Monday, January 16, 2017

Parenting Goals for the Year #BigGoals2017

People with goals succeed because they know where they are going.

- Earl Nightingale

It's the first month of a brand new year. People are usually busy these days planning for the new year. Have you done your own planning? Have you defined your goals for the year? If not, it's not yet too late. I believe that it's better to take it slow.

It's best to make sure that we are pursuing the right goals before we get busy pursuing them.

Let me share some of my BIG GOALS as a parent for 2017.

Goal #1 Be a better parent by improving in the area of handling my emotions when my kids do not obey me and the rules that we have set.

Actually, I have made it my goal years ago to live out this Bible verse:
"Slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love."

I have not been very good at being slow to anger. So, I make it my goal year after year to get better and better at it. There were many times in the past year that I felt frustrated getting the kids to listen and obey. Having no household help to assist me in managing the house and caring for the children made things extra challenging.

My kids are not the typical obedient kids who immediately obey those who are older than them or those who are in authority. Obedience is not their greatest strength. Proactivity, creativity, curiosity, quick thinking, intelligence, humor, persistence, strong will, high energy... these are words that describe them most of the time. Obedient, not always.

They like to challenge the rules. Following or doing other people's agenda is not something very interesting for them unless you are able to explain to them how it aligns with their interests or agendas. They usually have their own plans and are bent on executing them. They are not the type who will ask for permission to do what they want to do. They will simply set out to do what they want to do. Sadly, they sometimes ignore the rules or reminders given to them.

In truth, these are good traits. These are good characteristics of people who can be leaders.
But it's difficult when those who have these traits are 8 years old and under. I am concerned for their safety. I also want them to learn to respect and obey those in authority.

I tend to clash a lot with my kids... especially with my eldest son who has high intensity and who has a stubborn will just like me. My Powerful Choleric personality type finds it difficult to parent kids who are like them.

I have shared this difficulty with our developmental pediatrician already many years ago when I noticed these traits in my eldest son. He said that these are typical of gifted kids. He advised that parents be consistently firm to help kids learn to adhere to the rules and to obey those in authority.

Over the years also, I have learned to choose my battles so that we don't always go through a battle of the wills. When it will not put our lives in danger and our values are not compromised, I do my best to give them as much freedom and independence.

Goal #2 Make more happy memories with the kids by traveling with them or having vacations with them at least once a quarter.

This was one of my goals last year and we actually went beyond my target. if you've read my previous post on my blessings in the past year, bonding activities with my kids were one of those in my list. Since we had a lot of fun last year going places, I've decided we'll do the same this year. This is one goal I am very excited with for this year.

We've already booked last year our first hotel stay out-of-town for the first quarter of 2017. I'm still thinking where to go for the second quarter and the rest of the year.

Goal #3 Finish and publish at least one book for parents.

I believe that the lessons that we learn from our life experiences are only for our benefit. I believe that the insights that we gain from our life experiences are meant to help and bless the people around us, too. That is why I love sharing my stories here on my blog, in the articles I write for other publications, in my books, in my talks, training programs and workshops.

This year, I want to finally finish one of my pending manuscripts. I have already designed the book cover. I have printed it and posted it on the wall of my home office so that I am reminded every day that I have to finish this book. Let me share it with you.

Last year, I published and launched one book also, my very first children's book titled Mommy Loves You Just the Same. It was a daunting goal. But by the grace of God, it was achieved. It was another dream come true!

This year, although my situation hasn't changed. We still do not have a stay-in household help. But I claim that I can do achieve all these goals with the strength of Christ. I know that God will make a way. That He will help me make things happen. Why? First, because I have seen Him do this many times in the past for me. Second, because my intentions are good and these will not only benefit me but many people.

I may have BIG GOALS that seem difficult to achieve. But I have a BIGGER GOD who makes ALL things possible!

That's why my OneWord for this year, 2017, is BELIEVE.

BELIEVE in God more.
BELIEVE in myself more.
BELIEVE in others more.
BELIEVE in more possibilities.
BELIEVE that more and bigger miracles are on their way to me.
I choose to BELIEVE that the best is yet to come! 

