technically my (non-blood-related) “Lola”, I can’t remember ever calling her any other name but “Mommy”.
It’s been a long time since I last saw Mommy, but some of my best childhood memories happened in her house in Opera street, where we spent countless of lazy Sunday afternoons, December nights, and warm summer days growing up. We would run around her garden, play with her dogs, feast on her delicious home-cooked meals, fight over her blueberry cheesecake (the best!), and rummage through her refrigerator for left-over cookies to take home.
That house in Opera street always felt like an extension of our home. It’s the kind of place that remains etched in the mind of a child forever, that, even until now, 20 years later, I still have vivid recollections of time spent in that house.
I don’t have a picture with Mommy, but these are her daughters. I must have grown up thinking they’re my biological sisters! I’m so blessed for the life of Mommy who raised these beautiful ladies I love and look up to.
I’ve been making mental notes on my takeaways from Mommy’s life. I know there’s more but here are some:
It makes me sad, the thought that Mommy’s house in Las Pinas will never be the same, and that we will never get to taste her special blueberry cheesecake again. But my heart rejoices, knowing that hers was a life well lived, and that I’m one of the many recipients of the legacy that she left behind.
The truth is, I’ve been contemplating a lot about life these past days. I’ve been restless, mostly tired, and maybe a little anxious about what the future holds. In hindsight that’s probably why I had to intentionally look back the other day—I do a lot of reminiscing when I’m feeling a little wary about certain uncertain things in my life.
And then death happens.
Death has a way of keeping us (those of us who are still live) grounded, making us appreciate the days that we take for granted, inspiring us to better and to live a life that will make the most impact on others.
Just recently the whole world was shocked by the sudden death of Paul Walker. But now, everywhere we look, everyone is just paying tribute to Paul’s life, inspired by the massive work he was doing to help people in need, and the little anecdotes of his grand gestures and secret acts of kindness.
Life is short. We never know when ours is going to end, but one thing for sure.. it will end. We’re all on borrowed time.
Just like Paul Walker, and Mommy Bing, and my Dad.
Many people will not remember their course in college, the jobs they took, the possessions they accumulated through the years. But people will always remember how they made our lives, and the world, a better place.
I’m reminded to make the most out of this one life. Live each day as if it’s our last, love people, show kindness, wear our passions, chase our dreams. And more importantly, fulfill God’s purpose for our lives and live in a way that will give glory to His name.
An age old poem goes, “Only one life, ‘t will soon be past. Only what’s done for Christ will last.”
At the end of the day, and at the end of this life, that’s all that will count.
And so the past month ended with us attending a beautiful garden wedding, and I knew we couldn’t have said goodbye to November any better.
My husband and I doubled as dessert buffet suppliers and invited guests to a friend’s wedding, and we have loved the excuse to take out his coat and my gown from the back of our closet and dress up for an unusual Saturdate.
It almost felt like stepping inside a different world!
Fernwood Gardens has changed a lot since the last time I was there. The glass garden is still as lush as ever, but they also opened a lounge area with a country feel in it, complete with a collection of vintage things. (I was completely blown away seeing an Underwood up close!)
It was the same venue of my brother’s wedding in 2008, and I remember inviting my ex-boyfriend to come be my date, but he was halfway across the world and naturally, was unable to make it.
Five years later, I was back in the very same place, this time, with him.
Can you tell I’m still swooning? (more…)
How do you blog about your baby’s first birthday? I totally missed doing that, and it’s weird because I was so sure that I was not going to miss out on blogging about that milestone.
I was going to write an open letter to Dawn and Rain, telling them how much they’ve changed our lives and how thankful we are to God for this beautiful first year. I was going to post lots of photographs from their birthday party, which would be beautifully styled and DIY-ed like the ones you see on Pinterest.
It was going to be a momentous event for me as a Mommy blogger.
But then their first birthday party happened, and all I could think about doing after weeks of preparations was to lie down in bed the whole day with the twins and their Daddy, and laugh at how silly these two are becoming. Which was pretty much what happened.
And then the following days turned to weeks, and the weeks turned to a month,
and here we are.
The open love letter I imagined myself writing became a short cover photo caption posted on Facebook, which simply said
Dear Dawn & Rain,
You probably didn’t care so much, blowing your first birthday cake. But for me and your Daddy, it was a beautiful moment, a milestone, we’ll remember forever. Thank you for giving us reasons to celebrate life everyday.
