A Day Trip to Remember: Play with Oreo at Sta. Elena Fun Farm

One of the things Alyanna would often tell me is how much she wished she lived during “my time” and had a compound like the one I grew up in, where she was free to run around as much as she could without fear of getting bumped by cars or getting “kidnapped by bad guys” (her words, not mine). She always looks forward to our trips out of town because it would usually mean more nature to see and interact with.

It’s not just her. All our kids get excited at the thought of going somewhere out of city because they know it not only means more playtime for them, but more playtime with mom and dad — without distractions.

If you think about, much of the “family time” we get to spend on a regular basis is really more of having to accomplish a certain set of things to do. It doesn’t help that there’s the traffic that practically cuts the time we have in half, leaving most of us tired by the end of the day. For those of us who stay at home with the kids, there is still that tendency to always need to have something “educational” or productive to do as an output for homeschool. It seems that  relaxed family interaction is reserved only for night times or weekends.

I remember when life was much simpler then. Of course, I grew up in the province so that must be a factor to consider…but I really still want to keep life simple for my kids. I don’t really want to save family time for weekends or late nights. I want to be able to enjoy them as much as I can, and not allow the demands of today’s society to cloud my judgement as to how I choose to spend my days with my kids. I also want them to experience more playtime just communing with nature and seeing the beauty of God’s creation (this is a feat if you live in the metro).

One of the activities that the kids and I really enjoyed and up until now still talk about is our trip to Sta. Elena Fun Farm in Cabuyao, Laguna. (This trip was extra special for me because this was my last trip before being ordered to be in bed rest. As in, I went from riding a carabao cart to having to stay in bed the very next day!) We are so thankful that Oreo, in its campaign to promote family playtime, invited some moms and their families for a day of play and fun at the farm.

I’ve been raving about Sta. Elena Farm to my friends, so for their sakes (and for yours, too), let me post some of the photos we have that represent some of our highlights for that day.

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The kids loved interacting with the animals– they were able pet them, carry them, feed them….even ride on some of them!

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Carabao cart riding!

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Fishing was a test of our patience, but it was a good experience for all of us– especially since we also saw how one should put the bait (a.k.a. worms).

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I absolutely LOVE this tender moment between these two!!! 

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Alyanna was able to channel her budding adventurous side somehow. I know for others, this is really nothing much. But for my kids who grew up in the city and only got to experience playing outdoors the past two years when we finally moved, this is something!!

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This was Mika’s first-ever attempt at climbing one of these….and that’s about how far she went.

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One of the kids’ absolute favorite spot was the “sand house” (Thanks to Michelle of MyMomFriday.com for this photo….and I think some other photos below hehe).

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When it started getting hot, it was the perfect time to sit and regroup…and enjoy good food and some fun and simple activities with Oreo.

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The first game was an Oreo-stacking game using chopsticks– I super loved this game! This was good for practicing eye-hand coordination, as well as strategizing and coming up with different techniques with the use of chopsticks.

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Mika placed the “winning Oreo” :)

Side note: I love games that involve teams. :)

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The second game was a “Guess the Oreo Flavor” game. Honestly, I grew up with only one Oreo flavor– the original one (Was it because we lived in the province?? Or did my parents just deprive me??). So fun to know that Oreo has been introducing so many flavors now! Their newest one out in the market is the Oreo Strawberry.

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Okay, so while the girls and I were involved in the games, the father-and-son duo were up to something else.

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And then, the little boy couldn’t stop…

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Lunch was generously provided by Holy Carabao Farms– which, I must say, was really good.

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Mezclun Salad with sprouts

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Penne with Kale and Bacon (Note: not your normal processed bacon. Holy Carabao has partnered with local farmers to provide them not just with organic produce, but with meat from free-range animals as well.)

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Sugarbeets and Potato Salad

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For the kids: Chicken Balls with Sweet Potato Mash (This was really filling!)

…..uhm, so obviously, I had some too.

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The best-ever Sauteed Bananas!

Seriously, I just tortured myself posting these.

