Friday, December 16, 2011

Nursing Challenges: Take 2!

I’m nursing again. I gave birth to our second baby more than three weeks ago and I started nursing him since day 1 as soon as I was transferred to my hospital room. I thought that nursing my second child would not give me problems since this isn’t my first time. I was confident because I successfully nursed my first born until he turned two years old. But three or four days later, I started experiencing pain in my nipples as I nursed my baby. I had sore nipples again! I wasn’t expecting this! I also had sore nipples at the beginning of my nursing adventure with my eldest son. Since I’m nursing my second baby, I thought that I would be spared now. I was wrong! And it hurt as much as before. I remember that I also cried buckets of tears during the first few weeks of nursing Yanthy because I continued to nurse him even with sore nipples. I did the same thing this time. Amid tears, I struggled to breastfeed Mateo. The difference now is that I got to use my nipple shields as soon as I experienced soreness in my nipples. My nipples still hurt even as I used nipple shields but using them early on prevented my nipples from getting damaged further. Thus, the soreness healed faster and I survived the first two weeks of breastfeeding.

Another challenge I encountered was breastfeeding every two hours, sometimes less. To say that it was tiring is an understatement. It made me sleepy, cranky, irritable, exhausted, and depressed all at the same time. Every time I had to wake up or struggle to stay awake after many days and nights of sleep deprivation, I asked myself why I’m going through all these trouble when I can take the easier route of motherhood. Why am I not giving my newborn son formula milk? If I feed him formula milk, my baby would sleep longer and will poop less often. If Mateo sleeps longer and poops less often, that would mean longer sleeping hours for me. That would also mean someone else like my husband or our maid can get up at night and feed my baby from the bottle. Isn’t that what I want? Isn’t that what every mother who just gave birth and who needs to recover from giving birth need and want? What stops me from asking our paediatrician what milk to give to Mateo?

When I was going through breastfeeding challenges the first time with Yanthy, I kept on reading literature about breastfeeding and the stories of mothers who breastfed their children successfully. My lactation consultant provided me with many reading materials that guided, helped and encouraged me. This time around, aside from reminding myself of the benefits of breastfeeding to my baby and me, I draw strength and inspiration from my eldest son. Just a look at him reminds me that breast milk is indeed best for our children. He is proof of the many promises I read in books. With him, those promises had been fulfilled. He didn’t get sick or have any illness except for colds a few times and if he did get colds, he recovered fast. He has not been hospitalized during his first three years of life. Some literature says that breastfed kids become smarter than their bottle-fed counterparts and are advanced in development in many aspects. I have seen these in Yanthy, too. To read more on the benefits of breastfeeding, click here.

So, when I sometimes question my decision to breastfeed again, I tell myself that Mateo needs my breastmilk as much as Yanthy did. I tell myself that I don’t want Mateo to be deprived of the best milk he could ever have. I remind myself that if I was able to do it for my eldest, then I can and should make the same sacrifice for my second child. These things are easier said than done especially when negative thoughts and fatigue set in after almost 24 hours of being awake and alternating between breastfeeding, burping and changing diapers. When your muscles at the nape, shoulders and upper back are already aching and hard from tension, it’s so easy to entertain these negative thoughts. But the fact and reality that deciding to stop at this point would not be the best for my baby jolts me back to breastfeeding again. Just the thought that Mateo might get sick gives me a little bit more strength to face and endure one more breastfeeding session or one more night.

I guess taking it one day or one night at a time enables me to survive. Setting short term goals also take some pressure off my already tense shoulders. Like I have made it a goal to breastfeed for one month exclusively at least. And I’m almost there… only three days to go and I would achieve that goal. Then, I can celebrate that small victory. My next short term goal is to breastfeed for six months. When I reach that goal, I will stretch it to one year. And then stretch it again to two years.

As I face these nursing challenges for the second time, there are also things that I wish would happen to make my journey a bit easier. I wish that I can just focus on breastfeeding and that someone else would take charge of burping or changing the baby’s diapers so I can sleep and rest longer. I wish that I can get massages regularly to ease my tired muscles and to help me produce more milk. I wish that I would have some “me” time every now and then so I can recharge. But while my wishes remain wishes, I do my best on doing what I can do. I focus my energy on the things within my control and influence while I continue to wish that somehow my wishes would be granted. I commit though to keep on keeping on regardless of what happens to my wishes. I survived my first nursing adventure anyway even though those wishes remained wishes until the end.

It also helps that I keep a journal or blog about my experiences as a mom. Reading my previous experiences and insights from my blog help a lot. They remind me of the lessons I learned in the past so that I would remember to put them into practice once more as I face challenges now.

I know that previous success does not guarantee current success. The knowledge though that I’ve been successful doing the same task before gives me greater confidence, courage and strength to face my present challenges. Knowing that I’ve been there before and I have emerged victorious makes a lot of difference. It doesn’t make things easier; however, it gives me hope that I can also win over my current challenges. To learn more about how I won over my breastfeeding challenges in the past, check out my article in my blog.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

God's Choice and Mine

I wrote this reflection around 5 years ago. I'm re-posting it because today, my husband and I, celebrates our fifth year together as boyfriend and girlfriend.

I thank God for the grace to recognize His anointed bridegroom for me that fateful/faithful night. I thank Him for leading me and George to each other. I thank Him for our relationship and the family we now have.

Over the years, I have discovered and accepted that he's not a perfect husband, lover or father. But like David, his love and passion for me, our family and God are enough reasons for rejoicing and to keep on loving him everyday.

Thank you once more, Lord God, for this wonderful man in my life.


A lot of things happened recently which were not part of my plans. Like the brother from LOJ who courted me and who has been so persistent I could not shake him off. I’ve been ignoring him for the longest time. I think ever since I noticed that he’s attracted to me. I didn’t want to pay attention to him or to the things that he does to show his affection because I didn’t like him. I was not attracted to him at all. But in spite of my efforts and my schemes to stay away from him, he has managed not just to remain but even get closer to me each day. I could not understand at first. In fact, I was even irritated at some point. Then, God made me realize that although things were not happening according to my plans, things were happening according to His. I was reminded of what Gamaliel said about the apostles. He was telling the council to leave the apostles alone because what they are doing will eventually die down if it’s not of God. But if it is of God and they go against them, they might find themselves going against God. So although I wanted so much to stay away from him and ask him to stop courting me, I allowed him to continue because I didn’t want to find myself going against God.

Around past midnight of last Wednesday – that was already October 19 -- God gave me a much unexpected surprise.

