The Highs of December

How the blessings do pile up if we take the time to count them. I haven’t hands enough to count them all in one round. See me tick off my fingers as I count the things that have taken place in the course of 31 short days and start over when I run out —

  • three Music Ministry Practices (so that would be three fingers)
  • two Speakers Practices (and two more fingers)
  • the completion of my Anglo-Saxon Literature course which resulted in an A+ on my term paper and my overall class grade
  • the SHS Variety Show and re-connecting with old friends
  • SHS Battle of the Bands
  • Pacquiao vs. de la Hoya at the Almarios’ house
  • Youth Camp
  • Christmas
  • St. Nicholas Day (OUR STOCKINGS WERE FULL!!!!)
  • the CFC Christmas Party
  • Daddy’s birthday
  • Yena’s birthday
  • Mama’s birthday
  • NINO’s birth
  • Mum and Dad’s 19th Anniversary
  • Yena’s Nutcracker performance
  • Yena’s birthday tea party
  • relatives coming over (some of which I hadn’t seen in nearly three years)
  • super awesome jamm session with Unc and Ninong and Kuya Vin and sometimes Mummy singing
  • hanging out with the Nadermans
  • driving all over the place on errands or para lang magpasyal with family
  • date with Yenyenners
  • lunch with the kiddies
  • the re-appearance of the Caramel Apple Spice at Starbucks (I had at least three)
  • long and lovely phone calls with two wonderful best friends named Devin and Paolo (four fingers? five? can’t remember)
  • I’m sure we had a household/fraternal or two somewhere in there (go ahead and put out three fingers)
  • Michael’s monthly Faith Unplugged
  • a bunch of talks with Mum and Dad about important life-changing stuff (a whole hand, please)
  • going through the pantry and laughing a lot
  • bonding with CFC Titos and Titas

… and I’m sure there are more and more and more if I really take the time to think back day-to-day, but that’s all I can remember off the top of my head.

Yes, I’ve been stressed. Yes, there were times when it seemed like I hadn’t the energy to laugh, or even smile… but I want the world to know that when I look back now on all the things that happened last month, EVERYTHING makes me smile, even the stress. After all, the stress in particular, or rather the cause of the stress, was character building.

Hmm… I simply cannot decide whether to go forwards or backwards? OH WELL. How about I start in the middle? seeing as my list isn’t in chronological order, anyway.



Ehm… So after the fight

me: That was awesomeeee! But darn, I wanted to see a knockout.
Mum (incredulous): Doris, pakingan mo nga ang anak ko. Gusto pa raw na may nabagsak.
Tita Doris (even more incredulous): Aisa! Naman. Mabuti na nga na clean fight.
me: But… but… I wanted to see a knockout…
Tita Cynthia: Aisa! So bloodthirsty…
*Tita Fides chimes in, of the same mind as Mum and Tita Doris and Tita Cynthia, all reprimanding me, something about de la Hoya’s face, how it wouldn’t have been pretty, etc. etc.*

Oh dear. *sigh* I don’t mean to be bloodthirsty. But I would have loved to see a knockout. Nothing too bloody. Just one quick *wham* in the right place. Surely Manny could’ve pulled that off without it being too messy? He’s quick enough, isn’t he? Maybe it’s just my fascination with the whole once-in-the-right-spot thing. Or maybe it’s because Kenny was telling me about when he got knocked out in sparring soon after he switched from Tang Soo to MMA, and I wanted to know what a K.O. looks like. Because frankly, my only concept of K.O.s are from playing Tekken/DOA. Blah! Corny.

Hehe, moving on to… ah, the re-appearance of the Caramel Apple Spice. Yes, well, this also covers some of the driving all over the place. The three times that I can remember… were twice at the Starbucks in Jungle Jim’s, and once at Kroger’s on Yankee off of Cin-Day. So the first time, I’d gone shopping with Paco, so I treated us both (hooray, venti), and the second time, I’d taken relatives out to see Foodie Paradise (naturally, naturally xD and venti again), and the third time was when we hung out with the Nadermans (eh, just tall).

