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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Jon and Kate Plus Eight

The last few days I've been hooked on a reality show on TLC. The show is called "Jon and Kate Plus Eight" and is about the day-today life of Jon and Kate Gosselin and their 8 kids (6-year old twin girls: Maddie and Cara and 3-year old sextuplets: Colin, Aaden, Joel, Hannah, Leah and Alexis). Although the show has set storyline or script, it is fascinating to watch Jon and Kate go through life with multiple multiples. I am forever amazed by how Kate manages the household (after Jon leaves for work). She takes care of 8 kids, keeps the house relatively clean, does loads of laundry every day, prepares meals and even manages to shop for organic food and products. Even with a limited amount of time, patience and budget, Kate uses only the best products for her kids and will even take the time to use homemade but organic cleaning products.

Another interesting aspect is their totally different but complimentary parenting styles. Jon is the easy-going, fun-loving, and "friend" to his kids. While Kate is the super organized, high-structured, disciplinarian. Both of them obviously love their kids and make lots of sacrifices to keep everyone happy. Despite busy, busy lives and hectic days filled with potty training, breaking up fights, calming down crying babies and changing diapers left and right, the Gosselins manage to create many happy family traditions: like picking out Xmas presents for each other, having picnics on the beach, going on vacation, and visiting theme parks.

Despite all their challenges and family dramas, Jon and Kate are doing a pretty good job. All the kids are developing well and have their own personalities and interests. Everyone is encouraged to develop their talents (there's piano lessons, violin lessons, cooking classes and craft projects). Everyone is also encouraged to have a say and make decisions that affect the family. The dynamics of the kids are great too. Yes, of course they whine, fight and squabble. But you can see they all look out for each other and support each other too.

Jojo and I were talking about it the other night. While we don't have kids of our own (yet), we do babysit our nieces and nephews a lot and have had plenty of practice. And evidently we each have our own parenting styles too. Jojo is very laid back and easy going. I can see him playing with the kids (and their toys too), watching cartoons with them, and feeding them chocolate and ice cream. But he can be pretty firm with discipline too and can actually be even more strict that I am. He is the one who says "no" when they ask for more candy or when they want to fingerpaint on the dining table. He is the one who says "go to bed" when its past their bedtime and they are still watching cartoons. I think I'm the parent who would be more organized and who wants to expose my kids to new things and ideas. I'd like to get involved with their school projects, meet their teachers and friends, and encourage their interests. But I'd also be the one who likes story-telling, working on projects and playing make believe. I'd be the one who'd pla family vacation and even exciting staycations. Like Jon and Kate, I think Jojo and I would make a good parenting team and can't wait to get started!

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Mom's All Girl Getaway

My mom and her girlfriends are going on an all girl getaway next week. This is something they have dreamed about, talked about and planned for a long time. As far back as I can remember, my mom has not taken a vacation on her own or with her friends. The only one she has ever taken was with Auntie Scarlet and Auntie Sally a few months after Atsi was born (that was over 35 years ago!). Since then mom’s vacations are usually with the rest of the family – and of course during these “vacations” she usually has to take care of most of the details plus make sure everyone is comfortable and having a good time. So in essence, they are not real vacations for her – just mom getting to do “mom stuff” in more picturesque locations with shopping and sightseeing as part of the agenda.

Anyway, this year mom turned 60, along with her very dear and long-time friends (Auntie Chito, Auntie Benjie and Auntie Cynthia). These ladies have been friends since their college years and have been through thick and thin together! They had talked about celebrating their birthdays (which fall within a few months of each other) together in Livermore (Northern CA) where Auntie Chito is based. I know they have been eagerly anticipating this trip for several months since my mom has mentioned it quite frequently. But as the date drew closer, each of them started having second thoughts. Let me interject here by saying that my mom and her friends are an exceptional group of women who throughout the years have always placed their families and others first. They are all outstanding wives, mothers, daughters, sisters, and friends - which was the exact reason why their planned vacation was in danger of getting canceled.

Mom was busy taking care of my grandfather during his final days and didn’t have time to plan a trip. Now that she is here in L.A with us, she is worried about leaving Atsi on her own and is busy taking care of the last minute wedding details. Mom is also on a mission in making sure Jojo, Jules and I have home-cooked meals and a well-kept home. Similarly, Auntie Benjie, Auntie Chito and Auntie Cynthia have their own reasons as to why they were hemming and hawing – reasons like taking care of their husbands, children, grandchildren, parents, work obligations, etc, etc. They’ve been going back and forth with their plans with my mom resigned to the fact that it may be best to hold off till another time. Finally, I told my mom, she should go on this vacation and that everything was going to be fine. We would work double time this week to finish as much of the wedding preparation as we could. Then next week, I would take some time off to help Atsi too. But it was final, she was going on vacation and that was that.

Two nights ago, I looked at flight times and prices – and last night I booked mom on a roundtrip flight to San Jose. I had to do this quickly before she could change her mind! Thankfully Auntie Benjie’s daughter, Trina, managed to force her mom to fly in from New York too. Luckily Uncle Ed (Auntie Cynthia’s hubby) gave his ok for her to drive down from San Francisco. And it’s a good thing that Auntie Chito’s schedule has cleared up for everyone to come stay with her in Livermore. Their 5 day / 4 night vacation starts on Monday when these four ladies take the Bay Area by storm!

This morning, over breakfast, mom was telling me she felt bad about taking a few days off with so many things still left to be done. This just shows the kind of person my mom is. She always puts us before herself and is always ready to give up her own happiness to make sure we are happy. I assured her that everything would be fine and that all we want is for her to go have fun, not worry about us, just relax and enjoy. If there’s any one in this world that I know of who deserves some time off to herself to just have fun and unwind, it has got to be (hands down) my mom. I really sincerely hope that she has an awesome time and does not feel one iota of guilty over it … she absolutely deserves these 5 days (and much more, if you ask me!).

Have an awesome time, mom! And tell us all about your adventures when you get back.