We have just attended Bible study at Greenbelt chapel. When we arrived at my apartment, I asked him his insights on the Bible passage I asked him to meditate on, 1 Samuel 15. I have received this passage in my prayer time and I felt strongly that it was not only for me but that I needed to share it with him. So after much thought and prayer, I decided to give it to him. At the back of my mind, I was thinking and quite expectant that after he reads it he would decide to stop pursuing me. Well, aside from the fact that I wanted him to do that, I also know very well the main lesson in that passage. It talks about King Saul’s disobedience and God’s rejection of him as king because he went ahead of God. So I was very surprised, and a bit shocked, when he shared his insight.

He said that he was struck with verse 17: “Even though you consider yourself of no importance, you are the leader of the tribes of Israel. The Lord anointed you king of Israel.” I was really taken aback when he shared that he was struck by this verse so I asked him to explain why. His reflection surprised me even more. I was speechless for a few moments. I could not believe I was hearing those words from him. What he shared was very different from my expectation.

He said that he was struck by that verse because that’s exactly how he feels particularly in his relationship with me. He feels so unworthy of my affection especially because he knows I’m more spiritually mature than him; but because he loves me, he continues to ask God for me. And to receive that word from God, he felt so blessed that God has anointed him. That although it’s something that he thinks he’s undeserving, he expects in faith that God will answer his prayer. He chooses to believe that God can give me to him.

At that point, I could no longer ignore or deny that God’s favor was upon him. God instructed me in 2001 to use the character of King David as guide in choosing my future spouse. I studied his life and his character so that when someone comes my way, I could discern if he has David qualities or not and that would enable me to decide whether I should choose someone or not. I have learned that David means “God’s anointed or God’s chosen one.” I have learned that David has a very humble heart and a very strong faith in God. So, after hearing his insights, I realized that he has David qualities and that God has anointed him at this time for me to choose him. So although I didn’t want to choose him, because I know that God has anointed him, I chose to trust God’s wisdom and to submit to His plans. I have anointed him that night after hearing God’s voice. He’s now my boyfriend.

I honestly had a lot of hesitations and fears but I simply chose to abandon them and trust God completely. I have so much faith in Him. I know that He would not give me something that would harm or hurt me. I know that His plans are best and that He knows me best. I know that I could not rely on my heart because the human heart is so deceptive and unstable. But I know that God’s heart is very reliable. He has repeatedly told me that He sees and knows the hearts of men and so I asked Him many times in the past to show me who is worthy of my love and I would accept and rejoice in His choice. I would be a hypocrite if I do not admit that I didn’t struggle to accept and rejoice in God’s choice. I struggled much actually but I chose not to focus on the struggle but to focus on the truth of God’s Word. I have always used His Word as a lamp to my feet and that night, He gave me just enough light to make another step of faith. I thank God for the grace to say yes not only to George but more importantly to Him.

Happy Face for Mommy

Yanthy’s teacher/occupational therapist explained to him a few weeks ago that he will get happy faces if he obeys the house rules set by her during their sessions. If he obeys them all throughout their one hour session and every time they have an activity, he can get as many as five happy faces. If he violates any of their house rules even with warnings from his teacher/therapist, he gets a sad face. To check if he understood what she has explained, she asked Yanthy again why he should obey the house rules. Yanthy said that he will get a happy face every time he obeys the house rules. Moreover, he said that he wants to get happy faces so that Mommy would be happy. His teacher/therapist shared this with me after their session. I was so touched.

Motherhood and parenting can be very demanding and challenging every now and then. I sometimes feel like I’m a broken record that keeps on repeating my instructions and reminders. But there are days like this when my heart jumps for joy because of something sweet or wonderful that my little boy has said or done. It’s true that he’s not always disciplined and lovable especially when he doesn’t listen to me even after I have repeatedly asked him to do something or to refrain from doing something. But that afternoon, I was content to know that his motivation for doing well in his sessions and obeying the house rules set by his teacher/therapist was to make me happy.

I was reminded of God’s patience and loving kindness. I admit that I’m not always obedient. Many times, I sin and make mistakes even though I try my best to live a holy and righteous life. And every time I go to confession or come before God in prayer, God assures me that it’s alright. He encourages me to keep on trying and to just keep on doing what is right in His sight. That too, is enough to make Him happy.

“Get up, get over it, get going.” That’s the fifteenth step in Failing Forward according to Dr. John Maxwell in his book Failing Forward which Yanthy handed to me as I was about to finish writing this article. It’s as if God was using him to tell me that mistakes are a part of our lives and how we deal with them is what makes a big difference. Dr. Maxwell’s title for his fifteenth chapter of the book is also very encouraging. It says, “It’s what you do after you get back up that counts.” Yes, it’s inevitable that we make mistakes every now and then. But do we just sulk and stay where we made a mistake? We need to persevere and keep on trying, keep on learning until we overcome our weaknesses.

So today, with these thoughts and insights in mind, I choose to persevere and start over. It’s a brand new day. It’s a beautiful morning! And as Dr. Maxwell puts it, I will turn my mistakes into stepping stones for success, be it as a wife, mother, writer, whatever! I know that like St. Paul, as I run the race with perseverance, I will one day gain an everlasting crown. On that day, I will have the happiest face which is a reflection of the Father’s happy face. Thank you, Yanthy, once more for the inspiration.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

House Rules & God’s Rules

No jumping on the bed.

Return your toys and books to the shelf after using them.

Sit properly while eating.

These are some of our house rules at home which we repeatedly remind our son.

Last night however, he did not consistently obey our house rule to sit properly while eating his dinner. He suddenly bended towards the other dining chair beside the one where he was seated. This caused him to bump his mouth accidentally on the chair. He must have cut his lips with his front teeth as well because there was a big cut on his lower lip.

There was so much blood. He cried very loud. His lips were quivering.

I hurriedly pressed his bib into his wound to stop the bleeding. Then I got some ice and wrapped it in a clean cloth. I applied cold compress on his lips to prevent swelling while he continued to cry. He was inconsolable for around an hour.

In between sobs, I would give him water through a medicine dropper because he wouldn’t drink from his cup.

Then, as I wrapped my arm around him and applied cold compress on his wound, I seized the opportunity to explain to him again why we have house rules, why I give him those reminders every so often.
I told him once more that his dad and I give those house rules to protect him from getting hurt and to establish order in our house. I reminded him that we love him and we don’t want him to get hurt that’s why we keep on reminding him to follow our house rules.

Thank God that it was only his lips that had a cut and that his tongue and teeth were not hurt or the other parts of his face. It broke my heart to see and hear him cry so loud last night. I also felt like crying with him as he wailed every time I press the ice to his wound. But I had to be strong for him at that moment and I had to do the tough thing even if it would hurt him some more because that would prevent or lessen the swelling in his lips.

When he finally calmed down a bit, I gave him paracetamol medicine for pain as instructed by his paediatrician. Then, I asked him to put a gauze between his lips to further stop the bleeding. Then, we put cold compress some more.

