Monday, December 28, 2009

It’s Habit Forming

Repetition helps create habits. Consistent repetition definitely is habit forming. It amazes me to witness this happen on our baby. I still can’t get used to the fact that whatever I choose to do with him or to him daily have a big impact on how his character and personality would be formed. The other day, I noticed again some of Yanthy’s actions and behaviors. I noticed that every time we enter a room in the house, he runs to the electric fan to get the cord and he tries to plug it into the socket. Other times, he gets the aircon remote control and tries to turn it on. I run after him of course to snatch the cord from him and to tell him that Mommy will be the one to plug it and not Yanthy. I also noticed Yanthy getting the placemats one by one before meals and putting them with all his might on top of the table. He would even tip toe just to reach the top of the table. When it’s time for diaper change, he goes to the shelves where his diapers are kept and gets a diaper and wet wipes. Then, as soon as he lies down on the changing pad, he would raise his hands because that’s what I always tell him. Looking back, I realized that he has formed these habits because we have been doing them since his birth. He has been observant of our routines at home and now he remembers them.

Before bed, he also knows that we would read so he gets a book from the shelf. Most of the time, he gets The Going to Bed Book because that’s what we read to him before we put him to sleep. Other times, he gets his other books. Definitely, he remembers that we read before bed. But what is most striking is that as soon as we wake up, he remembers that it’s time to pray. It’s very touching for me to see Yanthy get up from bed in the morning and readily puts his hands together to pray. Then he waves to Jesus’ picture to say good morning. After that, he gets my devotionals and brings them to me. He is such a joy and a blessing to us because there are days when I rush to prepare breakfast upon waking up instead of heading to my devotionals to pray. I’m glad that as early as now, Yanthy is slowly but surely forming good habits.

Lately, he likes going to the shoe cabinet. That means he wants to get and wear either his crocs or shoes because he wants to go out and walk around in the compound. When he’s hungry, he knows where to get his biscuits or his Cerelac and water. When one of us mentions the word “call,” Yanthy rushes to the telephone or puts one hand on his ear to call. It’s funny because we sometimes get surprised that he has his hand on one ear and he’s talking as if on the telephone. He also knows how to turn on the tv manually or using the remote. He knows that before eating he will wear his bib and pray. He’s really like a sponge that absorbs many of the things he sees or hears around him. My husband and I need to be very vigilant with our words and actions for we have an observant and intelligent baby in the house. I don’t want that one day I would be correcting him for a bad behavior or word that he learned or picked up from us. Only God’s grace can enable us to be good role models to him. Just like what the priest said last night in his homily on the Feast of the Holy Family, my husband and I have been entrusted with this family by God. We need to be responsible parents to our child. God called us to start and raise a family because He believed in us. I hope that my husband and I would live out our calling according to His will and follow the example of Joseph and Mary.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Yanthy’s Favorite Soup

I cooked Yanthy’s favourite soup two days ago. Basically, it’s a squash/pumpkin soup which I cook with a twist every now and then. He likes the soup on its own, with rice or with bread. Let me share with you how I do it.

butter, 1-2 slices
onions and garlic, minced
squash/pumpkin, cubed
pork or chicken broth, 2-3 cups
all purpose cream, 1 tetra pack
evaporated milk, 1 small can (optional)
salt and pepper to taste

1. Melt butter in a saucepan and sauté minced onions and garlic until the onions are transparent and the garlic is fragrant.
2. Add the cubed squash, sauté for a minute.
3. Pour in the pork or chicken broth. If you don’t have left over broth, you can dissolve a chicken or pork broth cube in hot water as substitute.
4. Bring to boil and cook until the squash is tender and soft enough to be mashed.
5. Reduce the heat and mash the squash. You can also remove the squash from the liquid and use a blender or food processor to puree it if you don’t want to mash it manually. Then, return it to the saucepan.
6. Once the squash has been mashed, mix the evaporated milk and all purpose cream with the squash.
7. Simmer over low heat and season with salt and pepper according to taste.
8. Remove from heat/fire and serve with bread.

As I’ve mentioned earlier, I make variations to the basic recipe. Like two days ago, I added cauliflower florets and cubed quick melt cheese just before I turned off the heat. Sometimes, I mix shredded carrots or broccoli instead. Other times, I top it with any of the following: grated cheese, bacon bits, biscuits or bread.

Try it! Experiment on the toppings! You and your kids might like it too.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

How to Improve Family Relations and Family Time and How to Ensure Family Times Happen

Family members are getting busier and busier by the hour. So I made another list for our family to help us build strong family relationships and to help us achieve our goals as a family. You might want to adapt some of them if you think they would help your family also.

1. Make a family calendar of activities for the year.
2. Protect it from being crowded or bumped off by other activities.
3. Plan tasks and schedules in advance.
4. Remind each other.
5. Make a family countdown to big family events.
6. Involve everyone as much as possible in the planning and preparation.
7. Book in advance (i.e. plane tickets, hotel reservations, movie or concert tickets, theater passes, etc.)
8. Schedule family meetings.
9. Plan goals for the year and per quarter.
10. Schedule quarterly and annual reviews.
11. Make it a habit to pray for family goals and concerns.
12. Include a lot of fun activities in the family calendar.

Ideas on How to Nurture and Improve Our Relationship as a Couple

I believe that marriages these days face a lot more challenges than in the past. One big reason for this is busyness. The world we live in now is so fast-paced. Couples often find themselves hurrying from one place to another, scampering to finish one task after another. Unfortunately, with all the things we think we need to do, sometimes nurturing our relationships takes a back seat. This should not be; because no matter how so in love a couple is, sooner or later the feeling will die down and hard work should begin to continuously work on keeping the love alive.

My husband and I are not spared from these challenges. Even with all the planning that I do, I still sometimes find myself having so much on my plate. The same is true for my husband who has a very demanding job right now – a tough job that entails him to be on call 24/7. While we are praying and waiting on the Lord to hear our prayer that he would find a new position where he doesn’t need to be on call 24/7, I made a list yesterday of activities the two of us can do during our monthsary celebrations to continuously keep our love alive and our bonding strong. I’m sharing these with you thinking that some couples out there might also benefit from them.

