Wednesday, December 29, 2010

St. Nicholas, the Kleeschen, Santa Claus, and Jesus Christ

I believed in Santa Claus until I was five. It was exciting and magical! I wrote to him about being a good girl and told him the gifts I wanted to get from him on Christmas Day. Out of a long list of toys and dolls, I would get at least one.

I discovered that Santa wasn't real when we moved to the Philippines when I was five years old. There was no snow. The climate was too warm for Santa to go sleighing from one house to another. There were no reindeers. There were no chimneys. I wrote my wish list to Santa but I got candies and chocolates sold from my Lola's sari-sari store found in front of their house.

We no longer had the tradition of writing to Santa after that. A few years later, I'd just see him in Hollywood movies, shopping malls and Christmas decors. After all, I learned that Jesus was the real hero of Christmas. Of all the gifts we can ever receive, the one He gave was the most precious of all. This is something my husband and I taught our son,Polo.

Now, living in Luxembourg, we are introduced to another gift-giving personality -- St. Nicholas. History says that Santa Claus started as St. Nicholas. But not all acknowledge Santa Claus here. For locals, it is St. Nicholas, whom they call the Kleeschen, who checks if children are naughty or nice and gives them their most desired gift together with some chocolates, fruits and nuts on December 6 every year. The Kleeschen is not only a role acted out by the parents for their children but also by the god parents, friends,and family.

Preparing gifts for the children, lining up to get a gift from St. Nicholas in the malls, and everything that comes with it was all fun for Polo. But as Christmas approached, I wasn't sure if we should introduce the Santa and Kleeschen traditions to our sons.

We live in a country that believes in the Kleeschen; have family who live in the U.S., where there is a Santa Claus; and grew up in a country where it was too hot for the Kleeschen and Santa. We decided that as long as our son knows that we celebrate Christmas because of Jesus Christ, then, we're good. :)

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Breaking Ground

The novelty of being a resident here is slowly fading away. The awe and disbelief I felt before is gradually being replaced by reality. I am not a tourist. I reside here now. I can still put on my tourist hat but not with a traveller's urgency. I guess, this is a tinny-tiny taste of what settling down is.

It's time to start breaking ground and grounding myself and my family in the new country we call home. The soil is fertile, we must let our roots grow and dig in. For how long will we be here? Who knows? Still, it's time to lower the anchor and let the heart of this country touch ours.

Luxembourg, give it to me, baby!

Thursday, October 21, 2010


Here I am again, forced to an unhurried pace to fulfill one of the greatest duties of my lifetime – mother, nurturer. What better way is there to care for one’s child? What greater gift can there be than the one bestowed unto me by nature, by the Heavens Above? Because of faithfulness and compassion I have received and so with love, faith and dedication, I give. The wealth of health and well-being are the rewards I reap in the sight of a contented grin reflecting security and trust. This is priceless because at this moment, all else stands still, all priorities pause. While a private silent conversation takes place, a secret exchange, a slow dance that cannot be savored at a hurried pace.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Beloved Victor of Christ and of the People

To both Marvin and I, this is the meaning of our second son's name -- Juan Nicolo Amiel.

Juan - the spanish version of John, which means a gift of God. It is also the name of one of Jesus' 12 apostles, whom He called beloved.

Nicolo - is a variant of the Greek name Nicholas and means "people of victory."

Amiel - is a hebrew name meaning "God of my people."

He was born 2.78Kg, 48.5cm via c-section at 1:23 am in Kirchberg Hospital, Luxembourg. Now, he is 3 months and 8 days young, weighing at least 5.140 Kg. He smiles, laughs, and sleeps longer at night. He seems to see most things. He still cries like a baby girl when we delay in addressing his needs. He's been to Germany once, Belgium twice, rode a chairlift and much more while snuggling in my Storchenwiege Baby Wrap. Thank God, he is breastfeeding steadily.

He is the new addition to our little Mara-Agustin family. :) He is making our everyday life here in Luxembourg very interesting.