He was not able to finish his dinner anymore. We tried to give him some milk. At first he was hesitant but we eventually convinced him to drink milk. We told him that if he does drink milk, not only will his lips ache but his tummy will also ache. After that, he was a bit quiet and was just sitting in one of our arm chairs in our sala.

I asked him again why he bumped his mouth on the chair that caused the cut or wound on his lips and he said that it was because he did not obey me when I asked him to sit properly while eating. He understood the effect or result of his action. I can only hope and pray that he has learned his lesson already.

Today, as he sat again on our dining chair to drink his milk and eat, there were times when he would not sit properly again. We gently reminded him of what happened the night before. He could very well recall and recount what happened. But he it wasn’t enough to keep him still all throughout his meal. We had to remind him again.

Then, I thought of the similarities between God’s commands and our house rules. God, our Father, gave us the commandments and teachings in Scriptures to guide us and protect us from harm. It was because of his love for us that He gave these to us. Unfortunately, like little kids, we don’t always heed them. Sometimes, it takes a painful experience first before we learn our lesson. Sometimes, we don’t learn our lesson still even with painful experiences resulting from them. But God, ever patient as He is, lovingly and patiently reminds us time and again about His commands and teachings. Thank God, He never tires in giving us reminders. Thank God, His arms are always there to lovingly comfort and console us when we are hurt. And thank God for His grace when we finally learn to do what is right and consistently live them out.

I pray for my son that he would soon learn to be more disciplined and follow our house rules. I pray that the lessons we teach him would be written in his heart and mind. I pray that as a parent I would always look to God for inspiration so that like Him, I will always be there to remind my child about the things that he should do to protect himself from harm and that I would always be available for him when he needs someone to hug him while he’s hurting.

My husband came home around a couple of hours after the incident happened. While my son was telling his Dad about what happened, I went inside our bedroom and gave myself the chance to cry. Then, Yanthy came in and sat by my bedside smiling. He just kept on smiling at me as if telling me, “Mom, I’m alright now.” I asked him if his lips still hurt and he said not anymore. I asked him if he will disobey Mommy again and he said no. Lastly, I asked him to give me a hug and we embraced each other tight.

Looking back, I am reminded that God feels our hurts as well when we go through painful experiences. His hearts breaks, too. We are not alone in our sufferings. The Bible says that God is close to the brokenhearted. I’m sure of that. I have experienced His loving presence during the most painful and challenging times of my life. I will always be grateful that I have Him as Father and Friend, whose strong and loving arms I can always count on.

One day, when my son is all grown up, I pray that he will always have that certainty in his heart that Mom and Dad and most especially God will be there for him still to give him reminders and to embrace him just in case he gets hurt when he fails to do what he’s supposed to do. For as some parents say, “Parenting doesn’t stop when your child turns 18 or 21 or when he/she gets his/her own house or starts his/her own family. Parenting is a lifelong job.”

Monday, August 15, 2011

Level Up

I discovered something a few weeks ago that made me very happy, fulfilled and increased my confidence at homeschooling my son.

When my son was more than a year old, I bought him a book about his favo
rite movie Cars. He loved the movie so much as soon as he saw it with me and his Dad; that there were times when he’d watch it every day and if we’d give in, he will watch it twice a day. I thought that it would be unhealthy for him to spend so much time watching television so I thought of ways to channel his interest to other things. That led me to my search for books that are related or about his favorite movie. Thank God, I found many books about it. It was also then that I discovered for the first time the different reading levels; because the book that I bought my son had a classification of Step 1 or Level 1. I was glad to discover that there are books made after popular cartoons or movies and were made to fit the different reading levels of children to help them read and appreciate reading slowly but surely. Whoever thought of these great ideas are geniuses and big blessings not only to children but to parents and teachers as well. Let me share with you their definitions per Step or Level.

According to th
e book introduction, there are 5 Steps to reading success. Their goal is to take the child into an exciting reading journey where they will end up as independent and confident readers.

STEP 1: Ready to Read (Preschool-Kindergarten) The books are characterized by big type and easy words, rhyme and rhythm and picture clues. This is for children who know the alphabet and are eager to begin reading.

STEP 2: Reading with Help (Preschool-Grade 1) The books are characterized by basic vocabulary, short sentences and simple stories. This is for children who recognize familiar words and sound out new words with help.

STEP 3: Reading on Your Own (Grade 1-3) The books have engaging characters, easy-to-follow plots and popular topics. This is for children who are ready to read on their own.

STEP 4: Reading Paragraphs (Grade 2-3) The books are characterized by challenging vocabulary, short paragraphs and exciting stories. This is for newly independent readers who read simple sentences with confidence.

STEP 5: Ready for Chapters (Grade 2-4) The books are characterized by chapters, longer paragraphs and full-color art. This is for children who want to take the plunge into chapter books but still like colourful pictures.

The introduction portion of the books says that the grade levels are only guides and that children can progress through the steps at their own speed, developing confidence in their reading, regardless of grade or level.

The book on Cars I bought my son was entitled Old, New,
Red, Blue and classified as Step 1, Ready to Read. The book was an instant hit for my son. Well, for one, it was about his favorite movie and it talked about the characters in the movie which he was very familiar with. It was also right for his level at that time because he was just starting to recognize the letters of the alphabet then but he was very eager to read books. Actually, he loved books since he was a baby. He was still a bit clumsy in handling the pages. I didn’t mind much though; for what was important to me was that he loved books, he loved reading and he found it a very interesting and stimulating activity. Soon, by the time he was one year and a half, he has mastered the letters of the alphabet and has learned to handle book pages better. At age two, he started reading a few words almost every week. And this Step 1 book has been a great help to him and me as his teacher.

I have bought him more books to give him a variety of books to choose from for his reading time. I thought that it would still be long before he would move to the next level because I felt that he was still very young, he was still a baby. But I was wrong. My son learned to read quite fast for his age and I already lost count of the number of words he has learned to read and spell. He’s only two years old and nine months as of this writing but he recognizes many words already at this stage. He still enjoys being read to by me or by his Dad but he already reads his books on his own.

A few weeks ago, I saw and heard him read his Step 1 Cars book on his own inside our bedroom. I was amazed at how good he was at reading and turning the pages of his little book. I tested him if he simply memorized the words in the book or if he truly recognized the words. I asked him to point at some of the words and use his finger to point as he reads. He was able to do so with ease! He was really reading his book!

That was when I was moved to review the definitions for the different steps or levels in reading. I felt that he was ready to move to the next. Then, I discovered that my son has not only moved up one step or level but he has moved or advanced two steps/levels up! Wow! I should buy him the Step 2 and Step 3 books then for this series.

Last April, his developmental pediatrician told me that I should already give him activities and lessons fit for Kindergarten students because he’s quite fast or advanced for his age. He was only two and a half years old then. A little more than three months later, he is already
at Grade 1 level of reading. I was elated!