So now let me move on to that last one: The Nadermans came over to spend time with us (aka eat our food [and don’t be insulted on their behalf, it’s a joke between our families; no, I am not being rude]) on the 29th. It’s such a homey feeling… all of us gathered in the sala, on the floor, the couches, the piano seat, with the coffee table (loaded with plates and Spanakopita, sausages, biscotti, some sort of popcorn covered in chocolate and caramel I think?, cups and water and Orange Julius) acting as a most effective barrier for Samuel… We talked about the 4real forum (and other forums, but mostly 4real, of course) and people we knew knew (repeat indicates actually met) on there and things that were currently being discussed… we reminisced about the babies… we talked about Italy… food… the weather… hair… how boys will be boys and more stuff that was said on the forum… a long and lovely chat, I wish that just for once, we could have the Nadermans and the McIntyres over at the same time, everybody’d just *click* perfectly.

So after we talked and talked and talked and ate and ate and ate, we took the Nadermans to Chopsticks, but strike two!!! It’s the second time we’ve taken them there, but the first time it was closed because it was a Sunday… and this time, it looked like they were closed, as in, gone gone? *sad* That was one of my favorite restaurants and they knew us well from us being there so much… I hope they’re ok this new year.

On a side note, it still hasn’t quite hit me that it’s 2009 already. *sigh* So this is the new year.. and I don’t feel any different… the clanking of crystal… explosions off in the distance… So this is the new year… and I have no resolutions… for self assigned penance… for problems with easy solutions… Haha, sorry. I’m listening to Death Cab. But I digress.

So we ended up going to Kroger’s and grabbed an assortment of food — sushi, sandwiches, fried chicken, pasta, etc. — and then sat down at the Starbucks inside Kroger’s to eat dinner. We took up all the tables… lucky for us no one else had the idea of having dinner randomly at Kroger’s that night. Haha. Oh, yes, we ordered Starbucks of course; would’ve been rude not to and then take up all the tables there, eh?

After dinner, we kids sat in the book/magazine section and read and read and read as the parents were still talking/shopping (I STILL haven’t finished Brisingr, I just got past the forging of the sword), and then we went our separate ways, full of good food and good conversation.

More about driving all over the place — Paco and I went shopping at Jungle Jim’s, I went shopping at Jungle Jim’s and Kroger’s, Yena and I went on a date, I drove relatives all over the place (Jungle Jim’s, Bridgewater Falls, Walmart), I picked up balloons for Yena’s party… yep. Lots of driving. Whew.

Next on the list… Well the A+ is easily explained; I got an A+! and I’m proud of it, because I got a B- on the Bravewriter course and was disappointed… Yet, I must admit, I wasn’t surprised. About the B-. It always helps to be writing about something you feel passionate about, and I am now very interested in Anglo-Saxon literature and I intend to begin this new year by completing Bede’s Ecclesiastical History, as we were only assigned the chapters on St. Alban and King Oswald. (So I guess I do have a resolution, but it’s certainly no penance, and I’d hardly call it an easy read, but it’s sure to be well worth it!)

Since I’m itching to talk about it, I’ll tell next about going through the pantry… Basically, Mum asked me to go through the pantry, shelf by shelf, and call out to her what was there so that she could spreadsheet it and see what we needed for January. Well, I found some interesting things…

me:Wait. Don’t tell me what it is. Uhm… oh geeze… it’s in halo-halo!!!! Argh!!! WAIT! Don’t tell meeeee… oh, fine, what is it.
Mom: Gulaman. Agar Agar.
me: GULAMAN! That was it. I didn’t want to say Agar Agar, that’s what it says on the package…

me: Coconut. No… actually… I can’t tell if it’s coconut or wax…
Mom: Riiigghhht, Ais, I’d like to see you try making it into candles.

me: Tree ears? [no label, that’s why I was asking]
Mom: Yay! She’s learning!!

me: Dried Lily Flower.
Mom: What??
me: … Dried Lily Flower?
Mom: … Patingin nga! There’s no such thing as dried lily flour… oh! FLOWER! Ais! You should have said FLOW-WER, you’ve been saying flour flour flour that I thought it was another flour and I was like what? dried lily… that doesn’t make any sense…
*Aisa is doubled over laughing*