(Ah, but there is a way to order! Call Lhynn at 09164753211 or 09204688785)

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Thank you Hindy and Melanie (the women behind Holy Carabao Farms) for sharing your heart (and food) with us. :)

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And thank you Oreo for a memorable time with friends and family! :)

(With fellow moms and the kids, from left to right): Michelle Aventajado, Cai Sio,  Didi Tiu Tang, Rina Zamora, Kris de Guzman, Neva Santos, Michelle Lim, Conci Navarro


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And thank you Lawrence del Mundo of Life Unscripted for capturing these moments beautifully! :)

Visit Oreo on Facebook and follow them on Twitter and Instagram (@OreoPh) for more ideas on how you can play with Oreo.

 

Where will your imagination go when you #PlaywithOreo? See for yourself in our latest Wonderfilled video with Yelle. Pour yourself a cold glass of milk and enjoy.

 

On Pregnancy, Faith, and Rest

I have been waiting to make this announcement:

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We’re pregnant! :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :)

I would do a happy dance, or at least a giddy jump….but I am currently on bed rest….so happy faces– lots of happy faces, will do for now. :) :) :) :) :)

I actually took the test before missing my period, because I really wanted to see if I was pregnant. We decided to hold off on telling people until we did the ultrasound, though.

Two weeks ago, we finally saw the heartbeat. But there was also some subchorionic hemorrhaging. The past weeks, I’ve already been on bed rest because I would feel contractions every so often. This time, I have to continue to slow it down because of the bleeding.

God is just so good though. There is an inexplicable peace that only He can give….the kind of peace that transcends all understanding, and is possible only because of the hope that I have in Him. He reminded me that this pregnancy, the life of this baby, and our lives in Christ– is by faith from beginning to end. And living by faith is a lifestyle. It is not something we try to see if it works. It is not something we do when it’s easy. It’s not something we choose when it makes sense. It’s not something we do to  get the benefits we wish to have.

On the contrary, we live by faith even if it’s hard. We live by faith even it doesn’t seem to make sense. We live by faith whether or not we will get to experience  the blessings that come with it. We live by faith to overcome. We live by faith because we know it pleases and honors God.

Another thing that’s been a challenge for me the past weeks is the concept of rest. The fact that I feel really nauseated, experience headaches, get fatigued easily….basically, the fact that I am semi-nonfunctional in terms of sharpness of mind and agility…it’s been hard not to feel guilty. There’s always that choice to start thinking of all the things I’m supposed to be doing but I don’t get to do because I am currently unable to do so…and then start feeling guilty about it. No homeschool, no work, cannot carry Isaiah, can not go out and play with the kids, can not meet the women and couples we were supposed to meet, cancelled speaking engagements, and so on and so forth….

….and then I am reminded that REST is not a curse. It is a gift.

It is not only a gift, it is a command.

God desires and commands us to always enter His rest. And one reason why I fail to rest is because I fail to trust. I fail to trust that God will take care of all that need to be taken care of as I obey and rest. I forget that I am able to do all that I have to not on my own strength, but by His grace. I forget that the same grace that enables me to accomplish all that I have to is the same grace that allows me to rest when I need to.

This season is a gift He has given me to enjoy His rest….and to stretch my faith.

I pray the same for you, friend: that you will live each day entering His rest, and allowing Him to stretch you faith. :)

PS:

I would have made this announcement two weeks ago, right after we got the ultrasound results, but this site got a virus and was “offline” for the past couple of weeks.

Boost Your Family’s Immune System

Since a lot of my friends’ kids have been getting sick, I decided to write a short post on what supplements we take to try to boost up our immune system.

For the grown-ups:

  • Malunggay capsules

I think all of us know by now that our very own Malunggay is known all over the world as a superfood. You may google all its benefits, but here’s a short list for you: (Gram for gram) Malunggay leaves contain seven times the amount of vitamin C in oranges, four times the amount of vitamin A in carrots and, four times the calcium and two times the protein in milk, and three times the potassium in bananas. (source: Moringa4all.com)

I take one to two capsules in the morning. I know taking this more frequently would be better, I just can’t seem to remember to take them at any other time during the day!

  • Turmeric capsules

Turmeric has been used for thousands of years as a remedy of various ailments. It has been linked to over 600 health benefits– more particularly,  as an antioxidant, treatment against inflammation, cancer prevention, help against diabetes, blood thinning, and pain relief.

Suggested dosage: at least two capsules/day

  • Usana Essentials (Chelated Mineral & Mega Antioxidant)

According to my health-geek dad’s research, Usana ranks among the top in the field of herbal supplements.