1. Meet with Ninongs and Ninangs to share concerns and ask them for tips on how they were able to overcome similar challenges when they were young couples like us. It’s also a time for us to share with them our joys and victories as a couple. This could be done on a quarterly basis.
2. Have a heart-to-heart talk or dialogue.
3. Watch a love story in the movie house or at home and discuss the good points from the movie that we can learn from or adapt in our relationship.
4. Eat out in a nice restaurant with a romantic ambiance.
5. Go to mass together.
6. Go to a studio for a photo shoot.
7. Visit places where we used to date.
8. Visit Powerbooks and read a book on relationships or marriage and discuss learnings over dinner or on the way home.
9. Post something related to our relationship, wedding or marriage on our blog.
10. Meet with single friends and inspire them with our love story.
11. Do an activity we both like. In our case, these are some things both of us enjoy doing: badminton, dancing, singing, learning to play a musical instrument, serving in a ministry or charitable institution, feasting on good food, having a massage.
12. Visit model houses and discuss dreams for future house and ideas on how to make it a reality.
13. Meet another couple among our circle of friends who are planning for their wedding or who have difficulty conceiving a child and inspire them with our story.
14. Plan and make arrangement for a family time or vacation.
15. Go and discover a new place and share the memory of visiting it for the first time.
16. Serve each other throughout the day using the 5 Love languages.
17. Attend a retreat or recollection.
18. Do a project together (i.e. organize family photos, make a photo collage or mosaic, organize an area in the house or make a D.I.Y. home project)
19. Together, prepare and cook a special dinner for both of you.
20. Check-in in a hotel.

We plan to pick 12 activities from this list for our monthsary celebrations in the next 12 months. The rest we would probably schedule for other bonding times. Hope some couples out there got some fresh ideas from our list.

My Sweet Little Angel

I was burning with fever last Sunday after we heard Holy Mass. I went straight to bed, covered myself with a blanket and curled up like a cheese curl. My little boy was walking back and forth in our bedroom, glancing at me every now and then. Then, he walked towards the couch, got his sweater that was on top of it and walked towards me. To my surprise, Yanthy offered his sweater to me. I was so touched. Earlier that day, I told him that he will wear a sweater later when we go to the Medicard clinic at Festival Mall because it’s cold there and he still has colds. He must have really understood what I said because he doesn’t normally offer his clothes to me. He knows that after he takes off his clothes, he puts them in his hamper. This was actually the first time he gave it to me that’s why I know that he purposely gave his sweater to me because he saw that Mommy was feeling cold. What a sweet little boy!

I hope and pray he grows up to be a sweet young man – thoughtful, caring and sensitive to the needs of those around him. I can already see in my mind’s eye a picture of him putting a sweater on my rounded and frail shoulders in my old age; while my husband looks on with a smile on his face thinking, “What a wonderful man he has become.”

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Exercising Creativity and Flexibility in Motherhood

My husband and I attended the Kerygma Conference at the Araneta Coliseum last weekend (November 28-29, 2009) and one of the things that struck me with what Bro. Bo Sanchez shared is that his boys are more important to him than the Kerygma Conference. He shared how every 5 minutes or so his boys would ask him to play with them while he was trying to write his talks and prepare for the conference. He said he could have told them to play on their own and wait till their dad is finished writing his talks. But he chose to be interrupted in his preparations for the conference because although he’s in charge of a big catholic learning event which involves a lot of people, he still believes that his role as a father is much bigger than his role of ministering to thousands of Catholics attending the event.

It struck me because although I do not handle or organize conferences as big as the Kerygma Conference, I sometimes feel irritated when my son interrupts some of the things that I’m doing. It has been a challenge for me these past days not to speak to my son in an angry or irritated voice whenever he messes up the house or whenever he cries when I need to do something important like cooking, sweeping the floor or putting the clothes in the closet. You see, for the nth time, we’re again looking for a maid. We have not found a good and reliable one yet although we tried so many options. Anyway, since we have not found a new maid, I do most of the chores at home while at the same time taking care of the baby. It’s very tiring. Actually, my resistance weakened and I succumbed to cough and colds in the past week because of exhaustion. In fact, I had fever while we were at the Kerygma Conference. I’m not well still as of this writing but I continue to push myself to do some chores and to take care of my son.

As I pondered on Bro. Bo’s words, I kept reminding myself that my son is more important than keeping the house clean and tidy. I kept asking God to grant me grace to bear in mind that I don’t really need to keep the house spic and span if it would mean that I would get cranky towards my precious little one. He’s much more important. On some days, God’s grace both restrain and sustain me. But there were also days when I was able to spank my little one, much to my regret. Like when he kept on pulling out the books from the shelves and scattering them on the floor, when he kept pulling on the Christmas balls from the tree as if picking fruits from a tree and when he grabbed his sipping cup from my hand while I was refilling it with water and it fell and water was spilled all over our dining table and floor. I kept saying “no” but he simply went on and on smiling at me as he ran and pulled either the books or the Christmas balls.

Then, one time, as I was reading a magazine for parents, it dawned on me that I might be expecting too much from my one year old son. I’m definitely sure that he understands me when I say no. But it struck me that maybe he’s really still in a very playful stage wherein he likes to elicit some reaction from me as he does those things. He simply doesn’t understand or know yet that Mommy gets tired picking after him.

This morning, after feeding him his breakfast and playing with our keyboards, Yanthy started to get bored on his high chair. He wanted to go down from his chair and was starting to cry. Then I thought of bringing him out for a walk around our condo compound. I hurriedly grabbed a bib and let him wear his sunglasses and crocs. Then out we went.

Initially, I was only thinking of letting him walk on the walk ways around the buildings but I thought that it would not be enough activity for him to release his almost boundless energy so I decided to bring him all the way to the playground in our clubhouse.

After an hour, I realized that it was a great idea! We both enjoyed walking around waving and saying “hi” and “good morning” to the plants, flowers, butterfly, trees and neighbors. We enjoyed playing at the slide and the toy houses in the playground. And we enjoyed playing by the kiddie pool dangling our feet on the water and Yanthy touching the water to make bubbles. When we came back to our condo unit, I was surprised that an hour has already passed since we went down to take a walk. I thanked God for this new idea. Yanthy was able to play without messing the house. And both of us were able to exercise through walking. Next time, when he no longer has colds, I would let him take a dip in the kiddie pool.

Yanthy and I had our morning snack after our walk. He had milk and biscuits while I had a banana. After that, he got drowsy and fell asleep in my arms.

I then put him in his crib, swept the floor and cooked my lunch. I was even able to write this new entry for my blog.