Oh, I found the whatchamacallit breading stuff you use to bread shrimp and chicken and tonkatsu and stuff… yum yum yum. Anyway.
Mom: Oh, you should give it to Paolo since he likes cooking that.
me: Oh. Oh. Yeah. I should. Should I?
Mom: What?? AIS!!! It’s OPEN! You’re going to give it Paolo and be like, ‘Here, Paolo, you can have leftovers!
me: Whaa no, we’re cleaning out the pantry. He wouldn’t mind. I just tell him, ‘Oh, Paolo, we were cleaning out the pantry.’ I’m sure he’d be glad to help…
For the record, he said he wouldn’t mind. Muaha.

me: Acorns.
Mom: What?!
me: Or… no… maybe not acorns…
me: Oh… mah bad… they look like acorns…

Haha. And now… Ah, St. Nicholas Day. No, I am not too old for it!!! St. Nick knows us well :D He got us fruit roll-ups… cute little cans of Dr. Pepper… a can of vienna sausages each… clementines… animal crackers… goldfish crackers (WOW I haven’t had those in years)… Christmas ornaments… Pringles… gee, I forget what else. Haha. It was a lot of fun.

YOUTH CAMP!!!! Uhm… no. I’m not going to blog about it here. That has a post entirely to itself… the length of it kinda needs one… you know? So moving on…

Youth Camp prep. The Music Ministry Practices and the Speakers’ Practices. These took place on 12/06, 12/13, and 12/19. I got a little stressed, yes :) but underneath it all (and oh dear, I hope people were able to sense this in me, or I owe them sorries) I was happy. The Music Ministry hasn’t been complete since May, and we didn’t have any formal practices after Pre-Con. It was nice to see everyone together again… ready to make some noise… Jon sitting on everyone’s laps… the usual. And then some new things that were not so usual. Paolo had his saxophone. Paolo/Matt/Miggy rapping during breaks. That was new. Haha.

Mmmm… nostalgia. Having us all together again… Matt at the drums… Gabe on lead… Kim and Mariel on rhythms… Paolo on bass… Jon and Candisse singing… I could close my eyes and be at Camp (in Feb) and Pre-Con again. We learned a new song — Adonai. We nailed it!!!!! and if I’m not mistaken, it has officially been added to the list of our favorites, along with Glory, Now That You’re Near, Hosanna… :)

The speakers/sharers’ practice went great!!! mainly because Michael Walsh was there. Oh, no, that’s not a put-down to my Brothers and Sisters — they did a wonderful job preparing for their talks and sharings — but Michael had a wealth of knowledge and experience to share with us, and I thank God for His presence in Michael. I could never ever get tired of listening to Michael. Haha :D

Since we were already on the subject of music, I’ll cover the jamm session, next… Ninong was over from St. Louis, Unc from PA, and Kuya Vin was coming over because Yena was having her birthday tea party. Sometimes Mum and I would sing, sometimes I’d play, but most of the time it was Ninong and Unc and Kuya jamming. I love watching them!!!!! Let’s see… we did… Take On Me, With or Without You, some John Mayer, an attempt at Hey There Delilah, some Parokya, Blind, a bunch of stuff from their (the guys’) time that I didn’t know (no I’m not trying to make them look old xD), White Flag, some Rivermaya… Ahhhhh it was awesomeeeee.

So Yena celebrated her 7th birthday with a tea party :D which was really cute. She planned the whole menu!!! and wow was it goood. Especially the croissandwiches (I don’t know if she made that word up? I’ve never heard it before. But hey! it works) and the orange julius. Mm mm mmmmm. The prep was also fun, I’d taken Yena shopping at Bridgewater Falls (that was our date), which included a stop by the party store to order balloons for the following day, and I made the croissandwiches (I love my knifing skills).

