MY PALAWAN BIRTHDAY

We were scheduled to fly to Busuanga on July 6. A few days before, I was perfectly healthy. Then I started sniffling on Monday, July 5. What a time to get sick! My mom and King were waiting on me to decide whether we should push through or not, seeing that I had not packed and that I was feverish and feeling bad. I was telling King they could go without me, but of course he didn’t want to since the trip was actually to celebrate my birthday. So with barely 3 hours of sleep but with a burst of God-given energy, I got up the next morning, packed, and got ready for our flight. I only started feeling bad again at the airport and on the plane. Noelle, of course, was awake the whole time, while I wanted to lay down and just sleep. My head was heavy, I had fever, cough & colds, and my body was just aching and weak. Noelle also looked like she was pooping on the plane, but we were afraid to check because the smell would reek. I checked when we landed. Thank God it was a false alarm! I didn’t have energy to change her diaper in a public restroom.

Birang

On the way to and when we got to quaint Birang Lodge in Coron, I just slept. I did not go with my family when they had lunch. I felt cold, weak, and just terrible. Thank God we were not bound by a pre-determined schedule like that of a package tour. I was able to just rest. I drank meds and asked my mom to massage my arms. This whole time, I just kept praying and praying that God would heal me so that I could enjoy our vacation. By mid-afternoon, I already broke into a sweat. My head still felt heavy but my body was feeling stronger. I was able to give Noelle a bath. By evening, I was able to join my family with our friend Hilbert and his mom for dinner. Hilbert, by the way, cooked super yummy adobo and super yummy fresh lapu lapu! We were not only his clients, but also his guests, so he was kind enough to bless us with his delicious cooking. The next morning, I was up and about for our first trip to the islands! I still had cough & colds, but God totally healed me from the flu! I know it was God because with the way I was feeling, normally that would have lasted a whole week. Amazing!

Hilbert hooked us up with this big bangka (pump boat) to go to Malcapuya Island to swim and have lunch, then we went to Banana Island for some snorkeling. At first we thought it would be rainy all day, but the sun was out by the time we got to the first island. The next day, we took a smaller boat and went island hopping again, visiting this shipwreck for snorkeling, Banul Island for lunch, Twin Lagoon to take a dip in the calm, brackish water,  Barracuda Lake hoping to get a glimpse of one barracuda (to no avail), and to the marine park Siete Picados to snorkel some more and see more corals & bigger fish. Though it was a bit rainy already on the 2nd half of our boat trip, it was so much fun for us all! Hilbert’s “people” prepared delicious food for us to bring on both trips. The boatmen were really nice to us. We enjoyed the beautiful beaches and the beautifully clear blue water. We especially enjoyed the fish feeding and snorkeling! Even Noelle was in on the feeding, totally unafraid. Danae at first kept saying that she didn’t want the fish to eat her, but when she learned how to use the snorkeling gear, we would hear her scream through the snorkel in excitement! She’s a water baby anyhow, so swimming alone makes her happy. Her deep tan speaks for itself. 🙂

By the fourth day, we moved to Darayonan Lodge because Hilbert’s aunt’s lodge (Birang) was already occupied by new tourists, and we still had 4 days left to enjoy Coron. Both lodges are affordable places and nicely situated in the town proper, but Birang is actually on the water. The boat “parks” right in front of the lodge. No need to take a trike, lug all your stuff including food to get to a dock. We appreciated that when our starting point for our last island hopping trip to go back to the shipwreck, Banul Island and Siete Picados, was Darayonan. We also had to look for food to bring for that trip, which turned out not to be that great. In Birang, it was easy, plus the food was good, except in our case, we had to tell the cook not to make too much haha. Their bathroom was big enough too, bright and clean, and their water supply with hot water, great! Darayonan was a good place to stay during the last days of our trip because it had a nice pool. King and the girls enjoyed it while my mom and I rested a lot.  Their restaurant was big and also served good food, though some food on the menu were not available. There was also a little monkey in the store right across the lodge, which entertained my girls a lot, especially when Noelle was cranky already. She would get excited and say “ooh, aah, aah.”

