Just My Thoughts, Parenting

What did you learn from the movie?

Every time we watch a movie, we ask the girls what they learn. We did the same after watching The Greatest Showman. One of them said that we shouldn’t care about what other people think about us, only what we think about ourselves. My immediate response was, “What if you think you’re ugly?”

I think this is a common mistake that we make. We may not allow other people to define us, which is good, but we choose to define ourselves. What’s wrong with that? Well, in the movie, the oddities believed that they were ugly and worthless all their lives, and they operated according to those beliefs. They hid. They were ashamed. They kept to themselves. It took a PT Barnum to awaken them. It was like Barnum gave them their worth and their identity, when he called them out to be part of one great show. He was the only one who saw them for more than just “freaks,” more than the labels people put on them. They started believing and living according to what Barnum believed about them — that they are useful, talented, that they have a purpose in life and they can bring joy to people.

We too need to anchor our identity onto Someone. But not just anyone. Not even ourselves, for we are flawed. Our views of ourselves vary and fluctuate, depending on mood or circumstance. We need to anchor our identity to One who is constant. Perfect. All-powerful and all-knowing. The One who created us, the One who created us for a purpose. The One who knows all, who knows every minute detail about us and cares for us. Infinitely good, infinitely wise. Limitless. Trustworthy. The One whose ways are higher than ours. The One whose love for us isn’t and cannot be changed. We believe what and who He says we are, and live accordingly — His child — valued, loved, accepted, blessed, forgiven, safe, secure, significant, useful for all kinds of good work. FREE.

Anchor yourself to Jesus. Build a relationship with Him. He will set you free from the shame and the fear. He will teach you and mold you into the best you can possibly be. ❤

 

Know that the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Psalm 100:3

 

But now, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand. Isaiah 64:8 

To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31-32

 

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 2 Cor 5:17

 

My Kids, Parenting, Uncategorized

Noelle and Reading

Next on our summer list, while the girls had art classes on certain days, was Noelle’s daily Reading and Math class for 3 weeks. We enrolled her in Right Start, a small school in our village, where my kids’ friends went to for pre-school. My friend Ken Amador offered to give Noelle a ride each morning to and from school, along with her son and niece. Thank God for generous, thoughtful friends indeed!

Noelle learned to read when she was 4, but I wasn’t really able to help her progress much. Maybe she wasn’t ready yet because she’d say she’s already tired, and sometimes she couldn’t remember the first letter she just pronounced. It was pretty easy to teach Danae to read, and so I was at a loss when it came to Noelle haha. I just let her be, injecting some reading exercises from time to time, but I decided not to force it. Now that she’s 5, and we’re formally (meaning enrolled and real grades will be involved) homeschooling her this year, I wanted her to be prepared. And because I wasn’t sure how to help her, I thought a summer class might do the trick.

What surprised me before classes started though, was that she WAS reading more words and she was more interested in trying. She would still guess sometimes, instead of really reading, but she was improving. By the time classes started, I knew that she was already able to read short sentences, to remember, understand, and repeat them. I gave her teacher a heads up and so they soon included her in the more advanced math and reading class (those entering 1st grade).  I was so proud of her for doing the work! She kept saying she’s already grade 1, haha. She’s incoming Prep or Kinder 2 actually. Her teachers even said that she works fast and always wants more. She still has much to improve on, but she has made progress. Now she can count to the hundreds too, when she couldn’t even count properly before — she’d always skip 19 and 20 for some reason haha.

The fact that I could leave her in class (of course I wanted to be there on her first day and some of her days) without any problems, and seeing her comfortable with her teachers and classmates made me even more proud. The last time she was in a regular school setting, she was very cooperative but didn’t talk much or display her true personality. Her teacher in Right Start was somewhat surprised that she is very well-socialized despite her being home-schooled (a common misconception; most homeschooled kids have no problem talking to other kids AND adults). I’m happy that though Noelle is the more reserved one compared to her sister, she is becoming more comfortable around new people.

I really believe that a child’s learning depends on their readiness. I’ve seen it time and time again with my kids, that it is easiest to train and teach them when they are ready. Danae was ready to eat at 4 months, while Noelle was ready at 6. They both were ready to be potty trained before they turned 3, and I believe they were diaper-free by age 3. Danae understood what discipline meant, though not necessarily adhering to it haha, at 11 months old, while Noelle understood when she was around 15 months old. Danae was ready to read at age 3, while Noelle became ready between 4 and 5. Though it is true that there are many things that can’t wait and that we ought to teach as early as possible, such as the Gospel, maybe how to communicate eye-to-eye, how to share, how to be respectful, how to obey, etc, there are certain things that we need to be more patient and discerning with. When I wait for the right timing, it becomes unforced, it takes less effort, and it results more often than not in success. 🙂

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Noelle chatting it up with her friend Bea on her first day at Right Start. 🙂
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Teacher Helen instructing them to write their names.
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Snack time!
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Bea, T. Helen, and Noelle after a birthday party in school. 🙂
Homeschooling, My Kids, THE BRAINY BUNCH

Please Support Danae!