CHRISTMAS Eve we stayed home. I made Spanish Bread and Ensaimada, which Daddy and the kids dropped off at the Dalisays for everyone partying there. They sent along presents for us, which we opened at midnight. My favorite present this year was a knife. Oh yes, finally a decent knife. Bwahaha. I pulled the blade open, and… “Oooooh it’s so sharp and cute!!!” which set the boys laughing and making jokes about Ate Aisa being so bloodthirsty, which led to scenarios… something about me stabbing someone and then saying, “Awww. Did I huwt you?” Rotflwtime I love my little bros. (On a side note, they’re not exactly little anymore!!!! Paco’s taller than me, now!!)

We heard funny stories afterwards about the gifts we’d sent… You see, we’d packed one for each member of each family. The first story I heard was that everyone was saying that if Stef had the energy to bake for them, she should have just come to the party… and then they started checking out the gifts… and tasted… and decided it was better that Stef stayed home to bake for them, after all :) Hahahaha. I heard various stories… from the Alcayagas, Almarios, Dalisays, Tolentinos, and de Velas… something about nagaagawan sila… and Tito Leo said something about finishing his and then asking to taste others “to make sure that they’re the same,” (which comes out funnier in tagalog) because maybe we didn’t give the exact same things to everyone. Hayy nako xD

Hmm… I think I’ll go in order now, even though the list isn’t in chronological order. Hahaha it’s just getting hard to keep track what I’ve covered and what I haven’t.

12/05 Sycamore Variety Show, I got to see people I hadn’t seen in AGES. I hadn’t seen Terhi, Nate, or Michelle since Homecoming (October), Jenny since the benefit concert at the Blue Ash Amphitheater (May ’07), Lydia since the random get-together THREE years ago (June ’05), Aliza since West Side Story (I forget what month that was), Candice since… hmm… you know what, I totally forget when the last time I saw Candice was, and… last but not least…. this guy comes up to me and he’s like, “Aisa…” “VIVEK?!?!!??!” rotfl. I haven’t seen Vivek since FOURTH GRADE. That was quite funny. I still remember his voice as a 9-yo, and boy did it get deep.

It was nice to see so many people I hadn’t seen in a while. I hope we’ll have another random get-together soon. Haha, so I guess my focus was really the people I saw rather than the actual show… but, for the record, Gabe performed crazy awesomely, as usual. As for Paolo, that was something I’ve never seen before, and it was very impressive, not to mention funny :) Check out the vids.

We went to Dairy Queen afterwards… ‘we’ being me, Nate, Michelle, Paolo, Matt (I rode with Matt), Bridget, Jess, Abby, Kuya Gabe… joined later by Travis and his gf, and Joe… and I forget who else walked in, because my focus was the conversation on my end of the table going on between the YFCers and Nate. Fun fun. Oh geeze, Matt. Let It Rock came on while we were in the car, and he started… going crazy… muaha. It was amusing.

Let me see, what did we talk about… There was one point where I got all crazy because I remembered something I wanted to tell Michelle;

Michelle! Guess what I found in the piano seat while I was cleaning it out the other day!
Do you remember that presentation we had at B&N? for Mother’s Day and Cinco de Mayo? Where you were twirling the scarves?
I found lyrics to the songs were doing!
What?! You still have them?

So… the guys (Nate, Paolo, Matt) were staring at us as we had this super hyper conversation… and then they looked at each other… and started going, “Oh, oh, guess what, oh, oh, you know what, oh, goodness, oh my, haha, what…” in high-pitched tones… mocking us :P How unkind. And then Michelle and I looked at each other and were like… Nah. Ours was more interesting. Not to mention, it actually had substance… *cough*

So I had proof that night that certain people *ahem* don’t check their emails… because Paolo turns to me and goes, “Ais… what time is practice tomorrow?” “…” “Gabe’s asking.” *Gabe turns* “Ais… what time is practice tomorrow… 1… 1:30? 2:30? *me giving Gabe incredoulous looks* 12:30…?” “Now I KNOW you boys don’t check your email.” “Yes we do!!!!” Bah. Hmm… what else did we talk about… oh.