There was a nearby pizza place called Bistro Coron, which we visited twice. We liked their pizza and pasta. It’s owned by a foreigner who’s married to a Filipina, and is a pretty popular place. It’s near a drugstore and the local market too, so it’s very convenient.

King & Hilbert

On my birthday, the 12th, Hilbert invited us over to their house for lunch. He cooked pork humba, grilled squid and crabs for us! We were so full! Even their rice was so yummy! Afterwards, Hilbert and King had a short meeting about how to help the incoming youth pastor jump start and nurture the youth ministry in Coron. Hilbert is involved in their church there and he asked King for advise. Later that afternoon, King also met with the pastor himself. It’s so great to be a blessing and help others in reaching the next generation! I’m such a proud wife!

All in all, our Palawan trip was a blast! Even though I was sick, and my mom and the girls had cough & colds, and even though Noelle had one night with fever due to her vaccination the day before we left, we definitely had fun and made memories that will last a lifetime! The islands in Coron are just breathtaking. They have the strangest rock formations, smooth white sands, water that displays all the shades of blue, beautiful corals & lots of fish. Coron is just another reminder of what an awesome Creator we have and of how beautiful the Philippines really is.

Still thinking about it? Stop thinking, and book that flight! Who better to fix your package tour or to fix your itinerary if you don’t want a package, than a local like Hilbert Enriquez? Add him up on Facebook, so you can personally get in touch with him.

Click here for Hilbert’s Facebook

Adorable Noelle

Noelle is exactly 18 months old today, July 6. Time flies so fast! And yet when you see her adorable, round face, big forehead and minimal hair on her head, she looks like a 1-yr old baby. You could say she’s sporting a mullet hahaha. She’s just too cute!

I’m so happy to report that she’s getting to be so talkative already! Her vocabulary has increased rapidly and I’ve listed more than 75 words that she knows and tries to say. Words like Abee, which could mean Gabby her cousin, Jollibee her fave bee, or Barbie the doll, depending on which she’s seeing or on what you’re talking to her about. Ice could mean ate Cendy, ice which she likes to eat, rice or fries which she also likes to eat haha. She has this distinct loud voice with a distinct tone too.

Speaking of Jollibee, Noelle just loves him. Every time we pass by a Jollibee, she loves to touch the statue, but I never knew how excited she would be to see the actual mascot! She was calling him and screaming, jumping in her stroller seat, stretching her arms out for him to come to her. But whenever Jollibee went near her, she wouldn’t want to be touched haha. She also loves to watch and dance to Jollibee’s video of their theme song on King’s laptop, and even falls asleep to it!

Everyone has raved about how Noelle loves to eat. Sometimes friends can bribe her to go with them using food. At home, she’ll eat when there’s someone eating at the table, no matter if she had already eaten. She likes pizza! Last Sunday, a friend told me that she got the girls some pizza. As I was about to leave home to pick King up in church, I told Noelle that I’ll be back with pizza that Tita Ria gave. She cried, but I was able to go anyway. When we got back, I wasn’t able to bring the pizza out right away. Noelle was the one who reminded me saying, “Ta! Ta!” (pizza! pizza!) Haha kids really hold us to our word!

Noelle’s getting to be quite a character. She’s mild-mannered, but can be feisty too. She loves the NAT show and can sing the first part of Justin Bieber’s Baby song “wo-owowowoh” and answers “oh” to the baby, baby, baby part. She knows how to play duck duck goose, and pretends to run and scream when she says “duck, duck” and then we say goose! She likes to “hide! hide!” and play “aaa-min” (i’m coming!) which means she wants us to go after her. She makes the most adorable faces and gives the sweetest smiles. Now she pretends to cry just out of the blue, then smiles when you look at her. She knows how to pose for the camera and to pretend to take pictures, telling her subjects to “mayl!” One time, I fell asleep while she was playing. I heard her calling me patiently in the same tone, “mom. mom. mom.” I thought I was dreaming till I realized it was Noelle. She must have called me ten times, and when I opened my eyes, she pointed to her book and said “yook.” I guess she just really really wanted me to look! When asked where something is, she likes to point and say “dee” even if that thing isn’t really there. She calls Danae “Nae,” “Naenae,” or “atee” hahaha.

