Just My Thoughts

Tidying Up

I’ve heard of the Konmari method and since Marie Kondo’s show came out on Netflix recently, I’ve been reading posts about how people have been sorting their stuff and keeping only those that spark joy in them. And since I’ve finished binge watching Grey’s, I decided to watch Tidying Up while organizing the girls’ homeschooling materials.

First off, Marie Kondo is so cute! She’s gentle and meek, and so put-together. Calm and joyful too. I feel like if she came to my house, she’d influence us all to be chill and unhurried. That would be awesome. 😁

I love her way of folding. I am definitely teaching the kids and our manang to do it for our clothes. I actually sorted through our kitchen towels, kept only those that spark joy (out with the old 😂), and folded them and placed them in a plastic basket inside a drawer closer to the kitchen sink. I didn’t follow her steps though. I went straight to the kitchen. Clothing should always be first. Sorry Marie!

I also like her idea of putting things in boxes and drawers to keep them tidy. The girls’ cabinets are open because I thought open shelving would have a nice effect but Danae has been complaining about how her room always looks messy. I am excited to buy boxes that they can pull from their shelves. I know there are some in MiniSo and Daiso. Excited to see clothes neatly folded as well.

My favorite thing that Marie said, from the very first episode, was something about a person’s sensitivity to joy. That really struck me, not about tidying up, but about life. Life gets difficult at times. Our situations can change abruptly. Our disposition is almost always affected by change. But JOY IS POSSIBLE in the midst of it all. BY THE GRACE OF GOD, JOY IS POSSIBLE. And it can start small, but our sensitivity to joy can grow.

Tidying up is a daunting task, but one’s sensitivity to joy grows through the process, most especially when clutter slowly disappears, things get clearer and cleaner, and when the task is finally done. Though I don’t really care for talking to my clothes and thanking them (although I do tell my kids to say goodbye to their things that they agree to give away), but having a sense of gratitude for having used them is a good thing. It reminds us of how blessed we are, how God has been faithful in providing for our needs. I believe counting our blessings, finding something to be grateful for (like indoor plumbing, yes) makes our sensitivity to joy grow. Seeing progress and change in the seemingly impossible — hope increases joy! Knowing that you are not alone, you are part of a team, a family; that there are people who love and support you — security increases joy! Accomplishing something — fulfillment increases joy too!

May the Lord increase our sensitivity to joy. May our eyes be opened to see, and our hearts be inclined to appreciate, His goodness, in the big and the little things in our lives. ❤️

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13

Motherhood, Parenting

Oh Motherhood!

Oh motherhood!

“Mooooooommmm?” 

“Heeeeeeelllpppp!”

“Can I have rice please?” When the bowl of rice is an arm’s reach away.

“I can’t find it.” And IT (whatever IT is) is right there in front of her.

“Mommy, look!” “Mom mom, look!” “Mommy, look at me!” All at once.

“Mommy o!” “Mom, she (insert verb) me!”

“Carry!” 

“Only mommy.”

“Stay here, mommy.”

“Don’t go, mommy.”

“Stay with me.” When we’ve been together ALL day, EVERY day.

“I’m scared. Can you come with me?” To the kitchen, in our house.

“Can you feed me?”

“I’m hungry.” After just having a meal.

“I’m thirsty. Can you get me water?” “I want milk.” When you’re already lying in bed.

“Mom? Mom? Mom? (tapping or shaking your arm) Can I (insert verb)? Can I have (insert noun)?” While you’re fast asleep.

“No! Please? 5 more minutes (which always translates to more)?” When you’ve already told them 5 minutes before that we’re leaving in 5 minutes.

“Aww, please mom? Can I just…..? It’s just so and so pesos. But you said….. But we haven’t…. But my friends…..” Negotiation after you’ve already answered their question.

 “I don’t like the rod.” 

“Mom, I don’t get it. Can you help me?” And then she’ll fight with you because she thinks you’re making it harder.

“Can you hold this?” “Can you put it in your bag?” Like the baby isn’t heavy enough.

“Awwwgh….” When you ask them to do you a tiny favor.

“Why me? I didn’t make that mess.”

“I want to buy this.” “I want to get that.” 

“How come he/she (friend or cousin) is allowed?” 

“Can you read with me?” When you’re already so so sleepy.

“Can you make chicken ala king and phoebe for lunch?” When it’s 30 minutes to lunch time.

“Ow, ow, oooooowwwww….” With so much tears and loud crying.

“I don’t want to sleep!”

“I don’t want to take a bath!”

“Waaaiiiit.” After the nth reminder.