Monday, September 13, 2010

With Tons of Grace, Life Goes on 17 Hours Away...

My husband, two sons and I have been in Luxembourg for at least 5 months now. It took us around 8 months to get our act together and relocate here then, we hopped on 3 planes that took a total of 17 hours to bring us here.

We've been through tons already -- lived in hotel, a service apartment, now settled in our own aparment (or condo space as it is called in the Philippines); learned to take care of our firstborn on our own, manage our own household, grappled with our home appliances (as we sometimes still do); adjusted to the language (and we still are) and developed our french, german, and luxembourgish basic vocabulary; played host to our first house guest; entertained house guests a couple of times; introduced our firstborn to the Creche' (daycare), dragged him there crying then brought him there with ease and excitement after he got used to it and enjoyed the company of his friends and "teachers"; welcomed our second child, panicked a bit about the new addition to our family (mainly, that's just me. My hormonal changes are the culprit), established a new household rhythm; welcomed my Mom to our house, introduced her to our second child, and got her acquainted with Luxembourg and neighboring Germany and Belgium cities. Whew, I hardly could say that in one breath let alone write it in just one sentence!

Living in a foreign country on our own can be challenging but manageable. I feel the need to stretch my boundaries and expand my comfort zone. Most of the time, slowly, I adapt. I don't do it with ease, though. Usually, it comes with a lot of anxiety and uncertainty but then, grace comes at the right time to pull me forward.

Like when our firstborn begged and cried when we brought him to the Creche' the first few times, I was uncertain if we were doing the right thing or just traumatizing him. With patience and LOTS of prayers, he eventually agreed to go there two times a week for a few hours and eventually enjoyed it. He even asked me to let him stay there longer a number of times and would sing and jump around on our way home from the Creche' -- signs that he was having fun there.

An awkward "stretch" was when I had our second son. I always felt that I was measured and have been found lacking -- with my mother milk supply during the 1st few weeks after giving birth; with my capacity to manage the house with a new baby and take care of our firstborn at the same time. It's really all about grace. It comes when I need it the most and then it gently leads me on, bringing me one step higher in the ladder of motherhood and housewife-dom.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

I am an artist

I am an artist. I am meant to create art. Artistry is in my blood, in my family line.

When my Lolo Andy was alive, he would stay in his room and type away what I thought were legal documents for the cases he was working on. On the night of his funeral, I learned that he wasn’t slaving on legal documents one-hundred percent of the time but was composing poetry, essays and stories most of the time.

His written art were all about family, virtues, integrity – things that his heart was full of. I could sense his struggle to be a light in a very dark and gloomy world. I could taste the pain he felt when trying to cope with the death of our Lola. I could even feel the warm embrace of love he had for his loved ones. His literature was so alive and real.

While drinking from his cup of words, I felt my soul trace its roots back to him. Part of my identity was revealed. I am part of a song that my grandfather composed in his most authentic moments. Now, my dad, titas, sisters and cousins are joining in, contributing to the harmony.

Lolo Andy and most definitely our forefathers who came before him were artists who painted our lives with color, emotion, sincerity, and passion. This is the reason why the call of the pen keeps wakes me up in the wee hours of the morning and the call of art and color tugs at my heart during unforgettable soul-binding moments.

To my lineage, I must be true. To my gifts, I must be grateful. To myself, I must be permissive. I must let my art live. Awake my soul. Rise my senses. Give glory to the Source of all Good Things. The gift of time, we will not waste.


Unlike most females, I am amused whenever my wardrobe matches someone I know. I am thrilled by the coincidental occurrence of two people wearing identical outfits while being in one place at one time. I don't expect my clothes to be unique and one-of-a-kind as my budget only allows me to shop in common stores that have more than 5 stocks of each size of one design... But, it's just funny to meet a clothes-twin.

