Monday, September 3, 2012

When Coby Becomes President of the Philippines

After learning about the Philippine government and it's role, a significant change has happened to Coby. One of the things I noticed was how keen he was on following the rules of the land. After paying for an item at the toy store, he asked me if we already paid the taxes for the toy. I told him that yes, we did because the price already included taxes. He would be very conscious about paying the right taxes, people's rights, following rules and not following rules.

One day, while we were walking home quietly, a motorcycle suddenly came out of nowhere and almost hit us. The incident made Coby really angry and blurted out, "Mama, when I become the president of the Philippines, motorcycles are illegal!' He said it with much conviction.

He still has a lot more "laws" to make when he becomes the president of the Philippines and here are some of his ideas:
  • Motorcycles are not allowed to drive on the sidewalks. 
  • Dog-eating is illegal. 
  • Making animal skin products is illegal. 
  • Motorcycles are not allowed to go fast inside villages only on highways. 
  • Making "siga" is very illegal but you won't be arrested. 
  • Smoking in apartments are not allowed anymore. 
  • Selling fake DVDs, video games and PC games are illegal. 
  • Toxic items are not allowed like China-made toys. 
  • Littering in important places are illegal like the house of Jose Rizal and other historical places
  • Plenty of recycling factories should be opened.
  • Recycle materials to useful furniture and toys.
  • There should be guards in places were people can use spray paint and vandalize.
  • Poor people including the homeless should not pay for their hospital bills. The government will pay for it using the money that they don't need. 
  • Kids should know more about outer space and astronomy so we should open our own space station. There should be schools where kids can sign up and learn about space called SASC or Space Astronomy Studying Center. 
  • People cannot use shark's fin for soup.
  • There will be new Sea Patrols working day and night to see if anyone has drowned.
  • Sea Patrol units guarding the oceans should help other people from other countries who need help. 
These were just some of his ideas. I don't what else he will come up with... :-)

Someone to Watch Over Me

Have you ever had that feeling as if someone is watching you? Well, I do and it's not that eerie kind of feeling :-) I know for a fact that Coby, our eldest child, is watching over me, literally.

You see, we don't have a helper in our home so I do most of the chores especially when my husband is at work and I start the day at 4:30 A.M. and turn in at around 8 P.M. Before the kids wake up in the morning, I make sure that at least 90 percent of my morning chores are done, which includes doing the laundry, dishes, cleaning the living and dining areas, and hopefully I have taken my morning shower. As soon as the kids run down to have breakfast, I have to attend to them. After a few minutes of chatting with them, I run upstairs and tidy up the rooms there. A few minutes later, they will then have their baths and we will start school. 

There may be times when I will be asking Coby to work on his own while I prepare lunch. My mornings are really, really busy! But the load gets lighter after lunch and Coby completes one or two more subjects then he is free. We are both free :-) That's the time I check my email, get updates on FB, read blogs, post blogs or just simply surf the internet.

Then, my afternoon routine would soon commence. I would prepare the lessons for the next day. Fold the clean clothes then prepare dinner, if dinner has to be prepared unless I still have leftover food from lunch. Doing all these things is no chore to me really, I actually enjoy doing them. Unfortunately, I am not Supergirl . I do get tired and at times lazy too to clean up. To say that I regret being a homemaker is a false statement. I love "making a home" for my family even if it's exhausting and stressful. 

One afternoon, while I was busy doing something Coby approached me and said,"Mama, something tells me that you don't like what you're doing." I was surprised by his comment so I asked what made him say that. "Because you're not smiling when you're doing the chores. It looks like you're angry," he blurted out. Bothered by what he noticed I reassured him, "I'm not angry while I'm doing chores, anak. I'm just too focused what I am doing. Don't think I don't like what I'm doing. I love it but my face is just really serious when I'm working." 

Still not satisfied with my answer he asked,"Are you sure? Because you really look angry?" I put down whatever I was holding and looked him in the eye, "I'm okay Coby. I'm happy, just seriously working. Remember when we are working, we have to focus on what we are doing so we can do a great job, right? That's what I'm doing!" 

I hope he was satisfied with my reply. Then he asked me again, "Do you need some help with that? I can help you." I was so touched that I tried to make him help. He probably felt I was tired, which is the truth but I'm still fine. 

Other times, I would do the laundry right after dinner. While they are all resting and watching TV upstairs, Coby would go down and check on me. He would ask me why I'm doing laundry when it's time to rest. I would give him my reason and he would say, "It's late, Mama. It's time to rest."

