I was on the phone with Dennis last night, and I heard myself once again uttering the words that I find myself saying every so often…“I feel so guilty.” 

“I feel so guilty because I haven’t been able to plan for this week’s homeschool yet.”

“I feel so guilty because I slept for a whole eight hours!”

“I feel so guilty because I spent two hours catching up with my friend.”

“I feel so guilty because I ate too much!” (So, imagine— I eat too much around….five to six times a day.)

“I feel so guilty because I might not be teaching them enough.”

Guilty. Guilty. Guilty.

For the most part, I know I shouldn’t feel bad about these things, but somehow guilt manages to creep in and make me feel like there’s something else I could have– and should have done.

(Side note: I finally figured out when I am susceptible to these feelings! It’s usually around “that time of the month.” Any other time, I am quite rational and stable. Promise!!!)

Back to my conversation with Dennis. All he said in response was, “Diba pinako na si Jesus sa cross?? Ba’t ka pa nagui-guilty??”

Of course, he meant this as a joke— but one that’s actually true. I ended up laughing, but this also got me thinking… Am I forgetting that God’s grace extends even to this area of my life? Am I somehow limiting God’s grace? I trust him to save me and forgive me from my sinful nature, yet I can’t trust that He allows everything that happens, and that He is able to use even my mistakes to bring about His purposes?

Seriously, the beauty of the cross is that we really have been set free from ALL guilt and shame– whether it be in trivial matters, or in matters of life and death. We have been set free from it ALL.

I know there might still be times when I’d feel guilty again. And if you’re normal like me, you’d probably go through these moments, too.

“I feel so guilty because __________.” 

“I should’ve ___________ instead of _________.”

I’m pretty sure you can easily fill in the blanks.

When you go through these moments, my question will be, “Hindi ba, napako na si Jesus sa cross?”

He is too good, too wise, and too powerful to be limited by our human limitations and mistakes. He is too good, too wise, and too powerful to be limited by how well we perform.

And to this I respond with a big “WHEW!” :)


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I love this story of how David came to be anointed as king over Israel.

For the sake of keeping this post short (and getting to my point sooner), let me summarize and highlight the main verses that struck me as I was reading through this passage.

Here’s the summary:

Israel asked the prophet Samuel for a king –> Samuel anointed Saul as king –> Saul started out well, but eventually, his power got into his head and he dishonored God –> God rejected Saul as king and told Samuel to anoint another man whom God has chosen –> Samuel went to Jesse (the father of David) to bring his sons to him, so he could anoint the one God has chosen.

When they arrived, Samuel saw Eliab and thought, “Surely, the Lord’s anointed stands here before the Lord.” But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. ” (1 Samuel 16:7)

(Fast forward a few verses)

Jesse had seven of his sons pass before Samuel, but Samuel said to him, “the Lord has not chosen these.” So he asked Jesse, “Are these all the sons you have?” “There is still the youngest,” Jesse answered, “but he is tending the sheep.” 

Long story short, Jesse sent for David –> God told Samuel, “He’s the one.” –> Samuel anointed David.

(Verse 13) So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the Lord came upon David in power.

marc-pingrisI’m sure many of us have read or heard this story a couple of times already, and perhaps many of us are also well familiar with verse seven– “The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 

I know this. I’ve known this since I was a child attending Sunday School or Kids Church.

But somehow, it is not that easy to apply– especially when it comes to people who are very dear to my heart.

I am talking more specifically about my children.

“Do not consider his/her appearance…”

How often do I react to the childish behavior that I see in them, in a way that I would later on regret?

How much of my effort goes into getting into their hearts and drawing out their deepest thoughts versus trying to get them to behave or act according to what is praiseworthy by society’s standards?

“The Lord does not look at the things man looks at…”

What does man look at?

“Man looks at the outward appearance.”







Cuteness level.

Financial status.

Family background.




The Lord does not look at the things man looks at.

“The Lord looks at the heart.”

When they try to perform and achieve and excel, what is their motivation?

