Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Inside Out Spring Party

Spring has officially sprung! We immediately know by the number of sneezes and allergies we get every morning! So we were finally able to celebrate C's party at the playground park she likes. We invited some of our closest friends nearby and some of C's close friends from dance school as well as our neighbors. I wish I can say I had so many months to prepare for the party because her actual birthday was months before but the truth is, I finished everything the week before the party. haha! Well of course, I planned it since last year so I was able to get the supplies ahead of time. At first, we were debating if the theme is going to be the live action film of Cinderella or Inside Out. She loves them both. In the end, the emotions won!

Her smile!!! :)

So back in December, I was able to get these clear plastic Christmas balls from Walmart at 0.99 cents each! I grabbed 6 and planned on turning them into her "Islands of Personality." At that time, I was just buying anything that looks "inside-outey" not knowing really how and what to use them for. It's a good thing that anything with polka dots in primary colors is not really hard to find. Thank you Dollar Tree! I got gumball tubes from Amazon hoping to fill them up with "memory orbs" aka gumballs but was too pricey so I ended up using them for the Islands of Personality instead. I used old Gerber jars for the stand filled with rice and taped with another Dollar Tree find, then placed inside metal tins C again found at Walmart.

Her Islands of Personality! Goofball, Family, Kindness/Helpful, Talent/Homeschool and Friendship Islands!


Then in the course of 3 months, I waited for Oriental Trading's monthly free shipping promo to buy these ceramic round banks. I couldn't buy them in one time so I had to wait a while (AKA payday!) to get all 36 pcs (We had about 30 kids on the list!). Then C found some polka dot plastic bags from Target's dollar bins which I initially planned on using as candy bags but worked well with the banks instead. We were completely satisfied and happy at how they looked like!



Of course I had to make candy bags especially now that printing is no more a problem for us. Having unlimited ink supply really does make me print like there's no tomorrow thanks to HP Instant Ink! So I made these labels as "Bing Bong's Tears". We had to have caramels so Wether's Soft Caramel candies to the rescue! The kids loved them! I didn't bother making elaborate decorations anymore since the venue was at the park. I had planned a photobooth, even bought a photobooth stand and the background. But it was soooo windy, we just couldn't set it up without it toppling down.


I got to channel my Iron Chef "skills" in the early morning of the party. I got up at 6 am and gave myself until 12 noon to finish everything! And. I. DID!!! Well, Mr. P helped in the cooking too. My late father who was a cook would have been so proud of me for pulling it off! We asked two of our friends to cook two dishes for us too so they helped a lot! For others, a Filipino birthday party may seem to be overwhelming, especially the food. But this is how we normally celebrate parties. With lotsa food! haha! We love to send take outs too!

Filipino Food Staples!


I didn't have anymore time to bake the cake so we just got a store bought cake. It's not a fancy as the custom made ones but the birthday girl loved it, the adults and kids ate it so it's we're good. It's all good. We're great!



The kids had fun playing in the playground (and sand). We had 2 party games. I bought prizes from Dollar Tree too. The kids got educational ones instead of toys, National Geographic books/trivia/puzzles, pencil cases, crafts and small science projects.



We thank God for providing for this party. We saved up (daddy worked harder haha!) because 7 is a milestone age. PLUS, we have so much to be thankful for for the first 7 years of C's amazing adventures. So many blessings first of which is her complete recovery from Kawasaki Disease. We look forward to more birthday celebrations to come, new adventures to conquer and new memories to make with everyone she loves and who loves her. (Though I don't think we'll be having another big party such as this one any time sooner. We'll do it again on her 10th birthday!)

That in all things God may be glorified! Her greatest gifts! Grace, Faith, Hope and Love!



Tuesday, March 1, 2016

THIS is US.

I love the different dynamics of families. I love their own uniqueness, personalities and love languages. It's always such a joy to watch how you can always tell from which family a child comes from just by the way they talk or act. And as unique as the children are, is the way parents "parent" them.