I felt very good after that experience. I thanked God for another creative way of playing with my son and bonding with him without having to raise my voice or spank him. I pray for more creativity so my son and I would have more happy and memorable moments together; while at the same time, doing the important things I need to do at home. Moreover, I pray for grace for me to exercise more flexibility in my daily schedule so I would be able to prioritize spending quality time with my baby over maintaining the house. I know that motherhood is not really easy; but I’m optimistic that as I pray, God would be there supply me with all the necessary graces and Mama Mary would be there to intercede and guide me.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


I once read from Covey’s book The 7 Habits for Families that children 3 years old and below do not have the concept of sharing yet and that it’s unrealistic to expect them to manifest this in their behavior. He mentioned this in relation to the story that he shared about his daughter who was then a toddler and who didn’t want to share her toys with their guests who were kids also. He said that this attitude is due to their me-centered stage which they will eventually outgrow, although there are people who do not outgrow their self-centeredness. Anyway, outgrowing this is one of the signs of maturity.

One Sunday, while we were waiting for the Holy Mass to start, our son was walking around holding a cupcake in his hand. My husband and I were watching him from where we were seated. We were amused and delighted when we saw him stop at one of the pews where a little girl was seated with her parents and our son handed her the cupcake in his hand. We did not expect him to do that but we were pleasantly surprised.

On another occasion, Yanthy showed us again that he’s a very giving baby and that he already understands the concept of sharing. We were feeding him his favorite snack – Party Animals biscuits. I have just handed him another piece. He placed it in his mouth and took a bite. Then he offered the remaining biscuit to me. I said thank you and ate his biscuit. He did this again the other day when I was giving him his morning snack. That’s when I remembered what I read from The 7 Habits for Families book.

I felt grateful that as early as now, my son has exhibited the attitude of sharing. I am very happy that in his young age, he manifests a giving attitude. Yanthy does not only share his food. He also shares his toys. We’ve tried it a number of times in the past together with other adult relatives. We ask him if we could borrow his toys for a while and he would gladly share it with us.

I pray that our son would continue to grow to have a generous heart and that he would carry this wonderful attitude with him when he grows up.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

My Powerful Influence on My Son

I didn’t realize I had such powerful influence on my son until last week when my husband pointed out that my son was carrying some items at home like a girl. I didn’t notice right away that when he hang his sando, his dad’s umbrella, his red pail and his bib on his bended arm while waving goodbye on separate occasions that he was actually imitating me. My husband freaked out one night when he witnessed his son doing that. It was only after he pointed that out that I remembered that that’s how I usually carry my bag and wave my hand to say goodbye whenever I leave the house and Yanthy stays behind.

Then, I started to take stock of what else he has picked up from me. Well, he wrinkles his nose when he smells something bad. He must have seen that when I take off his soiled diapers from him and clean his poop. These past months, he has imitated some of the dance moves I showed him. He has learned to raise his hand after I call out his full name to signify that he is present. He’s affectionate and sometimes surprises us by suddenly kissing us on the cheeks or lips. He has learned to imitate me when I vocalize. He has learned to hum and shake his rattle whenever music is played on the stereo. He babbles as he turns the pages of his books as if he’s reading. And he sometimes “sings” to himself when he’s sleepy and about to fall asleep. He puts his hands together to pray before eating and wipes his mouth with his bib. He has an eye for dirt and wants to pick up those that he sees scattered around even when outside the house. He imitates the sounds of animals that I introduced to him -- the latest of which is the chicken.

Having realized how strongly my actions leave an imprint on my son’s mind, I now commit to be extra careful especially when I do some girl stuff. I remember my friend Tina who mentioned to me in the past that she doesn’t let her sons see or watch her put on make-up. I have decided to do the same and to consciously carry my bag in a different way now when I leave the house and say goodbye to my son.

But these are not the only things I have resolved to do. I also realized how important his dad’s presence is in molding his personality and character. We must really make sure that our son spends ample and quality time with his dad so that he would not only take on my traits but also that of his dad. I want my son to develop manly character. This would not happen if he gets to spend all of his time with me. So, just like tonight, I’ll leave the two of them more time to bond without me in the picture so that my husband would also have a powerful influence on our son.

Simplicity and Extravagant Giving

God must be teaching me to be extra simple this year. Typhoon Ondoy hit our house in San Mateo destroying most of our clothes, linens, appliances, furniture and decors. The flood water almost reached our ceiling thus all our things was submerged. These included around P12,000 worth of stocks of my book When My Bridegroom Comes, books which I collected since my college days, work and training materials I have developed since I started in training and important documents pertaining to my publishing business. Before it happened, I was planning to buy new décor for our condo. I thought we have some budget to spare. I was looking forward to making red as our motif this Christmas. But since we were very much affected by the flood, I have decided to forego home improvements in our condo until we have more to spare. I have also reused my old Christmas decors with pink and purple motif to save money. I thank God for the grace to stick to our priorities and not to succumb to my whims.

Since Christmas is a time of gift giving, I’m now thinking of extra creative ways to make it simple yet extravagant. God reminded me that I can choose to give simple and less expensive gifts to my loved ones and yet be extravagant by putting much thought and effort on choosing the best gift I could afford. I can make my own gifts or buy gifts that I can jazz up. I can buy meaningful gifts that could inspire them or uplift their spirits like inspirational books or magazines. I could also give them the gift of my service. There are many options especially when we truly love. Surely, we would come up with a gift they would appreciate.

So, as I join the countdown for Christmas, I get excited as I think of the people I would be giving gifts to and what special gift I can offer to express my love. I pray that they would see beyond the gift and that they would feel the love that comes with it.

God loves the cheerful giver. Happy giving!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Man Behind the Fulfillment of My Dreams

When I was still single and unattached, I dreamed of becoming a full time housewife someday. I dreamed of having lots of time to take care of my own children and to manage the house. I dreamed of having ample time to build a happy and beautiful home for my future family. I dreamed of continuing my service to God through my talents even after I get married. I knew very well that for those dreams to come true, I need to first find a mate who would be willing to help me fulfill those dreams.

Then George came along. We started as co-servants in our Catholic community. Then we became close friends and eventually got married. I didn’t recognize in him right away all the qualities that I was looking for in a mate. But I was glad to discover little by little what an amazing and wonderful man he truly is. Just before our wedding, he shared with me that he was inspired by the role of St. Joseph in Mother Mary’s life and he felt that he was being called by God to follow St. Joseph’s example in our relationship. I was very happy when he shared this with me because God wanted me to choose a mate with the qualities of St. Joseph. I felt that at that moment, God affirmed my decision to marry George.

This afternoon, almost two years since we got married, I felt a surge of happiness and fulfillment in my heart after I finished reading Kerygma magazine’s October 2009 issue. I was particularly struck with the article entitled The Power of Prayer and Service Together by Brother Bo Sanchez. I could not pinpoint what moved me from Brother Bo’s article but somehow, I just felt so grateful to God for the life that I now live and for the husband He has given me who makes it possible for me to live the life of my dreams.

