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.
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’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.
Tuesdays. It’s an unusual day of the week to go out with girlfriends but for some reason, Normi & I keep seeing each other on Tuesdays. Totally unintentional, in fact I just thought about it now. Reminds me of Mitch Albom, who learned life’s greatest lessons on Tuesdays (with Morrie, yes!), except that I’m not seeing an old terminally ill professor.
Instead, I’m seeing an old friend whom I happen to journey this mommy life with.
Normi announced that she’s pregnant with baby number 2 on Facebook the day before we saw each other, and our usual Mommy date became a celebration of sorts. We pampered ourselves with a pedicure at Dashing Diva, and had our afternoon coffee at Cafe Breton. Correction: coffee for me, crepes for the preggy. No caffeine for you, little one.
Normi and I have come a long way. We grew up in Sunday School together, shared an apartment in our heydays, got engaged on the same month of the same year (September 2010, woot!), got married in the same year (2011), and now.. traversing this motherhood together. Having been friends with someone that long, it’s beautiful to witness another person grow inside and out. Conversations become more matured, and dreams become more for others than for ourselves.
It’s rare finding such friendship, and I’m happy to have this one with Normi.
That said, you know what else was birthed from these Tuesday afternoon dates?
One Tuesday afternoon, after rambling for hours about our new “career” as Moms, we went home and launched a blog for new moms like us.
These two are becoming my most favorite friends! And before you throw me a Billy Ray Cyrus speech (“You should be a parent, not a friend“), let me just say, I’m not talking about parenting. I only mean, we’re finally connecting with these two and sometimes, it almost feels as if they know that we’re their parents! Lol. Getting there.
The funny thing is, it may seem like we’re the ones making fun of them.. but what if they’re really the ones making fun of us? Lol.
Haha Dawn’s face.
For the past 10 months, they’re the closest thing we have to a social life. You know how it’s like when you’re excited to hang out with a friend? That’s how we feel about these two. We hurry home to “hang out” with them. We take them with us wherever we go, as much as we can. We watch TV with them, laugh with them, play with them. Spending time with them relieves our stress, attending to their needs makes us grow.
No one wants to see us anymore unless we tag along the twins. They’re like, our ticket to the party. We enter a room and everyone happily shouts, “Yay Dawn & Rain are here!” They take the twins from us and forget that we entered the room too, LOL.
No hard feelings! In fact it makes us really happy that their presence (and photos and videos) makes, not just us, but other people happy too. As their parents, how can we not take pride and joy in that? :)
23/52: A Year of Dawn & Rain | Week of July 28-August 3
Portraits of my children, once a week, every week in 2013
P.S. I’m waaayy behind my 52 Project. Busy bee! Can’t find time to blog here as much, but I’m not forgetting to take photos of the twins each week.
This has always, always been the case. At the end of each photo shoot, we end up with exactly ONE picture-perfect portrait of the twins (like the one above), and hundreds of these:
These girls. They drive us crazy.
They’re 10 months old today, but these photos were from last month, July 24, when they turned 9 months. We didn’t buy them a cake. Instead, we handed them two bags of heart-shaped marshmallows as gifts, which were left-overs from a candy buffet we set up around that time.
If these two were made to take the marshmallow test (watch it! watch it!), they probably would have failed. Lol. I can’t wait to see if they pass the marshmallow test when they’re older.
Haha, their faces. My husband and I can’t help but chuckle every time we view this set of photos.
The last photo with their Daddy was taken after we’ve washed them up and changed their clothes. And yes, that’s the best one I got of the three of them. Sorry, Daddy.
At this point I feel the need to celebrate being a Mommy too. At nine months these girls have been out in this world almost the same time they were inside my womb. And it still amazes me when I think about how tiny they used to be, and how on earth those big cheeks and chubby legs managed to fit inside my body.
They grow so fast and we have no choice but to grow with them. I’m pretty sure we’ve grown in the past 10 months more than we ever grew in the past 30 years. And these two clueless tiny humans are the greatest teachers we’ve ever had! They teach us to be alert, to be wise in how we use our time, to pray more fervently, to slow down, to enjoy the little things and see the world with new eyes.
Happy ten months, bebegirls. Thank you for gracing our lives with your presence. We love you.
22/52: A Year of Dawn & Rain | Week of July 21-July 27
Portraits of my children, once a week, every week in 2013
Week 20. It was Sunday afternoon and we just got home from church, which explains why the girls were wearing extra-girly dresses and ribbons. The dresses were from New York, sent by their Lola, and I was excited to take photographs of them wearing their new outfits. But once again it was impossible to have a decent photo session with the duo.
They just wouldn’t stay put! We would place them side by side but within seconds they would have moved, climbed on each other, crawled, or rolled all over the bed! There’s a lot of screaming and chuckling too.
If they could talk, I probably heard something like, “Mom, are you seriously taking photos of us again?”‘
But how can you get frustrated over not being able to take a couple of “decent” shots when these *points to the pictures* are the moments you captured instead?
“If you can’t beat them, join them,” is what their Daddy would always say. I think it’s his secret to maintaining sanity, having to live with 3 girls who drive him crazy.
Soon the energy started dying down, and Dawn was the first one to get knocked out, then me, then Rain. My husband, the last man standing, took this last set of photos, and although it’s not a very flattering portrait of me sleeping (LOL), I had to post this one because I love how our little quality time ended with a sweet, quality nap. Shortly after this last frame, Daddy fell asleep too, beside Rain.
Keeping up with these two is definitely far from easy. But I cherish everything—the rowdy moments, the quiet moments, and every moment in between.
20/52: A Year of Dawn & Rain | Week of July 7-July 14
Portraits of my children, once a week, every week in 2013