This is is not Stacey's picture

Stacey doesn't know how to work this yet. This picture will change. Eventually. Hopefully.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Survival skill: dish washing with limited water

I promised myself at the beginning of the year that I would blog at least once month. Hello, it's already Q2 of 2014 and I'm only writing my first entry. I have about 4 or 5 topics in my head that I've been wanting to write about. But as usual, it is staying mostly in my head. If you want to know what they were, kwentuhan na lang tayo (let's just talk).
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Sometime in the 1980's I remember the Philippines going through a period of El Nino. Rain was scarce and water was a precious commodity. I remember public service announcements on TV giving people tips on how to maximize and save water. I remember large water pails in the bathroom and smaller water pails in the kitchen. I remember my father making trips to the deep well hand pump in our back yard and my waiting for him by the door so I could take the bucket he just filled, empty it into a bigger pail, and give it back to him to fill again. It was a task we would keep doing until the big pail was full.

Now, almost 30 years later, I find myself once again in a similar situation. For the last few weeks, every 2 days, for 2 days each, our taps run dry. My life is once again all about big pails, small pails and water scoopers.

The good thing about having faced water rationing before is that I feel incredibly equipped to deal with its challenges. No hot water showers? No problem. Inconsistent laundry days? I'm flexible. Too much hassle to cook during no-water days? Prepare dishes in advance. But what I am most proud of is that even with no running water, I can wash the dishes.

Say what?

Alright, let me explain. We're used to washing dishes by rinsing them in water that runs from the tap. So, when the tap is dry, the immediate recourse some people take is to scoop up some water and pour it out in a steady stream, just like a tap, and rinse as usual. Sure, it's doable. But it's also wasteful. What I learned almost 30 years ago is a dish washing method that is much more economical.

Introducing: The Basin.

In what will be probably one of the weirdest, most random blog posts you will ever read, I pass on to you the life skill my dear mother taught me, and for which I will forever be grateful.

Step 1: build your pile. This method is time consuming and is more efficient when you have plenty to wash. This was breakfast and lunch dishes combined.
 
Step 2: get a basin and fill it with water. It doesn't need to be full. I only fill mine up to half or maybe even less.
 
Step 3: start rinsing your dishes, one by one, in the basin. This lets you can get rid of any food pieces, oil or any other dirt on the dish. Start off with the cleanest / most delicate ones. I have a 1yo son so I normally rinse his things first, followed by our drinking glasses. By the time you finish rinsing and discard the water, your basin may also be a little grimy from the dirt and the oil, especially if it's plastic. Give it a nice, simple cleansing with some soap and fresh water.

Step 4: soap your dishes.

Step 5: fill up your now-clean basin with water again, and start rinsing your dishes. As before, start with the delicate items first. In this case, I started with my son's milk bottle. Once you've done all the dishes, give your basin another once over to clean it.

On another note, I like to separate the washing of large pots and pans because they're a lot dirtier than plates and glasses. In those instances, I use the water here for their pre-soap rinse (step #1).
 

Step 6: Finally, give all your dishes a final wash by filling up the basin again and repeating the rinsing process. At this point your dishes will be ready to put away. In case you have any stubborn item, just set it aside and give it a third washing later.

Extra: I consider the water from the final rinse to be considerably clean so I try not to just discard it. I usually use it to soak the cleaning rags I use to wipe down the table or the kitchen sink. Or use it to give my pots and pans a good first rinse.

So there you have it. It's not the sexiest survival skill to know, but hey, it sure is useful.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Patience

A week ago I was optimistic about finally being able to regain some control of my life. Since moving, getting married and giving birth, my lifestyle has not exactly been the same. That is not to say that I am worse off than before. It is just to say that now I am different.

Everyday I am learning to live with and embrace that difference. Some days are harder than others but most days are peaceful days, love-filled days, memory-making days. Even if those days are sandwiched in the middle of dirty diapers, laundry, spit up, washing dishes, cooking dishes, a crying infant and the daily trash.

On occasion a part of me will yearn for something that is just for me. A little reminder of the casual freedom of a previous life. So, thinking that somehow I had the time for it, I finally opened up an oDesk account. I was going to be a freelancer, part-time employee, worker-from-home and an income-generator for my family. I was going to matter again.

Sure I'm alone at home with the baby all day every day and I have a house to maintain and a husband to care for but there must be a space in there somewhere for me, right? If I look closely at the rhythm of the day for me and my son, I can probably find the extra 2 or 4 hours I needed to be socially productive. 2 or 4 hours out of 24 hours is such a small thing to ask.

Or is it?

Yesterday my son and I couldn't get through his bath in peace. Wet and wailing, I was forced to scoop him up in my arms in an attempt to calm him. I struggled to towel him down but ended up probably drying him mostly with my shirt. And at night he spent so much time crying in my arms, I started crying too. I made my husband skip gym because I needed someone to relieve me of baby duty.

Then there is today. Today he is quiet. At the moment he is asleep. My household is at peace and I have time to sit at my computer and write. Maybe I do have my window of productivity. But this morning, he gave me a gummy smile as his tiny little hands reached for my face. Today I watched him crawl, stare and intently study the world around him, infinitely curious about all he could hear and see. Today I sang nursery rhymes to a lone audience member who doesn't mind that at most times mommy is out of tune.