After reading the article, I started thanking God for my special privileges now. I thanked God that I could stay home and take care of our son full time. I thanked God that my husband and I agreed that it would be best for our family if I stopped working full time so I would have ample time to manage our home and teach our child. I did not marry a millionaire or a man who had a lot of money in the bank or in stocks. (He’s still working on that.) But I’m glad I married a man who is very responsible, hard working and who had a strong faith in God. We both recognized and believed that with this decision, we are honoring our God-ordained roles in our marriage. We also claimed in faith that because God led us to this decision, He would provide for all our needs.

I thanked God that I now have a lot of time to read the books or literature that I want. I thanked God for the luxury of choosing the projects or work that I would accept and spend time on. I thanked God for the opportunities He has brought my way for me to use the gifts He has blessed me with. And I thanked Him once more for giving me a husband who supports me in my desire to serve.

Behind the scenes of the life of my dreams is a man who humbly accepted his God-ordained role… a man who patiently and joyfully makes sacrifices daily for the woman and child whom he loves. To this wonderful and loving man I say, “Thank you very much, Sweetheart, for enabling me to live the life I’ve always dreamed of. Thank you for choosing to be a part of it.”

And to the Man behind all my great and marvelous experiences, I say, “Thank you for everything, Lord! I pray that by your grace I would be able to continuously live my life for you.”

Yanthy’s New Favorite Snack

Banana used to be Yanthy’s favorite snack. Around two weeks ago, after I introduced him to Party Animals biscuits, it has become his new favorite snack. It was supposed to be one of the game prizes in his birthday party last October 18. I thought that it was perfect for his jungle-themed party. I showed it to him and told him about my plan. However, he didn’t let go of the box anymore after he got hold of it. So, I opened it and allowed him to taste the biscuits.

The biscuits are animal-shaped with their names carved on the biscuits. It has different flavors – butter, coconut and seaweed. I bought the butter flavored biscuits. I dipped the biscuits in his milk before giving them to him. He liked them very much. Initially, he could only finish 5 biscuits. After a few days, he averaged 10 biscuits per sitting. He finished 2 boxes of the biscuits in the past 2 weeks.

Last week, his 5 month old cousin JR, tried tasting the biscuits. The other baby liked it also that’s why his parents bought him a couple of boxes from SM Hypermart before going back to Surigao. When his cousin was with us, Yanthy tried eating the biscuits by biting into them without first dipping them in milk. He liked them that way, too. He was able to eat around 5 pieces again.

I’m happy I chanced upon this product when I was looking for game prizes. Although I was not able to use it for its original purpose, I’m glad I found something that Yanthy eventually loved to eat for his snack.

Monday, November 2, 2009

In Giving We Receive – The Wonders of Breastfeeding

A few days before my son turned one year old (which was a couple of weeks ago), I reviewed my breastfeeding guide book. I have been breastfeeding him since birth and I was happy to have fulfilled my goal of breastfeeding him for one year. I decided to read the guide book again to help me decide if I would continue breastfeeding him until he is two years old or if I would stop when he turns one.

My decision to read it again proved to be very enlightening. I was reminded of the many benefits of breastfeeding not only to my son but also to me. Let me share with you some of the benefits listed in the guide book that moved me to press on.

Benefits for babies:
1. Breastfed babies are more intelligent.
2. Babies are less likely to develop diarrhea, pneumonia, ear infections and even childhood obesity.
3. Breast milk is full of antibodies that prevent diseases.
4. Creates a strong bond between mother and baby.

Benefits for mothers:
1. Breastfeeding decreases the risk of being overweight among breastfeeding mothers. Each month of breastfeeding brought an average reduction 0.44 kg in weight. Therefore, longer breastfeeding can contribute to a reduction in weight after delivery.
2. Breastfeeding decreases the risk of breast cancer in mothers. The innate immune system in breast milk is complex and provides protection for maternal breast tissue and the digestive tract of newborns.
3. Not breastfeeding has been associated with increased risk of ovarian cancer. Women who breastfed longer and breastfed more children had lower risk of ovarian cancer.
4. Women with many children and long total period of breastfeeding have similar or higher bone mineral density and similar or lower fracture risk than their peers who have not given birth and breastfed.
5. Breastfeeding for more than 12 months reduces women’s risk of rheumatoid arthritis. The shorter the length of breastfeeding, the higher the risk of rheumatoid arthritis.
6. Delays the return of menstrual periods and helps space pregnancies.
7. Saves the family thousands of pesos.

These are just some of the benefits I have read about breastfeeding. I’ve read so much more from other books, magazines and articles. And I have experienced many of these benefits first hand in the past 12 months. My baby has been healthy with occasional cold and cough. He has not experienced having diarrhea. He is very intelligent and advance even in motor development. We are also able to save a lot of money since formula milk is quite expensive. Although, my baby is also drinking formula milk twice a day as a supplement, he drinks milk mainly from me. I also feel a strong bond between me and my son. He usually prefers to be with me than anybody else even though he’s familiar with other faces.

It’s amazing also that as I read the guide book, I realized that mothers receive so much in giving to their babies. At first, I thought the benefits are mainly for the child and that it’s like a sacrifice on the part of the mother for the good of the child. I was amazed to learn that there are so many gains for the mom as well. Truly, in giving we receive. What wonders God has created in us!

So, after being enlightened and inspired by the breastfeeding guide book, I decided to stretch my breastfeeding goal up to 2 years. By God’s grace, I’m confident that I would be able to meet this goal again.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Yanthy's Jungle-Themed Birthday Party

Finally, after all the preparations, the much awaited day arrived! (You may read the details on how I prepared  for my son's party here.) With all the necessary materials for the party, we headed to El Pueblo early last Sunday. We decided to have lunch at Mc Donalds and proceeded to Congo Grille right after.

Our family picture during the party.

Yanthy with his Ninang Lala.
Congo Grille’s staff were accommodating and helpful. They helped us put up the materials for the games and have everything ready. My husband picked up the cake from Goldilocks Megamall while I supervised and helped in setting up the place. Then, I helped Yanthy change into his birthday outfit. Shortly afterwards, Yanthy’s Ninang Lala arrived. She brought mini cupcakes for Yanthy which she herself made.      

She also asked a couple of friends to put additional balloon arch on the cake table and arranged the mini cupcakes beautifully around Yanthy's jungle-themed birthday cake from Goldilocks.
Mini cupcakes made by Yanthy's Ninang Lala.