Noelle can already tell us if she got hurt by saying “owie” or “ipi” (ipit). She says words like “noys,” “joys,” “toysh,” which actually mean nose, juice and push! “wa-wa” is water, “ee” is eat, and “oldit” is hold it, for when she wants to hold something herself. When you ask her who Noelle is, she doesn’t repeat her name as our experience with Danae, but she points to herself and says “me.” One time, she woke up when Danae was leaving for school. She panicked, cried a bit, patted her chest, saying “me, me!” It was like she was saying “what about me? me too!” Poor thing.

Noelle likes to pull our hands to take us where she wants to go, usually to the refrigerator hahaha. She likes to be with my mom, too. It’s adorable because Danae got to enjoy my dad, tailing him all the time. Now that my mom’s retired and is home more often than before, Noelle tails her a lot. She didn’t get to meet my dad, though she knows him from pictures, but she is well-bonded to my mom.

Noelle is really a blessing to us. Please feel free to share your own moments with her here. Thanks! 🙂

God’s Word to a Child

Attending the 8am service today and hearing Ptr Jun’s preaching about the authority of God’s word in our lives reinforced my plan to share about what our daughter Danae has been learning these days. As much as possible, King and I read the Bible to our girls (though Noelle doesn’t really sit and listen yet and Danae gets distracted a lot still) before bedtime. We believe that we are sowing God’s word into the hearts and minds of our daughters whether they understand it already or not, whether they listen attentively or not, whether they stay awake for the whole thing, including processing and prayer, or not.

But teaching them about God does not begin or end at Bible time. Every situation is a teaching opportunity. An ordinary moment like a ride in the car can turn into a teaching moment when we teach our kids to be thankful for what we have as they see other kids selling sampaguita or begging for money in the street, when we teach them to pray even for a mere parking space, or when we teach them about helping others as we bring friends to the bus/fx station or straight to their homes. A hilarious instance like when Danae did not listen to me during Family Camp, kept walking on mud and fell like I said she would, became a teaching moment on listening and obeying right away. There are countless opportunities to teach our children.

When Danae says that she does not love someone, either a friend or family member because they’re not being nice to her, we always remind her that the Bible says that Jesus wants us to love others (John 13:34). When we hear her complain because she wants something that a friend has even though she already has one that’s a different version, we remind her of what she learned in Kids Church — “Do not compare. Be happy. (Exodus 20:17)” When we discipline her and she says that she will obey, we remind her to let her “yes” be “yes” and let her “no” be “no” (Matt 5:37). Let’s just hope and pray that she never says “no” to obeying haha.

We’ve taught her the 10 Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17), but for some reason, only the first 5 has stuck with her. Before, every time she would see a statue or a bust, she’d point it out, say that it’s an idol, and remind us that God said to not make idols. She says “Oh my gosh” a lot but months ago, she heard someone say “Oh my god” and started copying it, jokingly even, knowing that we disapproved. Now she knows not to take God’s name in vain (or disrespect His name). We also have the R word, which is respect. All we need to say is “remember the R word?” and she immediately quotes the 5th commandment, “Respect your parents.” Though of course sometimes, it takes her getting the rod before she actually does it.