This was inspired by the Bible verse, "I believe that I shall see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living." - Psalm 27:

How about you? What are some of your big goals this year? Do you also have a One Word for the year? Or a guiding verse? Feel free to share these in the comments. Let's cheer each other on!

If one of your goals this year is to be a better parent by spending more quality time with your kids and still finding time to achieve your career or business goals, check out my iHOPE Online Coaching Program. You may read the details here.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Top Take Aways From the Past Year #Goodbye2016

I previously wrote in one of my posts here in this blog that I recommend that we do some introspection or reflection before the month of December ends. When we do this exercise, we would most likely gain some insights or valuable lessons from the year that was. I did. Let me share a few of them with you here.

Take away #1 We may encounter many challenges, but our blessings still outnumber them.

2016 was not an easy year for me. Our stay-in maid left around early March. After that, I went back to hiring a stay-out maid who comes to our house to clean, do the laundry and iron our clothes. This went on for several months until the stay-out maid proved to be unreliable. She promises to come on certain days and then she wouldn't show up. She's simply inconsistent in fulfilling her commitments. There were days when I wished we just set our clothes to the laundry shop instead of waiting for her or believing that she would come. Anyway, I eventually fired her. I tried several cleaning agencies/companies until I found one that is relatively more sustainable and affordable in the long run.

Having no household help made it extra difficult for me to manage the house, care for my 3 kids, homeschool the 2 older ones, breastfeed the youngest, maintain my blogs, manage my business and finish my book projects. Yet, reviewing my 2016 helped me realize how amazingly blessed I was last year.

I had a lot of challenges, true. But I received and experienced more blessings.

For example, finding alternatives to our previous stay-in maid were still blessings. At least, I didn't have to do all the housework. Outsourcing these to someone else enabled me to channel my energy to more important tasks. Moreover, in the end, I found more acceptable and sustainable options that the first ones. And before the year ended, a friend of ours recommended her stay-out cleaner to me to do our laundry and clean our house also once a week. I was so happy when she shared this with me that I told her that this was one of the best Christmas gifts I got.

Another major blessing is that I was able to achieve my goal breastfeeding my youngest child for 2 years last November. My youngest hasn't tasted even a drop of milk formula. He has been breastfed on demand for 2 years! I'm so grateful that I had enough milk to provide for his needs. I'm also grateful that in spite of my busyness, I was able to honor my commitment to prioritize his needs. There was never a day that he did not breastfeed from me, even when I had to work out-of-town. This brings me to my next major blessing.

My work allowed me to be with my kids. This is one major blessing for our family. I got to work even with my kids around. I can work from home. I can bring my kids with me when I work outside. Not all parents can do this. But I had been doing this since I got married. I've been working from home for almost 10 years now. Wow! Now that I counted, I was even more amazed! I had been working freelance for this long and it has been both fulfilling and rewarding. I'm so thankful that we have this kind of lifestyle. I can be a hands-on parent while earning. I had been living my dream! This was something I dreamt of when I was still single.

This was during our Baguio trip where I gave a talk for a client and at the same time had a vacation with my family.

We've also had a fruitful year in our homeschool. We usually do a couple of hours only of structured homeschool activity and yet we covered a lot in the past year. I was also glad that most of these were based on my kids' interests. We had numerous field trips (around 10 if I'm not mistaken) that were both fun and memorable. If you've been a regular reader of this blog since last year, you've read about most of them. (If this is your first time to read my blog, some of our field trips included going to Dr. Jose Rizal's townDino PlayTitans from the Ice Age, the Manila International Book Fair (MIBF) and Museo ng Katipunan.) In fact, because they were so many, I still have not blogged about all of them. Now, I wonder if there are other schools that have as many field trips as we have our homeschool. The great thing about these field trips is that these are related to my kids' interests and not something that someone or a school just thought would be beneficial for them. That's one of the advantages of homeschooling. We get to choose where we would bring the kids for field trips. Thus, we can bring them where they would be naturally interested or most likely to have fun. My 2 older boys even had the chance to join fun runs as part of their P.E. classes/activities last year. They joined the Crayola fun run towards the end of summer and the HOPE run for children with special needs towards year end.