Gabe: Aisa, when’s your birthday again? March… March… 23? 27? …
me: … Gabe. You’ve known me since 4th grade and you still don’t know my birthday??
Gabe: … 28…
Paolo: Just because —
Nate: Aisa. I’ve known you since 8th grade and I still don’t know your —
me: But he’s known me since 4TH grade!
Paolo: Oh, fine, when’s Nate’s birthday, then?
me: April 3rd!
*Paolo and Nate look at each other*
Paolo: She knows. How does she know?
me: Ughhh!!! September 18, April 17, September 20, June 16, April 3rd *points to Gabe, Matt, Paolo, Michelle, Nate in turn*
Paolo: Ok that’s just scary —
Nate: Aisa. Are you training to be a Jewish mother?
me: …
Nate: Because Jewish mothers know *everything.*

:P What it comes down to is… I know their birthdays. Sheesh. Ohhh which is what got me and Michelle started on the B&N thing, because we started talking about my memory… and my page here on my memories of BAE… ahaha. It was funny.

The following Friday was the Sycamore Battle of the Bands. Kuya Gabe performed 4th, and I was SO SURE they were going to win… but I left after they played, and didn’t hear whatever the 5th band was… and that was the band that won. Oh, I haven’t gotten over it. I am still extremely indignant on Kuya Gabe’s behalf. But anyway, that was a lot of fun… the de Velas were there, of course… and the Gabriels… Jon… Matt… and Kuya Vin. The only other person I saw was Eric. It was nice talking to him, I haven’t seen him online much, but he’s been super busy, so. It was nice to catch up a bit… didn’t recognize him till Paolo pointed him out, and Eric waved, and then came over; he’d cut his hair, so I must be excused… haha. It was the Eric-from-4th-grade haircut. The last time I saw him was sometime this summer when I hung out with basically a bunch of guys at Swaim Park for a couple hours, which was sort of weird… but it was fun, and the point is, Eric’s hair was long then and I hadn’t recognized him then either, until he was right in front of me saying, “Hey, it’s good to see you,” and… yeah…

THE CFC CHRISTMAS PARTY!!! The absolute best part was the Newspaper Dance. Oh, but I’m getting ahead of myself…

Worship went… well… I guess? I mean, I think it went well, but I didn’t feel that everyone was really in in until Prince of Peace, which was the last song. Oh well, I hope they liked it. And Daddy did a super awesome job leading :) Especially with the prayer requests, in my opinion.

The KFC gave their presentation, and man were they awesome!! I loved the music that Tito Bien and Tita Res chose, especially Breath of Heaven. Beautiful. And all the KFCers were so focused, so talented!! Major *thumbs up* to Juli and Marky and Aya especially (Mary and Joseph and the innkeeper [very nice hand signals, Aya xD]).

Tito Madz gave a talk, and it was *so* needed. It was another God-incidence for me, because I’d just given a response to my English teacher on something that Tito Madz addressed, and that is the familiarity towards God, especially Jesus, and the lack of reverence.

Ahaha, I can’t say much about the food because I didn’t eat that much!!! I was busy MCing… for the games. The KFC went first, musical chairs. And then we had the parent-child game, a three-legged race. And then the Youth went, which means I was playing and not MCing, and Paolo won, and I DON’T GET how he won, I am so mad xD Basically, we had to make it from one end of the square to the other, blindfolded, and without stepping on any… eggs. They told me he went from one end to the other within five seconds. Arrrrghhh!!!!! I thought I’d win because I knew EXACTLY what was going on!!!!! rotfl.

And then… the CFC game. The Newspaper Dance. Oh my gosh. Absolutely hilarious. And I had an insanely awesome time MCing for that one. Bwahahaha, check out the vids, there’s three, but here’s my favorite one.

Daddy’s birthday and Mummy and Daddy’s 19th Anniversary was on the 15th… but I’m sorry to say that we kids didn’t exactly allow for them to leave on a date till a while afterwards =( Sorry Mumsie…

Mama celebrated her birthday on the 26th. We didn’t have a formal celebration, but see, everyone came over and stayed 2 nights with us… everyone being 11 people — Mama, Papa, Uncle Tops, Ninong Alvin, Tito Edwin, Tita Lulu, Ate Mariel, Tito Allan, Ninang Tin, Ate Mayette, and Tita Nene. It was a super fun weekend which included a lot of pasyal-ing xD We went to Jungle Jim’s, Bridgewater Falls twice, Streets of West Chester… oh, and China House. Haha. It was nice to catch up with everyone… hadn’t seen them since the last time we were in St. Louis… Tito Allan and Ate Mariel, hadn’t seen them since I was last in the Pinas in ’06… and Ninang Tin, I don’t know when the last time I saw her was.