Suggested dosage: one of each capsule in the morning, and another set (one of each again) at night

  • Vitamin D3

Especially for most of us who live in the city (where tall buildings and pollution block out most of the sunlight), who stay indoors most of the time, and work longer hours inside the home/office– this supplement is, according to my health-geek dad, a “MUST.”

Vitamin D has several health benefits, but for me, the most important benefits include regulation of calcium absorption and facilitation of normal immune system function.

  • Calcium

I think this goes without saying…especially for us women who have gone through pregnancy and breastfeeding.

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For the kids: 

  • Bee Propolis

Bee propolis known for its potent antioxidant and antimicrobial properties. It is also used for its analgesic and anti-inflammatory activity. Personally, I have seen how effective it is in boosting the kids’ immune system, and how much quickly they recover from viruses and even allergies when they take Propolis.

NOTE : I do not give Propolis to my kids below three years old. Please consult your pediatrician should you consider giving this to the younger  ones.

  • Chewable vitamin C tablets

More than boosting the immune system, vitamin C is also a powerful antioxidant the helps support the tissues of the body.

  • Propan TLC

Propan TLC is a multivitamin that contains the following:

  1. 100% of the vitamin C daily requirement
  2. lysine- a building block of protein and helps with growth and calcium absorption
  3. chlorella- a superfood that is great for supporting detoxification, improving  digestive health, helping with immune function inflammation reduction
  4. taurine- an amino acid that helps support brain development
  5. vitamins A, B, E- support eyesight, help regulate the body’s metabolic activity, and help protect our cells and tissues from damage, respectively

 

 

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For more information about Propan TLC, visit their website: www.propantlc.com  or join their community on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PropanTLC.

 

 

 

 

 

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post.

Five Things to Remember When You’re “Help-less”

There are two reasons why I chose to be silent here for over a month. One, our helpers went on leave starting the holidays. And reason number two, I had to help the kids re-establish their routines since we were either out of the country or out of town for the most part of the latter half of last year.

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The past season has been a good learning experience for the family, though. Here are the top five things we were reminded of:

1. Everything is homeschool.

This is my daughter’s favorite line. Well, she really uses this as an excuse to just keep playing all the time, but she still has a point. The past months of seeing different cultures and having to do chores proved to be some of the kids’ richest experiences. Did we even have time to turn to their books and take care of their academics? OF COURSE!!……..Not. Not at all. But in my opinion, they learned way more than any book can teach them.

 

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2. Do not underestimate your kids.

They are capable of much more than what we give them credit for. Since I cannot be in two places at the same time, I really had to delegate work to the kids, and trust that they would do it well enough. In short, once a particular job was delegated,  it became their problem to worry about, not mine. You know what I realized? They will not make anything their problem to solve as long as it is still mine. But once I let go and let them be, they all did a pretty good job.

 

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Confession: Seeing them help each other made me tear up a bit.

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Tip: Watch something while doing this— and you won’t even see this as a chore! 

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Why, even the little one was capable of putting the food containers back in their proper place!

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Here, the girls were in charge of table setting. I say they did pretty well.

 

3. Know your win and celebrate it.

When the kids helped me clean the house before leaving for another trip so we could come home to a clean-enough house, that was a win. It didn’t matter that the kids had to take a bath late at night thereby destroying a previously-established routine of taking a bath and sleeping earlier.When the kids all woke up and even helped carry some bags at at 3 or 4 a.m. without whining (especially if they slept past midnight because of parties and family celebrations), that was a win. It didn’t matter that their movements were a bit slow once we got to the airport. When the kids helped take care of their little brother even if they only had 4 hours of sleep the previous night because of the airline’s crazy flight schedules, and when they try to keep up without complaining, that was a win. It didn’t matter that their hair was a mess and their headbands kept moving out of place.

 

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Messy hair?? What messy hair?? All I notice is that precious smile and good heart.

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 The sleepiness slowwwly setting in…..but I admire the effort to stay awake and alert.

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After-dinner chores

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In fairness to us, we managed to keep the house tidy enough to welcome dad each time he came home from work!

 

…..Know your win and celebrate it with your children. Let them know that they just won.

 

4. Choose your battles. 

Something’s got to give.

Although I would have loved for the house to be spotless all the time while still being able to spend enough time just playing with the kids, I had to lower my expectations most of the time. Although I would have loved my kids to stay well-groomed after a whole day of cleaning and doing chores with them, I had to be happy with them having clothes on!

