Your Two Sister Cats and Stomatitis


You have two big sister cats named Oreo and Reeses. They may not be human but they are part of our family.

Although we adopted Oreo first, she and Reeses came from the same litter. Except for a few common facial features and the likeness in the black/brown stripes on their tails, these biological siblings can’t be more different from each other.

Oreo is a predominantly white cat with large black spots and less pronounced brown marks. She reminds me more of a cow than an oreo cookie. They are both Domestic Shorthairs, yet Oreo’s fur is thicker and fluffier than Reeses.

Reeses used to be called Tiger because of her brown-orange color and black-brown stripes and spots. She has a thinner, shinier coat, probably due to how often she grooms herself and how much she loves wet food.


Meanwhile, Oreo prefers dry crunchies and is lazier about cleaning herself. She has a petting schedule that she must adhere to. Otherwise, she’s generally the more independent cat.

Reeses is overly attached to your father. She hangs out wherever her dad is, whether he is lying in bed or sitting in the couch to play video games. Oreo is more of a Mama’s cat. She comes to your father for petting, too, but stays with me more frequently and for longer periods of time.

Your sisters have been the sweetest cats and I can’t wait for them to meet and love you like they love us (they are cats though so they are also likely to be manipulating us with this perception). Still, I’ve seen pictures on the Internet of cats being affectionate to babies and hope that you can develop the same closeness with them.

On their annual visit to the vet, your father and I found out that while Reeses is perfectly healthy, Oreo has Stomatitis. This means the gums in her mouth are inflamed and she gets hurt chewing food. If she doesn’t get proper treatment, she could die from loss of appetite and malnutrition.

She took a steroid shot for the inflammation and will get a teeth cleaning next Saturday. Based on the vet’s assessment by then, she will get antibiotics and in the case where the disease has become too advanced, she might need to get all her teeth extracted.

Oreo, being our first cat, was a source of comfort for me. Having her (in addition to reading and exercising) has been therapeutic for my recurring struggles with depression and anxiety (more on this later on). The thought of possibly losing her soon, rather than at a ripe old age, is unbearable.image

She has to be okay. She has to meet you and cuddle with you and take photos with you as you grow up. She has to live many more years so you can be big enough to remember loving and appreciating her.

Your father and I will do everything it takes to help her through this. I promise to be there for your sister during this tough time like she has always been there for me.


An Evolving American Dream


Five years ago, I entered a foreign country for the first time. Of all the foreign countries I could have gone to for my first time outside the Philippines, it had to be the United States. Plus I wasn’t just visiting, I was uprooting myself and migrating.

When I arrived, it was at night and your father – who was then my fiancĂ©, was wondering if I noticed the smoothness of the ride, referring to the better quality of the roads. I never would have noticed if he hadn’t pointed it out. I did find it odd that I wasn’t dying from heat on a summer night. I was even wearing the same sweater I wore during the flight.

Many yearn to move to the United States to live the American Dream. Many Filipinos still do without knowing how tough it really is to make it here. I graduated with honors and was a licensed Chemical Engineer in the Philippines but when I came here, I had to start from scratch. Before I joined the multi-national company types I’m accustomed to, at some point, I became a gelato girl. And after I got burned out from roles in supply chain for some global brands, I’ve become a marketing analyst. The job is fun and occasionally challenging but it is in no way, shape or form an application of my college degree.

Money is not easy to come by and it is certainly not easy to keep. I never had a credit card in the Philippines. I didn’t need one. I never owned a car. I didn’t need one. I never had debt and I was able to save a good amount of money even with a pretty lavish lifestyle. Yes, your father and I still have our share of travels and food excursions, but not without adding more to an ever-growing mountain of debt.

It has been a rough five years and up to now, there are still things I’m getting used to. However, if I didn’t take a leap of faith, if I didn’t choose to leave my life in the Philippines, your father and I wouldn’t have been able to get married like we did. We wouldn’t have been able to walk this path which is now leading us to you.

I used to think that living the American Dream meant achieving a life of comfort and financial stability. But then, I realized that the American Dream can be anything I want it to be. Thus, for me, hard as life can be, the American Dream is this gift of being with the one I love, so that he and I can start this family and continue to grow old together.

To me, a Happy 5th Anniversary in the United States!

A letter to my son

Your father and I found out last week that you are, with 99% accuracy, a baby boy. I think it’s fairly safe to say you are… our son.


I can’t tell you what growing up would be like for a boy. I didn’t have brothers and was only able to see my male cousins on a few weekends and holidays in a year. I had a boy neighbor whom my sisters and I used to play with when we were younger but I can only recall how much I disliked his attitude problems and how much I feared getting chased by his family’s geese.

When I was in grade school, boys would be nice to me and talk to me about their crushes (which could coincidentally be me) or they would be mean and call me “Loser” then refer to the prettier girl as “Winner.” Yet, I don’t remember having any serious conversations with boys until I was in high school. Even then, I didn’t have a clear picture of how being a guy must be like. I mean your father has told me countless stories about his childhood and teenage years. Still, I’m no expert and will leave it to him to give you more insights on becoming a man.


My only wish in this matter is that you grow up to be a good man. Your father and I will play a huge role in that but we will not always be by your side to watch and guide you. During those times, treat people with kindness and at the minimum, respect. My mother, your grandma, often said (in Tagalog) “If you can’t tell us (your parents) about it then it’s probably not the right thing to do.”

I was bullied a lot growing up. I developed a lot of self-image issues from being told I’m not beautiful or I’m getting too fat. Please don’t be one of those guys, well, those people in general, who don’t think before they speak. Your words could have a lasting impact on people and yes, sometimes, the truth hurts but always consider if it’s necessary to say it.

For instance, before commenting on someone’s weight, think: are you assuming that person is blind or doesn’t see his/her reflection everyday? Are you suggesting that this person should be unhappy with how s/he looks? Are you implying that s/he must not be trying to lose weight in the case that s/he does in fact want to lose weight? I know it’s quite complicated but your grandma has another wise and simple rule: “If you don’t have anything good to say, don’t say anything.”

As for me, I still struggle with my self-image but don’t feel sorry for your mother. I don’t let it get the best of me like I used to and let’s just say being geographically away from insensitive people helps. I’ve gained and lost weight through the years and now, I need to have a healthy weight gain while pregnant with you. However, I want you to know, that heavy as I appear, I have never felt more beautiful as I do, now that I am carrying you.


I love you, son.