When they study and try to improve on their skills, who do they depend on and look to for help?

When it comes to how they treat other people, why do they think manners matter?

When they fight, what is going on in their hearts?

When they try to look nice and dress well, who are they doing it for?

When it comes to their finances, family, and friends— do they know these are not their sources of identity and security?

What is the heart behind their actions?

smart gilas puso thammiesy.com

I find that whenever I move in worry and fear each time I see them “not yet getting” whatever it is I am trying to teach them, I start focusing on what I see instead of asking what is the heart behind all that I am seeing.

More than that, I forget to ask for God’s heart and ask Him about what He is doing beyond all that I am seeing.

May we all be reminded to always look beyond what is seen, and trust that God is really at work in the hearts of our children.

I love what it says in verse 13 when Samuel anointed David– “…from that day on the Spirit of the Lord came upon David in power…”

When we begin to get into the hearts of our children, we begin to see God’s heart for them.

And we begin to see God’s work in them.

And we begin to see God’s power through them.

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Since we had our #betterme session on “How to Make Your Own Oreo Bento” last week, the kids couldn’t stop talking about their “great ideas” on the next bento they intend to make.

If the kids started to talk to me about making bentos prior to the session we had with the very creative and talented Bento Mommas, I would have been so quick to dismiss their ideas, thinking I was not creative enough to be able to pull off anything other than placing their rice in a bowl, pressing it down, turning the bowl upside down… and voila! a “rice hill”!!!

As it turns out, bento-making is possible and doable in our household. Of course, we might have to lower our standards a bit– BUT still, it is doable. :) Allow me to share with you some of the basic things we learned about the art of making bentos for our kids.

Here are some “nice-to-know’s”:

  • Bento simply means meal in a box in Japanese. It is a single-portion meal that usually holds rice, fish or meat, and vegetables…all in a box-shaped container.
  • There are different kinds of bentos, serving different purposes. The more popular ones (especially with school-aged children) are what they call “kyaraben” or “charaben” — which make use of characters as themes.
  • In Japan, the bento lunches of students serve as some sort of status symbol– the more elaborate, the higher the status. (You don’t really need to know this. But this made me go “Aaaahhh.”)

What are some benefits of making bento for our children? What makes it worth the time and effort?

  • It is a creative way of introducing food to our children. Anything new that is presented to our children in a fun way becomes less intimidating for them to try.
  • We can better make sure that our children are getting a more balanced diet.
  • It can be an automatic bonding and engaging activity with your child/children (provided you’re willing for it to take longer, and for it not to be as “perfect”).
  • This simple gesture of preparing what we think our children will like communicates that we are interested in the things that interest them, and that we understand what is important to them– fun and play!

I hope at this point you are excited to try this out. And before you start making those computations about the time you have to set aside and the tools you would need to buy, let me just stop you right there.

You don’t need to have a whole collection of bento equipment right away to be able to pull off creating one. In our workshop, for example, we were provided with only the basic stuff that most of us probably  already have in our kitchen.



Here’s a short list of essentials to get you going:

  • Bento box (i.e. your average food storage/container)
  • Silicon cups
  • Barans or food dividers (Are you familiar with the plastic green grass we see on our sushi plates when we order from Japanese restaurants?? Aside from making the food look more alive, they have a function after all! — They are actually food dividers!….Another point that I went “Aaahhh.”)
  • Food picks
  • Sauce bottles or containers
  • Rice or onigiri molds (Super helpful tip: It is easier to use resealable plastic bags to form balls or basic shapes out of rice…cheaper, too!)
  • Deco cutters (cookie cutters would do!)
  • Nori punchers
  • Hand-held tools (scissors, cutters, craft tweezers)
  • Condiment pens and squeeze bottles

Some helpful extras:

  • Disposable gloves
  • Clean mat

Before you begin your bento, keep in mind the following:

Go for GO, GROW, and GLOW food.

Keep your bento tightly packed. (You wouldn’t want your creation to dismantle!)

Expand your collection of bento tools slowly. Okay….THIS reminder?? — It is easier said than done.