We had a number of outings and trips or mini-vacations, too. Some of which were courtesy of my clients. Isn't that great? You've read about a few of them here also like our trip to Baguio and our outing to Enchanted Kingdom. We had a vacation at least once a quarter. Then, we had family outings in between. That's on top of our field trips! 2016 was indeed a year when we spent a lot of time bonding with each other through places that we visited.

This was in Villa Marinelli in Tagaytay after Christmas. I have yet to blog about this trip.

And there were the fun and memorable birthday celebrations that I planned for my kids (like the Star Wars party I planned for my eldest child, the Superman and friends birthday party for my second child and the Daniel the Lion King for my youngest) and that of my parents and brother, plus the out-of-town birthday celebrations for me and my husband. You've read about a few of them here, too.

Star Wars party for my eldest son. We were clowning around after all the guests have left.
Superman and his Superfriends party for my second child.
Daniel the Lion King for my youngest.

We celebrated my birthday last year in Pampanga. We tried a new hotel, ate in new restaurants and went on a field trip again.
These are just some of my blessings for 2016. There are SO MUCH MORE! I had so much to be grateful for in 2016!

Take away #2 Nothing/No one can hinder us from fulfilling our divine destiny.

Our circumstance may be far from ideal or supportive at the least, but this cannot hinder us from fulfilling our divine destiny or what we are here on earth for. God will definitely find a way and help us fulfill the dreams that He planted in our hearts. It was not only I who experienced this truth last year. This was true for both me and my eldest son.
I have already mentioned earlier my challenges last year. Given my limited time to work on my business and passion projects, I was amazed and grateful that I got to achieve MANY of my dreams/goals.

Last year, my dream of becoming a children's book author came true. I was able to publish and launch my first children's book, Mommy Loves You Just the Same, here in my website (last May in time for the celebration of Mother's Day) and on Amazon (in time for Christmas). We even came up with merchandise inspired by and based on the characters of my children's book. We found the best supplier/partner for this and we started selling these items last year also. We even got good reviews and support from influencers like celebrities, fellow authors, mompreneurs and mom bloggers.
You can buy these products here on our online shop. Available as a bundle or per item.
Shirts for Mom and Dad. You can buy them here.

We finished some of the videos of the first H.O.P.E. Summit. Actually, we're almost done editing all of the videos. You can find them here in the Virtual HOPE Summit page. Some of the parents in our community already benefitted from them. These videos were already available for sale in our online shop since early last year.

My talks and workshops were well-received by my audiences and my clients were happy with my work. Even though I felt that I didn't have ample time to prepare for these last year since I had so much on my plate, I am in awe that the people I served through my core gifts were very happy with the results. How did I know that? Well, aside from their feedback on the post-program evaluation sheets, I had repeat clients and repeat invitations to either speak or run training programs and workshops.

This was in one of my talks on parenting for one of my clients.
This was at Gymboree's anniversary celebration in Glorietta, Makati.

As for my eldest son, Yanthy, although he didn't get to enroll during the school year (after their summer classes) with his previous piano teacher/mentor (his mentor had been busy staging musicals), he still learned A LOT of songs in the past year. His repertoire has grown exponentially in the past year. His very first piano mentor who is now in the U.S. is also impressed. He now knows how to play at least 20 Advent and Christmas songs on the piano. On top of that, he has learned at least 20 new songs for the Mass. I have yet to make a comprehensive list of the songs he now knows how to play on the piano to help us keep track. He learns so fast that documenting them is not easy. I love this good problem actually!

Yanthy serving in the Sunday Mass with the Children's Choir.

Yanthy has also served as the pianist in our parish for our daily evening Masses and the Children's Mass on Sundays faithfully in the past year. There were only a few instances when he was not able to serve. He chose to serve even when it was raining or when he needed to be on his own (I or his Dad cannot go to Mass with him because of sickness or traffic) or even on days when he wasn't eager to do it. He and our family have made it our priority and our hearts are filled with joy because of this service.