We brought Yanthy's jungle hand puppets so he can play with these toys while we were setting up the place.

Yanthy's jungle hand puppets.

Yanthy's cousin signs his guest book.
The party was generally a success! Thanks be to God! All my efforts paid off. We just had to make adjustments in our program. Since many guests were delayed mostly due to traffic around Megamall (There was a 3-day sale.), we had the guests hit the buffet after the welcome remarks, prayer and blowing of candle on the cake instead of having the games first. We showed the Madagascar “Move It!” music video and Yanthy’s AVPs repeatedly and passed around the guestbook while waiting for more guests to arrive. Thankfully, the AVPs were nice and the music video entertaining.

That's me leading the prayer before meals.

We all sang Happy Birthday to Yanthy
before he blew the candle on his cake.

Eating time!

One of the photos scattered around
the venue that the kids need to
gather to win a prize.
We only had 3 games: All About Yanthy, Where is Yanthy and Nobody dance contest. It should have been played in that order but during the actual party, I was inspired to start with the second one – Where is Yanthy? I got inspiration from another mom when I read her blog about her child’s first birthday party also. I chose to adapt it and customize it to the theme Madagascar. So, from the DVD again, I printed 12 Madagascar characters (photo mattes). Then, my husband and I chose 12 photos of Yanthy. We chose 1 photo for every month of the past 12 months in his life. I then pasted Yanthy’s faces on the animal prints. These 12 animal prints were scattered and stuck on one of the walls of Congo Grille’s dining area. Kids, 5 years old and up, were divided into 2 groups. Their goal is to get as many animal pictures as possible. The group with the most number of pictures is the winner. I used the loot bags from Congo Grille as game prizes wherein I added Jungle Bites biscuits.

The next game I introduced was All About Yanthy. It’s like the Pera o Bayong game. Each child should be accompanied by a parent or relative to join the game. There are 3 choices for every question asked about Yanthy. They stand in front of the letter of their choice – A, B or C. The emcee continues to ask questions until only 1 parent and child team is left in the game. We prepared 5 questions but we already had a winner after the third question. The winning child received a Congo Grille loot bag and a jungle-designed coin bank.

During the All About Yanthy Game.
After the second game, since most of the guests have already arrived, I announced that we have special seat prizes. Round stickers of Madagscar characters were stuck on chair backrests before guests arrived. There was 1 sticker for every table of 10. So I told them to look at their chairs to see if there’s a sticker and to bring them to me so I could give them a prize. We gave out Rubik's cubes as special seat prizes.

The lucky winners presenting their stickers to me.
I called Yanthy’s cousins from my side of the family in front to perform their special dance number. They danced to the tune of the latest dance craze Nobody which Yanthy likes a lot incidentally. Yanthy even clapped and danced with them as they performed. 

My nieces and nephews dancing while wearing animal masks.

Then, I called the younger kids to join the Nobody dance contest. Only 2 brave little girls joined. They both knew the choreography very well so I declared both of them as winners. They got the same prize that the kid in the first game won.

We had our pictures taken per guest table after the games and I distributed the giveaways and loot bags to the kids. We also opened a couple of gifts for the photo ops. We had more photos taken with family members and friends before we called it a day.
Our family with my brother-in-law's family.

Yanthy and his Dad and the male kids in his party.

Yanthy and me and the female kids in his party.

Going around tables for photo ops.
We helped Yanthy open some of his gifts.
And what a day it has been! Everything didn’t happen according to our original plan but it was still fun and memorable. God saw us through. He provided for all that we needed and wanted. The food was good. The decors and cake were beautiful. The guests especially the kids enjoyed. Yanthy enjoyed his party. Many family members and friends came. We didn’t have technical problems. And best of all, we were able to stick to our budget.

As a bonus treat from God, Yanthy received very nice gifts. Since Yanthy was still up and about when we got home from the party venue, we opened all of his gifts. He was excited to play with all of his new toys. He received new clothes and cash gifts, too. God really loves to go beyond our expectations. What a gracious and generous God we have! 

Yanthy and his birthday gifts!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Behind the Scenes of Yanthy’s First Birthday Party

After around 6 months of careful planning and preparation, we finally had my son's first birthday party last Sunday, October 18, 2009. It looks like a very simple party from a guest's point of view; but, wait 'til you hear the story behind the scenes of my son's jungle-themed party.

The Theme

I started thinking and planning about it right after my son turned 6 months old last April and after we celebrated his half birthday. My husband and I talked about possible party themes. We had 3 themes in mind – farm, safari or Madagascar and the Cars movie. Yanthy likes the sound of animals a lot and he keeps on imitating the sound of a lion; that’s why, Madagascar became our first choice. The farm was second because Yanthy makes a lot of sounds and movements when he was still a small baby that reminds us of farm animals. Our third choice was the Cars movie because of their bright colors and because the name of one of the characters in the movie is also Hudson, just like Yanthy’s dad.

Must-haves, Options and Challenges

So, off I went to gather leaflets, brochures and quotations from fast food chains (Jollibee, Mc Donalds, Karate Kid), restaurants (Max’s, Shakey’s, Kenny Roger’s Roasters, The Old Spaghetti House and Congo Grille), play schools/centers (Gymboree, Kidz Republic, Big Red Barn) and caterers. I had a hard time finding a fast food chain or restaurant that offered kiddie parties with a jungle or safari theme. Only Kenny Roger’s Roasters and Congo Grille had that theme. While Kidz Republic had jungle décor, their food and play package wasn’t enticing enough for me. Another major consideration was the budget. It should not exceed our budget last year for Yanthy’s baptism. My husband even challenged me to spend less this time if I can. Wow! I took the challenge seriously. But I had a list of must-haves for my son’s first birthday party and I was bent to have all of them in the package.

Lechon from Jiro's
First, I want to have a lechon to be part of the food offered. I want games for the kids. I want the loot bags and game prizes to be consistent with the party theme and I want them to be useful items for kids. I want nice décor for the venue and a sound system must be part of the package. I want ice cream for the kids on top of the usual spaghetti and chicken combination. I want party favors like name tags and party hats for the kids. I want a personalized tarpaulin birthday greeting for Yanthy with animal designs. I want a jungle or Madagascar-themed cake. I want a professional photographer to cover the event and I want a hardbound photo album to be part of the photo package. I want to show an avp of my son during the party. Of course, my husband wants all of my must-haves to be within the budget he gave me – which is not more than P30,000.