If I were to take a close-up shot of all these bento stuff the Bento Mommas are selling, you would know EXACTLY what I mean!

Okay, let’s bento on….

Our first challenge was to make a bento bear out of rice. To accomplish this, we made use of both brown and white rice, plus  cut-out pieces of nori.



Here, the girls were deliberating which piece of nori cut-out to use. I really didn’t see any difference between those tiny pieces, but when I looked at the finished products of all the other moms, I realized that the kids were right– there were different types! 


To make the bento bear:

  1. Form a jumbo siopao-sized ball of brown rice for the face, plus two smaller balls (still brown rice) for the ears.
  2. Roll white rice to form the snout.
  3. To complete the face, place the nori pieces as eyes, nose, etc.
  4. Fill in the rest of the box with your protein, vegetables, and (of course) dessert.

I think our bear looks old and serious. I wanted to change the nori and shape of the snout, but my daughters didn’t let me.

Our next challenge was to make a bento snack comprising of a sandwich and Oreos. We were tasked to create this panda:

Photo on 7-9-14 at 11.43 pm #2


Additional TIP: A helpful tool when using bread as your “base” is the rolling pin.

Here’s how we made the Oreo panda bento:

  1. Flatten the bread using a rolling pin. This makes it easier to cut. We used white bread to form the face and chocolate-flavored (brown) bread for the nose.
  2. Cut out a big circle for the face and a small one for the nose. Since we did not have a cutter that was big enough to use for the face, neither was the glass (which you could use to cut-out circles, by the way) big enough, we opted to just cut using scissors.
  3. Do the classic twist and pull on your Oreo cookie, being careful to keep the cream filling in tact. The Oreo cookies will serve as the eyes.
  4. Cut out the Oreo’s cream filling and place in the center of the cookies. To complete the eyes, place one chocolate chip/drop on each “eyeball”.
  5. Place Oreo cookies, one on each side of the panda’s head, to serve as ears.
  6. Fill in the rest of your box. The kids wanted to use pretzels as bamboo sticks “behind” the panda, and the plastic green food dividers (which we’ve come to call “fake grass”) ….as grass.


Oh, you see that piece of apple right here on the lower right corner of the photo? That’s apple dunked in Sprite. This is a tip to keep them from oxidizing and turning brown. You may also use lemon (but one could always use that excuse to buy soda, right??).


Here’s the finished product! Because the panda is too “black and white,” it was nice to fill the rest of the box with color using our remaining fruits and candy sprinkles.

All the other moms had really cute bento creations as well. One of my favorites was MommanManila‘s owl:


My kids and I are so grateful that Oreo put this workshop together. Wait, did you know that Oreo is already 102 years old?? Amazing, huh?? I just want to appreciate their Better Together campaign, which really makes the Oreo cookie a good “excuse” to bond and spend quality time with our kids. :)

I’m about to end this post, but allow me to share my most favorite thing that came out of this session:


Mika made this….er….uhm…owl (?????) while we were in the clinic to get her brother’s finger treated and checked. She accidentally slammed the door on his finger, and the last state she saw the finger in before we left for the clinic was a bloody one.

This bento creation came with a note:


Remember what I said about this simple gesture of making bento registering to our children as a language of love?

This is what I mean by it. :)

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I really don’t like the thought of the ber months coming around so soon, but but BUT….here are TWO events I am actually looking forward to this coming month of September.

FIRST off….

The Learning Basket’s Homeschooling Conference!


You will be hearing from the following speakers:

Educating for Life – Irma Chua, our keynote speaker, is a mom of six and has been homeschooling for 20 years. Educating her eldest (26) up to her youngest (15), she says that she loves the learning process that her family experiences together.

The Hands-On Homeschool Dad – Dennis Poliquit, known as “Big Daddy Jake” over the radio airwaves, is a hands-on homeschooling dad of two sets of twins and one singleton.

The Confident Homeschool Mom – Moira Bunyi, mom of three going on four. She has a post-graduate degree in Family Life and Child Development and has been homeschooling for five years now.

