My Kids

Katina Danae

A few weeks ago, Danae learned that a movie she wanted to see was going to be shown on cable. She got excited and took note of the date. When in doubt about the content of any movie, I research first before I agree. And then I watch it with them. My girls know we can be pretty strict about these things, so I was glad I was asked first before she went ahead and saw it on her own.

The children in the movie have interesting names — Seven, Starr, and Sekani. I relate to the father who named their children, because his choices were not random. Seven for perfection. Starr for light in the darkness. Sekani for joy. I soooo love that. It reminds me of why King and I named our children the way we did. Early on, we knew that their names would be a significant decision for us to make.

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Katina Danae. 14 years ago, we chose to give our first born this name. We chose a K name because of King, which is his actual first name, and we wanted to declare that our daughter will live a pure and holy life. Katina means pure. Danae came from one of our favorite people in the Bible, Daniel. (I love his friends too. I joke that if I could name my kids Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, I would. 😀 ) The name means God is my judge, and we wanted to declare that our daughter will love God fearlessly and be ten times better, just like Daniel.

We declare these for Danae to this day! We also declare wisdom beyond your years, Nae. Wisdom in your speech, wisdom in friendships, wisdom in big and small decisions. We declare courage to share the love of Jesus, even to those who are difficult to love. We declare passion to seek the Lord, to obey Him, and depend on Him. We declare security in your identity in Jesus Christ alone. We declare strength in your spiritual foundations and steadfastness, that you will always choose God over anything the world offers. We declare confidence to approach the throne of your Father, humility to rely on His grace. May the Lord be glorified in your life Nae! You are a normal teenager, who is into Why Don’t We and easily appreciates beauty (I am being nice here 😀 ), who makes mistakes, fights with her sisters, and is in need of guidance. We thank the Lord for the work He is doing in you, in your day-to-day affairs. Thank you for listening to us, even though many times it takes a while to take. Thank you for always being open to us, talking to us about anything and everything. For trusting us with your tea 😉 . Thank you for loving and appreciating our imperfect family. We love you so much. Happy 14th ❤ .

 

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:1-2

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. Jonh 15:5

FEATURED

Four Favorite Fs at Forty

So it’s February 7, and King is forty today! Fabulously young looking at forty, but that’s not my favorite thing about him.

King is funny and fun, and he has the finesse of Bruno Mars! Yes, he can be corny sometimes, but in the last 13 years and 1 year before that, he has made me laugh countless times. Marriage is fun because we can laugh and be silly together. He is my bestest bestest friend, and I thank God I get to do life with him. He’s ready to go on adventures and trips with me, but he’s also willing to just chill out and do nothing with me. He’s game for anything, as long as he’s not yet exhausted (hahaha, we have to be real, we are not as young as we used to be). And the finesse….he can still move and groove, not to mention he resembles the ever so talented Bruno Mars. I just love that about him. I remember that was one of the things on “my list” when I was single, haha. I thank the Lord He gave me a dancer, especially since we have spawned 3 more dancers.

King is a family man. I love that he always wants to come home to us. When we’re not with him, he rarely stays out late, by choice. It was never a spoken rule, but something he has practiced since we got married, and especially when we started having children. I love that he prioritizes our family. We are on the same page in raising our children, in our values, and making choices based on what is important to us as a family. He makes sure he puts in date nights in his schedule, not just with me, but with his daughters individually. The girls always request for those dates. They enjoy spending time with him, and are always excited to see him when he gets home or when we meet somewhere. They look forward to Me and My Dad camps too! Team work makes the dream work. We are a team. He’s not perfect but he genuinely loves us and does his best to take care of us.

King is a faithful man. To me and to his children, but most especially to God. Recently we received a prophetic word during a presbytery, and the word for King was faithful. My tears started rolling because it was a confirmation of what I’ve always seen in my husband. Through the excitement, the silence, the highs, the lows, the small victories, the epic failures,and everything in between, he has remained faithful to the Lord and to his calling. Even with the occasional temptation of giving up or walking away, he would hold on and keep on keeping on. “Just be faithful” is kind of our mantra. What a wonderful gift to hear that the Lord’s eye is on King and He is pleased with His servant.

King fears the Lord. Not the “I’m so scared that God is going to smite me” kind of fear, but a deep love and respect for God. This is where his wisdom comes from. He knows God is a loving, kind, gracious, merciful Father, but One who is also holy and just. One who is sovereign, powerful, and infinitely wiser. He does not want to mess around with trying to fool God or to go ahead of Him. He lives his life wanting to wait on God, so that he can obey God. When our tendency is to depend on our own abilities, he reminds his children, me included, to pray and ask the Lord. He also lives confident of God’s goodness and faithfulness. This, and by the grace of God, is where his ability to be faithful, to his audience of One, comes from. Grateful to be used and to be able to serve.

 

Happy 40th birthday babe! You are my favorite person in the whole wide world. I pray that you will continue to grow into the man God is shaping you to be. I love you. ❤

 

Funny Fridays, My Kids

Gianna turned “free”

Ever since Mother’s Day this year, Gianna likes to greet us. She greeted my mom and I everyday for the whole month of May practically. She would greet King too haha! And then she learned to greet him Happy Father’s Day in June. When we’d have get-togethers or attend birthday parties, she would always be excited to sing and blow the candle. I think she even requested to blow the candle one time (maybe more), saying “For me, for me.” My birthday is exactly a month before hers, so she was happy greeting me everyday, even after we told her that it was almost her birthday. She did learn to say that her birthday is on “Ogwest twewv.”