Ever since that time, I would hear him going down the stairs and stop at the landing. He would hold on to the railings and watch what I'm doing. Sometimes he would ask if I needed help but most of the time he would just be sitting there and watching me. He would do this everyday. 

Two days ago while I was preparing dinner, I heard the same footsteps again. I knew he was watching me, so without looking at him I reassured him, "I'm okay Coby. I'm just preparing dinner. You can go play now. It's okay." 

After hearing that, he ran upstairs and I heard him turn on the TV. 

In the beginning, this routine of his would annoy me, because I don't like the feeling of somebody watching over me. But then I realized, Coby is just loving me. He speaks his love language through acts of service. He wants to help Mama any little way he can. 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Testimony of Faith

I was a school girl in the 80′s when I learned that it was God created the universe, all the animals, plants, trees and yes, including me. He created everything good until sin entered the world. Eve believed the devil’s lies and took a bite of the forbidden fruit. She then offered the same fruit to Adam and soon they felt shame and hid from the Lord. Our teacher then told us that every time we commit sin, our heart gets filled with black dots and I became very conscious of this at that time. I tried my best not to stain my heart with black dots. But because of my sinful nature and living in a sinful world, the concept of black dots filling my heart did not bother me anymore. I thought maybe I could do something to remove those black dots.
3 The serpent was the shrewdest of all the wild animals the Lord God had made. One day he asked the woman, “Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?”
“Of course we may eat fruit from the trees in the garden,” the woman replied. “It’s only the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden that we are not allowed to eat. God said, ‘You must not eat it or even touch it; if you do, you will die.’”
“You won’t die!” the serpent replied to the woman. “God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.”
The woman was convinced. She saw that the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her. So she took some of the fruit and ate it. Then she gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it, too. At that moment their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness. So they sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves. Genesis 3:3-7
During this time my mother became a believer, a follower of Jesus Christ, a born-again Christian. I would know that she spends her mornings praying because she would lock the door in her room and would not be bothered for hours. She didn't want to be bothered. There were also times when I would wake up and see her laying her hands over me or my brother. She would take us to where she attends church service and my brother and I would just spend hours playing in the parking lot. We didn’t know what they were doing, all we know is that it was boring and the pastor talks for a very long time.
In college, my mother continued to live a life as a born-again Christian but moved to another church.Pastors from that church would visit us and have bible studies at home but my brother and I would make up a ton of excuses not to join their session. I would often hide quietly in my room until their bible study is over. My mother would also drag us to church every Sunday probably hoping that we too would be committed followers of Jesus. 
“For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16″
One Sunday morning in church, there was an altar call. The pastor called on those who want to commit their lives to Jesus Christ and asked them to raise their hands and step forward. My mother, raised my hand and my cousin’s hand, who was living with us at that time, and literally forced us to go to front and become followers of Jesus Christ.
We were taken to a room after the altar call and the person in charge was trying to explain what had just transpired but I guess my heart was never really in it. I mean, I understood what the gospel is. I know what Jesus did, dying on the cross for sin but it never really struck a chord at that time in my life.
 After that, I was pushed to continue to doing bible studies after church. I thought of becoming part of the choir. You see, our church choir was very popular those days because of our praise and worship style. It was lively and would guarantee to bring people to tears! I had a different goal then for joining the choir. And because my motive was not really to please God, my stint as a choir member ended early. I just left the choir because I didn't get what I want and I was too busy hating God for ruining my love life. You see, during this time in my life, I thought I had met the love of my life, my soul mate. The one I am supposed to marry. I was dead-set on marrying this guy but God has other plans for me. Because the relationship didn’t work out, I rebelled against God. I stopped attending church. I stopped doing anything for God.
I would seek my happiness elsewhere. I was always on the lookout for someone to love and love me in return, someone to fill the void in my heart. A friend  once said I was desperate to find love and I would search anywhere for it. 
Years passed and I finally found someone who would love me and that was in 2002 when I married my ex-boyfriend (my husband now). He was raised from the traditional religion and I said might as well go back to the same traditional religion. We got married in a quaint yet beautiful 400-year-old church and had our first child a few months after. Sundays became a “routine” for me as we head to our community church. Somehow during these times, I felt a strong tug in my heart. I miss the old way of worshiping God. I miss singing my heart out in thanksgiving to the God of the universe. I respect what the priest was saying during his sermons but it did not affect that much to change my ways and live my life according how God wants me live.
Retracing my story, while pregnant with our first child, my husband and I attended a breastfeeding class. There we met a couple who taught us how to successfully breastfeed the baby and more. Later as they followed up on us, we found out that we have a lot of things in common, we live in the same village, same work setting and they were Christians. I already shared with the wife that I used to attend a Christian church and I somehow connected with her. We became friends instantly and they initiated a bible study for us in their home. We were still attending the community church while learning about God through the bible study. It came to a point, one Sunday as I sat there in the pew, I need to look for a church that would help me find God and help me change my ways because I knew I needed to change badly.
   We studied “The Purpose Driven Life” by Rick Warren in our bible study. This book was used by  God to finally open my mind and my heart to Him. I am filled with information about being born again, about the significance of Jesus’ death and the need for salvation but it never really went down to my heart to change it. I believe it was God’s appointed time that my husband and I decided to turn back on our old selves and follow Jesus. The process of transformation is not easy neither is it completed. There was a lot of resistance in the beginning, a lot of questions, and struggling for control. But whoever said that following Christ is easy? I am still undergoing this process and the journey is exciting.
All that we are now is because of God, because of Jesus Christ. He is the only one who can change a person a sinner like me. He is the only one who can lift my downcast life and give me a new life that is totally surrendered to Him.
I heard of the Lord when I was a child. He became an acquaintance in my youth. Now he is my Lord, my Savior, my friend, my bridge to the Father and my makeover professional.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Leftover Makeover