“It’s so hard.” “I never get to have any fun!” “It’s always NO.” Sweeping statements of ungratefulness, even after a fun vacation.

“What if someone asks me on a date?”

“I think he has a crush on me.”

“I think he has a crush on ate.”

“He’s cute…..” If only I could put into words the sound of King, loading a shotgun. 😛

 

So many words, so many needs, so many wants, so many delays, so many excuses, so many arguments, so many questions. Mommy this, mommy that. These are the things that make me tired, exasperated, feel pressured, feel frustrated, and feel panicked. And at the same time, these are what make me GRATEFUL for being their mommy.

Motherhood is a joy. Quality and quantity time. Family. Fun. Games. Tickles. Piggy back rides. Laughter. Silliness. Dancing. Food. Trips. Dates. Memories. Service. Car rides. Times of house arrest. Sickness. Errands. Budget concerns. Conflicts of schedule. Conflicts of interest. Clash of personalities. Arguments. Stress. Bonding. Growing together. It’s not always great, but by the grace, love, and redemptive work of God, good always comes out of anything bad. We rest in the promise of God that as we walk in obedience to Him, we will EAT THE FRUIT OF OUR LABOR. The sacrifices we make are worth it. 

Motherhood is a privilege. Secrets. Open and intimate conversations. Inside jokes. Family meetings or one-on-one talks. Sensitive topics. Senseless topics. Friends. Feelings. Hurts. Heart issues. Dreams. Likes and dislikes. Crushes. Movies. Shows. Music. Social Media. Quirks. Habits. We have the opportunity to knit a close relationship with our children. We have the privilege to be part of their lives, to KNOW them, to WATCH them, to LOVE and ENJOY them. 

Motherhood is a stewardship. Teaching. Training. Listening. Learning. Discipline. Teamwork. Character building. Strengths building. Life skills. Discovering and developing talents. Discipleship. Volunteering. Church. Worship. Prayers. Faith. Bible. Wisdom. The Gospel. Loving and honoring God. God gave us captive audiences since our children were conceived in our womb. We have the opportunity to teach, inspire, impart, lead, empower, equip. We need to BE DELIBERATE in using, and not wasting, this opportunity. 

Motherhood is a gift. Smiles. Hugs. Regular kisses. Eskimo kisses. Nguso kisses. Thank yous. I love yous. I miss yous. Sorries. I forgive yous. UNCONDITIONAL LOVE. Yes, we have the opportunity to give it to our kids, but we also have the opportunity to receive it from our kids. They not only need us. They love us, despite our failure to love them. They love us, just because we are MOMMY. ❤ ❤ ❤ 

 

16105747_1534537249894298_4836154357441778985_n
I have very few pictures of me with the girls. It’s because I like taking pictures more than being in them. I hate and am not good at taking selfies (self-wes). My phone lacks the space for new pictures. But yeah, I need to be deliberate in having my picture taken with them. ❤ 

Thank you Lord, for making us mothers.

HAPPY MOTHERS’ DAY TO ALL THE MOMMIES OUT THERE! ❤

 

Blessed are all who fear the Lord,

who walk in obedience to him.

You will eat the fruit of your labor;

blessings and prosperity will be yours.

Your wife will be like a fruitful vine

within your house;

your children will be like olive shoots

around your table.

Yes, this will be the blessing

for the man who fears the Lord. PSALM 128:1-4

 

Just My Thoughts, Motherhood

The Surrender

It took me a month of trying to fight my puking urges before I finally accepted that I should just LET IT GO. Yes, Frozen’s song meant something different to me then, haha. I hated throwing up, but it somehow relieved my painful tummy. So I conceded. I tried some food from time to time, just to check what I could take, because I was sooooo sick of crackers. I finally found some that I could eat and be satisfied with — mung beans and dried fish with rice! To us Filipinos, munggo and tuyo/danggit! How ironic that the smelliest of all fish was what I could eat. That was my meal twice a day for more than a month. My tummy settlers were soda, nuts, and chips. I still experienced the same nausea, bloatedness, aversion to smells (and did I mention aversion to food on tv?) and vomiting, but at least I had some real food to eat.

It was around that time, the second week of February, that I psyched myself to finally visit my OB-GYN. It was not without a lot of crying days before, as I was dreading the smells I could possibly encounter. I was seriously afraid, and I felt trapped. I did not want to be paralyzed by my fear, but I was. I was sure I would vomit, and I definitely didn’t want to do that in public. There’s nothing pretty about vomiting, even if I had the best excuse to do it. It’s gross, loud, uncomfortable, and painful.

