An Important Reminder for Moms on a Mission

This morning is one of those mornings when I can close the door, lock it, turn on my worship playlist, sing, read my Bible, hear from my Father, get recharged— without rushing.

It’s the weekend. No lesson plans to carry out, no papers to check, no calling the kids to get ready and start moving.

Well, at least for this weekend.

I did all the checking and grading until midnight last night. As for the lesson plans to carry out, there’s nothing to carry out anymore because I have to start making a new one.

But let’s not ruin the moment.

This is a moment I have decided to carve out to recharge and nothing should get in the way.

What about you, friend? When was the last time you closed and locked the door to have time for yourself? When was the last time you basked in God’s presence and allowed Him to speak to you– really speak to you, and you just sat and listened, unhurried??

I believe as women and as moms with purpose, we cannot afford to run on empty. We cannot afford to run on yesterday’s fuel– or last month’s fumes. We need to be reminded– on a regular basis– of why we do what we do.

Have you figured that out yet? Why you do what you do?

Why does your schedule look the way it does? Why do you feel the need to accomplish certain tasks? Why do you expect your children to behave a certain way?

Aside from my Bible and journal, I added one “tool” today to help me reflect and recalibrate the past weekends– Mommy Mundo’s Mom Manifesto.

The past activities of the Mom Manifesto have been very helpful so far. So helpful (and easy to do, I might add) that I made a version for the kids to do as well. I’ve been wanting to do it for quite some time with them but somehow always put it off until recently. I decided it was a good idea for them to finally do the same activity that I was doing, which was to evaluate the way they lived their days and check whether their activities reflected what they valued and what their priorities are. I must say, it was an eye-opener for everyone. In the words of Alyanna, “Wow. I’m not really honoring God with my schedule mom. I’m wasting a lot of my time.”

I’m glad you see that now and you finally get what I’ve been trying to tell you, my dear. 😉

Moms, friends, if my nine and seven year-old girls can do it and benefit from it, I’m pretty sure you will, too.

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Here’s the version I made for the kids. They actually requested that I print this out. I’ve had this pie chart on my files for quite some time now. I also made a table last year for them to track their days, but Mommy Mundo’s version was simpler (and shorter) so I decided to use that as a template for them instead. Alyanna saw that she spent more time doing crossword and sudoku puzzles than she did playing with her siblings, so she decided to lessen that time and make more time for them “because that’s better so we could improve and build our relationship.”

Another idea was to have them answer what they think I’d do in the parenting style quiz, just to compare my answers with theirs and see if my intentions and perception of myself coincide with their perception of me. I could have the best intentions, but if they perceive it in another way, then my intentions won’t really matter so much, would they? If that’s the case, I would need to check how I am coming across in the actual expression my love and concern for them.

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The good news is, all our answers were the same! WHEW! :) 

This weekend, may I encourage you to do the same? As I write this, I’m actually hearing some screams and cries from my toddler, but I recognize it as the “I’m mad at you because you’re not doing what I want you to do” kind of cry, not the “Help! I’m hurt!” kind. They’ll be fine. I’ll find out what happened as soon as I unlock my door, but not until I finish this. What I’m saying is, there will always be something “urgent” that will call for our attention. But I encourage you to decide that THIS is important:

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We cannot give what we do not have. We cannot be a good resource if we do not draw from our ultimate Source. We cannot fill others if we haven’t been filled.

It’s the weekend.

Recharge. :)

PS:

For those of you are asking, here’s the link to the Mom Manifesto that I’m doing: http://expomom.com/mommanifesto/  :)

PPS:

I just realized tomorrow is Mother’s Day! What better time to reflect and “refill” than now?? :)

Happy Mother’s Day! :) :)

My Top 11 Pregnancy Life Savers

This is my fourth pregnancy, but I feel like it’s my first time! I forget how hard it is to sleep at some nights, and let’s not even start talking about the things I’d need to prepare before giving birth.

I’m about to enter my second trimester, and here’s a quick run down of things that have been helpful to me so far:

1. Tempur pillow

This came at the BEST time for me. I received it I think two days after I found out that I was pregnant. I always wanted to have any Tempur product, all the more after the girls and I went to a “movie night in bed” event for their tenth year anniversary here in the Philippines. I’d say, if I could afford to buy a bed right now, there’s a pretty big chance I would have gone to one of their branches already. When I got home, I remember actually telling Dennis that maybe we should start saving up for a mattress pad (we’ve got to start somewhere, right?).