Knowing how easily I can get lost in chores, and knowing how I prefer to have things all ordered and nice, I had to always choose my battles. Do not lose sight of what really matters at home– our relationships.

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 Taken during one of our advent nights. 

 

5. Life can be simple. 

Life doesn’t have to be as complicated as we make it to be.

We buy things we do not need, and now we have more stuff to clean up.

We fill our schedules with too many activities, and now we feel stressed and rushed all  the time.

We try to keep up with so many people, try to manage so many things….we end up doing more, and come home depleted.

 

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Life can be simple, and at the rate the world around us is going, we have to fight to keep it simple.

 

 

 

 

Marriage Check: Where Do Your Efforts Go?

After three weeks of not having a date with Dennis, we were both looking forward to some couple time.  It was just perfect then, that we were given a free overnight stay at Acacia Hotel as soon as we got back from our trip.

This explains why I am inspired to write this post.

Our marriages take a lot of hard work. Intimacy is a product of intentional effort. With everything else that requires effort, what do we put effort into when it comes to our marriage?

1. Put effort into cultivating your friendship with each other.

When all is said and done– and the kids are off to start their own careers and families–  it will just be you and your spouse left at home. When that time comes, you will be living with only one of two kinds of people: a stranger or your best friend.

I choose to live with my best friend.

And there’s no better time to cultivate that friendship than NOW.

2. Put effort into the process of discovering things with your spouse and about your spouse…And enjoy it in the process.

We are married to human beings who inevitably grow and change in response to changing situations and seasons. Right when we’ve figured each other out, things change…and we once again learn, grow, and change in the process.

Then we’re back to square one.

And the whole process of discovery and rediscovery happens again.

Just this year, Dennis and I took the Five Love Languages test (by Dr. Gary Chapman) again. We took it ten years ago, even before we got married, and so we were both confident that we “knew” each other well enough in this area. We were even expressing how happy and relieved we were that we both had the exact same primary and secondary love language. We both understood that TIME and TOUCH meant I LOVE YOU. So easy!

And then we computed our results. Mine was basically the same– time and touch. But his turned out to be so different. His primary love language was Acts of Service, and touch fell far down the list! He then realized that he really gave and appreciated time and touch to express and receive love, only because he knew those were my ways of expressing and receiving. So that was his way of serving me– to give time and touch.

After ten years, we thought we knew what seemed to be so simple to figure out!

3. Put effort into making romance a priority.

The first year of marriage— well, no one has to remind us of this, right??

It is when the kids come, and there are more responsibilities….and challenges get the better of our time and energy….this is when we need to make a decision to make romance a priority. And we need to remind each other of this, too.

Making romance a priority means I will be deliberate in saving my energy for my spouse. I will find a way to pace my day such that I don’t end up just plopping on the bed at the end of the day– tired from giving all my energy to my kids, the household, homeschool, or ministry.

It means that I will keep our bedroom free from distractions and make it a restful place–conducive for two S’s– sleep and sex.

It means that we take our date nights seriously, not just because we want an excuse to eat out without the kids (though it is really nice to be able to eat out in peace). It is not just to fulfill a marital obligation either.

We make date nights a priority because it is one of the ways we can connect and build on our friendship. It is when we can process our thoughts and emotions in a safe environment– a time to communicate, and a time to just enjoy each other’s presence and be reminded of the gift of being together. It is an avenue where we can best discover and rediscover one another. It is a statement that tells the other “You are important to me. You are my priority.”

 

Having said all that, I want to thank you again, Acacia Hotel, for the very pleasant stay we had. It had all the ingredients of the break with Dennis that I’ve been asking God for weeks.

acacia room

Ingredient #1: Clean, cozy, and spacious room 

I would have to note that their orthopedic mattress, memory foam pillow and goose down feather pillows made it REALLY easy for me to unwind and REST.

acacia foodIngredient #2: Good food

We got to try both Acaci and The Lobby– Both good. :) Acaci serves buffet breakfast, lunch, and dinner, while The Lobby offers ala carte dishes that are of good quality, yet are pretty affordable (considering the quiet date-friendly ambience, really worth it!).

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Ingredient #3: spa treat at the Lurra Wellness Spa + Complimentary welcome massage (Yep! They go to your room and give you a 15-minute complimentary back massage!)

