Thursday, December 26, 2013

It's Not 2014 Yet

So many things have happened since my last post. The Yolanda devastation was foremost in my mind the last several weeks with relief operations (we focused on breastmilk-letting and providing relief to mom-and-child survivors), and in my prayers. My heart bled for our kababayans.

Along with that came busy season for our video production company, Salt Lab Creative and I found my hands full with production, and trying to pursue preschool homeschool for my toddler. My busy days stretched well into the holidays.

And now, here we are. One day after Christmas. Practically all gifts have been given, and all to-do’s have been checked. I’m sure a lot of us are just excited to move on to 2014 and leave the tragedies of 2013 (from Napoles to Yolanda) behind.

It’s been a tumultuous year, wouldn’t you say? For me, personally, I want to know what God has in store for me, my family and our nation.

So far, God has revealed two very personal things to me and I’d like to share them with you.

First, He has impressed upon me that my writing is intended for others. It is intended to write life, truth and encouragement, particularly for mothers. This humbling revelation has led me to talk with three other moms who, by God’s divine arrangement have the same heart as I do. So, as I write this, I am looking forward to another project in 2014—one that will definitely be very close to my heart, and one that I pray will be used by God mightily to empower moms. I cannot give specifics yet but I covet your prayers in its fruition. Thank you J

Second, God revealed an attitude pertaining to looking forward to the future. 

When our son was born at 30 weeks old on October 20, 2011, I learned a very valuable lesson that day: Savor each day and take it for what it is. I learned to submit all my expectations and our family’s future to Him. The present is my priority today. “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” Matthew 6:34

As I look forward to 2014, to my son’s incredible growth (physically and intellectually), to new projects, to our family’s plans, to any positive change in our nation, I am reminded of the beauty of enjoying the present.

Today, December 26, 2013, I weigh 112 lbs., I have awkward long/short hair, I have a wonderful husband, a growing little boy of delight, one of my closest friends is getting married, and another is going to have a baby. I am semi-reconciled with my family, I am emotional but not overly so anymore I think, I am excited to shop for a few things I need but not obsessing about them anymore (thank God!). Overall, I am happy. No, joyful! And content. No, grateful! Definitely, grateful yes. I am thankful for such an abundant life that is peaceful, love-filled and is full of lessons and laughter. Most of all, I am grateful to have Christ in my life.

I may not know what the future will bring, and I certainly do not have control over anything that will come our way (that includes our child’s ever-increasing tantrums), but I have Christ and my hope will spring eternal.

So, as I come expectant of a bright year ahead, I also recognize that the present year isn’t finished yet. There are still several days of 2013 left to savor. Let’s begin with today.

Today is precious because You made it so. Today is a good day because I have You. So, thank You Jesus for today. Kindly please bless tomorrow J

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Oatmeal on My Skin

Moms, do you hold your shower time precious, just like I do?

If you’re anything like me, I’m pretty sure you’re very particular about your toiletries, too right? I mean, the only products on your caddy would be feel-good ones. No cheap scents, drying bars of soaps or strong, chemical-laden “beauty” products.

As for me, my caddy is full of Human Nature products, and this recent discovery of mine—OATMEAL.

Oatmeal has been a staple in a lot of handmade soaps and I’ve used several ones before. But this new bar I’ve discovered smells absolutely heavenly. The seller is called Gracey’s Ritual, and the soap is called Oatmeal Milk. This new addition to my soapdish is a bar of oat chunks and milk that caresses and exfoliates at the same time. The combination of the two is intoxicatingly charming—like a mild whiff of milky melon that lingers on your skin. And the best part is, a huge bar sells for only P70!

HUGE chunk of soap for P70!
I’ve discovered that oatmeal has anti-inflammatory properties, can help treat skin problems like eczema and rashes, helps detox the skin and provides much-needed moisture to the skin.

This soap is comparable to Lush’s bars; I’ve used quite a few of their variants and for the price difference, I’d say, Gracey’s Oatmeal Bar is not bad at all!

An added note on oatmeal: Gabbie has been plagued by heat rash and bug bites lately so I add 1/3 cup of ground oatmeal to his tub water every bath and it seemed to have calmed his skin irritations. He now says, “Buh-bye oatmeal” after every bath. Haha!