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This is on my wishlist! :)

My dad is an orthopedic surgeon, and so I have memories of him always checking out the ergonomic designs of chairs, as well as the firmness and comfort level of mattresses and pillows. Almost each time we’d stay in a hotel (or any place for that matter), he would have a comment about the chairs, the mattresses, and the pillows. I think I caught on some of that, because now I am consciously aware of whether or not mattresses and pillows follow the normal curves of the body, and if they help to maintain the natural form of our spines. Tempur does. When I got to experience lying down on a Tempur mattress during the event I mentioned, I seriously did not want to get up. I now understand what some of my friends are saying about not ever wanting to go back once you’ve tried having the best sleep ever using Tempur (visit http://ph.tempur.com/ to know more about their products and branches).

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Here’s a quick guide to choosing the right mattress (source).

2. Tube tops

I’ve worn out my tube tops especially during my pregnancies because they are really so useful. I use them to cover my belly and to prevent the top part of my unbuttoned and unzipped pants from popping out. I also use them to ensure that my growing future nursing source is kept well-concealed at all times. Once the baby is out, they shall serve the same purpose of giving me the “cover” that I need.

3. Crackers and Nuts

Obviously, this list isn’t categorized. I’m really just giving you a list of my life savers the first few months of my pregnancy as they come to mind.

Nausea creeps in any time of day for me during the first trimester. One minute I get a little bit hungry, then the next minute my stomach is already so acidic, and I am feeling nauseated. The worse part is, by this time I still have no idea what my palate could tolerate. Always having crackers and nuts with me were a life saver.

4. White Flower

So Chinese, eh? To some, the smell might be too overpowering, but for me, this helped “drown out” all the other smells that gave me a headache or nausea. I’d panic each time I couldn’t find my tiny bottle and we are already on our way to dine somewhere!

5. Essential oils (such as lavender) and diffuser

This helped remove the odor that reached our room during and after cooking. This also helped when I had difficulty sleeping.

6. A hard-drive with preaching podcasts and television series

The rare moments us moms can watch movies/ TV series and not feel guilty about  include the times when we are nursing and burping (and nursing and burping and nursing and burping) our newborns, and when we are ordered to be on bed rest. In my case, I’d schedule my “viewing times” when my nausea is at its worse (usually when dinner is being prepared), to help take my mind off it.

7. Books

Being on bed rest doesn’t have to mean being unproductive. Learning something new is always a good thing, and what better time to catch up on your reading than  when you are not really allowed to move around so much?

8. Top Mom Picks Guidebook

While we are on the subject of books, this guidebook by Mommy Mundo includes a narrowed-down-to-essentials list of nice products to have for pregnancy, baby, toddler, school-aged kids, and for us, moms. (You can find this at a bookstore near you!)

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9. Lip balm

I honestly am not sure if I am able to drink as much water as I am supposed to, but I do try to increase my water intake during pregnancy. Despite this attempt, however, my lips still get so dry that they crack. A lip balm is a must-have for us who have this issue!

10. Prenatal vitamins

This goes without saying, but because I have to admit I am normally not so diligent when it comes to taking my vitamins, I am including prenatal vitamins in this list to remind all of you who, like me, might tend to take supplements for granted. I think these become all the more important during the initial phase of pregnancy, when our babies are at their most vulnerable state and when we usually don’t have a well-balanced diet because of paglilihi.

11. Leggings, stretchy clothes, maxi dresses

I don’t know when it happened, but I just realized that I gave away almost all my clothes that would’ve been so useful for my pregnancy! So now I have to “restock” my wardrobe. And for me not to feel guilty, they need to be well thought-of: they need to be useful for pregnancy, and usable after pregnancy. Leggings, stretchy clothes, maxi dresses are safe. I also found good pairs of jeans and shorts from Mamaway (over at Shangri-la Mall) that I know I can use even after pregnancy. Instead of wide bands, it is like you have a built-in tube top that you can use to cover your belly when nursing as well.