She’d also known for a while that she was turning three. One time in June maybe, she told me that she’s “turning free.” I said, “oh you’re turning free…yeah.” She smiled, looked at me and said, “I’m not Free-ya.” She remembered her friend and VBC dance teammate Fria, hahaha. She still says Free today.

August 11th, we told her that her birthday is tomorrow. So on the day of, when we greeted her happy birthday, she told me “My birthday is tomorrow.” Haha. It didn’t take much convincing. She was happy to be the birthday girl. We did pass by another baby’s 1st birthday party in the morning, but she had no problem “sharing” her day. Not a diva, my girl. 🙂

The girls are always excited to spend time with their cousins, and Gianna is no different. Oh the screams, when the family (both sides) arrived. She was so hyper that evening! Like extra extra hyper. She was also so excited to wear her princess dress. Two weeks before, she planned to wear her Minnie Mouse costume for her birthday party. But since she already wore it that week (just at home, no occasion), and I saw that she didn’t match her birthday set-up, I brought out 2 old flower girl gowns (Danae’s) and made her choose. When I went into the bathroom, she told me that she picked the Cinderella one, which is the blue one. I asked one of her sisters to help her out, while I prepared outside. She came out wearing the Belle dress! So adorable. ❤ And so like her. Sometimes she says no, but she actually means yes. She says one thing, but actually means another.

Thinking about the family get-together 2 weeks before, I asked Gianna what she wanted to eat on her birthday. Her immediate and consistent answer was “CAKE.” Later on she also said pasta. And then as I asked her what kind of pasta she wanted, or if she also wanted chicken, she mentioned “HOPIA.” Hahaha. There was indeed cake and hopia on her birthday. 🙂

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that’s hopia in the cupcake stand. and that’s the closest to the pink cake she wanted. she wanted a strawberry flavored one, but i doubt she’d enjoy eating it. she just really wanted a pink cake. hehehe 🙂
Just My Thoughts

40 things in 40 years

So I turned 40 last week. Here are 40 things I’ve learned so far.