I find that it’s easier to go to the Bible to explain to Danae why something she is doing is wrong, because she accepts it as the truth. It actually matters to her what God says, and she actually wants to obey God and make Him happy. In other words, God’s word already has authority in my little girl’s life! I’m so amazed because I was nowhere near her maturity when I was her age. Of course she’s only 4 & 1/2 and acts like it a lot, but we can see that the Word of God is already at work in her life. Wow. 🙂

MORE WISDOM FROM MY CHILDREN

One time last week, Danae recalled an episode of Jojo’s Circus, where Mr. Muscles, a single parent to Maya, got married to Ms. Kersplatski (or something like that). She asked me this very interesting question: “Why do they have a baby? They’re supposed to get married first.” Obviously, I explained to her that Mr. Muscles had a baby with his wife before, who may have died already, and then married Ms. Kersplatski years later. But I did tell her that she was right to say that. She doesn’t know the details of how a baby is made, but it’s interesting that at age 4, she already grasps this concept of MARRIAGE FIRST BEFORE BABIES.

In the car the other day, Danae was whining and complaining about something that we said NO to.
Me:       It cannot always be a YES, Nae.
Danae: I want always YES.
Me:       Okay, so if you ask me if you could go out in the street by yourself, you want me to say yes? So you can get run over by a car?
Danae: No.
Me:       If you ask me if you can jump off a building, you want me to say yes?
Danae: No.
Me:       NO is a very important word. It can’t always be a YES.
Don’t we all need to learn to accept this word? WHEN GOD SAYS NO TO US, IT’S FOR OUR BEST.

We’ve been trying to teach Noelle to clean up, as she is not as compliant as Danae was at her age. It takes effort and some convincing, and there’s sometimes crying involved, before she helps in cleaning up the toys/flashcards/crayons she uses. Danae is almost always eager to help and sometimes volunteers to do it for Noelle. She’ll pick something up even when I specifically tell Noelle to do so. I constantly remind Danae that Noelle will not learn if she keeps doing it for her sister. IT’S GOOD AND NOBLE TO HELP OTHERS, BUT NOT IF IT’S ALREADY GETTING IN THE WAY OF THEIR PROGRESS AND GROWTH.

Happy with Corelle

I have a pre-schooler and a toddler at home, and you know that when little kids are involved, accidents are bound to happen. My eldest daughter Danae, has broken at least 3 drinking glasses so far — one she dropped on her foot which resulted in a small cut on her big toe, another she managed to swipe off a low table, and another she accidentally hit with a spoon. She has her share of mishaps with plates too, as well as my husband King.

A week or so ago, King accidentally bumped the tray that our helper was holding, and the small plate fell to the ground, from a height of around 4 feet. A few days ago, we had visitors over for dinner and we had our dessert in the bedroom along with the kids. There was an empty plate and an empty mug beside my computer, 2 feet above the ground, which somehow fell when either Danae or my youngest Noelle or both of them passed by while playing or trying to get something. None of them broke! Not even the mug! Thank God for Corelle!

The other day, I was at a tea party and my friend’s daughter dropped a plate. When it didn’t break, I automatically said “Corelle!” And I was right. I rejoice every time I see a Corelle plate or mug fall to the ground and stay perfectly whole. It’s definitely a worthy investment!

WISDOM FROM MY CHILDREN

Danae was watching tv one day, waiting for the next show on Playhouse Disney. She looked at me and said, “I hope it’s Chloe’s Closet.” It just amazed me to hear Danae use that word. She uses “wish” a lot, saying she wishes she could ride a tricycle, or have some toy or whatever, but not “hope.” She wasn’t hoping for anything deep like world peace or justice either, but as little as she is, she already knows how to hope. Her first written sentence is also about hope. “I HOP I COD WISH FOR MI SCOTR.” What about us? As old as we are, do we still know how to hope? Or have we lost all of it? Who do we put our hope in?

May your unfailing love rest upon us, O LORD, even as we put our hope in you. Psalm 39:7

A few weeks ago, Danae didn’t want to read her Bible before going to bed. When we asked her if she didn’t want to know God more, she said, “I already know God.” Hahaha. Sound familiar? Do we think we already know everything there is to know about God? More importantly, do we think we’re so close to God that we can’t get any closer? Do we already know God’s next move, His plan?