Please support Danae and some of the homeschoolers as they join Soderno’s bazaar this weekend! They will be there on Friday and Saturday only, November 23 and 24, selling all kinds of great stuff! For last year’s bazaar, the older kids sold some of their own work — paintings and paper products among other things. I know this year, Trey Remulla is going be selling his awesome #HASHTAG shirts! Pink Teacup Shoppe will be there with, I’m sure, cool, pretty, creative stuff! It has been a SPARKS tradition for around 3 years (or more), but it’s our first time to be in an actual bazaar place like SODERNO, located in Molito Lifestyle Center, Alabang. And it being our first homeschooling year, we wanted in on the action too!

Danae doesn’t have anything original (or originally made by her) to sell, but we wanted to take this as a learning opportunity for her. This is also my first time to do this, so we really ask for your support and prayer. HOPE TO SEE YOU TOMORROW & SATURDAY, from 5pm till midnight, AT SODERNO! 🙂

Family, Marriage, THE BRAINY BUNCH

Eight Years!

King and I celebrated our 8th anniversary with the kids at Marciano’s in South Mall tonight! We ordered Fight Night, composed of a salad, 2 appetizers, lasagna, and a-14 inch pizza. Simple celebration, yummy food, grateful for eight years of highs and lows, successes and failures, joys and sorrows, breakthroughs and struggles. Eight years of LOVING and LEARNING. 🙂

Happy anniversary, Babe! Thanks for dinner! I love you! 🙂

This is post #8 for 8 wonderful years! Check out post #7 here!

Hudson Prawns
Eight years!
Marciano’s Signature Salad
14-inch Bandel’s Margherita Pizza
Joey Tribbiani’s Meat Lasagna
Donnie Dresco Calamares
Still tired from our trip, but grateful for our family!
Marriage, THE BRAINY BUNCH

Eight Years of Learning – Intimacy

King and I celebrate our 8th anniversary today! It’s been eight years of highs and lows, successes and failures, joys and sorrows, breakthroughs and struggles. Eight years of LEARNING. We have been to 2 marriage retreats in the past month. We learned a great deal from listening to our leaders’ stories and testimonies.

During the second session of our Couples’ Getaway in Taal Vista Hotel, Tagaytay, our very own Pastor Ariel Marquez and his wife Shirley shared about INTIMACY or “into me see.” It means to be FULLY KNOWN and LOVED at EVERY LEVEL.

What a beautiful thing between a husband and his wife. I thank God for giving me this gift, to be able to fully know and love King at every level and to be fully known and loved by King at every level. Indeed sex is not merely a physical act. It deals with body AND soul. It is not merely for procreation and pleasure, lest we be like dogs, but it is a spiritual act. It is a gift that God created and designed for the husband and the wife.

We really appreciate Ptr Ariel and Shirley for being candid, real, and brave. Talking about intimacy is quite hard, I imagine, but somebody’s got to do it. I would be happy to share my notes with those of you who are married, privately haha. Please let me know. 🙂

Happy 8th anniversary, Babe! Here’s one I know you’ll have no trouble learning over and over again. Haha. I love you! 🙂

The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife. Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. I say this as a concession, not as a command. 1 Corinthians 7:3-6

This is post #2 out of 8, for 8 wonderful years! Click here for post #1 and here for post #3! 🙂

Family, Marriage, THE BRAINY BUNCH

Eight Years of Learning – Submission

King and I celebrate our 8th anniversary today! It’s been eight years of highs and lows, successes and failures, joys and sorrows, breakthroughs and struggles. Eight years of LEARNING. We have been to 2 marriage retreats in the past month. We learned a great deal from listening to our leaders’ stories and testimonies.

In both retreats, Ptr Ferdie Cabiling and his wife Judy shared about the roles of husband and wife. Submission is a tough pill to swallow for most women, and there are times it’s hard for me too. I know I am not inferior, but equal in worth. I have a different role, but I am equally loved by God. I know I am not supposed to blindly obey my husband, that he is not Jesus therefore I should not obey him like I obey Jesus. What’s tough is having my own opinions, ideas, strengths, and yet still have a SUBMISSIVE SPIRIT. Saying my piece, having a calm discussion, without being argumentative and prideful, without shoving it down his throat.

