Lady Mary and Healthy Sex Talk

I grew up in a predominantly Catholic country, in a devoutly Catholic household and received formative early education for 10 years at a Catholic institution. Given this, I think it is safe to say that when it comes to sex and sex education, Lady Mary Crawley of Downton Abbey and I have a lot in common.

I learned about the egg and the sperm pretty early. As a precocious child, I received a picture book entitled “Where Babies Come From” that explained among other things, why kittens looked like cats and how the egg and sperm are single cells that fuse to form a blastocyst and eventually an embryo that grows in the mother’s tummy. I was 3. It would be 7 years later, in 5th grade, when I would discover the mechanics that would make the meeting of said egg and sperm possible. Incidentally, a year later, SPOILER ALERT! my world would be forever shattered when I find out that Santa was actually my mom and dad.

In last week’s episode (S5 E2), Lady Mary checks into a hotel room adjacent to her prospective husband and lover Tony Gillingham. They plan to dine, return to their respective rooms and make love until they run out of stamina. Lady Mary feels this trip is a dry run (pardon the pun), a preparation for married life should she accept Lord Gillingham’s proposal. The trip is secret, of course, as is the contraceptive device she had her lady’s maid purchase.

My mother will disown me but I think Lady Mary is being smart. It’s the 1920s, less people have maids and butlers and she and her husband will be under less scrutiny. Her reasoning, is that it is therefore imperative that they get along especially in that private area. Plus, she thought about contraception– what a forward thinker!

While it is noble and admirable to wait until marriage to have sex, I believe it can set you up for a lifetime of disappointment (sorry, Mommy). Sexual compatibility should be right up there with the ability to leave the toilet seat down and squeezing the toothpaste from the bottom. Seriously, being a good lover should be just as important a consideration as eye color and the ability to manage money. It’s so important that it can’t be just left to chance on your wedding night. Besides, something that’s good could only get better if you work on it.

But sex is so complicated and sticky (hahaha another pun). It’s a physical act that is usually accompanied by a huge wave of conflicted emotions and may leave in its wake even more conflicted emotions. I’m not saying go out and whore yourself. (Although if that is your choice, yay you. I’m not judging.)

What I’m saying is that I wish my parents (and my culture) had been more supportive rather than prohibitive when it comes to sex and
relationships. That they let me make mistakes early. That they allowed me to try and nurse a broken heart instead of compelling me to wait until after college to have a boyfriend. I wish they talked more about their relationship, were more open to answering stupid and awkward questions, more forgiving, more human towards sex. I mean, “Go forth and multiply” notwithstanding, I really do think God would not have made sex enjoyable if it were not meant to be enjoyed!

I am nowhere near ready for when K starts asking questions but I do know that I want to be open, not just about sex and relationships but everything else. Maybe then she wouldn’t have to ask someone else to buy condoms or inform her about consent, contraception and all that important stuff. I want to be there for her, as hard as it will be to imagine that anyone will be worthy of her, when she thinks she’s ready for the ride (oops pun again, sorry!). Maybe she can talk to me instead of feeling like she has to burn down her bedroom (tsk tsk Lady Edith. Shame on you!)

In the meantime, S5 E3 airs tonight. K will be mad because I won’t let her watch with me as it is aired because she can’t handle late bedtimes. But I imagine we will watch the Lady Mary train wreck someday, and talk about making good choices.

I am really looking forward to it.

Advertisements

Review: Yume Wo Katare

Yume Wo Katare, the ramen place in Porter Square, had a lot of hype for something that served only 1 dish: pork ramen. I had wanted to check it out long ago but long lines and the hours that they were open (5pm-11pm Tue-Sat) made it highly inconvenient.

As K was with her dad for Halloween night I finally had my ramen opportunity. It was cold-ish (40s) so the 30 or so minutes or so I spent in line only made me anticipate the hot savory soup even more.

IMG_4381.JPGthe goal was to get inside

The fact that I was sandwiched between 2 youngish so in love couples (not pictured) almost made me a little sad until my single patron status rushed me to the head of the line. Score. At the top I was given a choice of regular ($12) with 2 slices of pork or buta ramen ($15) which had 5. The small room had 3 bench style tables. The servers instructed you where to sit and sometimes they broke up the bigger groups. The place could probably fit 30 at a time comfortably.