Ingredient #4: Great service and staff

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xmas traditions

back to acacia

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Ingredient #5: Accessibility…so accessible that we got to invite one of our favorite couples for breakfast on short notice, then go to Festival Mall to attend Victory Alabang’s annual Christmas Traditions after we checked out (which was great because we saw some friends!)….then go back for their dinner buffet and late night tea before heading back home. :) (Acacia Hotel has a shuttle service that can bring guests to nearby establishments around Alabang.)

Final, most important ingredient: Exclusive couple time!!! :) :) :)

Thank you, thank you again Acacia Hotel for being an answered prayer! :) We had a really, really great stay! :)

FYI:

Acacia Hotel is located at 5400 East Asia Drive corner Commerce Avenue, Filinvest Corporate City, Alabang. For more information, please check out their website www.acaciahotelsmanila.com or get in touch with them through enquiry@acaciahotelsmanila.com or 720-2000 and 588-5888. :)

Family Travel: Five Tips on Traveling with Toddlers and Young Kids

Taking on from our previous post on packing for your family trip, I basically follow the same rules in preparing my carry-on bags for a long plane ride.

 

As a review:

  1. Make a list.
  2. Color code.
  3. Compartmentalize.
  4. Make use of resealable bags.
  5. Label.

 

Okay, so let’s assume you have your list ready. You also have all your documents ready. Let’s move on to how we can best prepare for a long flight with children (plus a toddler, to be more specific) –and still keep your sanity and peace as much as possible.

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  1. Prepare the essentials. 
  • Documents
  • Wallets
  • Gadgets
  • Change of clothes
  • First-aid kit

 

Make sure the ones you’ll be needing the most are most accessible.

 

  1. Prepare the entertainment.

Keep kids entertained and busy as much as possible, as long as possible.

 

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Prepare a kit for each child. Here are some of my kids’ favorites:

  • Notebook
  • Coloring materials
  • Pencil + small sharpener with cover + small eraser
  • Origami paper
  • Tiny portable versions of board games
  • Clay

 

For your toddler:

  • Clay
  • Some toy cars
  • Favorite toy animal
  • Action figures/ small doll
  • Notebook
  • Coloring materials

 

Ipads and tablets can be your lifesavers, but I prefer these to be the last resort—when all else fails, and you have come to the point of desperation in keeping your toddler still and quiet!

  1. Prepare the eats.

Sometimes our kids act up because they are tired, thirsty, and/or hungry. Make sure you have enough snacks to keep your kids satisfied. I prefer not to rely on airline food when I’m with the kids.

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  1. Prepare the encouragement.

By this I mean treats and rewards. Bring some of your kids’ all-time favorite treats as an encouragement for them to cooperate with your during the flight.

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  • I usually offer the sweet stuff towards the end of the flight, just in case they have a hard time handling the sugar.
  • I also make and print out a rewards chart (applicable for preschool kids and older). This simply includes a list of previously agreed-upon behavior and expectations and the corresponding reward/s when you reach your destination. (Some might disagree with this and call it a bribe, but in this case, I am willing to make an exception and I’d prefer to call it an encouragement!)

 

       5. Prepare for the environment.

Since you really have no control over your environment for the next couple of hours, it is best to prepare for the environment.

  • Let your kids (especially your toddler) expend their energy prior to boarding the plane.
  • You may let them eat gum or suck on a lollipop (or hopefully you’re still nursing your toddler at this stage) during take-off and landing.

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  • Assign travel buddies—who sticks with whom.
  • Assign carry-on responsibilities. Because we usually end up having a lot of carry-on luggage whenever we travel with kids (which I discourage, by the way), it is the best time to teach the older kids responsibility by assigning who carries what.

Here are our carry-on assignments:

DENNIS:

1. One bag, which includes the gadgets (since they’re heavier) and important documents. He’s in charge of the passports and tickets, while I’m in charge of the kids.

2. Stroller

ME:

1. My tote bag, which includes other essentials for the family plus the toddler’s essentials (what’s included here is first-aid, Isaiah’s diaper-changing needs, and anything I need to be able to grab easily). I don’t have a separate diaper bag dedicated to Isaiah anymore.

