TALK TUESDAY: Juliana Louise

One of the things that I have to be most thankful for is the speed technology has evolved in the last decade.  If it weren’t for tablets and the Internet, the husband and I would have had such a struggle maintaining our relationship pre-marriage.  If it weren’t for those nifty gadgets, I would not have had the chance to get to know my nieces and nephews abroad.

Juliana Louise

Waiting for the doctor :)

Juliana is one of my nieces, and I think she’s the first that has grown accustomed to seeing my face on a tablet.  I don’t know how to properly describe it, but it looked to be that it was so normal for her to just see me through her iPad.

She’s visited us in the tropics before but I think the most memorable one was in 2013.  We had just buried Tatay mere weeks then.  I remember that out of body feeling, that everything wasn’t real yet.  But they were coming home.  That, for sure, I was happy about.  I remember asking my boss if I can take half of the day off, since their flight comes in at noon.  My brother Ted already skipped the day to pick them up, and our youngest brother Daniel was right on time to swing by my office.

Juliana Louise 1

Mornings with her, circa 2014

I was a bit nervous coming home; I didn’t know how she’d react upon seeing me.  Even now that I am an adult, I fear rejection so much, especially when it comes from kids.  Something about being disliked by children makes you feel extra crappy than being disliked by adults.  It’s like their senses tell them they cannot trust you.  I was just so nervous.

That anxiety, combined with my grief desperately (but well) hidden, made that day too emotion-ridden.  But you can’t pause days.

It was a hot day, and my mother has laid out a feast of shrimp, beef broth, barbecued pork belly and fresh mangoes for our balikbayans.  Daniel honked the horn as we approached our house, so I knew she’d be aware that someone was coming.  Half sweaty, half sticky, I walked into our house and saw Juliana, then 3 years old, with a huge grin on her face.

“You’re not in an iPad anymore,” she exclaimed.  I walked up to her and she didn’t even hesitate throwing her arms around me.  I swooped her up in my arms and said, “Hi.”

I don’t know about you, but that to me is a perfect meet-cute.

Juliana

Juliana at school, end of 1st Grade. They grow up fast.

TALK TUESDAY: Machiko Skye

It’s not the first time for Machiko to be featured on this blog.  I think she’s been here for the most part, and that girl has been my source of joy in my darkest of times.  Honestly, the day her momma Marga and I found out she was coming was the day we knew we were adults.

Max and Marga, way back then

Max, as we call her, is one of those kids that are just smart.  It was a conscious effort to raise her without too much dependence on technology, so it won’t be a surprise if her first memory is reading a book.  Her life is filled with building blocks, Dr. Seuss, postcards and stamps, arts and crafts, and thankfully, she hasn’t gotten tired of it yet.

My most vivid memory of Max was when Marga left the laptop in their room.  The tablet was also there, and my phone just sitting idly by.  I think she was just four years old then.  Her screen time is never that much (until recently), so you would think being deprived of something would make her a little too enthusiastic once she sees a bounty of options at her disposal.

But that’s not Max.  She walked past the screens, grabbed a book from the shelf under the table, and sat beside the laptop as she turned the pages of her read.  Her brow furrowed, her lips pursed, she looked like an adult carefully digesting every word to All The Places You Can Go.

Some people have said that Max might be missing out on a lot of things because of the limited interaction with technology.  Maybe, but she never appeared to be.  I think it’s because she’s never had it, that’s why in her head, there’s no use missing it.  Marga has started increasing her technological consumption when she started in big school.  When kids start big school, they immediately grow faster.  In my opinion of course.

We still exchange letters and postcards.  She even challenges me to find newer stamps to use.  Her handwriting has improved a lot, and now, her letters sound more like journal entries.  Max, I think, was born with an old soul, a soul so seasoned that her song for our wedding was the Beatles’ Here, There, Everywhere.  A soul that refuses to accept my name change just because I’m married.  A soul that still gets excited over phone calls.  A soul that matches mine.

And Marga knows it too.

For the love of postcards

Do you still believe in postcards?

I ask this question now because as of late, I’ve been travelling a lot.  As of late, my niece Machiko Skye has been learning to write.  With a command of language and comprehension beyond her years, she never fails to ask for a postcard whenever she would hear about my departures.

Source:  Instagram - @margoks

Source: Instagram – @margoks

My Paris trip definitely amped up my creativity.  The City of Lights were not short of picturesque postcards.  I immediately sent her a couple, and if it weren’t for the faulty postal service in the Philippines, it would have arrived before I came home.

Source:  Instagram - @margoks

Source: Instagram – @margoks

Source:  Instagram - @margoks

Source: Instagram – @margoks

During my NJ visit, Machiko wrote letters for her cousins.

Machiko Skye New Jersey Postcards Letters

The NJ kids enjoyed it so much, we actually had a letter writing day just so they can reply to her!  And she was more than happy to read them!

Source:  Instagram - @margoks

Source: Instagram – @margoks

The advent of technology is phasing out the relevance of stamps and mail couriers, but there really is no better way of practicing handwriting, communication and interpersonal skills more than letter writing.  I’m very blessed to have so many of my family still in love with old school pen and paper.  Even the little Jared Franco.

Source:  Instagram - @jannicasusi

Source: Instagram – @jannicasusi

So… do you still believe in postcards?

Back to regular programming

So the last three weeks came and went, and I am now back in the Philippines.  As much as it breaks our hearts (hyuck), Le Beau and I are back to regular programming, Facetime and iMessaging forever.

But then I cannot deny the joy of dating him for the last three weeks.  It was absolutely divine.

What I am most enthused about is the time I spent with my nephews and nieces.  I don’t think I would have gotten to know them well if I didn’t take this vacation.  I now have new breakfast buddies and new park buddies.

Breakfast with Miko and Marcky

Juliana Louise and Myah Alyssa

Lily and Madie

I got to take care of the youngest member in the family, the beautiful and fast-growing Olivia Mackenzie.

With Olivia

I am so ecstatic to be part of this memory.  I remember her visit from last year.  She welcomed me from work, I came home past lunch time.  The first thing she said, “You’re not in iPad anymore!”  Ah, Lily.  <3

Lily's First Day

I met Le Beau’s best friend and his family.

The Almanzars

I never imagined that I will be back in this house after ten years.

Yale

But then again, I never imagined this either.

Love and I

Life sure knows how to surprise you.

Meet Olivia Mackenzie

So here’s the thing with this trip:  not only do I get to be with Le Beau again, I also get to meet the newest addition to the family.

I remember that excitement; it’s definitely a different kind from the one I felt on my way to claiming my luggage.  I was just giddy.  I wanted to meet her already, and from the pictures I saw at the beginning, I believe she has my cheeks.

Le Beau was laughing.  “You’re much more excited to meet her than to see me!”  Of course that wasn’t true.  But at the same time, it was.

He was saying we’ll pass by the Goethals Bridge.  I have no idea what that was.  But when we turned the corner to that street in Elizabeth, I wanted to leap out of the car already.

And there she was, in all her sleeping and yawning glory.  She smells like milk and feels like cotton against the skin.  Beautiful limbs.  Ten fingers, ten toes.

Hi Olivia.

Meeting Olivia