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There you have it. My top 11 must-haves for this season, in no particular order. Hope this helps some of you pregnant or soon-to-be-pregnant mommies out there! :)

I Wanted to Fight Like Mayweather

Much has been said about the “fight of the century” last Sunday, that turned out to be not as exciting as all the previous fights Manny Pacquiao has fought. This post is not at all a commentary about what transpired, because I love watching Manny fight, but that’s about it—I don’t really know much about the technicalities of the sport. This is also not a post to voice out my opinion about the win or the loss that happened. This is merely a confession. A confession that just recently, I wanted to fight like Mayweather.

You see, given Dennis’ job and by virtue of the position he is given as a pastor, it comes with the territory that there are many different kinds of people we encounter, and many issues and problems people present to us for help. Several times, we’ve had to confront sin and call it out, out of love and concern for the people under our watch. Often these are appreciated. Sometimes, these are not taken as well as we had hoped. Other times, we are misunderstood and given counter punches that really hurt.

Contrary to what people may think, my heart isn’t as tough when it comes to these things. I hate confrontation and I do not look forward to having to deal with problems that honestly, I could really do without since they are not my problems. By now I should have already gotten used to these things, but admittedly, it takes a lot of coming to God in tears and prayers each time. Because we are dealing with people we care about, it doesn’t take much for me to get affected…more so if in the end, someone takes it against you.

I remember a conversation I had with Dennis, at a time when I got shocked over some news we got. I said, “You know, what I really want is a quiet life. Way back in high school and college, I always prayed, ‘Lord, I pray that I will not just be a face in the crowd, but that you will use me to make a difference in this world…that you will use me to minister to people….’ Why did I have to pray that? Tuloy, He’s answering it!” I meant it as a joke, but deep down, I knew there really was a part of me that preferred to stay in the sidelines and stay safe. There was that part of me that thought, “if I can just keep quiet and keep ducking…and just stay in my safe zone, I won’t need to get hurt.”

Yeah, that’s right! I don’t NEED to get hurt.

Why do I even put myself up to this?

Discipleship is a messy job. Ministering to people is hard. You can hurt people, and they can hurt you.

So again…why do I even have to put myself up to this?

Just like Mayweather, I can choose to stay in my safe zone and just wait. No one punches me; I won’t throw out a punch either. Someone comes to me, I shy away and move back a bit. Keep my distance. Guard myself. Make sure I’m not vulnerable. Protect myself from getting hurt. Calculate every move. Stay safe. Wait for the bell to ring. Wait till the end of 12th round. Come out the winner—unhurt, unscathed — brilliant strategy!!!

But then there’s that other option.

I can choose to take a risk. Open myself up. Initiate. Risk getting hurt. Risk getting counterpunched. Sometimes let my guards down and be vulnerable. Do whatever it takes, even if my calculations aren’t perfect and I might make a wrong move and not land my punches as well as I’d hope. Take a little step; make a little attempt— until the bell finally rings… until the end of the 12th round. Perhaps lose a fight, get hurt, get badly wounded…but having lived my life, maximized.

Okay time for another confession: As I’m writing this, I’m tearing up. Maybe it’s because I am reminded that the very reason why I am living my life abundantly now is because someone chose to take a risk for me in the first place. Someone opened himself up. Someone got hurt. Someone fought for me. Someone did all that had to be done, and gave all that had to be given; Someone said “I’ll do whatever it takes!”… to save someone like me.

Someone got hurt, badly wounded, and even lost his life for me.

Someone seemingly lost a fight to win the battle for me.

For us.

Jesus took that risk because He knew that he was fighting for much more than a belt or a title. He was fighting for an eternity with us.

The disciples took risks because they knew that though they would lose many fights, they already have their victory in Christ.

You are where you are now because someone cared enough to take a risk for you.

The people around us are worth taking in punches for. They are worth sucking up the pain and moving out of our safe zones for.

We could still choose to have Mayweather’s brilliant strategy and come to the end of our lives intact, untouched…safe and sound. But it’s funny how people are not cheering on that kind of win.

Because in the end, what people will really come to remember is not our title or award or position. They will remember how well we fought our fight. They will remember the risks we took for them. They will remember our courage, our response, and our heart.

At the end of his life, Paul said, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2 Timothy 4:7) It is my prayer that when we leave this earth, this may be said of us.

And it is my prayer that when we meet our real hero, he will say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”

Because in the end, that’s the only cheer that I’d like to hear.