I was hesitant at first to try homeschooling my son especially that he’s gifted because I felt that I’m incompetent and inadequate. I didn’t have an education background and I felt that I don’t have the patience to teach very young children. I was afraid that I would not be able to provide him with enough stimulation fit for his age and intelligence. But discoveries and victories like this one encourage and motivate me to go on homeschooling my son. I felt proud not only of what he has accomplished but also of what I was able to teach him in the past months. I felt good and happy that I was able to teach my son this valuable skill – reading.

I thank God for the people he has sent my way to introduce the concept of homeschooling to me and to give me confidence and tips on how to do it. I’m still very new at it and very much finding my way through this maze but every little accomplishment and progress that my son and I make increases my determination to learn and grow with him. This morning, I also realized further what a great blessing homeschooling is.

I remember when I was in elementary and high school. There were a lot of times when I would tune out from listening to my teachers because I was getting bored with the topi
cs being discussed. Like my son, I was a fast reader and I like devouring my books. When my parents buy or get me my complete set of books during the summer right after enrollment, I read them all from cover to cover. That’s why, during the year, I’m already familiar with some of the topics discussed. So when they are discussed lengthily or repeatedly by the teacher, I already get bored. And when I was bored, I did many crazy things.

I would daydream while looking out of the window or at something inside the classroom. I would doodle, sketch or draw in my notebook. And my subject could be anything that enters my mind, which could include any of my classmates or my teachers. I would try to notice odd or funny things about my teachers. I would chat with my seatmate or seatmates either about the teacher or about anything that I find interesting or amusing. Sometimes, I would resent my classmates whom I felt were the reasons why our teacher took so long to move to the next lesson.

There were times when my teacher would notice that I was not paying attention or talking to my seatmate and would call my attention but I would usually escape from being scolded because I would make it appear that I had a question or insight about the topic being discussed. As I said, I already knew usually what she was talking about. Hence I would lie so that my teacher would not get angry with me and I would not be humiliated.
I also enjoyed sharing my amusing thoughts and discoveries about the odd and funny things I noticed about my teachers during break times. My classmates and I would make fun of our teachers and we would even imitate them emphasizing their funny or odd mannerisms. We would sometimes roll and cry with laughter. We thought it was so much fun laughing at them.

Looking back, I realized that it wasn’t really funny. I realized that it wasn’t right at all to lie and pretend that I was listening. My teachers did not notice that I was not really listening because it didn’t show in my grades. Deep inside though, I knew that I lied. Deep inside I knew that I was not showing respect to my teacher and that in a lot of ways, I was distracting my fellow students from focusing on the lessons being taught. I knew it wasn’t right to pick on other people and to make fun of them. However, I still did it and sometimes led my classmates in noticing these things in our teachers. I knew that I should have compassion for my classmates who had difficulty grasping the lessons being taught and that it was not enough reason to resent them simply because I was bored. As a mother and a more mature person, I realized that those teachers deserved my utmost respect, no matter how strange or odd their ways may be because they made a lot of sacrifices just to teach and grow young minds. Making fun of them and highlighting their mistakes or strange mannerisms was not really funny. I realized that I should have been more helpful and compassionate to my classmates although there were also times that I helped out some of them with their assignments.

Having these thoughts made me realize how blessed my son is now to be home-schooled. He can move up from one step or level to another without being limited by a group of classmates. He can stay and master a certain level at his own pace without being pressured to move up with everyone else. He doesn’t need to put up with lessons he already know or has mastered simply because the lesson plan dictates that it is discussed this number of times before the teacher moves to the next lesson. He doesn’t need to go through the same crazy things I went through because of boredom.

It makes me shiver just thinking that my own son could probably do the same things I did if he is in a traditional school. I don’t want him to go through that. I don’t want him to lie, show disrespect for his teachers, make fun of other people or waste his time being unproductive. I don’t want him to resort to these things because they might develop into habits once he discovered that he can wing it. Once they become bad habits, they could be very hard to break. I know this to be true because I carried some of these habits until I was in college. I tried to wing some of my subjects even when I was already studying at the University of the Philippines. Sometimes I would skip classes or I would be physically present but mentally absent. There were a lot of times that my parents and teachers did not notice that I wasn’t studying hard because my grades were still high. But something more important was deteriorating and that was my character. I was cramming most of the time for exams. Wasting my time has become a bad habit. I became proud that I didn’t have to study much and still get good grades. It took a lot of pruning from God for me to shape up and learn to become more responsible. Thank God, I learned my lessons; though I learned some the hard way.

This is one thing I like the most about homeschooling. It can help me shape my son’s character a lot, if not better. I can teach him positive alternatives if he eventually gets bored. I can tell him to simply be honest with me if he wants to talk about a different topic or he wants us to change our activity because I can be flexible and I’m not his teacher only, I’m his Mom and friend. More than the flexibility and freedom that homeschooling offers, I like that it gives me and my son a different kind of bonding that we might not have if he had a different teacher at this age and time of his life. I love it that we can get creative on how to learn new things or master old lessons and that we are not stuck to a certain way or method that doesn’t fit his or my personality or learning style. I love it that we can make learning fun and that I and his Dad can journey with him as he goes through this wonderful adventure of growing and learning.

So, these past weeks, not only did my little boy level up from one reading level to another; but I also grew in appreciation of homeschooling. In a way, I also moved from one level to another. Praise God for these discovery and wonderful insights!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

God Speaks Through Yanthy

I was feeling very tired one evening and I couldn’t help but cry. I just felt weary – physically, emotionally and spiritually. l already knew from my previous experience that starting a community can be very tiring and draining but I still took on the responsibility of starting and leading another community recently because I can’t bring myself to say “No” to God. I can’t turn a blind eye to the obvious need in the community where I live. I knew deep inside that God has placed my family here at this time for a reason and that is for me to say “Yes” again to His invitation to help bring more people closer to His heart.

I cried to God while I hid my face on my pillow that night, as I acknowledged the overwhelming weariness that I felt. Then my two year old son came into our bedroom and saw me covered with a pillow. He got curious and asked. “Mommy, why are hiding?” Maybe he thought that I was playing hide and seek with him.

I continued to cover my face even though he tried to remove the pillow because I didn’t want him to see me crying; but he was persistent. I realized that it’s no use hiding from him so I allowed him to get the pillow from me.

When he saw my face with tears, he asked: “Mommy, why are you crying?”

“I’m just tired,” I told him.

What he said and did next surprised me and made me cry even harder.

He said, “Great job, Mommy! Great job!” Then, he embraced me tight.

How could my little boy know what was causing the heaviness in my heart? What he knew is that it is my joy to participate and serve in the Mass. How could he know the right words to say to me at that moment? How could he know what’s in my mind?