Here’s Gracey’s Ritual’s contact number 09266652203. She’s on Facebook, too. Give it a try, Mommas!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Back to the Grind

It’s been an amazing eleven days for me so far. Our helper, Manang Lourdes left for a vacation and won’t be returning until tomorrow. In all the time she’s been gone, I’ve been handling all house chores (with Mike, my hubby taking care of mopping the floors and taking out the trash on some nights)—from cooking two meals (we cook one big batch for lunch and dinner), dishwashing, sweeping, cleaning putting away fresh clothes, on top of taking care and entertaining a toddler. I’m back to the daily grind. It’s been exhausting, definitely but honestly, I really enjoyed this time, too.

Having no helper meant that I was back in complete control of my household and it felt good to know its routine, and how efficiently (or otherwise, on some days) I can run it. I was, for the most part, two steps ahead of my to-do’s. My mind was always running, planning, and thinking forward. And when I had everything running, I found I could let go more, be more spontaneous because I was confident with the routine I established.

I appreciated this helper-less time now again that Gabbie is a toddler and he can participate or at least observe and learn as Mommy goes around doing chores. There were days when it was just the two of us the whole day. That meant we had all the time to ourselves and it made for some unique bonding activities together (we painted, we counted and made macaroni necklaces). He also learned to put his dirty clothes in the hamper, push out the hampers from the rooms when we’re having the laundry picked up (by the laundromat), and stay quietly on his mat playing or reading while Mommy is busy in the kitchen. Some days I would bring him with me by the dishwashing area, sit him on a stool with a bowl of cereal and a half-cup of milk and he would snack while we sang songs and I washed the dishes. He would observe me as I washed, soaped and rinsed the plates and I knew all these are valuable lessons for him, too. I know because he said, "Mommy wash boo peyt (blue plate)."

Make no mistake. I’m super excited for Manang’s return tomorrow as I could really use some sleep. But I’m not at all regretful of the last several days. In fact, I’m quite grateful that I could really put my 100% focus on caring for my family and our home. I’m thankful for this opportunity to handle everything on my own again so I can re-assess, re-evaluate how the house is being run. As an example, I discovered that Domex as an all-purpose cleaner is awful. It left my floors smelling really bad. I’m opting to make my own all-purpose cleaner from now on, with the aid of recipes I found online. Check this out, Mommas:

If any of you are about to lose your helper or are dealing with a help-less household, don’t be daunted. Your household is yours for the taking. With the wealth of information that fellow homemakers share online, and the abundance of grace to every homemaker (read Proverbs 31), you’re destined to be the queen of your own home.

Oh, and don’t be afraid to take a rest whenever you can. A power nap does wonders for the daily grind of cooking, washing, caretaking. And this is exactly what I’m about to do now. I will join my little sleeping baby. Happy Monday, world!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Instruction As A Form of Love

As a mom to a growing toddler (Gabbie just turned two last Sunday!), I find new meaning to the age-old reputation of moms being “naggers”. Day in and day out, I remind Gabbie to say “please” about ten times a day when he asks for anything, to wear his slippers about twenty times, and to talk instead of whining for the most part of the day.

A few days ago, I found myself telling him in exasperation, “Reminding you to wear your slippers is all I do, and you still don’t do it.”

Giving instructions to Gabbie is not always tiresome. It’s a nice feeling to be able to impart something useful to my child, and he’s a smart boy. He responds well and grasps concepts quite easily. I find joy in instructing him to count one to 10 with me, in drawing lines on his blackboard, in getting him to march with me. I love it when his Daddy gives him instructions while playing drums and he obeys. We’re very amused when he goes to bring his dirty clothes to his hamper or the pack of toilet paper to our room when unpacking groceries, upon our instruction.

But whatever the instruction, I discovered that getting into the painstaking, nitty-gritty instruction process with my child is A LOT of work.

It’s getting into his mental level, breaking down every single instruction (and making it appealing for a toddler!), and mustering up all the patience in the event that he doesn’t get it, doesn’t obey, or wants to do something else.

Sometimes, I find myself wanting to let some instructions go, especially if I hear somebody telling me that I’m being too paranoid or careful. But if I see Gabbie going towards a potential disaster, I realize that I still have more patience tucked away hidden for emergency “fun” instructionals to veer him away from such encounters. And I’ll ask, what mom doesn’t?

We began talking to Gabbie early, and giving instructions to him in a loving, non-bossy (but authoritative) manner has gotten him used to accepting and being able to obey two- or three-part instructions such as, “Gabbie, please pack away your book and put back in the bookshelf. Then, let’s brush your teeth.”

When it comes to those repetitive instructions that he needs to be reminded of again and again, I just do them…again and again, as needed.

Why? Because I love him and I want the best for him.