Learning in the Digital World – Yen Galagnara was a “housemate” at Pinoy Big Brother Season 2 back in 2007. She homeschools her three children while she runs a Korean language school.

Introducing Filipino Arts, Culture, and Heritage – Jen Bellosillo, mom of 3 + 1, has been homeschooling for six years now. She mentors other homeschooling parents as a CFA (Catholic Filipino Academy) parent coach.

Homeschool 101: Getting Started – Tina Rodriguez, mom of 3, lives a truly rich life as a work-at-home, homeschooling mom who advocates her faith through her blog Truly Rich Mom and through her social media presence.

Conquering Homeschool Fatigue – Donna Pangilinan-Simpao, a medical doctor, homeschools her 3 children. Wanting to support other homeschooling families, she created the growing Facebook group Homeschoolers in the Philippines.

Nurturing the Love of Learning – Ivy Marquez, homeschooled her three children up to high school. Missing teaching her kids and wanting to share what she learned in her years of homeschooling, she opened 360 Studio School, a school in Alabang.

Oh my! Just typing the topics down got me excited to learn from these speakers! :)


We are giving away TWO FREE TICKETS to this seminar! :) All you have to do is leave a comment on this blog post, with your FULL NAME and EMAIL ADDRESS so we can get in touch with you. :)

For more details regarding this seminar, please visit http://www.thelearningbasket.com/events.

So now that we have the first weekend of September taken care of, here’s another event we have (yes, HAVE) to go to the week after:


CSM Books All You Can poster



Need I say more? :)

No, I don’t.

But I shall, anyway. Just to get you even more excited. (My family, friends, and I have seriously been looking forward to this…well, every year, we look forward to this!)

Here is CSM’s list of activities for MIBF week:

  • September 18 (Thursday), 5:30-7:30pm, SMX Stage Area

Grand Unveiling of New Titles

  •  September 19 (Friday), 12:30-1:30pm

Family Life 101 Seminar & Book Launch with Bessie Rios and Clem Guillermo

Book Launch of Gabay ni Tatay by Beth Flores and The Best Investment by Marnie Moya-Prudencio

  • September 19 (Friday) 4:30-5:30pm, CSM Booth Nos. 22-27

A Talk on Early Childhood Care and Development featuring Dr. Elizabeth Sonto-Mendoza

  • September 20 (Saturday) 4:30-6:30pm, CSM Booth Nos. 22-27

- On-Site Book Launch featuring Jayson Lo (Debtermined), Marvin Germo (Stock Smarts: Winning Strategies for Investing),                           Dennis Sy (Act like a Man), Willy Chua (Thanks-living)

- Meet and greet CSM’s authors through scheduled book signing events at the CSM booth.

- Shake hands with Chef Bukchoy during the “Happy Hour” every day of the fair and you may win free eat-all-you-can passes for                       two to one of the best buffet restaurants in the metro (CSM will choose 1 winner per day)!

Here are 3 ways to eat your heart out at the Books All You Can treat:

  1. Take advantage of the Books All You Can early treat from September 8 to 12; place your order at the CSM online shop or send an email to order@csm-publishing.com and enjoy the convenience of reserving your sought-after books from your home.
  2. Come to the MIBF 2014 and personally indulge in the Books All You Can’s generous buffet of books from Sept. 17-21. Win on-site freebies, eat all you can passes, and meet our authors.
  3. Get another serving of Books All You Can (ROUND 2) during the post-MIBF sale on Sept. 23-27 at the CSM Bookcorner. This is your last chance to fill your gift bags for the coming gift-giving season.

For the complete product listing and event schedule, visit CSM Publishing’s website at www.csm-publishing.com or call 851-0521 and 25. Free tickets to the MIBF are also available for download.

Catch CSM Publishing’s Books All You Can at the 35th Manila International Book Fair on September 17 to 21, 2014 (Wednesday thru Sunday), SMX Convention Center, Pasay City at booth nos. 22-27. Gate opens at 10am.