  1. I am called to live a life of PURPOSE, a life to the full. Not just to merely exist, to just get by. Not just for me, myself, and I.
  2. I am a woman, a wife, a queen, a mom, a Torres, a Lucero, a daughter, an in-law, a friend, a sister, a relative, a minister, a disciple, a leader, a follower, a speaker, a writer, a teacher, a host, a volunteer, a Filipino. I am many things, but I am first a CHILD OF GOD. I am loved. I am His.
  3. WITHOUT JESUS, I can do NOTHING. Without Jesus, I am nothing. John 15:5 is my life verse.
  4. Be IN AWE OF JESUS. Never get over how much He loves you and I. That He suffered and died on the cross to pay for your sins and mine. Something you and I totally do not deserve. Something you and I can’t do for ourselves. Something only He was qualified to do. So that you and I can be reconciled with the Father. So that you and I can be forgiven. So that you and I can be free to go back to our original design, which is to love, honor, and commune with God. So that you and I can spend eternity with God in heaven. I am forever grateful.
  5. GOD’S TIMING is PERFECT. He has shown me time and time again that there is a need to pray and believe, but there is no need to rush. Cases in point — my husband, each of my children’s conception and birth, restoration of relationships, our home, provision, etc.
  6. Choosing who to marry is one of the most CRUCIAL CHOICES a person can make. It has an impact on one’s entire lifetime and on the generations that follow them. I thank God for the grace in helping me to wait and to choose King.
  7. My grandparents on both sides were Christians who were actively involved in their church communities, and I am a product (a pleasant shock to everybody, including me haha) of their prayers and their decision to follow Jesus. Our life choices today affect our children and the generations after them. We continue the LEGACY of loving and serving the Lord, and we leave the same legacy to our children, who will do the same with theirs, and so on.
  8. Having a husband pushes me to grow. It teaches me to serve, to love, to be humble, to be patient, to be gentle, to pursue peace, to be generous. Marriage is the means. CHRIST IS THE GOAL.
  9. Care to communicate. If you CARE, you will make the effort to COMMUNICATE. If you don’t communicate, you will seem like you don’t care.
  10. Purity and holiness is not only applicable to singles. Married couples all the more need to stay strong in their conviction to remain PURE AND HOLY. Guard the heart, the eyes, the ears, the tongue, the mind, the body. We are not immune to temptations, and there is more at stake if we fall.
  11. To VOLUNTEER, to SERVE is always worthwhile and fulfilling. When I was single, I thought I would be married to someone rich who would allow me to not work and let me volunteer in church full time. Haha. God did give me a King to marry, I’m a stay-at-home mom, and I volunteer as much as I can!
  12. Women are wonderful beings. I used to be more comfortable making guy friends because I thought girls were just too complicated, or that I was just different from most of them. But I found treasure in talking to and learning from them. God gave me an opportunity to build new, true FRIENDSHIPS WITH WOMEN in church.
  13. Children are BLESSINGS from the Lord! They have a way of warming a person’s heart, adding joy to a home, making adults child-like again. I praise God I have my own and am surrounded by many others. 
  14. Seek WISDOM, listen and heed wise counsel. Learn from those who have gone ahead of us. 
  15. It’s easier to make decisions when you know your PRIORITIES. Sometimes it’s sad to miss out on some things, but it’s almost always worth it.
  16. Give HONOR to whom honor is due. Do not withhold words of encouragement and praise. 
  17. It is possible to agree to disagree, and maintain MUTUAL RESPECT towards one another.
  18. PICK YOUR BATTLES. Not everything needs to be dealt with a long, serious discussion. Not everything has to be a big deal. There are things we fight for, some things we can drop. There are things we cannot compromise, but some things we can give an easy yes to. Lighten up. Let go of the little things.
  19. I appreciate HONESTY WITH LOVE. I don’t like general statements that are meant for me to “get.” If there is an issue that needs to be addressed with me, I prefer that it be said to me directly. One, because I am not a Jedi and I actually may not “get” it. Two, because I think it’s cruel to leave a person guessing, wondering, assuming, and never being certain of what the message is. 
  20. Instead of assuming and therefore incorrectly reacting, communicate. LISTEN first. Ask. Clarify. Then work out the proper response. 
  21. ACKNOWLEDGE. When someone is speaking to you. When someone says hello. When someone asks you a question. When someone messages you. When someone invites you. Don’t leave them hanging. Give them due respect by acknowledging and responding. 
  22. I can deliberately CHANGE THE ATMOSPHERE in my home. A little encouragement, a few laughs, some hugs and kisses go a long way, especially for my kids. 
  23. My children are my MIRRORS. More is caught than taught. *cringe
  24. It’s easier to teach than to set the right example. But teaching my kids pushes me to be a good example. It shouldn’t just be practice what we preach, but PREACH what we PRACTICE. 
  25. Parenting is not easy. Husband and wife having the same values and goals, and being on the SAME PAGE, is key. 
  26. My ability as a parent will always fall short, therefore I must not rely on it. Only God can transform my children’s hearts. Sometimes less talk and MORE PRAYER is what is needed. Get out of the way. We need to let the Lord speak to our kids.
  27. Parenting is easier when you are in a COMMUNITY that cares about your children. Friends who love, not judge. Friends who are watchmen and prayer warriors, not gossips. Thankful for dear friends and my spiritual family.
  28. Forgiveness is FREEDOM! To forgive and be forgiven.  
  29. I can only HELP those who want to be helped. 
  30. Sometimes it’s not a question of ability or availability, but of WILLINGNESS. You can’t force somebody to do what they don’t want to do. 
  31. The lie of the enemy holds no power when we do not believe it. Cling to the TRUTH. Cling to God’s word.
  32. Not everybody (not even in church) will want to be our friend, and that’s okay. We can’t please everybody. We don’t need to be friends with everybody. But BE KIND anyway.
  33. IT’S OKAY not to be invited. It might sting at times, but I’ve learned that it does not always mean rejection. It does not always mean we are not valued or loved. But even if it does, it’s still okay. We get love, our value, our validation from God, not from people.
  34. Those you care about don’t always care as much about you. Those you have invested time, energy and love in, don’t always appreciate you. It’s a SAD REALITY, but God sees our heart. Again, we get our security and validation from Him.
  35. There are FRIENDS who stick closer than a brother. Those that remember my birthday without facebook, hahaha (though I must admit, I need facebook to remind me also). Those that are there for me, will be there for me without hesitation when I need them, even though we don’t see each other often. Those that love and accept me despite my flaws. Those who hope for the best for me and believe in me. Those that will cry and care about what happens to my family when I die. Thank you, friends. You know who you are.  
  36. First impressions should not last. Give people a CHANCE. I did, and I found sisters in a few who were then “unlovable” in my judgmental eyes.
  37. GOD’S GRACE is sufficient and it is evident — in the day to day, in the milestones, in loss, in gain, in life, in death, in the highs and in the lows. We just need to see with eyes of faith and gratitude.
  38. GOD’S WORD is living and active. It will not return to Him empty, but will accomplish what He has set for it to accomplish. 
  39. God TRANSFORMS, and He is not finished with me yet. 
  40. TRUTH. REPENTANCE. FAITH. Everyday.
Family, TRAVEL

Persistence pays off!

We just came home from our family vacation in the Visayas. We went to celebrate Noelle’s 8th birthday! I chose Dumaguete because I wanted to see the Manjuyod sandbar again with my family. I’d been there with my parents before, like more than a decade ago. The sandbar wasn’t visible anymore at the time we went, but we were able to swim. We also went dolphin watching and the dolphins gave us a show! I only had a regular, non-digital camera then, so I wasn’t able to capture much.

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A day before she turned 8, in Sans Rival. 🙂

 

My mom was the one planning the whole thing (haha, yes I chose the city and dates, but she planned almost everything), and she got our contacts through my cousin. She was told by one tour operator that it was not safe to go to Manjuyod in January because of the Amihan, or the cool northeast wind. My mom says it’s my hardheadedness (I call it my persistence and faith), but I just did not want to believe that we were going to Dumaguete and not be able to enjoy the Maldives of the Philippines. I needed to hear it from the tour guide/driver/boatman myself that it was not safe, before I was going to concede. We kept it in our itinerary.