To submit is to voluntarily give allegiance to my husband, willingly respond and tend to his needs, be supportive of him, and to voluntarily give up my will so that I can serve and care for him. It is an act of faith because I am relinquishing control, trusting that God knows what is best for me. It is looking beyond my husband & his imperfection, and looking at God’s authority, wisdom, power, goodness….His perfection. It is an act of obedience TO GOD, not to my husband, because I am yielding to His will. It is an act of love and commitment towards God, towards King, and consequently towards our children.

I thank God because it may be hard at times, but King is such a good man that many times, it’s not hard at all. In fact, it reassures me that my husband is Kephale (Greek) which means FIRST INTO BATTLE. He is not Arche, which means beginning, first, prince, ruler. He is my leader, but my fellow soldier. He goes ahead of me, but we are in this together. Honestly, I do not want to be first into battle! I don’t want to be the one to scope the situation out and to decide whether to advance or retreat. I don’t want the burden that he carries on his shoulders. He is not the head of the chain of command, but the head of the chain of responsibility, the driving force of which is LOVE. He takes responsibility for me and our children.

King is not perfect but he is the best husband for me! He never lords over me. He takes my thoughts and feelings into consideration when making important decisions. He prioritizes me and our family. He is faithful to me. He is trustworthy. He loves God and relies on Him for the ability to love and stay committed to me and our children. And he expresses that love through words, gifts, affection, service and time.

I thank God for blessing me with a head, a leader, a husband like King. Submitting is not easy, but I willingly submit to him.

Happy 8th anniversary, Babe! Looking forward to 8 more years of learning and loving. I love you! 🙂

Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing[b] her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of his body. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”[c] This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. Ephesians 5:22-33

This is post #1 out of 8, for 8 wonderful years! Click here for post #2! 🙂

Family, TRAVEL

Danae’s Singapore Birthday

One of the things that Ardy Abello reminded us about during his session in the Couples’ Getaway was that NO ONE DELIBERATELY PLANS TO FAIL…THEY SIMPLY FAIL TO PLAN.

I was again reminded of this as we tackled our second day in Singapore. I thought I had a plan, but it wasn’t well thought out at all. I just planned for us to go to Singapore Zoo at a certain time to follow the suggested morning itinerary. I did not bother finding out how to get there or how much time we needed to get there from our hotel. I did not study the maps beforehand. I really don’t know what I was thinking. I thought it would be fairly simple. Was I wrong.

It turned out that the zoo was an hour and a half away from Sentosa! We were already late for the morning itinerary, so we decided to see what we could do IN Sentosa Island itself, before we proceeded to the zoo. We decided to check out the Underwater World Singapore. Due to lack of planning again, we found out as we got there that we had already missed the morning show. Tickets are 1 entry only, meaning you can’t decide to come back later once you’ve already gone in & gone out. We decided to head to the zoo then. At least we got to see peacocks and huge turtles outside. At least we got their schedule. And at least we got to see what else was there and what we were interested in as we rode the tram going back to the Sentosa Express station.

When we left Sentosa, it was sunny. I thought it would not rain and I left the girls’ rain coats in the hotel. Well, it did rain haha. We had to buy rain coats in the zoo. Thank God it didn’t cost much. We got to see nearly all the shows. We loved the elephant & the sea lion shows. We missed a few animals, but it was okay. The kids’ water park was closed! The very thing that I planned and prepared for, with the kids’ gears & all, was a bust haha.

We ate dinner at Soup Spoon in Vivo City. It was an interesting resto, and my mushroom stroganoff soup was both filling and delicious! We got back to the hotel past 9 that night, and just stayed in our room to get ready for Universal Studios the next day. We made sure that we studied the map/guide. The day wasn’t a complete failure, but we wanted to do much better with our time.

Because there was a plan, our Universal Studios day was spent well. We got in as it opened — of course it helped that it was walking distance from our Festive Hotel. We hit most of the shows and rides that we planned on hitting. The Shrek 4D show was cool, so were the stunts on WaterWorld. We enjoyed the dance performances we caught on the street, most especially the B-boyin of The Rockafellas! Steven Spielberg’s Lights, Camera, Action was awesome — movie magic! There was the rain factor again, which made us miss the Treasure Hunters ride, wherein the kids could have driven their own jeeps, but it was okay. The girls had a lot of fun getting wet at the fountain in Lost World. Too bad Jurassic Park Rapids Adventure was closed!!! We skipped the roller coaster rides and left Universal fairly early. The kids were able to swim at the hotel for an hour or so, which they were dying to do. We then decided to have dinner late, so we could still catch the Luge in Sentosa Island. Oh The Luge. It deserves a separate blog haha. We had dinner at Ruyi in Resorts World, then headed back to our hotel for another restful night.