Enjoy!!! :)

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Since I have doctor for a dad, I grew up always hearing him give a lecture on health. Sometimes I would hear him talk about health to his patients, but most of the time, the lectures were directed to me.

During my elementary years, his lectures were all about healthy vs junk food. I had to stay away from  this, and I had to eat more of that. When I entered my teenage years, the lectures revolved around my eating and sleeping habits. I had to sleep more, and I had to eat less. Well into my college years, his major concern was my calcium. I was taking in too much caffeine to stay up and review for exams, and since I lived by myself, I usually settled for fastfood—which made his lectures go full circle and all about healthy vs junk food again.

When my dad realized that there was probably little chances of getting me to prepare healthy home-cooked meals while trying to excel in school, he started insisting that I take supplements. This somehow gave him peace of mind—the thought that at least I had other sources of nutrients. Of course, they were only supplements, but I’m pretty sure they had a huge effect in sustaining me through my college years.

Until now (fast forward 13 years), my dad still keeps reminding me to take supplements. His belief in supplements has even been carried over to my children, as he often asks what they eat, to be followed by a “gentle reminder” or a primer on healthy vs junk food. I love him for this!

Now, since we live they are based way down South in Mindanao, he doesn’t see my kids that often, and he doesn’t get to lecture them as much I’m sure he’d want to. So, guess who’s there to take his place?? ….Yep, that’s right—ME!

I’ve been on a hunt for supplements and multivitamins for my kids that provided a good amount of vitamins and minerals to supplement their usual diet, as well as one they’d enjoy. I try my best to let my children eat a balanced meal each time, and I’m pretty sure that in their heart of hearts, they mean to eat healthy as well, but…..well, let’s just say that in a perfect world, my kids would be eating their vegetables, grains, and healthy protein at every meal. But we don’t really live in a perfect world, so I would have to improvise.


A few weeks ago, I was able to let my kids try PropanTLC (special thanks to the folks from PropanTLC!).   PropanTLC is a brand of multivitamins for children one to 12 years old, with 10 essential vitamins that are combined with minerals Taurine,  Lysine, and Chlorella—which all play a significant role in proper brain, bone, and normal tissue development.


It’s only been a few weeks, so I still have to wait and see how PropanTLC will really affect my children’s nutrition, but so far, so good!  We have finally seen an increase in appetite and weight in our second daughter, who we have been wanting to gain more weight for quite some time now.  The same is true for the two kids.

I actually asked my eldest daughter what she thinks of PropanTLC. Her response? And I quote, “You mean the vitamins with the purple box? *suddenly flashes a wide smile* I really, really like it! I like the taste, and I feel so hyper after I drink it….I mean, it’s like I have lots of energy.” Okay. This solves it for me. :)

If you would like to try PropanTLC, I think now would be the best time to try it as they are having an iPad Blowout Promo this month.

Here’s a (sort of) quick overview of the promo. I will give the link to their Facebook page for more details at the end of this post.

   STEP 1.     Purchase any Propan TLC products from any Robinsons Supermarket branch.

                                   a)   Purchase Propan TLC 60mL or Propan TLC Drops 50 for one (1) entry into the raffle.

                                   b)   Purchase Propan TLC 120mL for two (2)entries into the raffle.

                                   c)   Purchase Propan TLC 250mL for four (4) entries into the raffle.

  STEP 2.  Take a photo of your receipt, making sure that the OR number, Robinson’s branch AND product are clearly seen.

   STEP 3. Send your photo to Propan TLC on Facebook through the messages.

                                   a)   Entries must include the following details:

                                           1)   OR Number on the receipt

                                           2)   Robinson’s Branch where the product wasbought

                                           3)   Complete name

                                           4)   Contact Number

                                           5)   Complete address

                                            6)   Birthdate of participant

Here’s the link to the promo and mechanics if you wish to know more: https://www.facebook.com/notes/propan-tlc.


I will be posting some more information on PropanTLC as I learn more. Stay tuned! :)

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