There is really NO ONE WAY to do parenting exactly. There is NO ONE WAY to tell that this type will work for ALL families. Parenting is not a ONE SIZE FITS ALL system. What works for you may not necessarily work for me and vice versa. But while we can all agree to disagree with some of our parenting techniques, I believe we can all agree that we are all doing our best to raise responsible, compassionate and fully capable little human beings. I don't know about you but in our family, some of our goals in raising C and our future children involve a lot of faith, hope and love. As well as confidence, independence, responsiblity, compassion, kindness, humility and most of all, grace and gratitude. We do our best to model these to her so more often than not, our thoughts, words and actions bring about conscious parenting.

Example: While driving, the car infront goes very slow than what the normal speed limit calls for. A normal adult driver reaction would be to impatiently whine behind the wheel, name calling and random outbursts of frustration. But because we have a little miss in the backseat who's like a sponge absorbing everything, we have to be conscious of how we deal with this type of situation. So instead of doing normal adult stuff and risk road rage (which is totally extreme and uncharacteristic of us!), we show GRACE and patience to the driver, who happens to be an old gentleman. I often find myself reminding Mr. P. that one day, we'll BE that old man driving his car and I know that I'll appreciate the grace and respect given to me when I am that old. Grace, it's what we all need.


In my other blog post, I talked about entitlement and how it's on the top of my pet peeves. I happened to find this book called Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World. It is a treasure trove of wisdom! (That is if this is your style. If it's not, then you won't appreciate her message.) Ultimately, our children absorb everything we DO more than what we say. If we want to raise grateful kids, we need to be grateful parents too. If we want them to feel less entitled, we should be less entitled ourselves. I could have written the exact same book! While we don't do rewards and punishments in our home because of intrinsic motivation, we also believe in natural consequences and learning curves. And she has laid out some real life examples with her children showing just that and the lessons it taught them.

Kristen Welch is also a famous blogger. Her blog We are THAT Family is also a gem! 
The first book that I ended up highlighting all the pages on! 

This is what intrinsic motivation looks like for our family. Helping and doing the chores voluntarily because she wants to contribute and nothing else. I've always told her we are a team and each of us has a role to do to make everything work. I am happy because we manage to get everything done without rewards and punishments, time outs and spanking. I realize all families are unique and to each is own. I'm just glad that this is us. She makes parenting so much easier!!!
Sometimes, parenting can leave us so clueless though. I always tell C that we're all in this together and that being first time parents and having only one child, we are all trying to figure out what works best for our family. There will be mistakes but so are lessons to be learned. There will be joys, triumphs and proud moments as much as failures, pain and humble opportunities. I know we can't possibly do all of this ourselves and so I believe that with God's grace, we will thread this parenting journey smoothly. Of course, I can still easily say that because we only have a 7 year old. Things will get more interesting for sure when we reach the teen years. For now, I am just contented and grateful to be on this journey with my family. I am grateful for the life we have created together. Eternally grateful for this grace and wisdom. :)

Spectacular 7

How is it even possible that C is now 7 years old?! Where did time go? Even though I spend 24/7 with her, I still can't believe that 7 amazing years have gone by already! I guess when you're too busy having fun and making memories, you lose track of time. The 24 hour labor ordeal is still very vivid in my mind! The first month of sleepless and exhausting nights. The breastfeeding journey! The Babywearing! All your milestones and firsts! The post partum depression that kicked in once I got back to work. The Kawaski Disease chapter. A year of having a Skype Dad. Then your first birthday, your first flight to the US and the rest as they is history!



My dearest C, whose only wish on her birthday is to fill up the local church pantry with food! And a stapler. Haha.. Oh how we thank God for you! We are so blessed to have you as our daughter. You are one of the kindest, sweetest, loving, compassionate and most understanding little kid we know! Thank you for all that you have taught us in the past but amazing 7 years of parenthood. You constantly make us strive to do more good in the world because it is by our example that we hope to inspire and empower you to do the same. You never fail to surprise us with your wit and wisdom that we never had at your age. Thank you for being so loving and compassionate not only to your families and friends but most especially for those who need it the most. Thank you for being such an understanding daughter who never faults us in our shortcomings, but lovingly assures us of our humanity. Our family has gone through ups and downs and you are always there patiently and lovingly understanding all that life has to teach. You have such a big heart and we pray to God that He continue to bless you with people who will take care of it, value you the same as you value them and who will lead you closer to Him. May He continue to guide you, protect you from ill-intentioned people and give you the wisdom to know when to be strong, but not rude; to be kind, but not weak; to be bold, but not bully; to be humble, but not timid; to be proud, but not arrogant. On your 7th year, may you continue to explore and experience all the things God has planned for you. May you grow closer to Him and continue being grateful for everything and everyone in your life.