2016 was an awesome year for me and my family! I cannot deny that my awesome God was behind it. I know that if it were only up to me, I would have the strength to accomplish all these. But God made a way for me. He lined up the right people and the right events for me. He made what seemed impossible possible.

So, as I welcomed 2017, I was filled not only with thanksgiving for the year that was but also hope and joyful expectation for things to come. God reminded me through my introspection exercises that with determination, hard work, discipline combined with a lot of faith and grace from Him, nothing is impossible!

This was during one of my strategic planning sessions for 2017 a few days ago.

How about you? How was your 2016? What blessings were you most grateful for? What lessons did you learn? I would love to hear from you.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Give Love on Christmas Day Year 5

My family and I watched the movie Christmas on Division Street yesterday morning after having a pancake breakfast that I prepared at home. It is one of the movies I recommended in one of my previous posts here that families can watch to bond this Christmas season. Yes, we're still in the Christmas season. Today is just the 10th day of Christmas. So, don't take down your Christmas tree and decors yet. Savor the season at least until the Feast of the Epiphany of the visit of the 3 wise men or more popularly known as the 3 Kings.

I read some short reviews about this movie before I included it in my previous blog post. I'm really glad I did that. Moreover, I am glad we watched this movie yesterday. It's a beautiful and touching movie. I could not keep my tears from falling minutes after the movie is over. I felt affirmed that my family and I did the right thing on Christmas day this year. (If you want to watch the movie on YouTube, you'll see the link here.)

We have a Christmas tradition that is already five years old. We first did it in 2012. You can read about the first time we did it and what moved me to suggest it to my husband here.

So, what is this Christmas tradition I am talking about? We give out brown bags to street kids.

This was my eldest when we first started this tradition.

I recently shared in my blog post Birthday Cake for the Birthday Boy that we make sure that we have a cake for Jesus as part of our Christmas feast. Aside from having a birthday cake, we go all out by making loot bags for Him, too. We give these loot bags (brown bags) to Jesus' favorites, the poor around us. We've decided to give it to street kids.

Our 3 wise boys or 3 kings ready to bless street kids! 
This photo was taken last year on the Feast of the Lord's Epiphany.

We've been doing this every year, usually on Christmas day. But there was also a year when we gave out these brown bags on the Feast of Holy Innocents (December 28) when we celebrated the first month of our youngest child. Last year, we got very busy and tired on Christmas day so we gave away brown bags and toys on the Feast of the Lord's Epiphany or 3 Kings with our 3 boys wearing crowns pretending to be the 3 Kings.

Our two Kings, Yanthy ands Mateo, giving away brown bags to street kids last year.

Every year, we usually think that we might not find street kids or a lot on the streets on Christmas day because the DSWD also exert effort to clean up the streets by finding shelter for these kids. But we are often surprised that we still find many homeless people, not just kids, roaming or sleeping on the streets on Christmas day. This makes me sad. I always wish each time that we had packed more brown bags.

Yesterday, after watching the movie which was about homeless people, God moved my heart again to ache for these poor people. I wished to have more resources so my family and I could help more homeless people. But God was quick to affirm me by telling me that my family and I already made a difference to the people we gave brown bags to. We may not reach all the homeless in the Philippines or in the world. But we definitely touched the hearts of those who received what we gave away. And as I write this post, God whispers into my heart that writing about our family tradition and experience can inspire and move others to do the same on Christmas day or any day of the year.

I'm so thankful to God for this beautiful family tradition and meaningful family bonding activity. It's a reminder to our family of the true meaning of Christmas... following the example of Jesus Christ and giving Jesus a gift through the poor around us. One of the priests who celebrated the anticipated Simbang Gabi in our parish asked us this question during his homily. "It's Jesus birthday, right? What is your gift to Jesus this Christmas?" Those were some of our family's gifts to Jesus on His birthday this year. But as we gave these gifts, Jesus gave us more. He gave us joy and inspiration.

Let me end this by sharing these words of Jesus in the Bible:

"Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me." Matthew 25:40