Ramen was prepared by a chef wearing a baseball cap. The noodles looked substantial and the air warm and fragrant with broth. I was directed to wait with others whose orders were taken. Periodically, we were told to please pay attention to someone who had finished their meal and would say something like:

“Hi my name is Sean and I got a GOOD JOB. My dream is to finish my undergrad.”

Or

“I’m Shelby and my dream is to experience all that life has to offer. And I got a NEXT TIME.”

The room would then cheer and politely clap and the eater would excuse themselves and go.

The cashier helpfully explained that Yume Wo Katare means “talk about your dream” so patrons were encouraged to share theirs with all the others in the room. Striving to finish your entire bowl (PERFECT!) is like striving to accomplish your dream. After that, it was second nature to me to clap and awww over the shared dreams as well add an enthusiastic “GOOD JOB!”

My bowl arrived shortly with the extra garlic option. The first bite was savory and rich and did taste like a dream. The fatty pork was the highlight of the bowl- creamy and melt in your mouth. I burned my tongue slurping hot al dente noodles mixed with the soft crunch of lettuce and bean sprout.

IMG_4382.JPGof course get the extra yakiniku (garlic)

By time I got to about half my bowl it was clear that achieving perfection would take work. I ended up with a GOOD JOB (only a little broth remaining) and proudly shared my dream of raising my daughter to be a strong and confident woman. Was it the best ramen I ever had? Not really. But the experience was definitely unique.

IMG_4383.JPG

Yume Wo Katare is located at 1923 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA (Porter Square).

San Francisco is <3 (a very late post)

20140128-200352.jpg
Because of my blogging hiatus I was unable to share our most awesome vacation to San Francisco. This chilly winter day seems appropriate enough to look back (in Filipino: balik-tanaw) at our happy time there.

We didn’t really take a vacation last summer so when C&C invited me to their fall wedding, and friend MM offered for us to stay in her apartment, I decided the stars were right for a Nanay and Katie adventure!

I used Delta miles for my ticket and paid for Katie’s which cut down on a lot of the airfare. I bought each of us a San Francisco City Pass ($84/adult, $59/child) which gave entrance tickets to 4 attractions and unlimited rides on public transport including the famed cable cars. I also borrowed a Frommer’s San Francisco guidebook from the library and downloaded a Lonely Planet app. Once there, our host told me to also download a Muni tracker app. I relied on both apps extensively on my phone to get around as I have very poor navigational skills.

It’s a good thing we had those passes because Katie’s absolute favorite part of the trip was riding public transport particularly the cable cars. We must have ridden them at least 6 times! Without the pass it would have cost $6 per ride or $72 for both of us– eep!

Aside from the fact that they are a technological marvel, I liked using the cable cars because they were slow enough so i could almost always tell where we were or at least find where we were on he map or phone . We also learned to skip the turnaround and ride 3 stops ahead so we didn’t have to get into the loooooong lines to board.
20140127-172434.jpg
At the Powell Street turnaround with Fakecheese the turtle and Slither the snake

Out Citypass allowed us to visit the California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park (5 stars! so much to see and do inside and within the park), take a scenic tour via boat (Blue and Gold Fleet– 5 stars and Katie’s favorite), and see the sharks at the Aquarium by the Bay (meh: 2 stars, go to Monterey Bay instead). We were unable to visit the Exploratorium, a hands on science museum for kids, because it was closed on Mondays (darn!).

We were able to do quite a lot of sightseeing in 4 days. Katie was able to ride 2 of the 3 carousels in the city. San Francisco was very accessible by public transport (bus, train, streetcar and cable car) and the weather in late September/early October was gorgeously sunny and cool. No fog until our last day there although it was scarf and hoodie weather off and on. The city had a nice laid back, chill and feel good atmosphere. We definitely would like to make a trip back someday.

Katie’s picks: the playground and carousel at Golden Gate Park, eating Doritos with hot chocolate at Ghirardelli Square (and getting free samples at their 3 stores), cable car rides and the Cable Car museum, carousel at Pier39, riding the F street car, boat tour via Blue and Gold.

20140129-033148.jpg

Nanay’s highlights: meet ups with former classmates and online friends, Union Square particularly the Dewey Memorial (Philippines reprezent!), fortune cookies made by hand in Chinatown, fun wedding (with childcare) at the Fairmont Hotel, riding down the crooked Lombard Street and quality time with Katie of course.
20140129-033243.jpg
We both liked: eating! Particularly these jumbo shrimp.