Yena’s Nutcracker performance went very well :D ‘cept I was on the phone with Paolo after Youth Camp and he asked how the performance went, and I couldn’t help… throwing out? I wouldn’t call it ranting or venting, I wasn’t mad or anything… anyway, that I didn’t like Yena with so much make-up on. Hahaha. I mean, she wore more make-up in her two ballet performances than I’ve ever worn in my whole life. I really didn’t like how it looked on her up close… but thankfully Mum (and Tita Karri) weren’t heavy-handed with it; I was shocked by how much make-up some of the other girls were wearing, Yena’s age and younger. Eeek. Hehe. We celebrated at P.F. Chang’s afterwards.

The Friday Lunch Ladies (the stay-at-home CFC moms that can thus have group lunches on Fridays, and also any mommies that happen to be able to get off on Fridays, depends) had a their luncheon for Tita Miemie. While they were at Apsara, I took the kids to Chipotle and Panera, which was fun, it was my first time driving the four of us around, and I had the kids evaluate my driving, and they said I was excellent xD haha. The most treasured praise I’ve received yet since I got my license. I love my siblings :D so we had a good time, the four of us, dropping Mommy off at Apsara and then driving around. Oh, we saw Travis at Chipotle.. haha, I meant to tell Gabe, but I never got around to it. Oh well. It’s not like I said hi or anything, he doesn’t really know me.

Ehh, I’m going out of order, again. Haha. My first time at the Holy Spirit Center was for Michael’s Faith Unplugged. I rode with Tito Joe and Frances, and when all was said and done, the CFC made a pretty good showing… let me see, there were the Almarios… Suchoskis… Tolentinos… Kuya Chikki… I can’t remember now if Ate Joyce and Kuya Richard were there, maybe they were… and of course the Walshs themselves. If there were more, I forget now… hehe. But I think we represented the CFC really well. Oh, it was kind of bad of us, I guess, because after the talk (which went beautifully, btw — but then all of Michael’s talks are amazing, period, haha), during the fellowship, we… kept Michael to ourselves? Bwaha. It’s just, he was standing talking to us in a little circle while the others who had attended were over at the other end of the room having snacks. Whoops. Oh but come now, he was talking to us, we weren’t making a *point* of keeping him… hahahaha. Oh geeze, I love our community. :D

Fraternals, households, I don’t really have specifics to give… only that there was the one Fraternal that I made a point of taping the normal noise level of a CFC Fraternal Household xD

I got to bond with a lot of my CFC Titos and Titas and Ates and Kuyas during Camp. I needed to rant and stuff… and just unload… concerns flow upward, right? so I wasn’t taking it out on the Team… I just needed hugs sometimes. So I’d go to Tita Doris… Tita Karri… Ate Candice… Ate Joyce… Kuya Vin… and of course Tito Leo… and just be like, “Mommy/Daddy, I need a hug, please,” and sometimes have things to rant to them and ask for their advice on or their help with… :)

My dear Dev was, as always, available to me more often than I was available to her, in fact, I should call her today, and I believe I will as soon as I post this. It was a relief to rant to her about things… I know we got to talk at least twice, once in early December, and another time after particularly stressful times with Camp Prep. She was very supportive, and it helped to commiserate… haha.

Paolo and I had some long phone calls during winter break… some two and a half hours the monday night/tuesday morning after Camp… almost two hours Christmas morn… and another near two hours after he got back from Charleston.

And finally… last but certainly not least… the birth of another lovely, healthy, adorable, wonderful little miracle named Nino :D who is now the center of attention, naturally, naturally.

So that was my December… I hope that yours was as beautiful and as full of blessings… Peace, ya’ll =)



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