I made sure I threw up before I left home (twice), and I equipped myself with some crackers and a small jar of vapor rub to help mask other smells. It was the first time I left the house successfully (we tried going to a nearby commercial area a few days before and I was too nauseated to get out of the car). We found out that I was 3 months and 4 days pregnant. Quite late for a first check up, but I had been drinking folic acid and calcium by end of  December, though irregularly. Yes, you guessed it, they were hard for me to swallow at times. I was prescribed the usual prenatal meds, but the ultrasound showed that I was having contractions. My doctor gave me additional ones to secure the baby in my womb. I realized that it was a blessing that I had just been staying home that whole time. I had not endangered myself or the baby.

WE SAW THE BABY AND MY HEART SMILED for the first time in a long while. I was happy to know that even with my troubles, he (or she) was a-okay.

I felt quite accomplished after that. That didn’t encourage me to get out of the house more though. I was still trapped by my fear, and the farthest I would go was in our front yard to watch the girls bike. Of course smells of cooking from neighbors’ houses bothered me too. My next trips out were only for a doctor’s visit and a short side trip to the mall, a dental appointment, and a trip to the bookstore.

Things were getting a tad better, plus thankfully our former stay-in helper came back, but I was still feeling down a lot. There were days that I cried practically all day, and there were days that I was fine. Then came the 3 or 4 consecutive days that I was just in anguish and I cried to God. I was like a crazy person, pleading for grace and mercy one minute and then blaming God for what I was going through the next. And then the inevitable came sometime in mid March — MY HEART SURRENDERING TO THE LORD. I cried, prayed, repented for my anger, ungratefulness, and joylessness, declared His love and goodness, literally lifted my arms in surrender to His will. I was done. I gave up being angry and finally allowed Him to take over.

It was not a quick change in my disposition, but peace and joy slowly came back into my heart. I was able to see the good, even though I was still vomiting every morning. Though I chose to stay home still, I was able to BE WITH my kids, play with them, and even resume homeschooling. My appetite was returning and my taste buds were normalizing. I said goodbye to mung beans and dried fish! I still had problems with smell and I still couldn’t eat all kinds of food, but I was better. I was even able to watch Captain America to support a friend’s fundraiser. I did get quite dizzy before and after the movie, but that was a breakthrough. You don’t know how happy it made my husband that I was out with him. I also started feeling the baby move that week!

The trip that followed was my doctor’s appointment this month, with some grocery shopping and a visit to our church. It was good to be in a supermarket after 3 months, though King did most of the picking and handling especially of the meats, while I ate chips to get rid of the nausea. And it was great to see friends I had not seen since the last Sunday of 2013. I believe the next day was the last day I threw up, the day I watched Rio 2 with my family. My daughters were so happy, seeing that I was “healed.”

10320422_833105283370835_7264876035980516200_nBy holy week, I was able to go on vacation with the church staff and actually enjoy it! I was able to eat. I got the most exercise I’ve gotten since I got pregnant, walking up and down steps and swimming laps. I enjoyed the beach and swam with my kids. I got tired, but not exhausted. Since then, I’d been able to go out, sit at restaurants and endure the smells without gagging! It may not be a big deal to anyone else, but it’s a huge deal for me. Finally, MY MIRACLE IS HERE! Last Easter Sunday was the first time I attended church service since 2013 ended!

Yes, I still get dizzy, I still gag at smells sometimes, I get easily tired, and there are still certain food I can’t stand, but I THANK THE LORD that He has given me this breakthrough. I seriously thought I was going to suffer the tummy aches and vomiting the entire 9 months! And not only am I feeling better, we were able to finish all of Danae’s requirements for her major subjects! Thanks to Teacher Sybil for helping me and the girls, in homeschooling and other matters. All I need to do now is make sure she finishes her computer subject which her dad is in charge of, to fix her portfolio, and to submit her grades. We are quite delayed, but thank God for our understanding school principal.

Indeed I can say that THE LORD IS GOOD. Even though I was so ungrateful and unfaithful to Him, He remained faithful. He was understanding and patient with me. Though many times I felt that He was silent, He gave me people who loved me, stood by me, and helped me sort through my craziness — my patient husband King, my accommodating girls Danae and Noelle, my friend, constant chat mate and shock absorber May, and faithful friends who keep praying for me, are my heroes.

I was aware that God was teaching me something, that it was another stepping out of my comfort zone (boy, was it ever), another push to grow, but my pain and hardship blinded me. I focused more on the bad, whining and crying, rather than focusing on the good. Hormones did play a big role, sure, but I know God wanted me to go through it to bring me to a place of TRUE SURRENDER. My prayers were sincere but my emotions tainted them with pride and unbelief.