20140129-034201.jpg

We both did not like: the noisy sea lions

20140129-034311.jpg

In search of Samantha

Santa is my weakness. My parents made Santa so magical for me that I am compelled to do the same for Katie. I remember the awe of coming back after late night (not quite midnight) Christmas Eve mass to find presents under the tree. Santa always seemed to know what I wanted and later on, I would write letters to help him out. He never disappointed.

Now Katie has never been a fan of Santa or any mascot in costume. Take for instance my attempt at a Christmas photo with Santa in 2009:
20140112-143937.jpg
However, Santa did give nice presents so I guess from a distance she was able to deal with him.

Two Christmases ago, Santa brought K her favorite toy: Magnatiles. It was quite miraculous, not only because the delivery was magical but also as it required going halves with my ex-husband because I couldn’t afford them on my own (awkward but chalked up to “for the good of the child”).

As early as December 1, K already knew what to ask for
20140112-144844.jpg
American Girl. I never understood how dolls could be so pricy and I had hoped that we would be able to dodge this bullet because K prefers stuffed animals over dolls. Apparently they are all the rage in elementary school starting 1st or 2nd grade. Splitting with the ex was out of the question (“Oh, hell no!”) so I was going to be on my own.

K initially wanted Samantha, the orphan girl who grew up with her grandmother, befriended a kitchen maid and stood up for child labor in the 1900’s. In the looks department, she was cute (as long as you got over the, um, creepy eyes and rabbit teeth) and had brown hair and eyes like Katie. I scoured eBay for a used Samantha in decent condition ($70+$20 shipping) and by mid month was all set. After a quick trip to the Natick/Boston store doll spa for a cleaning ($5) and hairdo freshening ($10), the previously unavailable retired doll was ready to go under the tree. Of course at some point in December K had also switched her choice from Samantha to Saige (2013 girl of the year who fought to have art classes funded in her school despite having stage fright and being quite shy –$119 in store) but Santa had already depleted her budget and didn’t want to get stuck with 2 dolls.

The result was magical (<– link to video). And as always, worth the effort. P.S. 3 weeks later, she is still playing with Samantha every day. That is totally a win.

Merry Happy Holidays from us!
20140112-151819.jpg

Birthday party at Build-a-Bear Workshop

Katie and I decided on a Build-a-Bear Workshop (BABW) party with a small number of friends instead of our usual park play date. BABW is a place where you choose and stuff an animal plushie. I booked the party at their location at Faneuil Hall, around the time the store opens (10:00am). Booking was done online, and I received a call 2 days ago confirming the number of guests and the $ budget for each child.

We were met at the door by Sean-Patrick, our engaging and delightful party host. He gave Katie a special badge, kept track of each child’s name and the name of their chosen animal, engaged the kids, stuffed their bears, and made taking turns fun. My favorite part was when he had the kids pick their plushie’s heart and an extra one for Katie’s bear so that hers had hearts from her friends!

The kids all seemed to know which friend they wanted to take home. Some even had chosen a cheaper bear so they could dress it up. Katie chose a pink and purple bear she named Elizabeth. She also brought along her old BABW friend, Hello Kitty. One of her friends chose a camouflage bear eventually named Army. Another child’s bear was simply, Bear. All her friends and Sean also signed an autograph bear which is still unnamed.

At the end of the party, the kids had a picture with their creations and each was given a cardboard “cub condo” complete with a stuffed animal birth certificate. Katie rang the store bell and everyone sang happy birthday. We then headed outside with a cooler of juice boxes, pizza from Pizzeria Regina, and more Keyks cupcakes. I even remembered to bring candles and a lighter.
20130622-224148.jpg

Many thanks to the parents who came and helped me by saving and setting up a place for us outside, serving the kids, taking pictures, cleaning up and being kind enough to take home presents and our cooler. You guys are so great! Everyone went home happy 🙂

Build-a-Bear Workshop
6 North Market Bldng, 6 N Market St, Boston
(617) 227-2478

Pizzeria Regina
226 Faneuil Marketplace Boston, MA
(617)742-1713

Keyks
333 Acton Rd, Chelmsford
(617) 855-5395

Song of the Day: Cups/When I’m Gone by Anna Kendrick

the actual magic starts at 1:15.

Anna Kendrick rocks.