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.