Thankfully, our other contact assured us that the coastguard would advise the boat operators whether it’s safe to go to sea or not, and that they in turn would advise us. And it was a go! It was definitely safer than our boatride to and from Apo Island (our 3rd day), which we were told would be more calm haha. It was a little windy, but the twenty minute boat ride to the sandbar was uneventful. And the sandbar — massive and beautiful!

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On the boat, with the sandbar in sight. The sandbar is 7km long.

 

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With my mom, Gianna’s first boat ride ever. 🙂 

 

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King and I took a walk on the sand, but didn’t even get to any other end. It was huge! And we had to go back to our kids haha. Gianna didn’t want to leave the shore.

 

We got there at the right time. Good thing I researched and read a blog that said low tide was between 6am and 9am, and that by 10am the sandbar would be submerged already. You could still swim of course, but you would miss the sandbar. So we made sure that our van picked us up around 6am, and we got to Bais by 7am or so.

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the birthday girl happily playing with her little sister 🙂

 

When we got to the Bais port/pier, the boat owner’s wife asked us what we wanted for lunch because the boatmen were going to cook our food for us on the boat! She bought the ingredients for us in the nearby wet market, and in about twenty minutes, we were off to the sandbar. The water was so blue and just beautiful! The kids immediately got off the boat. The boatmen told us that we should just get our picture taken first with the sandbar and go dolphin and whale watching, then come back for lunch and swimming. But then Gianna was so happy on the beach, not even changing into her swimsuit, that we decided to just enjoy the sandbar. We’d gone dolphin watching in Bohol and swimming with the whale sharks in Oslob a few years ago already anyway.

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Gianna dumping sand on the patient starfish haha. Don’t worry, it was not harmed. 🙂 *No starfish was harmed by us on our vacation. We were gentle in handling them and putting them back in the ocean.

 

And our lunch! Grilled pork, sinigang na hipon, grilled okra, huge wild scallops, seaweed, coconut juice in their shell. Soooo good! We ate with our hands so I couldn’t take photos haha. The bonus was those wild oysters in vinegar that we bought from a couple of boatmen. They were selling the whole container for only 300 pesos. We opted to just buy 10 pieces for 100 pesos, because we had too much food already. And it was the highlight of our lunch! Unforgettably yummy!

The best part? Noelle kept saying “best birthday ever!”

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It’s alive!

 

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A tiny starfish family under a shell! I found them when I picked up the shell, but put it back right away. 

 

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Gianna wasn’t afraid to touch, but she was gentle as well. 🙂

 

 

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Beautiful spongy starfish 🙂

 

 

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Our boatman caught a couple of sea dragons and showed us. We tried to take a video in the water but they swam away way too fast! They literally zipped away as soon as manong released them to supposedly let Danae hold them. So he caught another and placed him in a container so we could take a good look. One of the coolest sea creatures ever, with a tail and dragon wings (fins). We put him back of course. 🙂

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Our boatman/diver/cook/boat owner. He found a crab to show the kids. Super cool!

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The tide was coming in at 930am.

 

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I think this was around 1030 to 11am. The sandbar was submerged in water already.

 

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Beautiful Philippines 🙂 

 

If I readily accepted what we were told from the beginning, we would not have been able to experience the beauty of Manjuyod! Persistence with prayer pays off! Faith with wisdom pays off! Thank you Lord for allowing us to enjoy and be captivated by the beauty of your creation. For surrounding us with your angels so we can safely travel on foot and by land, air, and sea. For giving us the opportunity to celebrate and build wonderful memories with our family. We are so grateful.

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Me and my forever travel buddy  ❤

 

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Me and my little sisters hehehe ❤ 

 

Motherhood, MY THOUGHTS EXACTLY

Happy birthday Gianna (and me too?)

Facebook reminded me this week of something I said two years ago.

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Actually, King was the first one to remind me. He wished me a happy birthday on Gianna’s birthday, and said he remembers everything. I just smiled. I honestly did not think of it. But as I was watching a show the other day, I suddenly cried seeing the daughter hug her mom so tightly, thankful that her mom is alive. You see, not to sound overdramatic, well okay maybe a little, I almost died.

FEAR OF PAIN

I was scheduled for a c-section on August 12th, so I had to be admitted the day before. I don’t know why, but through the difficult pregnancy, I had so much fear. I feared pain. I don’t know if God was already warning me about things to come, but I struggled with it. I would cry because I was afraid of the pain I MIGHT experience. I’d given birth to Danae normally — that was painful even with epidural. I’d given birth to Noelle via emergency c-section — also had epidural and recovery was painful. You would think after two births, I’d be more confident. But no, I was seriously afraid.

August 11th, my spirits were high. King, the kids, and I were excited to be at the hospital. I wanted the girls to be with us overnight so they could meet Gianna right after she came out. To keep with tradition since Danae was also there in the hospital when Noelle was born. 🙂  I tested positive for GBS (Group B Strep) and so I needed to be given antibiotics intravenously 24hrs before my c-section. I was told to shower with an antiseptic and wear the hospital gown, so they could test my skin for a reaction (or non) to the antibiotic and also insert the IV. I was ready. Bracing myself, but ready. The nurse inserted the needle….

and I WAILED IN PAIN. I cried so loudly that my girls cried with me. I had never experienced that before in my 3 previous hospitalizations. That was just the beginning. To make the story shorter, almost everything I went through was painful. Plus I guess I was super emotional. King was not allowed to stay with me in the labor room and I had no phone, so through my tears I occupied myself with singing my first favorite worship song, Great is the Lord and Most Worthy of Praise.