It wasn’t until I surrendered that the veil was slowly lifted. God is a personal God. And this is the way He has always been with me — BEFORE HE CHANGES MY SITUATION, HE FIRST CHANGES MY HEART. Everything that He allowed to happen led to a heart change, and my situation began getting better and better. I know it’s an ordinary experience for some and they take it in stride. This was a first for me. My first two pregnancies were not this hard, and I was never this miserable. It was not right to have such little joy and I could not figure it out, hence all my frustration and anguish. I may not understand all of it, but I do understand that God is good and all His plans are purposeful. He loves me enough to want me to grow, and not just coast along. His grace IS sufficient and He is present, whether I feel it or not. He wants me to be free from anger, fear, and pride. He wants me to live fully with peace and joy, not repeating vicious cycle after vicious cycle. And the only way is by coming to Him and surrendering to Him, leaving it all at His feet. FREEDOM, PEACE AND JOY COMES WITH SURRENDER.

1797357_832231116791585_1229765869048486447_nI will be 6 months pregnant in about a week! I am healthy, at peace, and excited. My girls are busy with their summer activities and I can be their mommy/driver/assistant again. King is also busy with work/ministry and we were able to tag along to the youth camp last week. The baby is healthy, and by next month, we hope to know and then share the much anticipated reveal of his/her gender! We are all doing well and I can’t thank the Lord enough. 🙂

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. 1 Peter 5:6-10

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever. Psalm 118:1

In my anguish I cried to the LORD, and he answered by setting me free. Psalm 118:5

 

 Click here and here for the first two posts of this story.

My Kids, THE BRAINY BUNCH

Happy 4th Birthday Noelle!

Noelle's candle blowing in Pasig. January 4, 2012.
Noelle’s candle blowing in Pasig. January 4, 2012.

Noelle turned 4 today. We had a candle blowing thing with her cousins on King’s side last Friday. My (King’s)

Big Guy's Pizza (12 flavors)!
Big Guy’s Pizza (12 flavors)!

sister-in-law came with her yummy Moosh lemon cupcakes, and we ordered a huge pizza from Big Guy. The girls slept the night there.

We rescheduled her candle blowing in church to next Saturday, and just went to Fun Ranch with their cousin on my side tonight. On our way there, King asked the girls a question.

King: Who’s happy?
Both girls: Me!
King: Why are you happy?
Danae: Because I have my toy and we’re going to Fun Ranch!

Noelle and Gabby in Fun Ranch! Jan 6, 2012. :)
Our two January celebrants in Fun Ranch! Jan 6, 2012. 🙂

King: How about you Noelle…why are you happy?

Danae, Noelle, and Gabby!
Danae, Noelle, and Gabby!

Noelle: Because it’s my birthday!

How incredibly refreshing to hear her say she was happy just because it was her birthday! Not because of a cake, a party, a trip, a friend, a gift, or anything new. The mere fact that she turns or turned four today is enough to make her giddy all week.

GRATEFULNESS. CONTENTMENT. JOY. Values we can all learn from my now four-year-old Noelle.

Happy 4th birthday Noelle! We love you! 🙂

My Kids, THE BRAINY BUNCH

There’s None For Me?

We’re going to Cebu this week, and in preparation for our visit to Oslob Island to see the whale sharks, King bought new snorkeling gear for me and Danae. He came home last night with the package, which Danae almost immediately ransacked. She was so excited! Noelle, on the other hand, looked inside the bag and found nothing.

Noelle: (in a normal tone, not sad or disappointed or upset, not even whiney) There’s none for me?

I was just observing how she would respond.

King: Sorry. Not yet for you, baby.

I was so amazed at my little girl when she didn’t even frown, not even to pretend to be sad. She was actually laughing with her sister.

Me: We will look for the small goggles for you, okay? It’s Barbie.

Noelle: Yay!

Talk about joy! She was joyful even when she did not have anything new. Joyful even when she was the only one who didn’t have anything new. Joyful even in seeing her older sister be so excited for her new gear. She did not require much explanation, though I did give her some. She just ACCEPTED it and remained happy. WOW! I couldn’t help but hug her and tell her how proud I was of her and her attitude, to which she responded:

“I’M JOY, MOMMY!”

Indeed! You are the epitome of joy, Noelle! I want to be like you! 🙂

Motherhood, Parenting

MY JOY

Last Monday, our family went on a day-trip to the beach. It was absolutely awesome. And in the afternoon, as I was sitting on the shore, soaking up the sun, I just couldn’t help but look at my eldest daughter. Noelle was resting in the dining parasol at that time. I was just quietly watching how Danae played in the sand, how she swam in the water, how she interacted with her cousins, how she stared, how she walked, how she crouched down to get or pour water, how she smiled. I was also marveling at how beautifully tanned she was. I tell you, I could have watched her all day. I was just in a state of gratitude and inexplicable joy, knowing that I have such a beautiful daughter in front of me and another absolutely adorable one in the back of me, and that I am their mom.