We planned to go to Palawan Beach on the last day, Danae’s actual birthday, but we felt that the tram was taking too long and we’ve never been to that side of the island, so we didn’t know how far it really was. We decided to walk to Siloso Beach, the side we knew. It took us a while, but at least the kids were able to play in the sand, before we proceeded to Underwater World. We saw all sorts of sea creatures and watched the pink dolphin show. We were planning for King, my mom & Danae to try the Gogreen Segway after, but we ran out of time. To make up for it, King took the girls to Candylicious, this amazing candy store in Resorts World! Took a lot of photos already by the time I found out it wasn’t allowed. Oops!

We hurried to check out by 1pm. Thank God for our very nice cab & cab driver, who made our lives easier going to and coming back from the zoo, and going to the airport. It took us forever to get to our hotel when we arrived Singapore, riding the bus & the trains. Changi airport was nice. We had our late lunch at McDonald’s right by the check-in area, plus there was a playground for the kids. Inside the departure area, there was another playground, a coloring area, more restos and shops. The girls even made a cute new friend named Amethyst.

We really love traveling! If money were not an issue, we’d be doing it so much more. We love building memories with our kids. This is one birthday that Danae will never forget!

Two things I am grateful for relearning…

…..It’s hard to be the one planning, but planning can really make life easier and less stressful. It doesn’t guarantee perfection, but it definitely helps.

…..Nothing is impossible with God — you wouldn’t know that King had a slipped disc with how fast he walked and moved during our trip!

My Kids, Parenting

Danae’s Read-A-Thon

Danae’s school recently concluded their book month, wherein they, aside from other activities, promoted the Read-A-Thon in all levels. As the kids read books at home, the parents or guardians were asked to time them and record the title of book, time started, time ended and date on a sheet of paper. The teachers scheduled a certain period during class hours where the kids were to drop everything that they were doing, and read. The teachers timed them and listed their readings too. Whoever would spend the most (accumulated) time reading, would win a prize. The goal was to get the kids to appreciate and have a love for reading.

I enjoyed this particular exercise because reading and comprehension come easy to Danae (her school has recognized her skill in reading for 2 years now), and it was an opportunity to practice and make it an everyday thing. She almost always obliged when I’d encourage her to read a few books, because it was sort of like homework, which she enjoys doing. I didn’t even tell her that there’s a prize involved because I didn’t want it to be about getting the prize and I didn’t want her to get disappointed if she didn’t get any.

Because we would read at least 2 books daily, sometimes even  up to 6 to 8 short stories, it became somewhat of a habit. We would read to her everyday, especially her Bible story before going to bed, but during the Read-A-Thon, she started wanting to read it herself! Only exceptions were the few nights when she was already super sleepy. I mean, Danae would read by herself, sure, but it wasn’t a regular thing that I pushed. She’s more into grabbing a notebook, doodling or writing or drawing. Now, it’s EASIER to tell her that it’s time to read, and when we tell her it’s Bible time, she automatically reads it herself. We just ask questions later on, to make sure she understood it. But of course we still enjoy reading to her, especially her children’s Bible called the Jesus Story Book Bible. Even I get refreshed reading it. It’s just so wonderful.

So who won in the Read-A-Thon? I kept thinking that Danae surely would, because she read A LOT. We filled up about 3 pages (bond paper), listing the stories she read. She did the work! But I have no idea. There has been no announcement yet. And it doesn’t even matter. I got greater news from her teacher yesterday. Danae’s going to be part of the Fast Readers program in her school! I’m so proud of her and I love that the school encourages them and gives them an avenue to develop their strengths. Like I said before, our kids are already TEN TIMES BETTER than we are. King and I were never natural readers and we didn’t have a love for reading as kids, but our kids seem to. We are extremely grateful for that. 🙂

Motherhood, My Kids, Parenting

Ten Times Better Already

We named Danae after Daniel of the Bible. He’s one of our favorite people, along with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. They had great faith and courage, and were ten times better than their counterparts. But before I continue, this blog is in NO WAY AIMED TO MAKE YOU COMPARE YOUR KIDS or other kids to ours. We are not claiming that our kids are ten times better than their friends or other kids. We are, however, claiming that they ARE ten times better….than their parents!