I sang it even while they were getting Gianna out, and King was by my head. There was no pain at that point but I had difficulty breathing. That was normal, I was told, because of the spinal anaesthesia they gave me. It was quite different from the epidural I’ve had in the past. I kept thinking, I wanna hear the baby. I’ll be okay when I hear and see her. When she was out — her skin so fair like Noelle, chubby and chinky like Noelle, and she cried softly (like neither sister hahaha) — I was relieved and happy. I even made sure my doctor fixed my fallopian tubes. She assured me that she was ligating me, haha. They put Gianna on me so she could latch, and we could have some skin-to-skin contact. ❤

AFTER CHILD BIRTH

They brought me to the recovery room, and they would not bring me and Gianna to my room because my blood pressure was high. I kept looking at the monitor and I would see it at 160 over something. I thought that was odd because with my first two, my blood pressure normalized as soon as I gave birth. I was in there by 2:30. When Gianna cried, we would try to breastfeed. I tried to sleep and relax. By 8 or 9pm, I asked the nurse if she could bring Gianna out to meet her sisters. She obliged and I thank God that happened because the girls did not see her again till she got out of the NICU. More on her birth here.

I was brought to my room around 11pm. They gave me meds for my BP and monitored my urine for 24 hrs. When they removed the catheter, I was able to stand up and move. I would get dizzy and have a hard time breathing, but surprisingly my wound and stomach muscles did not hurt much. On the 15th, I was given the go to be discharged. My heplock was removed. I had no dextrose anymore by the 14th actually, but the thing was still in my vein till they removed it the next day. So you know, I thought I was fine and healthy. I did keep asking about my swollen ankles and legs. My edema would usually disappear as soon as the baby came out. I thought something was not right, but they kept telling me it was normal. We opted to keep the room and wait till Gianna was finished with her antibiotics in the NICU.

Not long after that, a doctor came into my room and told me that I had pre-eclampsia. I was so annoyed that I asked her why she’s saying pre-eclampsia when I’ve already given birth. Isn’t it supposed to be post eclampsia? Haha. It’s called pre-eclampsia because it is a condition before eclampsia. Eclampsia is high blood pressure and seizures in pregnant women. The usual cure for that is to give birth. Mine was post partum pre-eclampsia, meaning after I’ve given birth. She told me I would need magnesium sulfate for 24 hours, I got more upset. I told the attending doctor that I did not want to be IVed again. I said I was done. In my head, I was thinking that they were mistaken. Not after Gianna, needing to be in the NICU. No way. It was just too much. They said they would just relay it to my OB-GYN.

My lovely doctor, Dra Guinto, came into my room early that evening, and pleaded with me, not just as my doctor but as my friend (her words), to get the treatment. I actually had pre-eclampsia severe — severe because I had more than 3 symptoms of pre-eclampsia. It was good that we found out while I was still in hospital, because it would have been more dangerous undetected at home. There are too many complications if we don’t treat it — seizures and nerve damage. I cried because I did not want to do it. I did not want another IV insertion. I did not want additional pain — I was told it was going to feel hot in my body. I did not want a catheter. Hearing it straight from my doctor (and because she allowed me to not wear a catheter) and with King encouraging me to just obey, I eventually agreed. Thank God my children weren’t there. They were still with my in-laws.

My God takes the broken and makes it whole again. My God takes the broken and makes me whole again. ‪#‎thankYouLord‬ — this was my post from a song I heard that day, Aug 15, 2014. (I wasn’t able to capture the memory, sorry.)

NOT AGAIN 

That night, they brought me to the High Risk Pregnancy Unit. I was already in the groove of going down to the NICU to feed Gianna each time she needed feeding, but I couldn’t go to her again for 24 hours. I was emotional, eyes swollen from all the crying. Praise God the IV didn’t hurt and I did not feel the heat in my body. But in my heart, I kept asking the Lord to keep me alive. I did not want to let my girls feel abandoned. I did not want them to be at a loss, devastated by news of me dead. We had not seen each other at that point for 4 days. Imagine thinking everything’s fine and then your mom is suddenly gone. I did not want them to have to go through that. I was afraid that they’d get angry with God. I did not want Gianna to grow up without a mom. She’s too little. Writing about it still gets me emotional. Kawawa naman ang mga anak ko, I told God. I did not want to die yet. King did not show me, but he was also concerned. I guess he prayed like he never prayed before.

I was at the same time, concerned for Gianna because she was in the NICU. I kept hearing in my head, or was it in a song or I saw it in one of the movies, “the Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” I told God that I don’t think I was ready to say that if He took Gianna away. Oh the tears!

After 24 hours, even my doctor was stumped. My blood pressure was still high. I asked her what might happen and she said my heart could fail from all the pumping it’s doing. I think that’s when she talked to King outside and they both decided to get me out of that unit. The place was causing me stress. I could not wait to get out and hold Gianna. We moved to a small room and by the grace of God, they released Gianna around the same time too. I got to see her and be with her again. My blood pressure went down, though still elevated. And by next morning, I was deemed healthy enough to be discharged — for real. Whew!

STILL ALIVE!