Seek the LORD and his strength; seek his presence continually! 1 Chronicles 16:11

Danae is a lot like me in terms of personality, where she can make a big deal out ofsomething so small. She doesn’t know yet how to pick her battles, while I am still learning hehehe. Noelle is the one more like King, who is easy going and is fine with almost anything. They get into arguments (well, Noelle expresses herself physically, while Danae does it verbally and physically), and Danae is the one who easily gets upset. When Noelle grabs from Danae, you’re sure to hear a protest from Danae. When Danae grabs from Noelle, unless it’s something that she really really likes, Noelle doesn’t complain and finds another thing to play with or use. Danae is an active kid (probably an understatement), and can be rough many-a-time. She gets excited and “gigil” with Noelle, and we’re the ones fearful that they both might get hurt. Noelle most often just giggles away. When Noelle hurts Danae, whether deliberately or accidentally, Danae pretty much gets annoyed easily. We often remind her to take a look at her sister. Even though Noelle is younger, she could learn a thing or two from her.

Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity. 1 Timothy 4:12

My Noelle!

Noelle is 1 yr and 3 weeks old. She’s not walking by herself yet, nor is she talking, quite unlike her older sister who walked and spoke before she turned 1. Even so, I am not worried because she’s just as smart. She communicates by pointing, gesturing or calling at what or who she wants, and by rejecting what she doesn’t. She tells you that she got hurt by pausing and rubbing the hurt part of her body with her hand. She understands quite a few things already. If you ask her, she knows the light, switch, fan, tv, phone, remote, shoes, ball, balloon, dog, banana, etc. She can tell you where her head, ears, nose and belly button are. If you ask who Noelle is, she’ll put her hands on her chest as her way of saying “me!” Of course she’s been able to do the usual tricks since she was 7 months old – close open, clap hands, pat, high five, wave hi or bye. She could also gesture as we’d sing twinkle twinkle and itsy bitsy spider, and clap whenever she hears d happy bday song. And one of the first tricks she did was put her hand, the phone or anything actually, on her ear when she’d hear the word hello. And then she’d make “uh” sounds as if she was talking to someone. It was also automatic for her to respond by looking around when she heard someone or something and when she was asked where anything or anyone was. By 10 or 11 months, she learned to play peek-a-boo, do beautiful eyes, make pa-cute, sleep sleep, kiss and hug. She learned to put her hands together to pray, and she does it when she knows it’s time to eat! When you give her shades or a headband, she knows to put it on, though she cant do it properly yet. Give her a comb or brush, she’ll try to brush her hair with it…her very little hair hehe. Recently, she’s been climbing a lot. When she got tall enough and discovered she can reach ate’s chair when she raised her leg, she would climb and kneel, sit or even stand on it! When she sits, she immediately points to the matching table, telling me to get it. Cute haha! Oh she also makes this face when she’s making drama. Nobody taught her that! But when you say cry, she’ll show you haha.

Noelle just loves Danae. Ever since, when we’d ask her where ate is, she knew where to look. Gosh, when I ask her where mommy is, she ignores me haha! But when it’s ate, she looks, points, smiles and moves toward Danae right away, even when Danae is sleeping. She loves to hug and kiss Danae. Sigh. It’s such a joy to see it. One of our prayers is that they will have an extraordinary bond as sisters. Thank you Lord! 🙂

People keep asking me how different my two girls are. Well, besides color hehe, Noelle seems to be the more humorous one (kengkoy and patawa) though also strong willed. Danae is less patient but is pretty funny and witty too. Danae is also generally the more fearless one, adventurous and unafraid of most things, while Noelle is more easily intimidated I guess by loud sounds (except fireworks for some reason hehe), people, darkness, and being thrown up in the air. Development- wise, everything was generally quicker with Danae. She transitioned from breast to sippie cup in one day when she was 10 months old. She downed her first cup full of milk just like that! And because of the filling milk, she slept through the night already. Noelle is still breast feeding, though much less now, and won’t drink any milk from the bottle, cup or glass. She doesn’t sleep through the night yet either. But I’m still going to try other milk brands and flavors so I can finally wean her completely. We can do this! 🙂

My girls are different from each other, yet they are both beautiful, smart, blessed, and most importantly very much loved. I’m truly grateful for my danaenae and my noellee. King and I are raising two lovely, lovely daughters.