I meant it with all my heart, no doubt about it, but it was about a thousand words short of how I imagined their first birthday love letter should be, and what I really wanted to say.
And these photographs, haha.
When we had Isaac‘s first birthday party, there was not a single photograph of him smiling. I thought to myself, when I have babies, I would make sure they were smiling on their first birthday photos.
I guess even that is beyond my control.
The truth is, I stare at blank spaces a lot these days. Blank WordPress screen, blank Facebook status field, blank pages of my journal. All waiting for me to pour my heart out.
Time is flying swiftly and most of my reflections these days remain in my head (and my heart), unwritten. Dawn & Rain are growing too fast, and I’m sometimes scared of missing out on that. As much as I want to capture every moment so that someday I can relieve them, God is teaching me every day to live each moment as they come, and then let them go.
Lara Casey blogged about this so eloquently, and for lack of better words, I quote (emphases mine):
As a creative, I am compelled to create because I want to mirror back to the world God’s goodness. I want to create with every fiber of my being. I try so hard. I try to share and create what I think will help. I try to share what I hope will inspire Grace one day to know and love Him. I try, but sometimes I get really tired trying to pour the ocean of life into a little cup. Most of my favorite moments don’t get photographed because I’m completely immersed in them. And sometimes life is just too big for words.
Well there you go. I bold-faced phrases for emphasis, and then underlined some words in those phrases for even more emphasis. I laugh at myself for being such a weirdo sometimes. On a serious note, that’s how much her words resonate with how I feel and what I really want to do around here.
Today marks Dawn & Rain’s 13th month. Oh wow, I’ve been a Mommy for 13 months!
And like a broken record I would say it over again, it still often feels like I’m living in a dream.
Happy 13 months, my loves.
It was hard for me to blog about Yolanda. We posted a massive list of resources on the aftermath of the typhoon in our company blog, but as far as blogging how I felt about what’s happening, I was at a loss for words.
That’s how I usually feel, watching the news or browsing Facebook. At one point I even wished people would start posting selfies again, if only to get a break from the sad news that seemed to never end.
Young girls stare at the full moon outside a makeshift shelter in Tacloban. (CNN)
Yolanda came on the weekend of my Dad’s birthday, and while we celebrated the life of my Dad that day, we knew at the back of our minds that somewhere, people are grieving the death of their loved ones.
Even more devastating, that some parents are mourning the loss of their children.
They’re too young! They’re not supposed to go through something this tough. They’re not supposed to die.
And the babies! My heart bleeds for them. Dawn & Rain came out prematurely at 35 weeks and they needed incubation. I can not, for the life of me, imagine how those premature babies would survive without the aid of incubators.
Will they make it? Are their mommies going to be okay? Are they going to live to tell the story?
When I think about these children, a song plays in my mind like a gentle reassurance,
God has a special place in His heart for the little children, and the thought that He knows what He’s doing ends all questions and doubts.
It’s ironic how, the sight of these young typhoon survivors can easily break your heart and give you hope at the same time. (more…)
It’s November and the Christmas drinks at Starbucks are here. So on Saturday morning, I convinced my husband to go to the nearest Starbucks with me so that I could get my Toffee Nut fix.
But his idea was even more brilliant—take the twins with us and have a little family date. And so we took the twins, and what I got was more than just a satisfied craving.
Going to Starbucks has always meant for me either one of these two things: (1) to meet friends for some catching up, or (2) to have some alone time with my laptop, my earphones, and my thoughts. Tagging along two giddy little girls is surely a deviation from my usual Starbucks “dates”.
Instead of having a meaningful conversation, my husband and I had our hands full—holding the babies close, feeding them, entertaining them, singing songs to them, and making sure they don’t fall off the couch.
In the midst of the riot, I found myself pausing for one moment and holding back tears of joy.
He would have been 64, and I still often find myself wishing that he’s around to witness his grand children grow. And while there was a little bit of sadness in that note, mostly there was joy, knowing that a part of my Dad lives on.
So we placed a little candle on our Banoffee Pie to remember the life of the Great Lolo Bob who still never fails to inspire us even until now, 6 years after he’s gone to be with the Lord.
Happy birthday Dad. Happy birthday Lolo. We love you.
In fact, I look forward to moments like this. Afternoons when we can just slow down and breathe in this new life that we have as a family. Times when we can tag along the twins to our dates, take them to places we love, and make memories that they will always remember.
So maybe I’m a little too excited about making memories. They just turned one year old and surely they won’t have a recollection of this day just yet.