Later that month, I realized how much worse it could have all turned out. I was still having high blood pressure, dizzy spells, and an overall sick feeling. My friend whose son was in the NICU for 2 months, told me about a baby also in the NICU whose mom was in a coma. When I asked why, I learned that she was in A COMA BECAUSE OF PRE-ECLAMPSIA. Days or maybe weeks later, she was gone. It just became so real. My fears were not baseless at all! I cried then, feeling bad for that baby and her dad and THANKING GOD THAT I WAS ALIVE. I seriously could have died too soon. Thank God my doctor insisted on treatment and King urged me to do it. Otherwise, I would be in heaven and that would be great for me, but not so great for my family.

I thank God for my life! Despite that health scare and though I am still taking medication for high blood pressure, I am still here. God chose to not leave my children motherless. He chose to give King and I, the girls and I, our whole family more years together.

Exactly two years ago, we brought Gianna home from the hospital.

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Now she’s 2, and we are both alive and well. God is sovereign and God is good. And King is right. It is also my birthday. We are deeply grateful. ❤ 

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Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever. Psalm 107:1 

I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say, ‘My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.’ Isaiah 46:10

The Lord does whatever pleases him
    throughout all heaven and earth,
    and on the seas and in their depths. Psalm 135:6

The LORD is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made. Psalm 145:9

 

 

 

Funny Fridays, My Kids

Gianna is 2!

Gianna is such a character! If you stick around long enough and observe her, you’ll see. The looks she gives, her cheeky smile, her dance moves, her words, singing and her actions. She turned 2 today. Sigh. Time flies so fast. Because she’s the last baby, I wish she’d never grow up. Everybody tells me that’s impossible, so I guess I’ll just enjoy it while it lasts. Hehehe. 🙂

Here are some of her funny moments.

> When Gianna was younger, King taught her that daddy is the boss.

King: Daddy’s the boss. (Points at himself)

King: Who’s the boss, Gianna?

Gianna: Copying her dad, she points at herself.

Hehehehe.

 
> One time I was so exasperated that I let out a big sigh.

Me: Oh my gosh!!!!

Gianna: (in a low, mocking voice) Don’t say thaaaat.

Hahaha. I tell her to stop saying oh my gosh and she caught me saying it. Story of my life!

 

> Two weeks ago, Gianna and I stayed (or tried to stay) at the back of the main hall to listen King preach.

Friend: Where’s daddy? (She was trying to get Gianna to point to King).

Me: Where’s daddy?

Gianna: Ofes (office).

Hahaha. One time she saw a picture of King preaching, she said “sing.” Guess King looked like he was singing.

 
> Last week, we were held up at a toll booth because of our RFID.

Gianna to the toll girl: Mess? (Miss) Odu fies. (Order fries)

Hahaha. She must’ve thought it was a drivethru! She does recognize Fruitas where we buy “mago dus” and Starbucks where we buy Silk.

 

> Our girl does love to eat. A few months back, when we were reading one of her books, I pointed to a picture of a live chicken.

Me: What’s that?

Gianna: Chichen. Ahm (she opened her mouth and pretended to eat the chicken).

Haha.

 
> When she bumps any part of her head, even if it’s a soft bump, she asks for “ice pack.”

 

> She likes to “bug wowa” and “bawow blablet” or “bawow phone.” Just this evening, during dinner, she wanted to borrow my mom’s phone.

Me: You ask wowa if you can borrow. Say wowa, borrow phone please.

Gianna: Wowaaaa….?

Me: Louder.

Gianna: Loudurrr….?

Hahahaha.

 
> After blowing her candles and eating all the little chocolate bits on her pancakes, she found her candles again and stuck them back onto the pancake.

Gianna: Turn on?

Haha, she wanted us to light up the candles so she could blow again.

And then when she didn’t eat her pancakes, her sisters and I ate them. She didn’t mind at all. But after a few moments…

Gianna: Heeeeey. Happened?!?! (What happened?)

Hahaha she was wondering where her pancakes went! She wanted to stick the candles back.

 

Happy birthday Gianna! Thank you for being you! You make us all giggle and laugh all the time. You amaze us with your smarts and captivate us with your personality. You make everyone who knows you just love you. That is a gift from the Lord. We love you so much baby! ❤️

Family, Just My Thoughts, Marriage

How blessed am I?

How blessed am I? I’m married to a man who loves Jesus… a man who honors his father and mother… a man who loves, leads, and provides for his family… a man who loves his children through his time, words, and actions… a man who honors and serves his mother-in-law… a man who has answered God’s call to love, lead, serve, disciple and pastor God’s people… a man who enjoys working with a team and does not mind doing the dirty work… a man who has great creativity, foresight and has a gift for pioneering… a man who is loyal, faithful, reliable… a man who is patient and forgiving… a man who makes people laugh… a man who is simple and down to earth… a man who loves to cook… a man who enjoys traveling… a man who is active and fun-loving… a man who can move, groove and make it look good… a man who truly enjoys life…

Yes, I am very blessed! But not only for the reasons you think.

I am blessed because my husband is NOT perfect.