*Can’t wait to see Noelle walking behind me and to hear her talking! I’m so excited! 🙂

LIFE LESSONS FROM RAISING TWO PRINCESSES

When Noelle turned 4 months old, she already wanted to drink from my glass, and she would stare at food like she wanted to eat. I let her try drinking from my glass, which she was able to do, but she coughed up most of it. When I fed her with a spoon, she still didn’t know what to do with it. She didn’t even suck on it. After a doctor’s visit, I confirmed a lesson that we could apply in our lives. Even though Noelle wanted to eat and drink already, she wasn’t ready for it yet. Much like us, there are things that we want and want now, but God can’t give to us yet because we’re just not ready.

One evening, just recently, while I was helping her drink her milk, Danae was asking me if she could do something. I think I told her to finish her milk first. She has this habit of grunting and tsk-ing when she doesn’t get her way, which she did. I found myself saying “di ka kasi nag-oobey kaya ka nafu-frustrate.” Think about it. The reason why we get frustrated with life is because we do not obey God, and we’re so insistent on our way, forcing things to happen how and when we want them to.

Many times, we tell Danae to obey first before she can get what she wants. There’s nothing we enjoy more than seeing our girls happy and having fun. But sometimes they need to obey first before they can enjoy the things that make them happy. Why? Well, I can’t give my children chocolate first thing in the morning, without having breakfast first. I can’t allow them to watch tv or play computer games when they wake up, buy every toy they see in the store, let them make a mess and not clean up afterwards. Those would not be good habits to form. I can’t let them leave the house or go to sleep without brushing their teeth first. I can’t let them run around outside the house without the supervision of a trustworthy adult. I love them too much. God is the same way with us. He wants us to obey Him first, seek His kingdom first then all these things will be added to us. He loves us perfectly and knows best after all.

When Danae was around two, I heard her say when she was sitting in the corner after a rod, that she’s bad. That really broke my heart because we never said that to her and we never meant for her to feel that we thought she was bad. Right then I prayed with her and let her declare that she is a good girl. I remind her every single day that she is a good girl, despite the many rods that she gets. Now she knows it well. I wanted her to declare herself that she is a good girl so that she will remember and believe that she is good. When she believes that she is good, she will act according to what she believes. Isn’t that the same way with us adults? Sometimes we make mistakes and condemn ourselves. We start believing the lie that we are no good, unworthy, ugly or unlovable, and start acting out those beliefs. Then the cycle starts again. I say declare that you are good, that you are a new creation, changed by God! Declare it, so you’ll believe it, and then live it.

Danae is 3 and a half. The things that we discipline her for are the same things that she does over and over. It’s pretty tiring, so aside from telling her that we give her the rod because we want her to learn and we want her to learn to obey because we love her, we tell her to remember the pain of the rod. If you don’t want to get the rod because it’s owie, obey. It’s that simple. But of course, she’s only 3, so she does them again. She only remembers the pain when it’s already time for the rod. She doesn’t remember it when she’s in the middle of disobeying. If only we adults would remember the pain of disobedience too. Sometimes we act like 3-year-olds and forget God’s discipline, committing the same offenses over again. God disciplines us because He disciplines those He loves. Discipline is always painful, so let’s remember the pain!

King taught Danae this “catch phrase”, which we remind her of every time she gets the rod: REMEMBER TO LISTEN AND OBEY RIGHT AWAY. Listening, after all, requires obeying, or else it’s just hearing, and delayed obedience is still disobedience. But it doesn’t end there. I added something to that as well. When she says that sentence, I ask her “without?”, she says: WITHOUT WHINING, OR SHOUTING, OR MAKING DABOG. She must learn to obey without complaining. Can’t we all learn from this? Say it with me. REMEMBER TO LISTEN AND OBEY GOD RIGHT AWAY WITHOUT COMPLAINING. Good job hehe. 🙂