Thursday, June 24, 2010

Prayerful Yanthy

My son never fails to both amuse and amaze me. Today, he amazed me again while we were waiting for our turn at his pediatrician’s clinic. At first, he was just reading out loud all the letters and numbers he could identify while roaming around the clinic. Then, all of a sudden he asked me and our maid to kneel and pray. I hesitated for a while but eventually gave in. I paused for a second and started praying. “Lord, thank you for bringing us safely here in the hospital for Yanthy’s check up. Please make Yanthy well soon. Amen.” We all stood up and I went back to my seat while Yanthy resumed his tour of the clinic.

This was not the first time Yanthy did this. One time he kneeled and prayed while we were at the Office Warehouse Store buying a new computer table. That time he didn’t ask anyone to join him. He simply kneeled in front of the table and the two men who were checking the parts of the computer table we were about to purchase. At that time, he reminded me to thank God for the blessing of a new computer table. The other time was at David’s Salon while his dad was having a haircut. I just had my haircut and it was his Dad’s turn so I stayed with Yanthy at the reception area of the salon. As usual, he was exploring the salon. Then suddenly, he knelt in front of his stroller and put his hands together. I thought he would pray on his own but he decided to ask me to join him so he pulled my hand and said: “Mommy, kneel. Pray.” With a moment’s hesitation again, I decided to kneel beside Yanthy and said a prayer with him. We prayed: “Thank you, Lord, for our chance to have a haircut today and for the opportunity to have family bonding time. Amen.” Then we stood as if nothing extraordinary happened. I took my seat again and Yanthy resumed walking around the reception area and charming the people there.

I usually have mixed emotions whenever Yanthy does that. I feel happy and proud because my boy knows and loves to pray to Jesus. But I also sometimes feel embarrassed. Sometimes, I’m embarrassed to kneel and pray with him in a public place. Most of the time, I’m embarrassed because God had to use Yanthy to remind me to pray a prayer of thanks for a blessing he has just given me or a prayer He has just answered. Today, God reminded me again of a very important lesson through my son: Do not be embarrassed to pray anytime, anywhere.

I guess a lot of people would already consider me prayerful because I pray a number of times during the day – upon waking up, before and after meals, before bed and several times during the day whenever I remember to pray for a specific intention or person. But every time my son asks me to join him as he kneels and prays in public, I feel that I’m being tested. I feel that Jesus is watching me and gently coaxing me to follow my son’s example. Will I be embarrassed to practice my faith? Will I be embarrassed to be identified as Christian? Will I be embarrassed to give thanks for simple blessings?

I thank the Lord for giving me a prayerful son and using him to remind me to be always grateful and to pray unceasingly. Actually, God’s promptings to me to give thanks through Yanthy were very timely. I had been waiting for some time to finally buy a new computer table and to get a haircut then. It was just right that I thank the Lord that He has given me that chance to have those simple prayers answered. And earlier this morning, I was actually silently praying that we’d be safe during our trip to the hospital since we only took the cab going there. I also prayed that Yanthy’s persisting fever was not due to a major illness. When Yanthy asked me to kneel and pray with him at the clinic, God gave me a chance to vocally express what’s in my heart at that time. As I’ve said earlier, I find this experience both amusing and amazing.

And as I end this reflection, I pray that I would not stop being a radical for Jesus and that I would continue to grow in my relationship with God. I pray that I would be bold and confident at all times to live out my faith and be not embarrassed or afraid to be a witness for Christ. Lastly, I pray that my son would continue to be an inspiration to others even as he grows up.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Mommy TG’s 4-Week Cycle Menu

Here are some strategies in the kitchen that I employ as a practical mom. First and foremost, I try to include as many dishes as possible in the menu that are complete meals in themselves to save on preparation time and money. If the recipe does not include both meat and vegetables, that’s the only time that I include a vegetable dish or side dish. Second, we just have one kind of dish for lunch and dinner since there are only three and a half (Yanthy, my 20 month old son, is the half.) of us in the house. We cook enough food for lunch and dinner so we save on cooking time and energy. We simply heat the food come dinnertime. This gives me and my maid additional time to do other things. Third, I make sure that there is balance in our food intake. I make sure that in a week, we don’t only eat chicken and pork dishes. I include fish and vegetable dishes in the weekly menu. I have actually limited pork dishes to twice a month to make our diet healthier. I've decided to take out my usual seafood recipes to make way for healthier fish and vegetable dishes. I'd probably cook them once a quarter only.

We usually eat a heavy breakfast on weekdays so most of the time we have rice in the morning. We don’t serve and eat hotdogs for breakfast or snacks because it’s very unhealthy and contains a lot of carcinogens. I have included here homemade tocino as a healthier option for breakfast courtesy of a friend who shared her recipe with me. Click here to check it out.  When we notice that we’re gaining weight, we simply replace the planned breakfast/dinner with oatmeal. At least once a week, we eat oatmeal for breakfast. Our usual morning drink is either milk, milk chocolate or juice. All meals are accompanied by fruits in season.

On special occasions, I replace the main dish with a pasta dish. If I have extra time, I whip up a dessert. If not, we just buy ice cream or cake.

For snacks in between, we eat sandwiches or fresh fruits. No junk food.  We are slowly shifting to organic food beginning with the use of brown rice, muscovado sugar and wheat bread. Eventually, we’d be using organic eggs, chicken and vegetables.

This menu cycle is still a work in progress. I intend to include healthier options in the future to replace not so healthy breakfast meals. In the meantime, I continue to search for healthy recipes and experiment in the kitchen in order to come up with healthy meals my family would love.

I hope to be of help somehow to moms like me by sharing this 4-week cycle menu plan with you.