2. Kids’ bag, for holding all sets of clothes they might need for freshening up or just in case.

KIDS:

1. They each have their own food/snack bag.

2. They are in charge of carrying their toys/entertainment packs.

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Finally, be realistic. Lower your expectations. You’re traveling with kids, so rejoice if you get at least 15 minutes of shut-eye (I may be exaggerating, of course….or not.)

Family Travel: Tips on Packing for Your Trip

It has been three looooong weeks! And I mean that in a very good way. :)

For the past weeks, we haven’t been home. (This is probably a good time to be defensive and explain why I have been absent in social media as well, noh?? :) ) —1.) For security reasons, I have made it a habit NOT to post anything on social media whenever we go on trips or are away from home. 2.) Posting on Instagram (or on any social media platform for that matter!) doesn’t come as naturally to me as it does to some people. I mean, I literally have stop talking to people and be anti-social for a few minutes just to post something. And it’s not that I think about it too much— for some reason, it’s one area where I can’t seem to multitask.

Anyway, over the past couple of weeks, we’ve gone from Manila to Singapore, back to Manila, off to Sydney, then Canberra, then back to Sydney again….and now we’re back home. I’m sure for some this is nothing, but for our family, this is major. We seldom get to take our kids with us in overseas ministry trips, so this was something we were glad to be able to do– combine ministry with a family vacation. :)

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Spot the kiddos. :) 

 

 

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This post was really my husband’s idea. You see, he used to think my methods of packing were quite unnecessary, saying I could just put the kids’ clothes all in one pile and it wouldn’t make much of a difference. But after experiencing coming home late and exhausted from a full day and evening of walking, then waking up early the next day having to get the kids to get ready while the toddler runs around, he now agrees that the manner of packing does make a difference. :)

Allow me to share with you some of the things that I’ve found to be helpful for me and my sanity when traveling with kids. I do not claim to be an expert, nor do I claim that what has worked for me will be sure to work for you, too. We all have different styles and personalities– plus a whole different mix of our kids’ personalities, so take what you think might work for you, and please do share some of your own techniques that have worked well for you! :)

  1. Create a list.

I am so dependent on lists. I just don’t trust my brain to remember everything I’d be needing, and I don’t want to take any chances– especially when traveling with kids. I think my most moms do make lists, but just in case you’re one who prefers to wing it, let me encourage you to make your list—and use it. The longer the trip, the more detailed the list.

 

  1. Color code.

I love color-coded things! I think God created color not just to bring excitement and beauty into the world, but to give order to our family life (especially while traveling)!

Let your children pick a color or use their favorite color as their personal color. As much as possible, make all labels and have them use things that are their chosen (or appointed color).

 

  1. Compartmentalize.

As much as possible, try to fit in all your stuff in one luggage. But of course we know this seldom happens when we are bringing kids along (I can say that this has yet to be achieved for our family!)—if you can find luggage organizers or packing cubes, consider using those! I personally live by the phrase, “A place for everything, and everything in its place.” There’s just so much harmony and peace there. :)

 

  1. Resealable Bags are your friend.

These add dimension to your compartmentalization! I personally prefer to pack the kids’ clothes into resealable bags—with each bag containing the day’s set of clothes. This way, Dennis—I mean, the little ones,  don’t need to ask me where their clothes are or which ones should they wear. Even while I’m  preoccupied with something, they can already start getting ready.

For the little ones who are not capable to grabbing their own bags and getting ready on their own yet, I just grab and lay out their clothes/set the night before so there’s no need to rush in the mornings.

 

Refilling your infant/toddler’s diaper bag is also easier this way because all you have to do is grab a whole set and transfer it to the bag. No thinking from your sleepy brain required.

 

  1. Label

Whether at home or in transit, labeling really works for me. Sometimes I forget what’s inside each “compartment,” so it helps to see it. The kids and the hubby also don’t have to keep asking “Where did you put it??” because – let’s say it all together now—there’s a place for everything, and everything is in it’s place.

 

 10171788_10153573483285021_4135223539253117605_nOH dear. I’m so sorry for the blurred photo! I’m not even sure who took this (most probably Dennis). But here you can see why I love color- coding and using resealable bags. :)

 

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Color-coding + Compartmentalization + Resealable bags + Labels (the kids were the ones who labelled) = peace. :)

There you have it.