Love always and forever,

Dad and Mom

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

"What Sets Privilege from Entitlement is Gratitude."


This is one of my most favorite quotes as an adult. It seems so fitting in the social media focused age especially since, it seems that, people are ALWAYS expecting something like the world owes them everything. You see, hear and read it in the news: Children file lawsuits after the other for the simplest of issues that would have been easily resolved in the old days. Young adults suing their parents because their parents are just being parents and wouldn't give in to their wishes. It boggles my mind how you could find it in your heart to sue your parents just because they are being responsible!



I grew up as an only child BUT I never had it in me to expect everyone to bow down to my wishes. I was brought up with a sense of gratitude, hard work and perserverance. I had to work hard for all the things that I want until now. I don't expect my loved ones to always give me what I want. Even if they did ask what I want, I still cringe because I can't bear that thought of asking them to give me something. I was brought up with so much thought and consideration for others. (Of course, it's different when you are in dire need of help and need a life line. By then of course, it's OKAY to ask for help. )

That's why as a parent, I make sure C grows up the same. I tell her directly that she's not entitled to anything. Whatever she is given, she should have a sense of gratitude. BIG or SMALL, she should be able to appreciate everything that comes her way. She should not expect people to do things for her all the time, that she'd be given special treatments or considerations or that she'll be given anything she wishes. I teach her gratitude, contentment, consideration and hard work. If people don't give her what's she's expecting, then move on and count her blessings instead. I will really find it a parenting fail if I raise my kid and she'll be called a spoiled, entitled brat when she's a grown up!


It saddens me that it's not only children who feel this entitlement disease. Adults have this too. They expect people to always help them when they are entirely capable of helping themselves. I mean, we don't deserve anything. We have to WORK HARD at it first before we are truly deserving of it. It pisses me off when most of us have to run, walk and crawl to get to where we are now and then just see them play the victims, wallowing in self pity, thinking how unfortunate they are as compared to how blessed we are. NEWSFLASH! The world doesn't revolve around your pity party! We only get what we work hard for to deserve! The only difference we have is we did not choose to wallow in self pity, played the victims and most of all, we don't think we are less fortunate because 1.) We are ALL completely capable of working. 2.) We CHOSE to work hard on our dreams no matter how difficult the roads are. 3.) We NEVER expect people to give us success that we didn't earn. 4.) MOST OF ALL, WE ARE GRATEFUL TO EVERYONE WHO HAS HELPED US. And then they get upset when we don't let them use us, when we don't let them use our own success so they will be successful too. :( This is NOT to say I AM NOT A HELPFUL PERSON. I DON'T MIND HELPING. I LOVE TO HELP. I LOVE TO EMPOWER PEOPLE TO REACH FOR THEIR DREAMS. (That's why I have this blog so I can share my experiences and inspire those who once thought they couldn't!)  BUT I HAVE TO SEE YOU HELP YOURSELF FIRST. I will not give you the fish because it wasn't handed down to me that easily. I need you to learn how to fish by following my lead. And the moment I see you EXPECTING, rather than APPRECIATING the help you are being given, I will have to stop from then on. 


 




You have got to learn to have the right attitude in life if you want to be successful. And it starts with how you treat yourself. Think of youself as being completely ABLED. As someone who is possible of achieving anything you put your heart, mind and soul into. Stop with the victim-poor-me-boohoohoo- mentally. Even the poorest of the poor and the less unfortunate are capable of rising above their conditions once they set their hearts, minds and souls into it. Like they say, entitlement is a delusion built on self centeredness and laziness. So, get your act together and you'll be just fine!


Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Kawasaki Disease Journey




6 years ago, we experienced the most traumatic experience in our lives. Our daughter, who was just 8 months then, was diagnosed with Kawasaki Disease. Until now, I still cannot put into words the trauma and the heartbreak that I have had to face during the course of C's hospitalization and post hospitalization. (It's a whole new level of bravey and inner strength when you have to comfort your crying daughter wrapped in blankets and have needles poke her in different parts of her arms just to get a blood sample. It was very unfortunate that they couldn't get it so a pedia had to get it from her wrist.) What we all thought to be just Roseola Infantum turned into something that is life threatening. At first glance, it's symptoms appear to be that of hand, foot and mouth disease. But a closer look at blood tests would reveal that it's KD. But the most challenging part is the diagnosis. You see, children NEED and MUST be diagnosed WITHIN 10 DAYS from the onset of the fever to prevent aneurysm and other heart complications. We are very blessed because God has given us the proper diagnosis and the means for treatment at day 7. When I look back on that day, it was truly Him working His way into our lives. We didn't have the financial means right away to purchase seven vials of IVIG at $209 EACH but God sent C's godmother to help us borrow money. She hand delivered the cash to pay for the treatment because as it happened, banks were all closed as it was a weekend.




IVIG infusion. It was especially hard because during this time, Mr. P was already in the states. He wanted to come home but we told him to stay because we needed the money to finance the medical bills. It was truly one of the most humbling experiences in our married life. My mom and in-laws were there to help us but to be apart when our child was very sick and when we needed each other for support was really very hard. 


C's treatment took 12 hours to finish and instantly, her well being changed from being very sick to being back to her usual joyful self! She had a mild case of arrhythmia during confinement which resolved in two weeks. We had to have 2d echos in the past and have been cleared since she was 2 years old. The next appointment would be when she turns 11 years old.

This is the day the Lord has made! This was the day we were discharged from the hospital!
I am getting very emotional today as I and the other KD moms in our KD group share our Kawasaki Disease journey. A few have lost their children, one just days short of his 8th birthday and some have had aneurysms and heart attacks at age 5! Age 5!!!! Others have had it happened to the same child TWICE! C had a mild case of arrhythmia during confinement but thankfully, it resolved on its own after two weeks post confinement. We are truly blessed in our journey and C is our everyday reminder of God's loving and living miracle!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Artist's Eye

I was browsing Flickr last night and came upon this young man from the Philippines, Michael Peligro, who takes beautiful photos of our beaches and landscape using only an old Nokia phone and his point and shoot camera. Some photographers frown upon people who consider themselves photographers just because they only use cellphones or cheap point and shoot. I 100% disagree with them.

Photography is a skill defined by the artist's eye and his ability to produce an image out of the most mundane things in the world. Your eyes and mine can look at the same thing but only the artist's eye can look at it in different artistic levels and attention to details. Cameras and cellphones are only the mediums to capture what the artist's eye can see. Your "eye, skill level, composition and experience" are what make you a PRO not your equipment. Without these, there is nothing for the equipment to express.

It's like those who are gifted with painting. I am sure you've seen videos of some really great painters in the streets of some exotic country using only their fingers and some cheap paint to make beautiful paintings on some plastic canvass. Would you tell them they're not really considered artists just because they don't use the most expensive paint brushes, canvass and paint? Heck, NO! You can give me the most expensive mediums to paint and my paintings still won't come any closer to the ones they make. Equipment and tools only help you tell your story.  It's okay to want to have that dream camera equipment but we have to realize they alone don't make the story. (I am learning this myself. Before I upgraded my camera, Mr. P first told me to improve on my skills and learn the tricks. I turned from amateur to hobbyist! And it'll be a long while before I will upgrade to the Canon Mark D series because I still have SO MUCH to learn!)

The same goes with photography. If you really have the patience and the interest to learn the skill, having only a cheap cellphone or a simple compact camera will not stop you from showing the world through your eyes. (Talent gives you the edge. But talent still needs to be cultivated and developed so always leave room for learning. And that's ALL GOOD TOO!)

So always be inspired! Don't let equipment limitations stop you from sharing your ideas of how the world looks like!

Meanwhile, I leave you with this and decide for yourself if photography is an art or not. Also, with this  if you consider yourself a hobbyist and want to become a pro.

Poof out!

A photo I took using the same point and shoot camera I gave to C, post processed in black and white with vignetting to get this dramatic effect.



Same point and shoot.


I just used the camera's settings to get this shot. 


I took this one using the second Canon point and shoot camera I have. The only difference is the picture size.


And then there's me looking at God knows where and feeling God knows what. You can see the same camera C now owns. I took more pictures with it than with my old DSLR. 