I felt that God has spoken through my son! No one knew what I was feeling that evening after we finished serving in the anticipated Mass. I haven’t told anyone, not even my husband. But Yanthy spoke as if he was certain that those words would make me feel better.

Then, I remembered this verse from Matthew 11:25: “I
praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children.” (NIV)

I let go of all my burdens and weariness as I embraced my son. It seemed ironic that I felt the Father’s embrace in my little boy’s embrace. Yet that was exactly how I felt that night. I felt God’s powerful presence as my son spoke those words to me. He spoke with the understanding look of an adult in his eyes. That’s when I knew that God was speaking to me through my son. I was still crying when my husband came in. It was only much later that I was able to explain to him how God comforted me and ministered to me through Yanthy. Amazingly, that was not the only time that it happened.

Last Saturday night, I was disappointed and sad again. I made a mistake while leading the choir in the communion song and the recessional. I was embarrassed. It was the first that we sang the communion song in the Mass and I wasn’t confident that I have learned the tune by heart. We could easily choose another song that’s easier to sing and that I’m more familiar with. And yet we chose it because my husband and I felt that it’s very appropriate for the readings especially the Gospel. I thought that my husband would be singing the verses of the communion song with me because I only mastered the chorus portion. Unfortunately, he was focused on playing the guitar during the Mass and he was not able to sing the entire song. It was not our first time to sing the recessional song that evening; however, there were other singers usually who sing it with me whenever we sang that song in
the past. As in previous occasions, I forgot how to sing some parts of the song. Although I knew that it’s part of leading and going out of my comfort zone (in this case leading people to sing in the Mass) to make mistakes every now and then, I simply felt disappointed that I made a mistake.

The words of John Maxwell in his book The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader on courage were not enough to comfort me. “Courage isn’t the absence of fear. It’s doing what you are afraid to do. It’s having the power to let go of the familiar and forge ahead into new territory.”

I knew in my heart that I should not dwell on my mistake and that it’s part of learning. I’m familiar with leading people. But leading people to sing is new to me. That’s something that makes me nervous. I knew that I made God proud by standing up for Him in spite of my fears and choosing to lead when no on
e else was willing to have the courage to make a commitment and take responsibility. I tried very hard to bear these things in mind at that hour of discouragement but my feelings of disappointment and sadness were strong. So, that night as I lie down in bed, I brought my disappointment again to God.

That was when Yanthy came to my side again and asked, “Mommy, why are you sad?”

Here he goes again, I thought. He speaks as if he’s an adult who sees through me.

He further said, “Don’t be sad, Mommy. Great job!”

I could no longer keep the tears in my eyes from falling as soon as he said those words again.

I hugged him tight and said “Thank you, Yanthy. Thank you.”

He kept on saying, “Great job, Mommy! Great job!” He says it looking straight into my eyes even after we let go from our embrace.

I said a prayer of thanks to God in my heart for He has comforted me again in a way that I didn’t expect. He has spoken the words that I needed to hear. He has touched my heart by speaking through my child.

Karl Barth, a Swiss Theologian, said: “Courage is fear that has said its prayers.” I perfectly agree. I know that there will be more challenges that I would be facing as I lead our young community and I couldn’t do so without being courageous. I pray that God would always give me the courage to face my fears and the grace to persevere when things don’t happen as I planned or expected. I pray that God would help me grow as a leader as I serve Him and His people, especially now that I have more responsibilities as part of our Parish Pastoral Council. Moreover, I pray that God would raise new leaders in our growing community who will also say “Yes” to His call. Send, O Lord, Holy Apostles into Your Church! For the harvest is great but the laborers are few.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

How to Have All You Need Even In Times of Crisis

Times may be hard given that economic crises happen left and right -- not only in our country but even in First World Countries like the US. But it’s possible to be at peace even with all these financial challenges surrounding us. It may be difficult not to worry about our day-to-day needs especially if we have a family to feed or if there are people who are dependent on us for financial support. The good news is that we can have all we NEED even in times of crisis if we follow these teachings from Scriptures. Take note that I said need and not want.

1. Have Faith – If we know God as a loving, generous and almighty Father, we would not worry about our needs because we know that He will provide for us when we call to Him for help.

Jesus tells us in Matthew 6:25-32

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.

2. Tithe Regularly – Tithing is an expression of our faith in the Lord. We give back to Him because we acknowledge that all we have comes from Him and that as we show our gratitude for His blessings, He will continue to bless and provide for us.

Tithing in the Old Testament and in the time of Jesus means giving ten percent of what a person has earned from the work of his hands. It may be in the form of the produce of his land, his flock or his wages.

These days, most Christian religions do not oblige their members to give ten percent. Christians are encouraged but not forced. We give voluntarily to our church, be it ten percent or not. It would be great if we give ten percent of our income. But more important than that, is giving to the Lord cheerfully regardless of the amount.

Give generously to him and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the LORD your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to.
(Deuteronomy 15:10)

I admire the woman in the New Testament who gave two copper coins to the temple (Luke 21:1-4). Jesus honored her for her trust and generosity for unlike the others who gave much money to the temple treasury, she gave whatever little that she had left. She did not give to the temple what she had in excess. This is truly a demonstration of great faith and trust in the Lord!

3. Give to the Poor or those in need
– When we show mercy and compassion to those in need, God will also show mercy and compassion to us. No one is too poor not to give. And no one is too rich not to receive from others.

Let me share with you the story of the Prophet Elijah and the Widow at Zarephath (1 Kings 17: 8-16).

Then the word of the LORD came to him: “Go at once to Zarephath in the region of Sidon and stay there. I have directed a widow there to supply you with food.” So he went to Zarephath. When he came to the town gate, a widow was there gathering sticks. He called to her and asked, “Would you bring me a little water in a jar so I may have a drink?” As she was going to get it, he called, “And bring me, please, a piece of bread.”

“As surely as the LORD your God lives,” she replied, “I don’t have any bread—only a handful of flour in a jar and a little olive oil in a jug. I am gathering a few sticks to take home and make a meal for myself and my son, that we may eat it—and die.”

Elijah said to her, “Don’t be afraid. Go home and do as you have said. But first make a small loaf of bread for me from what you have and bring it to me, and then make something for yourself and your son. For this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: ‘The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the LORD sends rain on the land.’

She went away and did as Elijah had told her. So there was food every day for Elijah and for the woman and her family. For the jar of flour was not used up and the jug of oil did not run dry, in keeping with the word of the LORD spoken by Elijah.

This story encourages us not to hesitate in following God’s prompting to help whoever is in need that comes to us for help. In this story, God provided for the prophet Elijah through a poor widow and God provided for the widow and her son as she opened her heart to the God’s miracle.