AVP for Yanthy

Fast food chains offer less expensive party packages but we simply didn’t like their themes for Yanthy’s first birthday. They also do not allow customers to bring in other food products that are not part of their menu like lechon. Kenny Roger’s will allow you to bring in a birthday cake but you cannot serve it to your guests. So I turned to caterers who were more flexible and could personalize things for their customers. I found a few who gave very reasonable prices and who were willing to go through the trouble of personalizing everything to my chosen theme – Madagascar. But to be able to stick to our budget, it meant that I talk and get the services of different suppliers instead of just talking to one. It also moved me to source, shop and work on the loot bags myself to save money. I didn’t mind. I like doing crafts and art work anyway. Plus, I’m doing it for my son. It was my pleasure! Everything was almost ready. I was ready to close the deal with some caterers and suppliers. I even booked our clubhouse already for the party venue. The only detail I needed to settle was where to buy the cake although I have already studied four options. That was around more than a month before the targeted party date. Our goal was to finalize everything before our family vacation in Surigao.

The Verdict

The balloon centerpiece and
the wall murals in the background.
Less than 2 weeks before our trip, when I thought that everything was almost set, I asked my husband to go through the details of the party with me before I close the deal with potential suppliers. My husband, being the analytical type, suggested that we make a table in Excel format to compare our options so he can decide easily which option to choose. I let him have his way if that is what he needed to help me finalize our plans. He saw that although we would be able to save a few thousand pesos if we have the party in our clubhouse, book a caterer and get suppliers for various party needs; it would also mean a lot of trouble for us or me specifically. So, he suggested that we book Yanthy’s first birthday party at Congo Grille restaurant in El Pueblo instead. We also agreed that the restaurant’s location was perfect for our guests who would be coming both from the north and south of Metro Manila. Congo Grille’s party package was perfect for my list of must-haves.

The loot bag contents plus
some additional items from me.
First and foremost, their set up is already jungle-inspired; so, perfect for our chosen theme. Balloon decors (including table centerpieces), invitations, sound system, birthday banner with jungle design, loot bags and giveaways are all part of the package once you book with them. You have 3 hours use of the venue excluding set up and set down. Plus, they allow you to bring in lechon. They have a variety of food choices for the adult menu and they have kiddie platters also. You can order ice cream for your guests if you like. They can give a free round cake, too. But when I found out that they can’t assure me of the design, I negotiated instead that they waive the corkage fee for the lechon; while I source and bring in my own birthday cake with the design that I want.

Souvenirs from the restaurant.

They already have a birthday banner. You just can’t bring it home because that’s what they use for all their kiddie parties. They only change the name of the celebrant. That was fine with me. Party hosting and mascot appearance was not part of the package. You’ll have to pay extra if you want a party host, mascot or clown. My husband and I decided to do away with these. I do a lot of hosting anyway and I’m used to facilitating games – although not with kids but with adults during my seminars. Again, it was my joy to host my son’s birthday party and to facilitate the games. My husband and I even had fun planning the games and the program. Congo Grille also has lcd projector and screen which we can use to show the Madagascar “Move it!” music video and my son’s avp. They said that we will be charged additional P500 if our total food bill do not reach P20,000. But if it does, it will be for free. That was fine.

The birthday banner from the restaurant.
They already have a birthday banner. You just can’t bring it home because that’s what they use for all their kiddie parties. They only change the name of the celebrant. That was fine with me. Party hosting and mascot appearance was not part of the package. You’ll have to pay extra if you want a party host, mascot or clown. My husband and I decided to do away with these. I do a lot of hosting anyway and I’m used to facilitating games – although not with kids but with adults during my seminars. Again, it was my joy to host my son’s birthday party and to facilitate the games. My husband and I even had fun planning the games and the program. Congo Grille also has lcd projector and screen which we can use to show the Madagascar “Move it!” music video and my son’s avp. They said that we will be charged additional P500 if our total food bill do not reach P20,000. But if it does, it will be for free. That was fine.

We closed the deal over the phone the night before we left for Surigao. As soon as we returned from the trip, I went to Congo Grille to pay the P5,000 down payment. Their mode of payment was one of the things we liked because we didn’t have to pay the 50% of the total cost of the reservation or booking; unlike other restaurants or caterers which require that.

The Final Party Details

The stage was set! Yanthy’s first birthday party will be held at Congo Grille, El Pueblo on October 18, 2009 at 2 – 5 PM. To help us stick to our budget, we limited our guests to 50 adults and 25 kids – mostly family members, relatives, ninongs and ninangs and a few close friends with toddlers or small kids.

Food for the kids
I chose the adult menu which consisted of nachos (appetizer), halaan soup, chicken Bacolod, beef caldereta, tuna sisig, rice, bottomless ice tea and leche flan. For the kids, I ordered spaghetti, chicken lollipop, juice and chocolate ice cream. The price of the food is a bit pricey compared to fast food chains or the other restaurants that we considered but it afforded me the luxury of not having to deal with many different suppliers. With the party package comes 3 hours free use of the venue (excluding set up and set down), balloon decors (predominantly blue, green and yellow), a big birthday banner with jungle design, 50 pieces jungle-themed invitations, 20 Congo Grille loot bags, 25 animal clip give aways, free use of karaoke, mic and sound system for the program. No corkage fee for the lechon and cake. P500 for use of lcd projector and screen. Plus Congo Grille staff to help set up the place and materials for the games and program.

The birthday cake from Goldilocks.

I ordered a 12 inch round cake from Goldilocks with a jungle design and chocolate flavor. I ordered lechon from Jiro’s. I booked Digiprint for the photo coverage. They have a good P5,000 package that includes a professional photographer for 4 hours, an 8x10 40 pages photo storybook, 1 piece 12x18 blow up print of a photo of your choice, 40 pieces 4R prints and free cd copy of all photos taken during the event. Plus, they deliver for free. My brother-in-law, Bobby, volunteered to do an AVP for Yanthy; while, my brother-in-law, Harry, will videotape the event.

The loot bag contents that I personalized and put together.

I sourced the materials for the loot bags from Divisoria together with my mom. Since I could not find jungle or Madagascar-themed items for the loot bags, I decided to buy items which can be useful for the kids. I bought pencils with different colors, crayons and erasers. Luckily, I found plastic loot bags, party hats and name tags with jungle design. I personalized the loot bags a bit by buying an original DVD of Madagascar Goes to Africa movie and printing stickers and coloring pages from it. From the free printable images in the DVD also, I designed eraser labels and cover for the coloring pages to make it into a coloring booklet. I also found jungle-themed coin banks from Divisoria from the same store where I bought the party favors. I bought them for the purpose of game prizes. I also found small stuffed toys of the Madagascar characters. Initially, I planned to give them away as game prizes but when I saw that Yanthy liked them, I changed my mind. Then, I bought Jungle Bites biscuits (animal-shaped biscuits by Rebisco) from Puregold as additional game prizes and content for loot bags. They have different flavors: strawberry (giraffe), sweet corn (lion), choco (monkey, cheese (rhinoceros), milk (elephant) and bird (peanut butter). By God’s guidance and the grace to be persistent and determined, I found the perfect birthday outfit for Yanthy at SM Department store – a safari explorer jumper with matching green shirt and brown rubber shoes.