Since, I'm sooo amused with uniformed outfits, my office friends and I planned a mellow yellow day... We were like sunshine in a gloomy, cloudy day. :)

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Hmm... What's New?

I haven't blogged for a long time now. I've been quite preoccupied. Thank God for the free time I have this morning. :) Here are the updates on Polo so far:

Polo turned 2 last Feb 21, 2009. We celebrated it at McDonald's in Frontera Verde on Feb 22 with friends and family.

I stopped breastfeeding Polo one week after he turned 2. This is an answered prayer. I prayed that the weaning will not be traumatic and stressful for the 2 of us. It wasn't automatic but it wasn't difficult either. Marvin was the one who pacified Polo and put him to bed during the weaning week. It helped that we prayed for it to be easy and that we've been talking to about the weaning Polo since he was 1.6yrs old. Yesterday, someone asked him if he wanted to drink milk from Mommy. Polo mumbled, "... (I am) 2 years old," explaining in his own words that he is old enough to drink from a cup. Awww... He's slowly growing out of his "baby" years. *Sniff*Sniff*

He didn't cry during his last haircut and Pedia Check-up! Wohoo! We can expect less stress for Marvin and I on our next visit to the barbershop and doctor. Wihee! Oh, and yesterday, all of us got our Flu Vaccine Shots at home c/o of my sister, Doctor Joanne. It was painless for most of us, btw. I am so proud of you, Ate! Marvin and I prepped Polo. One week in advance, we were telling him about the injection and that his Ninang Joanne would be giving it to all of us. Yesterday, before Doctor-Ninang Joanne arrived, we reminded him about the injection, saying, "Later, Ninang Joanne will give Polo an injection. Everybody will get an injection." Without much fuss or thought, Polo said his usually sweet and cool, "Ok." True enough when it was his turn to get his shot, he was cool -- his usual crying and whining was absent. He even watched his Lolo Dante, Ninang Kaye and Kuya Aia get their own shot before he did. He squirmed a bit when he felt the bite of the vaccine but there were no tears. After the shot, he limped a bit but headed back to our room to play with his toys. Brave boy, I must say! In my heart, I am jumping and cart-wheeling. Yipee! Mana siya kay Mommy. Hindi siya takot sa injection! ;)

He can finally drink from a straw. We tried to introduce a straw to him a number of times. Those attempts ended with him blowing through the straw than sipping from it. Hehehe... During the Holy Week, I was surprised to see him drink from it with ease. Now with the straw, drinking milk from the cup is more fun. It helps us get him to drink his milk.

He can sing! His all-time favorite songs are "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star", "Happy Birthday", "ABC" (which has the same tune as Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star... hehehe), and "Are You Sleeping, Brother John?" It's sooo cute to see him sing on his own when he plays. He just breaks into song or hums and sways to the tune of the song he is singing.

He is now old enough to join kiddie games in Children's parties. Last week, Polo and Marvin attended a children's party. Polo would usually run around, dance or cling to us but this time, he listened to the instructions, watched the other children, joined the games, and even won! Wohoo! Winner! :)

His cartoon movie favorites have expanded. Cars and Bee Movie is still the all-time favorite but now, he requests for "Robinsons" (for Meet the Robinsons, one of the cartoon movies that made me cry), "Lion King", and "Kung Fu Panda." He still complains when you change the channel while he is watching boxing, UFC, and circuit racing (F1, motorbikes, cars, etc). He knows his TV preference. In each cartoon show or movie that he watches, someone has to be "Papa" (or Marvin), "Mommy" (or me), and Polo.... So in "Ratatouille", I am the lady chef and Marvin is Linguini. In "Meet the Robinsons," Polo is Lewis, I am Lewis' Mom, and Marvin is Lewis' Dad. In "Cars", Polo is Lightning Mc Queen, and I am Sally... and so on and so forth. Hehehe...

He already had his 1st kiss! He probably kissed many girls before but this is the 1st one we captured on cam. Look, it looks like he will become a good kisser when he grows up. Hehehe...