May this story inspire us not to focus too much on our own needs or the needs of our families. May we also open our hearts to others, trusting that as we share what we have with the poor or needy, God Himself will supply our needs.

4. Work – Do whatever you know you can do to earn a living. Use your hands, your skills and your talents. Proverbs 28:19 says, “He who works his land will have abundant food, but the one who chases fantasies will have his fill of poverty.”

St. Paul, the Apostle, gives us a very good example to follow as he stated in 1 Thessalonians 2:9: “Surely you remember, brothers, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you.” He did not make it an excuse that he was busy proclaiming the Good News wherever God calls him to. He further says in 2 Thessalonians 3:9-10: “We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to make ourselves a model for you to follow. For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: If a man will not work, he shall not eat.”

5. Be Content – Be content or happy with what we have and live within our means. St. Paul in his first letter to Timothy said that we have brought nothing into the world and neither can we carry anything out, so having sustenance and covering, we shall be content with these things. For it’s true that no matter how much we have acquired and saved during our lifetime, we cannot bring all of our wealth with us. We may have bought hectares and hectares of land but when we die, we only need a small piece of land for our grave.

Thus, let us not spend too much effort and concern over acquiring wealth for ourselves here on earth. Let’s spend more time storing riches in heaven instead where moth and rust cannot destroy them, and where thieves cannot break in and steal.

I have followed these teachings for years until now and I can testify that not once has God failed me. He has faithfully provided for my needs and the needs of my loved ones even in times of crisis. In fact, a lot of times, He even gave me more than I asked for. Why don’t you try them yourself and experience God’s miracles in your life as well?

Monday, June 6, 2011

Moving On to our Next Lessons

Our Summer Sing and Learn Toddler Playgroup was finally finished last week. It was my two year old son’s first experience of “school” – complete with classmates, certificates and awards. It was a fun experience for both of us. We both gained new friends. He gained new friends and playmates. I found new friends through the parents and guardians of the toddlers who registered in our playgroup. I was happy to share ideas and activities with the parents, guardians and nannies of the toddlers which proved to be helpful in teaching my own son basic concepts. Whatever profit we earned from our summer business was just bonus.

This past summer was truly memorable for us; not only because of the summer business we had, but also because it was during this summer that our son was diagnosed by a developmental pediatrician to be a potentially gifted child with the intelligence of a four and a half to five year old child. With the expert’s assessment, we discovered his capacity and potential as well as the areas where we need to work on. Based on the assessment, his writing skill was just right for his age but his intelligence is so far advanced. So, we need to help him develop his fine motor or writing skills so that we can engage in more activities that are intellectually stimulating to him. Since he has been playing with shape sorting toys, building blocks, doodling pen and big crayons since he was around a year old, my husband and I started our search for new toys for our little genius. We looked for new puzzles he can work on because he has already mastered his three-letter-word puzzles and his 12-piece body parts puzzle. Unfortunately, we did not find interesting and age appropriate puzzles for him last weekend. However, we found a washable coloring book with colored markers and some activity books to help our son learn and practice his fine motor skills. We are still looking for moldable clay with matching molds and other toys that he can manipulate.

We have already started using his washable coloring book and he liked it. It was like magic when we put the colored pages under the faucet with running water. The colors get washed off easily. The not so good thing about the product though is that the colored markers that got to my son’s hands were not easily removed even with soap and water. We had to use some alcohol to ensure that there are no traces of color left from the markers. The other books we got him have practice exercises on connecting dots from one number or letter to the next which I think would be interesting for him right now because he likes to count and he likes to sing the alphabet and the phonics. I just hope that he would have enough patience to connect those dots up to the last letter or number. Apparently, he shows very short attention span. This was one of the reasons why I have decided to introduce more art activities to him in the past months and why my husband and I encourage him to play with puzzles. So far, they have been working well and teaching him to finish what he has started. I certainly hope these new set of activity books would do the same.

At two and a half years of age, Yanthy has already mastered the alphabet, colors, shapes, days of the week, months of the year, row counting up to 30 and counting by 10s. He already knows the phonics and opposites. He can already read and spell a number of words, as to how many they are I already lost count because of the speed by which he learns new words. He still has a lot to learn but I’m blessed because he learns fast especially when we use music to teach him. He has a very good memory and music enhances his good memory even more. He loves to read books and he loves to hear us read his books to him even repeatedly. He never seems to get tired of hearing the same stories everyday. Because of this, he has memorized some of his books. He likes story-telling a lot. In fact, he has learned to weave his own stories. We sometimes encourage him to think of the next thing that will happen to the story we are telling him. And he’s doing really well. Sometimes, he just starts telling me stories which he himself imagined.

At his age, he has been showing very good self-esteem and growing independence. He can already wear his clothes, socks and shoes on his own. He’s already potty-trained. He can eat and drink on his own (of course, it’s still messy). He knows how to wash his hands but we still supervise him because he likes to play with the water. Sometimes, he takes the initiative to clean up his own mess. And if in a good mood, he is quick to follow instructions when asked to help out. He knows how to say “thank you” and “please.” But he still needs to be reminded sometimes to say “sorry” when he has done something wrong. Nevertheless, the more important lessons we want him to learn at this stage are patience, obedience and discipline. We want him to learn to identify his emotions and handle them positively without throwing tantrums or his toys to our maid when he doesn’t get what he wants. We want him to learn how to behave during the Holy Mass and to wait for the right time to sing instead of singing whenever he wants to.

I pray that God would continue to grant me and my husband the grace to be patient in teaching and molding our son for our parenting journey has just begun.

Friday, April 15, 2011

My Birthday Gifts

I woke up with excitement for it was one special day. First reason, I’m going to visit my ob-gynecologist for an ultrasound to confirm my pregnancy. Second, we are going to give away thirty-six brown bags with sandwiches to beggars and street children. And third, it’s my 36th birthday! That explains the thirty-six brown bags.

My husband and two-year-old son, Gian Timothy, greeted me as soon as I woke up. Our little boy even sang the birthday song. I read the card my husband gave me over breakfast, glanced at the bouquet of roses displayed in our living room and smiled with tear-filled eyes.

I have decided to celebrate my birthday in a simple way this year because it fell within the observance of Lent. Instead of enjoying a cake and ice cream, I’ve chosen to share whatever little that I have to the poor. We just had pancit and barbeque delivered to our house and we had a simple family celebration. After that, we went to the hospital for my check up.

I could feel my heart beating faster as we approached the very same hospital where I gave birth to our first-born. It was quite far from where we live now but I still decided to stick to my ob-gynecologist because my experience with her and the hospital was very good.