For one thing, Danae is so much more mature than I or King ever were when we were her age (5 and a half). Noelle’s vocabulary is more extensive than mine or King’s when we were her age (2 years & 5 months). They are both articulate, smart and very confident.

I know I performed in school quite often (a pre-school play, field demonstrations and the like), but I was never comfortable in front of many people. I wasn’t comfortable with even a few. In grade school, they would get me to join declamation contests, and maybe because I was pushed, I’d agree. But I never won anything because I really am not much of a performer. Sure, I can speak. But that’s it. Now that I’m older, I am way more confident than I was, but Danae was BORN confident and fearless. Unafraid of almost anything. Adventurous too! I thought at first that Noelle was timid, but she’s pretty fearless too. I saw that when she almost jumped from the boat to join King in the water (Coron) and when she danced with us on stage in front of hundreds of people (Victory Alabang Leaders’ Night). I guess it just took a while for her confidence and fearlessness to come out.

I’m amazed at how expressive Danae is. I thank God that she trusts me and can freely share things with me, without any fears of being judged or being reprimanded (though there are times that I do reprimand of course). I guess that attributes to her confidence and fearlessness too. It doesn’t take much to draw things out of her and she can articulate her feelings well. That’s God’s grace right there. I’m so grateful that she and Noelle need not be caged because of insecurities and fear of rejection, like I was when I was young.

I’m amazed at how my girls take on food. Well, Noelle eats almost anything so it’s no surprise that she eats almost any vegetable. But I was surprised at how receptive she was to the idea when I introduced malunggay capsules in their diet. She doesn’t care if her food turns green. She’s the one who reminds me and is excited to put the green powder on her food! Eeew right? haha. Danae is a bit like me, somewhat picky when it comes to food, though she eats most vegetables and is eating those that I only started eating a few years ago. I still don’t eat onions to this day and Danae, if she sees them, doesn’t eat them either. She does eat them unknowingly when I feed her (hehe). I wasn’t planning to give her malunggay capsules since she drinks milk (Noelle doesn’t but needs calcium), but she was also interested. I knew putting it on her food wouldn’t work but I was surprised that she wanted to try swallowing the capsule. I thought she’d have a hard time, it being her first time. She didn’t! No struggle at all. While 33 year old me, still struggles with tablets sometimes!

I’m tempted to say that I know these things are so shallow, but they’re really not. They mean a great deal to me. I am grateful that as early as now, their communication skills and eating habits are already good. As early as now, they are already confident and fearless. As early as now, they are getting to know and learning to love the Lord. My girls are a handful and are very strong-willed. I see so much of me in them, which makes me fearful of who they will become. But seeing that as early as now, they are already ten times better than me, gives me the hope that they need not make as many mistakes as I did and that THEY WILL DISCOVER THEIR GOD-GIVEN PURPOSE & DESTINY EARLY, and FLING THEIR LIVES TO IT.

Family, My Kids, Parenting

The Future According to Danae

Lately, Danae’s been harping about her future baby brother and actually planning his life already, saying he’s going to do this and that, and telling me what she and Noelle are going to do with him. Also after coming to us with all sorts of unusual names, we finally agreed on naming him David. I keep telling her that he isn’t coming till next year, after Noelle turns 3.

And then another interesting conversation took place last night. It began with Danae saying she will have a Beetle when she becomes a mommy and her husband will drive it. She went on to say that she will have 3 kids — a son, a daughter, then another son. I asked her what she’ll be doing, if she’s gonna work or be like mommy. She said she’ll be like mommy and take care of the kids. I think she said she will have to leave her kids with her husband when she needs to work, so getting confused, I told her I thought she was going to stay home with the kids. She quickly replied that she’ll need to leave her kids when she’s going to preach or teach people about God. I’m sure she meant she will leave her kids for a while to do such things, just like what I do when I have teachings or meetings. But for the preaching part, she said she wants to be just like daddy. 🙂

When we asked her what her husband would be doing, she also said he’ll stay home and take care of the kids. That part’s still blurry, but she seems absolutely sure about her Beetle and that her husband will drive it.

Hahaha. I love conversations like this. We couldn’t leave the parked car just yet because we wanted to finish talking. We told her that her husband should work to provide for their family. King lovingly told her that these things will happen a long time from now, maybe when she’s 25 (but maybe he was secretly hoping never haha), and I told her that for now, she should just enjoy being 5. She said yes and that she’s happy to become 6.

Gotta love kids! They’re so into growing up and doing grown up stuff. It really makes you think how important your role is as a parent in shaping their lives and helping them build great futures.