You know, when I became a mom, things sort of came naturally for me. I had some help in the beginning, as my mom’s sister was here to teach me the basics, but even then, I did most of it myself. I didn’t want King to clean Danae when it was time for a nappy change because I didn’t want to risk her getting an infection, especially since she’s a girl. That was my choice. I did not want a nanny because I wanted to be hands-on and I don’t think I could trust anybody with my precious baby at that point. The only people that I trusted to change Danae’s nappy and bathe her were my aunt, King’s mom, and King’s sister. And that wasn’t often. King started helping me bathe Danae when she was probably a year old. And even when I finally surrendered and we hired a reliable nanny when Danae was 2 years and 4 months old, it was still King and I who bathed her, changed her, fed her, and put her to bed.

When Noelle was born, it was pretty much the same, but because she was bigger and easier to handle than itty bitty Danae, King was able to wash Noelle early on. The bathing was still left to me, of course, until Noelle turned 8 months or so. We lost our nanny when Noelle was almost a month old, and survived without one for almost a year. Right now, we still don’t have a full time nanny, but the old reliable nanny came back as our household help. She helps me out with the kids from time to time. I’m grateful for her because she knows my standards already and my kids love her, but King and I still wash our girls, bathe them, and put them to sleep almost every single time, every day and every night.

I must say that since our old nanny came back, King and I have been able to go out alone more. When Danae was born, my motto was “where I go, Danae goes”. So she was with me in nearly every meeting, every party, every trip. It was difficult, but I couldn’t stand the idea of my baby being left alone with someone I couldn’t trust. Plus, I breastfed and was not successful at pumping, so it was hard to often leave her with the in-laws, aside from the fact that they lived miles away from us (Caloocan, then Pasig). When we had our nanny, the motto became “where I go, Danae & Cendy go” hahaha. I still couldn’t leave them at home unsupervised, unless they were going to be with family or close friends. When Noelle was born, it was doubly difficult without a nanny, but wherever I went, both girls were with me also. But then I didn’t go out as often anymore, and the motto became “if King’s not with us, don’t go out”. That still applies today, except that we can choose to leave the kids with Cendy, our trusted helper, when we need to but only for a few hours. Although I experience some resistance on the very few times that I or we go out without them, I am grateful that I am secure that my kids will be okay while I’m momentarily gone.

I am a mother. I am called to be a mother. I am grateful that I have been there since the very beginning, able to care for my children & take care of their needs, to foster their growth & development, to teach them their amazing tricks, to witness their milestones & be surprised by them, to see and help them experience new things, to help build their character by disciplining them, to disciple them and impart to them our love for God & watch their love for God grow. These are the joys of motherhood. These are my joys. No material wealth nor a successful career can entice me to leave my kids and let them be raised by anyone else. Every juggling act I did in carrying Danae while pushing the stroller around the mall & up the escalator, every muscle ache I got from carrying Noelle in Negros, in Disneyland and in Caliraya, every scab I got from breastfeeding Danae, every back ache I get from breastfeeding Noelle all night, every sleepless night from putting the girls to sleep when they were newborns, every inconvenience from changing dirty diapers in public restrooms, every moment I spent at home instead of going to a wedding or a meeting or a party that I really really wanted to attend, every stressful moment I spent breastfeeding outside the comfort of my own home or car (only when I still didn’t have my breastfeeding poncho, which means 10 months with Danae & a few months with Noelle), every discomfort in taking care of Danae in the hospital while very much pregnant, every postponed small group meeting because I had to attend to an infant or a sick child, every ounce of energy in my body used to talk to and play with my girls – get on all fours with them, jump around, run, dance, sing, read, teach, look like a total idiot, every bit of patience I have to use when disciplining them, every single second that I could take for myself but do not because my children need me……they’re all worth my effort. I can’t even call it sacrifice because it isn’t. To me, it’s commitment. Though it is difficult, inconvenient and stressful, and though I may whine & complain at times, I am totally committed and fully invested in raising my kids with King. I love my children and I love being their mom. There’s nothing in this world that brings me greater joy than being my girls’ mother. What a truly wonderful gift from God.

I wrote this blog a year ago (May 6, 2010). Today, without a nanny again, I still feel the same way, and I’m pretty sure each mother does too. Happy mothers’ day beautiful mommies! 🙂