Then came our turn for the ultrasound. I was glad my husband was allowed to go inside and see for himself the little baby growing slowly in my womb. It was one great birthday gift from the Lord, indeed! Just a month ago, my doctor said that I might need to undergo a procedure to clear my uterus and to prepare it for conception. I prayed hard that it would not be necessary and that God would grant me another miracle. What perfect time to have my ultrasound! I got confirmation of the miracle I asked for on my birthday. God is so good!

The doctor prescribed some vitamins and told us when my expected due date for delivery will be. We then proceeded to the church nearby to hear Holy Mass as a family.

I felt a sense of nostalgia while praying during the Mass. This was the same church where I used to hear Mass as a single lady waiting for my bridegroom to come. This was the same church where I cried buckets of tears to God to heal me from my condition (of having polycystic ovaries) and make it possible for me to lead a normal and healthy life.

I was back at St. Joseph Shrine.
I was very happy to be back in that church and be reminded of God’s faithfulness to me. I recalled how God answered my every prayer in His own good time. Then, I realized that the psalm for the day is the meaning of our first-born’s name – the Lord is gracious and merciful. Wow!

I remembered how costly it is to be pregnant when we paid for my ultrasound at the hospital and when my doctor listed the vitamins I need to take for my pregnancy. As with my first pregnancy, our bank account is not prepared for this kind of expense. But unlike the last time, I am no longer worried. I already learned my lesson. I only need to look back at our spiritual landmarks and I could go on with courage once more.

I remembered the string of blessings and answered prayers we got during my first pregnancy. I remembered how God took care of all my concerns up to the littlest details. I thanked God for making my faith stronger. I thanked Him for the psalm during my birthday which gave me His assurance that in the same way that He has been gracious and merciful to us during my first pregnancy, He will be gracious and merciful to us again this time. This is truly one glorious day!

It was already late in the evening when we started distributing our brown bags but we still found many poor people on the road. We were still able to distribute all thirty-six. I was very happy!

As I lie in bed that night, I breathed a prayer I’ve grown familiar with over the years. “Make miracles for us, Lord, as in the days when You led Your people out of Egypt.” I adapted this prayer from Micah 7:15. It has been my prayer every time I needed something quite big from God. It has never failed me.

I know that as we welcome another baby into our life and our family, we will be welcoming more blessings including financial blessing into our lives. So, last week, when we received financial blessings from God, I was no longer surprised.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Three-Letter-Word Picture Puzzles: A Product Review

My husband and I decided a few weeks ago to look for puzzles for our two-year old son, Yanthy. We wanted to give him these kinds of toys to help increase his attention span and to increase his patience in finishing certain activities. We found what we wanted at National Bookstore.

We found several kinds of puzzles but what we liked the most was the Spelling Fun 3-Letter-Word Picture Puzzles by Joytoy. It was less than a hundred pesos, very cheap compared to the benefit that our son would gain in playing with it.

We liked this puzzle because Yanthy is at a stage when he can already read and spell a number of words. He started reading at age two and he has experienced a growth spurt since then because by this time (5 months after), I could no longer keep track of the words he has learned to read and spell. He’s just learning very fast and I could not keep up in recording or documenting the words that he learned to read and to spell daily.

We started giving him one word at a time which consists of 3 puzzle pieces. Then, when he learned what to do (which took only a few seconds of instruction and demonstration), we added one more word until there are four to five words with puzzle pieces mixed up on his table. He learned how to play with it right away and in a matter of minutes was asking for more words to be given to him. It was amazing to watch him build the puzzles quite fast considering that he was playing with it for the first time.

The puzzle has become one his favorite toys in the following days and weeks and before I knew it, Yanthy has learned to read and spell more words through his 3-letter-word picture puzzle. Then I realized that this puzzle is somehow similar to his favorite show Word World where the characters are made of letters and they form pictures of the animal or object. No wonder, Yanthy liked it right away.

Not only has this toy improved our son’s reading and spelling ability, it has also increased his attention span. He can now sit long enough to form seven to eight words before thinking of going around the room or going down from his high chair. I’m so glad we found this puzzle! Yanthy has almost mastered all the 16 three-letter words and we are excited to get him the four-letter-word picture puzzle next.

I highly recommend this toy puzzle to parents who want to increase their kid’s attention span and who want to teach their kids how to read and spell without the pressure. With this toy, kids learn while having fun.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Sleep, Baby, Sleep

“Sleep, baby, sleep… close your eyes and sleep…”“Close your eyes and go to sleep… sleep, baby, sleep.”That was our two-year-old son, Yanthy, singing a lullaby with his little hand on my tummy.

My period was delayed by around a week last month so my husband and I thought that I was pregnant. It rarely happens to me because my period usually comes every 28 days. The last time I remember my period was delayed was when I got pregnant with our little boy. Thus, we wasted no time to check our son’s readiness in having a sibling.

One night before going to sleep, we asked him if he already wants to have a baby brother or sister. He said yes to our surprise. Then, we further asked him if he wanted a baby sister or brother. He said he wanted a baby sister. We seized the opportunity and told him that there might already be a baby sister inside Mommy’s tummy. He beamed and touched my tummy. Since then, Yanthy has been touching my tummy very often during the day especially before going to bed. He would usually sing her a lullaby, the lullaby that I used to sing to him that he already memorized and is singing to his “baby sister.” In one conversation also, he said that he will share his toys, books, clothes and milk to her baby sister. What a sweet little boy! It was then that we discovered that he’s ready to be a big brother.

The day after we talked to Yanthy about having a baby sister, I had some spotting. I was alarmed because I really thought that I was pregnant. But when I went to see my doctor for consultation and ultrasound, we found out that my period was just delayed due to hormonal imbalance and the spotting is part of my menstruation.

I had mixed emotions. I was glad and relieved that I was not pregnant because of the spotting I experienced. I thought that to have bleeding at the start of a pregnancy could be risky. I was disappointed and sad however to discover that I was having my monthly period again that time; for, it was obvious that Yanthy wanted so much to have a baby sister already. I felt that he would be disappointed and sad also if we tell him there’s no baby in my tummy yet.

Therefore, we’ve decided not to tell him that there is no baby in my tummy at that time. We just let him talk to my tummy as if he’s conversing to his baby sister. He continued to do that and sang songs to her every day. He even asks her sometimes about her high point! Haha! Yanthy is so cute!

Then, yesterday, I decided to ask my ob-gyne when I can have a pregnancy test to check if I’m pregnant because my period has been delayed once more. I was thrilled when she said that I can already check yesterday because the first day of my last menstruation was 42 days ago. I hurriedly called my husband and shared with him what my doctor told me. I asked him to buy a pregnancy test kit when he goes home from the office in the evening.

My husband arrived home a little bit later than usual. He had dinner first. We had some chat with our little boy about our high points and low points during the day. Then, we had our family prayer. My husband was excited for me to use the pregnancy test kit but I didn’t feel like peeing yet. So I asked our maid to prepare for me a warm calamansi juice first. I drank the juice and a glass of water.