When God brought out the Israelites from the punishing clutches of Egypt, He gave very, very particular instructions to them through Moses. Beyond the 10 Commandments, there were instructions for how to build their altar, how and what they should offer as burnt sacrifices, from protection of property, social responsibility to laws of justice and mercy (Exodus 19-23).

God knew his people and he was exacting, thorough and firm. He did not want them straying toward a wayward path. To his children, he provided faithful, unwavering guidance through his instructions.

I believe the same is needed for our children, and by God’s example, the same is required of us.

As we “take pains” in giving instructions we’ve given a hundred times over, let God’s joy find us with the revelation that it is out God-given duty to instruct our children.

Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it. (Proverbs 22:6)

It is the same love that hugs our children goodnight that gives them the instruction they need to hear in order to obey. Let’s be faithful in both.

Taking this a step further, we’re contemplating on homeschooling Gabbie. Wow, talk about formalizing my role as his instructor. Haha! Nevertheless, I believe it can be done. It’s not because of my personality or my experience (I taught once before to preschool children but quit), but because of my heart to obey God. If he says we homeschool, then we shall! This deserves a different post altogether but thought I’d share this little piece of info just to you know…get it out of my chest. Haha.

Anyway, to end, I’d like to encourage moms NOT to be naggers, but to be faithful instructors. Herein lies the difference between the two: The latter comes from a place of love and will always be done in love. I believe our children will almost always know the difference. I hope we will be as keen too, Mommas!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Tipid "Me-Times"

Much has been said about every mom’s need for “me-time”. From trips to nail salons, girls’ night out, shopping to eating out, we have a lot of options. But what if the family’s on a tight budget and though time out may not be the issue, money is?

Could Mommy still afford to get some “me-time”?

Of course!

Here are some of my free or inexpensive “me-time” ideas that you might want to try:

1.     Have tea.
Either I grab a P100 and go to our nearest milk tea place by myself (I can surf online or DO NOTHING uninterrupted!) or I buy flavored tea in the grocery and enjoy a hot mug at home curled up with a good book, inside our LOCKED bedroom or when baby's taking a nap. I recommend Celestial Seasonings natural teas. Their blends are soothing and delicious.

2.     Swim.
You know that feeling like you’re all uptight and rolled up, with your muscles unstretched and your mind’s reeling from things you’re doing, and on what else you should be doing, and so on and so forth. Moms, you know what I’m talking about, right? Sometimes, multi-tasking just takes its toll and I end up feeling constricted. A cool swim does wonders! It stretches my entire body and I feel my blood circulating again (seriously!). Well, exercise really does this for us but I chose swimming because we have a pool in our condo complex so I get to exercise for free, plus I can really “get away” in the pool. Just me and the water. Tip: If you don’t have a pool, I’m sure you know somebody who lives in a condo near you. Call up that friend and ask if you can swim in their condo pool for an hour.

3.     Talk.
Talking seems to be most women’s favorite pastime. It’s a stress reliever. So do it, but try it with your journal or your phone’s voice recorder, or your laptop’s video camera, in the privacy of your room. Writing is my method of choice so I curl up with my journal and just write, write, write. It’s a healthier way to rant away any negative stuff I had to deal with, and it’s a fantastic way to remind myself of my countless blessings. Inevitably, most of my journal entries turn to prayers, love letters I direct to God Himself.

4.     Take a hot shower.
Seriously, there’s nothing like warm/hot water to soothe those tired muscles, and reinvigorate a tired Momma! Slather on some moisturizing body butter or lotion after because, if you’re like me, dry skin is essentially just “bad trip”. I recommend Human Nature’s Body Butter in Mango Passion or Body Lotion in Vanilla scent.

5.     Have a beauty experiment.
I used to practice doing the smoky eye look during stay-home me-times, or putting together a new outfit using old pieces I have in my closet. When I became a mom, I don’t get to experiment so often now on my best look when we’re about to go out. I tend to just put on whatever is easiest to find. But now, I’m appreciating makeup a bit more, and enjoying putting together outfits again during my special alone times. When I can’t go to a nail salon, I also paint my nails and enjoy the luxury of having beautiful, painted nails without the scare of nippers. Read more about that fear here

6.     Go to a bookstore.

Okay, maybe this won’t apply to everyone as not everybody enjoys reading. But there’s something about bookstores that’s really comforting for me. I spend hours in OMF Bookstore, which is just near our house, and I could really de-stress in any Fully-Booked, or National Book Store. I choose several titles, put them on my lap and settle myself on a seat or even on the floor and just read away. I also love that I can easily pick up a book for pasalubong too for my little bookworm, Gabbie.

What about you, what’s your cheapo me-time idea? J