That’s the only win that matters.

 

 

 

 

The ABC’s and DEF’s of Money Management

I am not the type who can easily absorb facts and technical know-how when it comes to finances. I love math, but for some reason, my brain chooses to go somewhere else each time I have to sit and listen or analyze financial data and information. When it comes to money management, I like to keep it simple. That’s what makes it sustainable and not-so-intimidating for me. The simpler, the better.

Having said that, I’d like to share with you some of the most basic principles we have applied in our family when it comes to handling our finances (in case there are some of you who are like me, who prefer to keep things AS SIMPLE AS POSSIBLE when it comes to money management):

First, let’s talk about the ABCs of how we have chosen to manage our money.

A –  Allowance 

Early on in our marriage, Dennis and I have decided to set aside allowances for both of us. This means that we’re free to spend this amount anytime, guilt free. This also means that if there were purchases we wanted that cost more than our allowance, we had to wait and save up for those purchases. The amount allocated for our allowance was based precisely on that term– allowances. We made sure that these were enough to allow us freedom to make purchases without compromising the family’s needs and finances.

B – Budget

As a family, set aside time to develop a budget. If you do not know how much money you need to live off in a month, now would be a good time to start keeping track of all your expenses. After you’ve determined the working budget you need, prioritize. For our family, this is how it looks like, percentage-wise:

10% = tithes

10% = giving

10% = savings

20% = investments

50% = spending

C – Communication

I mentioned that I am not the “let’s sit down and talk about money” type of person, but it doesn’t mean I should not make an effort. I believe that every giving, saving, investing, and spending decision must be agreed on as a family. This communicates that we respect, value, and honor each other as members of the family. Regularly, we set aside time to review our values as a family, and evaluate whether or not we are putting our money where we say our heart is; we discuss the priorities we have for the season that we are in, and check how we can support those priorities through our budget; we challenge ourselves on how we can give more generously and stretch our faiths in the area of finances….communication is key if we are to be good stewards of our resources.

Okay, there you go….the ABCs.

Now, I’d like to add some DEFs.

I most recently– for the first time ever– finally got a Unionbank credit card. Again, because I don’t like complicated stuff, I have always felt that credit cards were way too complicated and way to high maintenance for me to handle. Dennis and I have always preferred to do things the old-fashioned way– using cash. This was, of course, simple enough for me to figure out. No cash, no purchase. Enough cash, go buy. Something to that effect.

At the times when we did use a credit card, it was to go for rewards and points. We reasoned, we would be making those purchases with or without a card anyway, might as well earn some points or rewards for it. But we almost always lost those rewards and points because it took us too long to redeem them…..and I was back to my “this is way too complicated for me” thinking. What I like about the card I’m using now is that all they explained as far as rewards were concerned is that I’d get 1.5% cash back on everything, no matter what category I use my card for (food items, travel, etc.). This was simple enough for me to understand.

Anyway, because  I have to order most of my materials for homeschool online or from the States, having a credit card serves my purpose. Somehow, I feel empowered now that I don’t have to course my orders through someone else all the time.

So back to my DEFs. I need to take note of these if I am to make my credit card work for me and not against me. If I am to be a good steward, it all boils down to my mindset and behavior.

D – Decide.

You have two decisions you have to make: One, decide on a budget, and two, decide that you will only spend money that you have.

Having a credit card is not an excuse for you to spend money you don’t have or you only wish to have or that you are “expecting” to have.

E – Exercise restraint and discipline.

Know your limits and stay within those limits. Honestly, if you don’t think you can, it might be better for you to go back to the old-fashioned system of using cash and only cash (a debit card is another option).

F – Fully and faithfully pay off your balance.

Rather than thinking it is okay to just pay off the minimum each month, pay off your entire balance as soon as possible. If you can, transfer an amount to that account or write a check to that account as soon as you get home so as not to forget about it.

These are just a few, very basic reminders. But maybe for some, these reminders can mean a world of difference for their family and peace of mind.  :) If you have more tips to add, please do share! :)

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Thank you Unionbank for sharing and allowing me to experience your service first hand. :) 

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.

supplements

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.

10991208_10153805617070021_3216058131780664320_n Obviously, the one who took this photo was still sleepy!

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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.)