It was time to use the kit. I was baffled at first when I read the instructions on the box. Suddenly, I wasn’t sure how to use it although I used a pregnancy test kit also during my first pregnancy. Anyway, I was able to figure out what to do afterwards and proceeded with the pregnancy test.

I was very careful in following the instruction to make sure that I will get it right. Excitement was building up in me as well.

One drop, two drops, three drops, four drops… and finally the last. I watched carefully as the drops of urine were absorbed by the strip of paper inside and the test kit showed two lines. I’m pregnant! I’m pregnant again!

I could not hide my joy as I came out of the bathroom. My husband said that he and Yanthy were praying while I was inside collecting a sample of my urine for the test. We were all very happy!

Looking back, I was just amazed at how my son has prophesied our future. To my husband and me, it was like Yanthy was playing pretend. We liked it because somehow it conditions and prepares him for the time that I will truly be pregnant again. But in our son’s heart he was already Kuya Yanthy. In fact, he delighted in being called Kuya Yanthy. He was proud to say that he will take care of her baby sister when she comes out and he was becoming more careful whenever we remind him not play rough near my tummy because his baby sister might get hurt. Oh, the faith of a child! I pray that we would always have that kind of faith.

I thank the Lord for giving me another child and for giving her to me at a time when we are all ready to welcome her into our lives. I thank the Lord that we didn’t have difficulty conceiving this child even though my doctor before warned me that I might have difficulty next time conceiving because of my polycystic ovaries. God is victorious once more! He gave us another miracle. He had the final say! In His perfect time, He has blessed us with another child to nurture, raise and love. I thank the Lord for giving me the grace to believe again that with Him, nothing is impossible. As the Bible says, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believed.” (John 20:29) Yanthy believed that he will have a baby sister. I believed that I will be pregnant again without any medical workups. It happened! To God be the glory!

Friday, March 18, 2011

A Stay-at-Home Mom Chronicles Her Day

His soft cheek was pressed snugly to my cheek as we cuddled for an afternoon nap in our sofa. A peaceful smile rests on my face as I close my eyes and bask in the warmth of our embrace. Only a couple of hours have passed since our wall clock struck 12 and we have filled our hungry stomachs; and yet, I fill that my heart is already bursting at the seams because of the wonders of this seemingly ordinary day. I can’t help myself from taking this time to pause, savour, document and capture the beauty in my ordinary experiences as a stay-at-home mom.

My wonderful day started with lots of hugs from my husband as I woke up and lazily stretched on our bed. Then, I read my devotionals and said my morning prayers. I went outside to join my husband at the breakfast table. I slowly sipped a hot ginger ale flavoured with calamansi and honey as I chatted with my husband. I was not yet hungry so I decided to simply drink a glass of low-fat milk. My husband headed to the bathroom to take a bath after eating his breakfast while I decided to send an important email and check my inbox while waiting for my little boy to wake up.

As I hit the shut down button on our computer, I heard my husband open the bedroom door and announce that our son is awake. I welcomed him with an embrace and sang my morning song to him. Afterwards, we walked with his Dad to our main door and kissed him goodbye.

It’s now breakfast time! Eating breakfast together has been one of my cherished moments with my son lately. He has learned to eat and enjoy oatmeal and cereals, which my husband and I usually have for breakfast together with whatever fruit in season. Today, we had oatmeal and banana for breakfast. We exchanged smiles between spoonfuls and before we ate our bananas, we sang some songs. We sang some more songs after finishing our breakfast, read some books, watched his favorite phonics video and pretended that we were having a picnic in our living room for an hour or so before we had our snack and took a bath.

After that, I cooked for him one of his favorite soups – potato and bacon soup – while he played with our maid. I fed him his lunch and watched with him one of our favorite tv shows on the Disney channel, Word World.

I gazed lovingly at my two-year old boy as he sleeps on his crib and said a prayer of thanks to God for letting me experience this inexplicable joy. Words may not be enough to tell the complete story of my day that unfolded beautifully; still, I choose to etch it some more in our memories with another blog entry.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Word World Book: One Great Book Sale Find!

I just came from the grocery with my little boy when I decided to drop by the nearby Book Sale store to check out if there are nice books on sale. I love going there to hunt for good finds and I usually end up buying a number of nice books either for my personal consumption or for giving away to family and friends. I can spend hours going through the piles of books and inspecting each one to see if it’s new or if it’s still in good condition in case it’s pre-owned.

On this particular afternoon, I chanced upon one great find. I found a brand new book based on one of my son’s favorite TV shows -- Word World! I didn’t know that there are already books based on the show. But I was certainly delighted with my latest discovery. Now, I can read this book to my son whenever he insists that he wants to watch Word World and it’s not yet time to watch it. Plus, it was only P85! Some hardbound books and those that encourage activity like touch and feel or pull the tab books can be as much as P300 or more in a regular bookstore. I have not seen it, however, in the regular bookstores that my family frequents. So, I bought it right away since it was the only copy available. The store’s staff said that they are not sure when they would have more copies delivered.

My two-year old son and I were so excited to read the book. We read it as soon as we got home from the mall. And as I read it with him, I realized what a really great find it was! The book is a pull the tab kind of book entitled Dog is Lost. Books like this that encourage activity and participation are very good for toddlers especially active and curious ones like my son. The story revolves around the BEAR who was searching for her friend DOG. BEAR goes around Word World looking for DOG and asking other Word World friends if they have seen DOG. There is tab that the child can pull at every page to find out if the animal hiding behind something was DOG. At every page also, one or two letters of the animal’s name is shown to give a clue. When the child pulls the tab, he/she would see the complete name of the animal. The book is so entertaining and educational! You get to ask the child at every page if he/she has seen DOG and if the animal hiding at a particular spot in Word World is DOG based on the letter or letters shown.

My son and I had so much fun reading it that afternoon. We must have read it a number of times already before his Dad came home. Then, he asked his Dad to read it again to him when his dad arrived from the office. At that moment, I learned another wonderful way to maximize his learning from reading the book by simply watching my husband read it to our little boy. His Dad asked Yanthy to spell the names of the animals who were hiding and who the BEAR thought was her friend DOG after pulling each tab.

Since then, this Word World book has become one of our son’s favorite books every time we read. He gets animated at every page. Sometimes, I see and hear him read the book on his own. He has learned to read and spell around a dozen of words by watching the show Word World almost everyday. With the book, he has learned to spell and read additional words like DOG, COW, PIG and BARN. I’m so glad I found and bought it that fateful afternoon at the Book Sale! I’m very grateful to God for giving us this blessing. Moreover, I’m excited to head to the Book Sale store again after we go to the grocery next time to check if they have other titles on Word World. I hope to find more.