Just five for now. It would be easier to remember and apply that way, right? :)

Please stay tuned for my next post on Family Travel: Five Tips on Flying with Toddlers and Young Kids. :)

When the Guilt Strikes…

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!” :)

 

Making PLDT heyÜ Work for Your Family

My daughter’s current topic on her social studies subject is on the traits of a Filipino family. I think one of our strong traits as a people is that of our value for family, or what we’ve read in our textbooks during our elementary years– that of having “close family ties.”

As we have become more and more digitally savvy, however, there needs to be a deliberate attempt to make technology work for us. If we are not careful, gadget time can easily rob us of time that could very well be used to connect with our family. Here are some tips on how we can use technology to improve the quality of our family relationships:

  1. Have a goal and keep it in mind. With social media on the rise, it is really easy to just keep scrolling down your feed, only to realize that precious minutes (or hours) have gone by…without fruit. Our gadgets are valuable tools that can help us manage our households more efficiently as we are able to communicate better. Connection and communication— these are our goals. We have to keep this in mind as we use our gadgets.
  2. Choose your apps wisely. Having our goal in mind, avail of apps that can be used to organize your days and to connect with family (instead of just using apps for playing).
  3. Set boundaries. Personally, we have made it a rule in our household to put away gadgets when we are having meals together.

Life will only get busier, and our families, bigger. it would be good to find a tool that can help address our families’ need to stay connected.

In a few days, I will be given a chance to try PLDT Home’s new heyÜ communication app. :) PLDT HOME’s heyÜ is the Filipino family’s virtual landline and all-in-one communication app  (and I think it is the only communication app specifically made with the Filipino family in mind). It is a locally designed app packed with 16 features that let family members stay connected in fun new ways.

The full suite of features—from free and unlimited voice and video calls to cute stickers—rids subscribers of the need to use multiple communication or messaging apps.

PLDT heyÜ uses the wide network of PLDT to ensure clear, quality, and consistent connections for its subscribers. Voice calls to and from other heyÜ subscribers, and to all PLDT landlines nationwide are free and unlimited. When users want more than just voice calls and instant messages, they can take advantage of heyÜ to heyÜ video calls, which are also free and unlimited.

heyÜ also offers the best, value-for-money call rates, letting everyone in the family keep in touch with friends and relatives, both here and abroad (without fear of your monthly bills ballooning!). Calls to Smart, Talk ‘N Text, and Sun subscribers are at only P5 per minute, while IDD calls to US, Canada, and Hawaii are as low as P1.50 per minute.

Instant messaging is now more fun and interactive with heyÜ through its features like group chat and the heyÜ Sticker Market. Family and friends can create their own groups to check up on each other get the latest updates. They can also easily send multimedia attachments like audio, video, photos, and location.

Other new heyÜ features include secret messaging, auto-buddy matching, application geo-locking, and application geo-blocking.

Since heyÜ was created to address the various communication needs of every family member, everyone from mom and dad to the kids will find the app relevant and fun.  Dad can video call the entire family during lunch break or on the rare nights that he can’t make it in time for dinner.  Mom, on the other hand, can use heyÜ to check up on the kids for free. Young heyÜ subscribers will definitely find the app most convenient when connecting with their parents (and their friends). Just the same, parents can use heyÜ to understand how their kids communicate in this technology-driven age.

Getting started with heyÜ is quick and easy. Simply download the app and tap the “REGISTER” button.

You will be prompted to input your account details, including your PLDT Account Number.

Upon completing the form and account verification, you will receive an e-mail confirmation with your log-
in credentials. Launch the heyÜ app and enter the username and password e-mailed to you to get started.

Log on to http://pldthome.com/heyu for more information.

Here’s great news that I think could also make you want to try out PLDT heyÜ now (as in now na!) :) heyÜ has a Prize Grab promo which gives you a chance to a Samsung Galaxy S5, bluetooth speakers, and gift certificates.

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You may apply for PLDT heyÜ now (and join the promo, of course!) by clicking on this link:  http://pldthome.com/heyu/heyu-promo.

I am excited to try this out myself, but again, let’s keep in mind: the whole point is to stay connected and share as many experiences with each other as possible! :)

Parenting the Smart Gilas Way

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.”

Performance.

Grades.

Achievements.

Talent.

Manners.

Clothes.

Cuteness level.

Financial status.

Family background.

Connections.

Fame.

Power.

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?

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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.