I took this using Iphone 5s.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Colonial Williamsburg

Now that we're in First Grade, our Seton Home Study curriculum includes 1st Grade American History. It covers topics that tell about the early beginnings of America and the people (and Catholic Saints) who sacrificed a lot for this nation to become the country it is today. We start with the Voyages of Discovery and the story about how Columbus discovered the New World. I must say that learning all these with my daughter is well, interesting. Our book doesn't really tell all that had happened between the colonists and the natives but it does tell us a bit of historical facts. (I still don't know how I would feel about the treatment of the natives. I mean, c'mon! They were here first! But enough of that...)

Our book also talks a lot about the colonial period. How colonies were formed back then, who governed them, what people believed in, what they did, how they lived. So when we got the chance to visit Colonial Williamsburg in September last year through their homeschooling week program, we immediately registered and bought the tickets.

Their homeschooling week has a lot of programs that you can choose from and join to immerse yourself with the colonial way of life. Each program has a separate fee from the entrance tickets and are held in different locations inside the community. They even let you rent period costumes for $25 so you can get the complete feeling of living in the period. (We didn't rent but I did buy C a bonnet to wear! ) We signed up for their American Indian program because I wanted ourselves to learn more about the natives who were really, the first people to inhabit the land. Their side is not really given a proper story telling in the history books so what I did was to buy a book about the different tribes all across America.


We also prepared our trip there by watching  Liberty Kids videos on Youtube and I bought books related to the topic as well. We read and researched so much so that by the time we went there, C is already familiar with the colonial way of life.




I actually felt happy when I saw this banner! 



Inside the Welcome Center. Spot C! She blended well!

I had goosebumps when I read this! There's a bridge that you would cross from the Welcome Center to the trail leading up to the settlement itself. Throughout the walk way, you'll see these that tells you about the things that we take for granted nowadays but were considered privileges before. 

The Governor's Palace! It's filled with muskets and swords lol! Our tour guide from that period told the story of what happened to the governor as if it just happend yesterday. I told him that the house looked like the Biltmore Mansion. To which he said, " I haven't heard of that mansion yet." Then, I said, "Oh, it's the one that George Vanderbilt built in NC." To which he asked back, "Who is George Vanderbilt? I haven't heard of the Vanderbilts before." He was saying these all the while he was smiling at me. Only then did I get that he's still in character and that yes, the Vanderbilts haven't cross the seas yet to settle in North America, during the colonial times.

Everyone who works there talks and acts like they ARE really from that time period! The cook really cooked meals that the governor would eat as if his servants are about to serve them to him. The food looked and smelled so good that I had to prevent myself from asking if I can have a taste! 



Here is the first Cherokee Indian that we met in our program. He talked about their way of life, showing us some of the things that his tribe considers of high value. He told us how they trade, what items they trade and where they trade. He told us stories about how young men in their tribe are initiated into adulthood too! It's interesting to know as well how rich their culture is and I am very glad that they are still here to preserve it. Proud moment was when he asked if there are any questions we'd like to ask him, C was one of the first to ask! lol!

 
Here is another gentleman from the same tribe who told us an inspiring folklore about bringing honor to your tribe by helping your neighbors and doing more than you are expected to do. He told us this story under a big tree and I kid you not when I tell you that while this is happening, there was a breeze of wind that made the leaves make a sound as if they're whistling! It's like sitting under Grandmother Willow's tree and listening to her tell stories!!! It was truly an amazing and unforgettable moment to witness and hear!



Every afternoon at 3 pm, the actors hold a re-enactment of some sort that show us a glimpse of their way of life. The music and the sounds really make you feel you travelled back in time. 








This was us on our second trip to CW just last month!

It was already soooo cold!!!







Add caption


Candid shots almost always make great photographs!
Though we came back for the second time, it was still not enough to do EVERYTHING in here. (Plus it was freezing we didn't want to move an inch! lol.. ) They have so many programs to choose from that you can't possibly join them all, especially since some schedules overlap with each other. I am sure that we will be coming back again to explore CW as well as the neighboring colonies in the circle, Jamestowne and Yorktown. We would love to visit Cherokee, NC as well in the Fall! I have never given world history that much thought and attention until now that I am an adult. So that makes homeschooling even more fun and interesting because I love learning too! It was well worth the trip times two!