And I think to myself, "maybe it can wait... maybe the job can wait..."

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Work-Life Balance

Early this year, after almost 15 years of running the rat race, and climbing up the corporate ladder, I jumped off the ladder altogether. My title changed from "Senior Manager" to "Home Manager" and eventually got promoted to "Stay-at-Home Mom".

Despite what it sounds like, staying at home does not equate to bumming around. There is always, always, something that needs to be done. The dishes, the meals, the laundry, the cleaning, the organizing, the washing... add to that the baby's bathing, feeding, changing, burping, cuddling & carrying. I realize that keeping house is just as busy and just as time-consuming as a regular 9-to-5 job.

A lot of mothering books tell you that it's easy to lose yourself in the routine of caring for a home and a child. They remind mothers to take time off for themselves, to be the women they were before this other calling took hold of them. To nurture themselves as much as they nurture their family.

In that sense, even SAHM's need work-life balance. Sure, the work is slightly different now, but the need for a life doesn't change.

It doesn't even have to come in the form of anything grand, like vacations, or causes or altruistic projects. Anything new and different can be refreshing.

In my case, it was just being able to try a new recipe.

With a 2-mo. old around, it's hard to spend a lot of time in the kitchen. Prep work takes more time now as I do it in between looking after my son. (Dinner preps start as early as 3pm and can end as late as 6pm, with everything getting done in stages.) But thankfully, I have a mother who moonlights as Mary Poppins. After a 2-week hiatus in the Philippines, she heard my distress call and is back to spend (another) 2-months with us. By being able to share baby duties, I have a little more time to experiment with dinner.

After months of wanting to, I got to revisit my recipe/scrap book. By no means was I making a gourmet meal. But it  is certainly liberating to cook with the peace of mind of knowing my son wouldn't be neglected and dinner didn't have to take a whole day to make.

Presenting... Thai Chicken Bites. (Thank you Wenkgirl for the recipe.)

Step 1: dredge
Fully coated and ready for frying
The final product.
At this point, it's not even about the taste, just about the fact that I can.  

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Slow progress

One week after my last post, even with my mom now around helping me out, finding time to sit down and write has not gotten easier.

Just goes to show that I am living on borrowed time. Borrowed from a tiny little emperor that packs a powerful pair of lungs, a demanding feeding schedule and loves being held to sleep.

Sige na baby, pagbigyan mo naman si mommy....

:)

Friday, June 14, 2013

A mommy tale

I am willing to bet that there are days in every mother's life when the responsibility of motherhood becomes a heavy burden to bear. I have only been a mother for a little over 9wks and I've had those moments already.

Two nights ago was one of them.

It was late, I hadn't showered or eaten and my son was having a cling-y moment, refusing to be put down in his crib, his rocker, the bed, the floor or on the sofa. He wanted to be carried, he wanted to be rocked, he wanted mommy to dance with him around the room non-stop. In fact, he wouldn't even let mommy sit down. Because the moment she did, he would scrunch up his face and whimper. A tell-tale sign that crying was soon to follow.

Hungry, tired and at the edge of my patience, I put him down on his crib despite his protests. I made sure there was nothing nearby he could grab or could hurt him and then I did what no mommy wants to do, I left him. I went downstairs, prepared my dinner plate and I started to eat.

I ate to the sound of my son's escalating cries. From the baby monitor, I could see that he was safe. I knew he wasn't hungry (we had just finished nursing), he wasn't cold or too warm, and he hadn't soiled himself. But I could also see that he was unhappy being up there alone. To be honest, I wasn't happy downstairs either. But it was either be unhappy eating, or be driven mad with the crying.

My husband was out late that night and I ate while constantly looking at the driveway willing him to finally come home. I needed someone to either take baby and stop his crying, or at least tell me that I wasn't being a bad mommy for wanting 15mins of relative peace.

By the time I was done and took him again, he had tears in his eyes and sipon running down his nose. Sigh.

A few minutes of soothing, kisses, rocking and singing later he had fallen asleep, head against my chest, his favorite position with me. I like to think it's because he can listen to my heartbeat.

A few more minutes later, daddy comes home and takes him from me. Finally I could shower.

One day down. A lifetime ahead.

Hello, Stacey. Welcome to motherhood.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

backlog

It has been almost a year since my last entry.

A lot happens in a span of almost 12 months. If I were deluded enough to believe that there are readers of this blog who don't know me personally, then I would probably try go through a brief backstory of the last few months.

But I'm not deluded. :P

Plus, I know myself and although I would have the intention, I would never be able to condense the recent events into a blog entry. Mostly because there has just been so much. And partly because I'm a lazy type person, I am.

So, let me tell the story in two pictures:

Big Event #1

Big Event #2
In between Event #1 and Event #2 were mini events. All exciting, meaningful and memorable. Each worthy of a blog entry, if I had ever gotten around to it. And it's not even over yet. Right now I'm in the midst of preparing for Event #3, which is really just a variation of Event #1, if you think about it.

The one thing I am sure about is that my life is no longer the same.

Hopefully,I can take you on the journey with me.

Now if you'll excuse me, Event #2 is asking for attention.