Yanthy's guest book

Last but not least, I bought a big scrapbook from National Bookstore with green handmade paper cover and decorated it to become a guestbook cum scrapbook for Yanthy’s first birthday party.

TG :) 102209

Friday, October 16, 2009

My Potentially Gifted Child Turned One

A day before my son’s first birthday, I decided to review the book on toddlers that my husband gave me to see if my son’s growth and development are just right for his age. Just like the baby book he first gave me when I was still pregnant, this new book gives a month-by-month description of milestones for children – physical, cognitive and mental and emotional and behavioral development. The authors say that these milestones are just guides for parents to help us gauge how fast or slow our kids developing. Some children develop ahead of others while some are a bit slow. But if your child is acting way too far from the norm; then, it’s worth investigating to be sure.

Luckily for my son, he’s around a year ahead in physical development and 6-12 months ahead in emotional and behavioral development. His pediatrician has already mentioned this to me a number of times during our visits to her clinic; but, it did not sink in until I’ve read a lot of literature backing her observations. And reading that book the other day was one instrument in convincing me that my son is indeed potentially gifted.

I started ticking and noting at what age in months I noticed Yanthy manifest the milestones listed in the month-by-month guide in the book. I’ve finished doing that months ago with the baby book so I got the toddler book this time and did the same. Yanthy just turned one year old yesterday but many of the milestones listed for children 13 months and up were things that Yanthy has been doing as an infant! So I read and ticked on and on until I noticed that I’m way beyond what I think is the norm. I think it’s normal to be ahead or slow by 2-3 months or even 5. But to be ahead by 10-14 months is something else.

Here are some of the things I’ve observed Yanthy do in the past months:
• pulls off his socks and shoes by himself as early as 9 months;
• holds his sipping cup with one hand and drinks from it without spilling water at 5-6 months;
• jumps with his feet off the ground at 10 months without losing balance;
• opens doors and drawers at 9-10 months;
• plays imaginatively at 10 months;
• takes off his own clothes – sando, pajama and diapers – at 10 months;
• helps in putting on clothes at 10 months;
• throws ball overhead as if trying to make a dunk or just like a baseball player at 11 months;
• sleeps around 9 hours only at night with 1-2 naps during the day because of too much play during waking hours;
• runs around the house with so much energy for hours at 9-10 months. Certainly an abundance of energy!
• Asserts independence like not wanting to hold our hand when walking sometimes or grabbing the spoon or sipping cup so he can feed or drink on his own at 9 months;
• remembers people’s faces and names when asked to point or look for them at 10-11 months;
• can tip toe, sit and stand quickly and walk sideways, walk over and under obstacles in his path at 10 months;
• climbs on and off pieces of furniture at 11 months;
• shoots ball in containers or spaces around the house at will at 11 months;
• can turn the pages of the book as early as 6-7 months of age as if reading it;
• exhibits right-handedness already at 6 months of age;
• massages his gums on his own using a gum massager at 11 months;
• follows two-step commands like “pick up your book/ball and bring it to Mommy” at 9-10 months;
• remembers where he left his toys at 10 months;
• shows affection to parents or grandparents by hugging or kissing as early as 10 months;
• kicks his ball at 10 months without falling;
• bounces his ball as if dribbling at 10 months;
• bends well and is able to pick up small items on the floor at 10 months;
• recognizes familiar faces in pictures at 10 months;
• already self-assured and already comfortable to be left with familiar adults for short periods of time at 9 months;
• enjoys dancing especially when he has an audience as early as 9 months old;
• curious and friendly with other children at 10 months;
• uses non-verbals like pointing and gesturing or uttering syllables to communicate what he wants (like if he wants food, water or milk, to read his book or a certain toy) at 11 months;
• loves to pull off books from the shelves and carry them around the house while walking at 9-10 months; and
• pushes objects across the room at 10 months.

Actually, I chose to stop wondering when I reached the chapter on the 27-28th month of the book. I finally accepted that my son is probably gifted. Then, I came across a list of early signs of giftedness in children in the next pages of the same chapter. 11 out of the 14 characteristics cited are true to Yanthy. He had unusual alertness in infancy, high activity level, less need for sleep, early language development, fascination with books, intense curiosity, intense reaction to pain or frustration and excellent sense of humor. He also smiled a lot as a baby and recognized his parents early on. He shows enjoyment and speed in learning and manifests problem-solving skills.

Yesterday, I made sure that we’d be able to go to mass as part of Yanthy’s birthday celebration. There’s so much to be thankful for. We have received an abundance of graces as a family and God has certainly blessed Yanthy tremendously in the past 12 months. He has completed his vaccines and he didn’t have any major illness – just had colds and cough several times but not very long or required hospitalization. No injuries in spite of the many bumps and falls while learning how to walk. God has truly been so good to Yanthy!

We had a simple birthday celebration yesterday. My parents and brother’s gift to my son is his chocolate flavored birthday cake. I cooked spaghetti and made fruit salad, bought friend chicken at KFC and bought ice cream. One of his ninangs came over for dinner and gave him his first Bible. Yanthy and I excitedly leafed through its pages. We played some more after her ninang left. We all had a happy day – birthday boy and parents alike. I slept with a smile, grateful for the day that was and excited to receive more surprises and blessing from God.


Friday, September 18, 2009

Buy 1, Take 1 Baby Wipes

I got excited when I saw buy 1, take 1 baby wipes by Baby Company one time while we were doing our grocery. I thought it was a good buy considering that at a cheaper price, it gives more pulls; so I bought it immediately. I’ve tried many wipes in the past – Chubs, Giggles and Johnson’s to name a few. Baby Company was my latest find. It didn’t prove to be a better choice though. The sheets were very thin almost see through and they were also narrower. I used up the two cylinders very fast because I had to use more wipes.

So far, Johnson’s baby wipes are still the best. They are thicker and wider making it more efficient. With just a few pulls, you’re done with the baby clean up. The big pack I buy lasts for two weeks which makes it good for our budget. I saw another brand of baby wipe the other day in a magazine. I have yet to try it. This one is from Nivea. But until then, I’d stick to Johnson’s.