2014 UPDATE!!!

I have made two versions of this 4-Week-Cycle Menu so readers can choose which one suits their lifestyle or preferences best. The first printable summarizes the dishes included in the original 4-Week-Cycle Menu above. The second printable is an updated version which reflects my family's current preferences (This includes my two boys.). I have made these available in PDF so you can print them and post them in your kitchen. I also made a blank Menu Planning Form in PDF in case you'd like to change some of the dishes I have included or change the sequence or combinations in this menu.


My 4-week-cycle menu plan is now in available in 3 versions. Had to revise it again after my husband requested another healthier option. ;) Take your pick, guys!

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Download a free copy of Mommy TG's 4-Week-Cycle Menu (Versions 1 and 2) plus a free template for easier menu planning.

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Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Grateful Beyond Words

My son, Yanthy, got a book from his shelf. In the process of getting the book that he wanted to read, another book fell on the floor. I picked up the book and decided to review it to check Yanthy’s progress. The book is about toddler development and I use it every two months or so to check on his milestones. I thought that last night was a good time to do so.

As usual, I placed check marks beside the milestones that Yanthy was already able to manifest; then, I scribbled some notes beside some of the descriptions to note specific accomplishments. I wasn’t surprised that Yanthy exhibits traits and skills advanced for his age (which is 19 months). I have long discovered (with the help of this same book and his pediatrician) that my son is a potentially gifted child. But last night, I was surprised that he was really way advanced than what I was expecting particularly in physical, mental and cognitive development. He was advanced by around 12 months! He was also advanced by around 3 to 4 months in the area of emotional development. Wow!

What struck me the most among his milestones were these two: first, he could name at least 18 of his body parts from head to toe; and second, he could speak at least 120 words and understand so much more than that. We find joy watching Yanthy identify his body parts every time he’s in the mood to do that. But it was only last night that I realized how smart my baby really is. That was when I read from the book that this milestone is usually done by toddlers much older than him. I was most surprised and actually amazed when I listed last night the new words that I hear Yanthy say as we converse with him every day. I thought they were just around 50 because 50 is quite a number already for children his age. But I went beyond that point as I continued writing. In fact, I stopped writing when I reached 120 words. I know that he speaks more than that and understand much more based on our interactions. I was already too happy and proud of my baby!

I think it’s important for stay-at-home moms like me to take time to pause from our busy schedules because those pauses enable us to smell the roses in our lives. Those roses can take many forms. As for me, it was discovering my son’s newest milestones last night. I felt rewarded for all my sacrifices and the many times I practiced patience towards my child as I taught him in the past 19 months. There’s this inexplicable joy in my heart for being the mother of this potentially gifted child.

Since I’m a stay-at-home mom, I got to witness almost all of Yanthy’s milestones. I said almost because there were a few occasions when I had to host an event or conduct a training program and Yanthy was able to accomplish some milestones during those times. Nonetheless, I would consider myself very blessed for I was able to observe most of my son’s development from the time of his birth up to present. Thanks to companies who hire consultants like me and to the internet that enables me to work from home. I’m able to practice my craft and at the same time devote much of my time to my most important priorities.

I pray that God would continue to bless my son and my efforts in raising him. I hope that I would continue to have this privilege of staying home most of the time so I can play a significant part in molding him and influencing his future. Lastly, I thank the Lord for the joys of motherhood that He allows me to experience and the grace He gives me continually each day to perform well this God-ordained duty.


Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Great Tool in Teaching Toddlers Writing and Drawing Skills

I was in the department store almost two weeks ago scouting for a bike for my 19 month old son. Since I was in the toy section anyway, I checked out some of the toys and educational materials being sold. That’s when I chanced upon this product. It’s called Aqua Doodle. It’s composed of a mat and a pen. It’s called Aqua Doodle because you put water inside the pen so you can draw or write on the mat. The water serves as the “ink.”

My son enjoying his writing toy.

I liked it a lot because it solved our problem on how to teach our son writing and drawing skills safely. We didn’t like him to use pencils or ball pens or other markers because they either have ink or lead. They also have pointed ends which make us nervous every time our son uses them. And since he has not mastered controlling the pen or pencil, he sometimes ends up writing beyond the paper thus putting markings on the table as well. He also accidentally writes on his shirt sometimes.

That’s why I think this product is great. First and foremost, it’s safe to use. The tip of the pen is very safe because it only gets wet with water. The pen is safe even if the child decides to put it in his mouth. Only water is in it anyway. It’s non toxic. Moreover, parents need not be afraid that the child would doodle on other surfaces since the pen will only write on the mat. The tip is also not sharp unlike that of a pencil.
Second, it’s environment-friendly. We don’t need to use paper. Once the markings on the mat get dry, the doodle gets erased. So it’s reusable. You can draw and write on it as many times as you want. It’s also washable so no need to worry if it gets dirty.

Third, even kids who are not yet interested in using pens can enjoy the mat. Toddlers can use their wet hands and feet and stamp them on the mat. But for toddlers like our son who likes using a pen, this is very good. The Aqua Doodle pen is easy to grasp since it’s thicker in diameter compared to regular pencils and ball pens.

The mat is recommended for kids at least 18 months old. But even older children can use it because there are letters of the alphabet around it that the children can trace to practice writing. There are also images or pictures of objects corresponding to the letters. It’s really a great learning tool!

On top of those things, the mat is foldable since it’s made of fabric. It’s easy to pack or bring with you anytime. It’s not bulky unlike other boards or tablets where you can also erase the child’s doodle. I think the price is also reasonable. It’s less than a thousand pesos. It’s even cheaper than other products similar to it. I would say that it’s a good investment.

I highly recommend this product to other parents out there who have toddlers. My son and I have been using Aqua Doodle since I purchased it and we enjoy a lot of bonding moments drawing and practicing how to write minus a lot of worries.