Because he is not perfect, I have less reason to put him on a pedestal and make him my idol, and I have more reason to depend on, seek, trust, and surrender to God. Because he is not perfect, I get to learn, adjust, exercise my faith, and grow in character. Because he is not perfect, I “get a pass” on my own bloopers and blunders and get encouraged to do better next time. Because he is not perfect, I learn to be grateful and love him even more for his wonderful qualities. Because he is not perfect, I get to watch him grow and learn from him. Because he is not perfect, I have a front row seat to God’s glorious work in and through his life. Because he is not perfect and I am not perfect, I learn unconditional love — to give it, to receive it, and to be completely amazed at God’s ability to lavish it on His children.

Because he is not perfect, I am incredibly blessed.

Happy birthday babe! I love you. I see how much you love me with all you do for me and our family. Thank you and may the Lord richly bless you with the desires of your heart! 🙂IMG_8703.JPG

LAUGH-A-MONDAYS, My Kids

Danae is 8!

One time during lunch, Danae was saying something about soda.

Danae: (remembering that her Wowa drinks Coke zero a lot) Wowa should stop drinking soda.

Me: Yeah.

Danae: Wowa, you know what you should do? You should fast drinking soda and smoking. When it’s fasting (referring to our annual fast in church), you fast that.

Haha. Good thing my mom’s a sport. 🙂

 

While in Cagayan de Oro last week, we saw a huge poster of One Direction. I asked Danae who each one was, and she of course happily told me. Then I saw Ian Somerhalder’s poster!

Me: Nae, look. He’s handsome. One Direction….blech. Big difference there.

Danae: (smiling) Mom, look. I’m not you and you’re not me. Big difference.

Hahaha. Touche!

 

Danae is 8 today! She is strong-willed. She can be a handful. She can be a smart aleck at times.  But no doubt, she is witty and wise beyond her years. She is loving, helpful and kind. She is honest and reliable. We cannot mold her into the woman we think she ought to be, but we can raise her the way God wants us to, so that He can mold her into Christlikeness.

We love you so much Nae. Happy happy birthday! You are a joy to me, Daddy, and Noelle. We believe in you and we are so proud of you! 🙂

 

Family, FEATURED, TRAVEL

My Bohol Birthday Bash

I didn’t have many birthday parties as a child and I think from my teenage years to young adulthood, I wanted to be surrounded by people during my birthday. I would have parties that lasted till the next morning because I didn’t want anyone to leave. It made me feel loved and more secure having them around, though I only realized that hindsight of course. When I became a Christian, I guess it naturally eventually followed that I didn’t need too many people to greet me or make a big deal about my birthday anymore. I guess it became less about me and more about being grateful. I can’t say though that having a husband who gives importance to my birthday and a mom who invites us on trips yearly doesn’t help. 😀

It was my Mom who made me realize that this is the third getaway we’ve had celebrating my birthday! One was in Coron, Palawan when I turned 33. Another was in Cebu when I turned 35. And then Bohol this year for my 36th birthday! I am incredibly blessed. 🙂