But someday.. someday, they’ll start to remember.
In the meantime, I’ll keep taking photographs and writing memories down.
I cannot even begin to enumerate the differences between Ivy and me. Growing up, our friendship has always been based on our opposite personalities which either clashed terribly or complemented perfectly. We were as different from each other as friends could ever be, but I love that in spite of the many differences, we would always find a common ground to stand on.
..and suddenly, we have so many things in common! To name a few, a screwed up body clock (always chasing Eastern Standard Time), a collection of souvenirs and merch from New York, empty Island Rose boxes stacked up in our bedrooms, birthday presents wrapped in Fedex packaging, long distance relationship woes, those dreams of potentially settling down in the same state in America.
If there’s one thing I get about Ivy and Angel’s relationship, it’s how, when God destines two people to be together, no distance or timezone or opposition—not even differences in culture—can stand in the way.
Love will always, always, win.
Today marks their first wedding anniversary, and I’m suddenly overflowing with joy right now like it was just yesterday.
On their wedding day, I couldn’t fit into my bridesmaids gown because of post-pregnancy weight gain. And my husband and I missed the wedding march because I was breastfeeding babies. Still we came in time to witness the joy, and the beauty, and the promises that were made.
A lot of discussions were put to an end that day. And a lot of prayers were answered too.
And God.. God was glorified! Ohh, God was rightfully glorified that day, indeed. It’s weddings like this that you know God was behind everything, there’s just no denying it.
Around the time Ivy was organizing their wedding, I was too pregnant to be any help at all. But there’s one thing I knew I could do and am honored to have done—their wedding invitations!
When you’re friends with someone “since birth”, it takes a long time to get used to the fact that we’re
adults now not kids anymore. I guess for that reason it makes sense that I waited a year to post this one. I realized (just now actually, LOL) that it took me a year to take this all in—
Ivy is married. She’s married! And she’s leaving anytime soon. (For the record, that last bit would take me another year to grasp.) I’m just glad that any form of separation from this girl is not permanent. I know, I just know, that we’ll always find each other.
Sidenote: I started this section/category in this blog where I feature some of my design work—wedding invitations, party suites, product catalogs—including my favorite ones from years ago. Feel free to message me if you like what you see. ;)
(Back from an unplanned blog hiatus.)
One of the best practices in keeping a blog is consistency. Whenever we pitch Blogging and Content Marketing to potential clients or present monthly reports to existing ones, we would always emphasize to them the importance of updating blogs consistently. We would tell them to strictly follow an editorial calendar, and to create a blogging habit.
I’m obviously not practicing what I preach. Oops.
Instagrams from the past month.
It feels a little weird to be blogging for a living now when it used to be just my time away from work. Not that I’m complaining. I’m happy to see the WordPress dashboard everyday. I really just have to find a slot for Chasing Dreams in my super hectic editorial calendar. Which I intend to do. One of these days.
The past month was full. We set up candy buffets. I was featured at Dainty Mom’s Mom Bliss. I joined Martine’s Brand Bliss Workshop. I signed up in Darrah Parker’s LensMama. I started a new instagram account, specifically for this blog. I attended some sessions at the recently concluded Search Engine Marketing Conference 2013. We spent time with a cousin who’s visiting from New York.
And there’s the usual: Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays in Makati. Thursday nights with our bible study group. Sundays in church. In my interview with Martine, I shared in detail what a day in my life looks like. Feel free to visit her blog to read the feature. ;)
The twins turned one last week and last Sunday was their first birthday party. The week before that was spent DIY-ing decorations, working on the guest list, inviting friends, coordinating things. Step a little further back and the past 2 months were spent working on extra-income sidelines to save up for the costs of the party.
Remnants from their first birthday party.
And then the day of the party came, and I didn’t get to take a single photograph! Big deal, for someone who takes photographs of practically everything. Good thing a friend brought his camera, and volunteered to cover the event and capture moments. It feels liberating to let someone else do something I would have insisted doing myself.
I missed a lot of deadlines this month. I had to turn down opportunities. I said no to some invitations. I had to let go of some personal effects to accommodate more important responsibilities.
All in exchange for limitless smiles, screaming duets, new tricks, small hands that pull my hair in the morning, and tiny yawns that smell like pancakes at night—fleeting moments of bliss that affirm to me that I am right where I’m supposed to be, and everything else I plan to do in my life can wait.
And that.. is where October went.
No regrets. No regrets at all.