Since I’m already preparing for my son’s first birthday and I’m making the loot bags, I’ve decided to reuse/recycle the old containers of Baby Company baby wipes. I printed Madagascar characters on sticker paper and turned the old container into Yanthy’s coin bank. At least I have put it to good use still even though I was dissatisfied with its contents. That way, I am also able to teach Yanthy the concept of saving money and recycling.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Celebrating 11 Months of God’s Faithfulness

Yanthy turned 11 months yesterday and God overwhelmed me with countless things to be thankful for. My heart was filled with praise for Him. He didn’t only answer almost all of my prayers to Him; He also gave us many unexpected blessings.

First and foremost in my list of answered prayers is protection for Yanthy. My son is a very active baby. He’s not yet a toddler but he behaves like one. A lot of people in the airport and in the province mistook him for more than one year old when we had our first family vacation. He kept running around and danced whenever he hears fast tunes or whenever he is asked to dance. Since he started walking, I have been very concerned that he might bump his head or sustain injuries. I thank God that sends guardian angels to protect us including my son. Yanthy wasn’t spared from bumps; but, amazingly God has protected him from getting sick or injured. He would just cry a bit and then after you pick him up, he would smile and resume playing.

I also thank God for blessing Yanthy with good health and the right height and weight. There was a time (Yanthy’s first trimester) when he gained weight very slowly. But since his weight gain picked up around four months old, he has steadily put on the right weight and height for his age. I thank God that he has not developed any allergies even though he has already taken in a lot of solid food. I thank God that I’m able to provide extra protection and nourishment to him through breastfeeding. I thank God that in spite of Yanthy’s very athletic nature, he continues to have the right weight.

I thank God that Yanthy continues grow to be an intelligent baby. We noticed that he has good memory. He’s quick to remember things that we’ve taught him. He has already recognized and remembered the faces and names of his first cousins as well as other immediate relatives. If you ask him where his cousin, uncle or grandparents are, he would readily point at them. He knows how to take off his own clothes and diaper. He also helps me out when I dress him up. He knows where the bathroom is and walks towards the bathroom when you say that it’s time for his bath. At 11 months also, he has spoken some words which pleasantly surprised us. One time, while I was giving him mashed banana and telling him what I was feeding him with, he said, “Banana.” Then, a few weeks ago, while my mother was changing his diaper, he said, “Lolo,” while pointing to my father who was lying in bed at that time. Of course, my parents were very happy to hear and witness that. He also remembers how his grandpa laughs. When you ask him how his grandpa laughs, he would gamely mimic it. He also imitates us whenever he hears anyone in our household cough.

I’m grateful too that Yanthy is a very sociable child. He is very friendly and readily smiles or waves to say “hi” or “bye” to the people around him. He isn’t afraid to make friends with other kids. Yanthy is very sweet and affectionate, too. He likes to kiss me and his Daddy. He likes to embrace us and cuddle with us.

Most of all, I’m grateful that Yanthy has learned to pray with us. Whenever we say it’s time to pray, he puts his hands together right away. Most of the time, he also claps after putting his hands together as if praising God. He already knows how to raise his hands to praise God. He remembers where Jesus’ pictures or images are in our house. He pays attention when I read the readings and the reflections for the day to him.

I am amazed at how God has enabled me and George to raise this beautiful, smart and healthy baby. We hardly knew anything about raising children but God has enabled us by giving us wisdom and guidance. He has blessed the works of our hands and provided for our material needs. Although initially we thought that we were not ready to have a child, God proved to us that we already are because of His graces.

I thank God for the past 11 months that He has given us so much joy and fulfillment through our son, Yanthy. Truly, every good and perfect gift is from above and Yanthy is one perfect gift to us. I praise and thank God!


Thursday, September 10, 2009

Raising a Son, Raising a Saint

September 8, 2009 was a memorable night for me. I gave a presentation to the Singles for Christ group in Surigao City. I have already made a number of presentations/talks in the past when I was still single but this one was extra special. What made it extra special? First, it's Mama Mary's birthday. Second, it was my mother-in-law who recommended me to the SFC leader to give their members an inspirational talk. Third, my husband, son and mother-in-law were there to witness it and to show their support.

But before I was able to write my presentation, I had some challenges. I had little sleep during the past nights leading to my presentation. I was very busy preparing for my niece/godchild's debut party wherein I was the emcee, packing our things for the trip and finalizing the details of my son's first birthday party. Then, on the night before my presentation, I had very little sleep because my son, Yanthy, kept crying for the most part of the night. He was able to sleep only after my husband and I decided to pray over him. I thought that God must be preparing something great for my presentation that's why the enemy is doing a lot of things to distract me and hinder me from preparing well for it. Good thing, I still woke up feeling good and excited to do my assignment from God.

I acknowledged how unworthy I am to be His messenger and how little my time was to write the details of my talk. I prayed for inspiration. As expected, inspiration filled my mind and I was not only able to finish writing my talk, I was also able to make a Powerpoint presentation. My husband and I even had time to attend Holy Mass.

We arrived just in time for the prayer meeting. The Music Ministry was playing some songs... fast worship songs. And since one of my son's favorite past times these days is to dance and clap, he danced and clapped his heart out to the tune of the worship songs being sang. I felt so good watching him. Even if I wanted to use the extra minutes before my talk to review my notes, I couldn't help but watch Yanthy with joy, pride and wonder.

Then, the prayer meeting started. Yanthy prayed with us in his own cute ways. He put his little hands together as if saying "amen" and then he clapped and danced again. Later, after my talk, my husband said he clapped with the crowd as they applauded me. And when I had picture taking with the sisters as I signed some books, Yanthy also gamely posed with us.

I was very happy with the result of my presentation and dialogue with the brothers and sisters from Singles for Christ. I felt honored and privileged to be God's voice to them last night. I felt so blessed to be His messenger. It also felt so good to be one with my family in ministering to God's people. It was another dream come true.

This morning, Yanthy delighted me once more when as he woke up, he raised his hands again as if praising God and then he put his hands together as if reminding me to pray. So, I gladly led our family to our morning prayer.

I thanked God for answering my prayer regarding my presentation. I thanked him for our family. I thanked Him for many wonderful things, all the blessings that He has given us. I thanked Him for the privilege of being a parent, a mother, of the opportunity of raising a son, a saint. For more than serving as an inspirational speaker wherever God calls me, I know that my greater call is to inspire my son and mold him to be the best that he can be. I pray that I'd do really well in this God-ordained assignment.

TG :)