I’m sharing my highlights through my photos. Enjoy! 🙂

Learned some interesting stuff about Bohol.
Day 1: Learned some pretty interesting stuff about Bohol.
Both men and women subjected themselves to this skull deforming procedure, to make themselves beautiful.
Both men and women subjected themselves to this skull deforming procedure, to make themselves “beautiful.”
Deformed Boholano skulls
Deformed Boholano skulls
Though it was in a mall, the Prawn Farm had yummy food!
Though it was in a mall, the Prawn Farm had yummy food!
We ordered two kinds of tiger prawns, scallops, bagoong rice and liempo! Burp.
We ordered two kinds of tiger prawns, scallops, bagoong (shrimp paste) rice and liempo (grilled pork)! Burp.
We went dolphin watching in Panglao, the other side of Bohol!
Day 2: We went dolphin watching in Panglao, the other side of Bohol!
So many dolphins! We wish we could've swum with them.
So many dolphins! We wish we could’ve swum with them.
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We were blown away by their number! They were going in different directions too! Our boat just followed them around, wherever they would pop up.
This was probably my best shot, considering it was a bumpy ride. :)
This was probably my best shot, considering it was a bumpy ride. I captured one of the dolphins’ face above water. 🙂
We docked at Balikasag (inverted crab) Island for a dip and a little snorkelling.
We docked at Balikasag (inverted crab) Island afterwards, for a dip and a little snorkelling.
Noelle feeding the fish.
Noelle feeding the fish.
There were some garbage in the water. The OCD in me could not let it go floating around. Or lying around for the tide wash it back in. We collected what we could in our area, and wrapped it up in a bag. Kept reminding our boatmen to throw the bag properly.
There was some garbage in the water. The OCD in me could not let it go floating around. Or lying around for the tide to wash it back in. We collected what we could in our area, and wrapped it up in a bag. Kept reminding our boatmen to throw the bag properly.
Danae helped out too -- a great way to teach our kids to take care of our environment. It was pretty disappointing to see no one clean the shores over there, which is why I had to get a plastic bag and bring the trash with us. :)
Danae helped out too — a great way to teach our kids to take care of our environment. It was pretty disappointing to see no one clean the shores over there, which is why I had to get a plastic bag and bring the trash with us. 🙂
Alona Beach is I guess the Boracay of Bohol. We didn't see the night life, but what used to be a peaceful, wide stretch of beach is now covered with establishments. We just ate lunch there and moved to another beach.
Alona Beach is I guess the Boracay of Bohol. We didn’t see the night life, but what used to be a peaceful, wide stretch of beach is now covered with establishments. We just ate lunch there and moved to another beach.
Dumaluan Beach. This was really nice and clean. No pump boats on the shore. We had to go into a resort but it was pretty cheap, even for a mere hour-long stay.
Dumaluan Beach. This was really nice and clean. No pump boats on the shore. We had to go into a resort but it was pretty cheap, even for a mere hour-long stay.
These mangoes were just delicious! Philippine mangoes generally are, but these ones from Bohol were perfect. They had the right sweet and the right sour, and they had yummy spicy sweet shrimp paste with it. sluuuurp.
These mangoes were just delicious! Philippine mangoes generally are, but these ones from Bohol were perfect. They had just the right sweet taste and the right sour, and they had yummy spicy sweet shrimp paste with it. sluuuurp.
Tarsier. They used to have just a small place, with a tree where they put the tarsiers. They even let people hold them. Now they're really serious about preserving these special creatures. They have a much bigger preservation site, and they do not allow people to disturb them, except to quietly take photos.
Day 3: Tarsier! They used to have just a small place on the side of the road, where they had a tree showcasing the tarsiers. They even let people hold them.                                     Now they’re really serious about preserving these special creatures. They have a much bigger preservation site, and they do not allow people to disturb them, except to quietly take photos.
I wonder if Golum (LOTR) was inspired by the tarsier. They really look alike.
I wonder if Golum (LOTR) was inspired by the tarsier.   They really look alike.
Chocolate Hills! Danae was hoping they'd be dry and brown but they weren't. Beautiful nonetheless.
Chocolate Hills! Danae was hoping they’d be dry and brown but they weren’t. Beautiful nonetheless.
Manmade forest full of Mahogany trees. Just had to take a shot from the middle of the road.
Manmade forest full of Mahogany trees. Just had to take a shot from the middle of the road.
Hanging bridge over the Loboc river.
Hanging bridge over the Loboc river.
Loboc river cruise! We had lunch on one of these rafts, while cruising along the beautiful Loboc river.
Loboc river cruise! We had lunch on one of these rafts, while cruising along the beautiful, clean Loboc river.
There was music on the raft, and a cultural show on one of the stops. Breeze was refreshing too.
There was music on the raft, and a cultural show on one of the stops. Breeze was refreshing too.
Caterpillars! Danae was brave enough to hold them, of course. Our tour guide in the butterfly farm was pretty cool. The girls had a good learning experience, for sure.
Caterpillars! Danae was brave enough to hold them, of course. Our tour guide in the butterfly farm was pretty cool. The girls had a good learning experience, for sure.
The girls really learned a lot from this trip, with all the creatures we saw.
Just one of the pretty butterflies there.
Butterflies still in their pupa! Cocoons are for moths, by the way.
Butterflies still in their pupa! Cocoons are for moths, fyi.
Prony the python! He was full and asleep when we were there. Sadly, he recently died. We don't know why.
Prony the python! I think when he grew really big, the owner built a mini-zoo so people could get to see his pet and the other animals. Only my mom, Danae and I were willing to touch him. He was full and asleep when we were there. They said that he gets fed a pig or two goats monthly. Sadly, he recently died. We don’t know why.
Lunch at the Bohol Bee Farm. Beautiful view. We had the best table in the house.
Day 4: Lunch at Bohol Bee Farm. Beautiful view. We had the best table in the house.
Yummy bread, chips, and salad!
Yummy bread, chips, and salad! All organic. Flowers and greens grown there. Breads and sauces made there. Honey, of course, harvested there.
Crabs in coconut milk
Crabs in coconut milk!
Seafood platter
Seafood platter!
Beautiful Bellevue Hotel
Beautiful Bellevue Hotel — got my wish to stay there for one night!
bohol bellevue beach
beach front
Loved our room and our access to the pool!
Loved our room and our access to the pool!
Noelle was actually swimming on her own! Danae has always been the natural swimmer, but Noelle's catching up, getting more and more unafraid. Both still need lessons, but they're definitely water babies. So proud of them!
King and the girls got a head start on swimming. Noelle was actually swimming on her own! Danae has always been the natural swimmer, but Noelle’s catching up, getting more and more unafraid. Both still need lessons, but they’re definitely water babies. So proud of them!
The beach in the afternoon -- low tide. Too bad we weren't able to swim in the ocean.
The beach in the afternoon — low tide. Too bad we weren’t able to swim in the ocean.
We got to discover hermit crabs that turned themselves over when they were on their backs, little crabs that burrowed into the sand, and star fishes that crawled on our palms with their sticky little "feet." It was pretty awesome. Didn't have my cam with me though as I was expecting to be in the water. :)
We got to discover hermit crabs that turned themselves over when they were on their backs, little crabs that burrowed into the sand, and star fishes that crawled on our palms with their sticky little “feet.” It was pretty awesome. Didn’t have my cam with me though as I was expecting to be in the water. This was King’s cam. 🙂
Our only family picture! We got to enjoy the pool till it closed at 10pm. It was the first time we did that. The girls enjoyed the fact that I was swimming with them too. Haven't done that in a long while. It was just a cool. relaxing day -- a very happy birthday indeed.
Our only family picture! We got to enjoy the pool till it closed at 10pm. It was the first time we did that. The girls enjoyed the fact that I was swimming with them too. Haven’t done that in a long while. It was just a cool, relaxing day — a very happy birthday indeed.