Spaghetti is one of our family's staple meals. I prepare this pasta dish not only for birthdays or any other celebration but for our everyday"lutong bahay" meals. When the kids have licked the bottom of the sauce pan, they would ask me," No more sauce?"  We will be left with pasta noodles good enough for one more meal. This weekend, spaghetti was on our menu.

It was a very lazy Monday for me. We were still tired from a birthday party yesterday and hubby and I slept late.  Not to mention I had to wake up my usual waking time at 4:30 AM to prepare for hubby. By mid-day, after doing arts and crafts with Jianne, I was sooo sleepy. I couldn't keep my eyes open anymore plus the weather was so conducive for sleeping. I told Coby to continue his Language lessons while I take a nap upstairs.

We still had leftover spaghetti from the weekend, so I was confident we would have enough for lunch. No need to cook.    I woke up a few minutes before 12 noon and took out the food for reheating. Lo and behold, the spaghetti sauce was just enough for two kids. It's too late to take out the fish from the freezer. What will I eat? Hmmm I could do an aglio oglio which is just noodles with lots of garlic, olive oil and basil. But I was not in the mood for aglio oglio.

Then I remembered I still had left over San Marino Tuna Fillet Spanish Sardines.  Yes! Still Aglio oglio but with a twist, instead of anchovies, I would do a Pinoy version using spanish sardines.

I crushed as many garlic as I want. Garlic and olive oil, oh so yummy! So, I flaked the tuna first. Then I sautéed my garlic and put in the flaked tuna. I added the oil in the can to add flavor to the pasta. Then I tossed in the leftover spaghetti noodles. Seasoned it with salt and pepper and topped with dried parsley. The spiciness of the sardines added flavor to my 5-minute meal!

Voila! Lunch is served!

Pinoy Aglio Oglio

I really need to be educated in the art of food photography :-)

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Marriage Mystery Revealed Part 2

This is the second installment of the entry I posted recently on marriage. Again, these are the highlights of the marriage retreat my husband and I attended recently in a sister church, CCF Las Pinas.


Mending the Gaps

A study was conducted regarding the differences between men and women. The study also revealed the differences in the needs of both men and women.

Needs of Men: 

1. Sexual Fulfillment

2. Recreational Companionship

3. A Good-looking Wife (seriously?)

Needs of Women:

1. Affection

2. Conversation

3. Honesty and Openness

At times, unmet needs are the source of conflict in relationships or marriages. These conflicts when not brought out in the open or resolved, could be barriers in communication. What then are the other barriers to communication?

First, it's not knowing the differences between the needs of your spouse. Men and women are total opposites. Women are organized, talkative, people-oriented, see the details, put things in order while men are disorganized, use few words, goal-oriented, see the big picture and scatter things. These differences are not absolute truths about men and women, there are a lot of women who are clutter-bugs while there are men who TALK a lot!

Second barrier, is having unresolved conflicts. I believe most of the unresolved conflicts arise from unmet needs. For example, because of the natural tendency of men to keep to themselves and not talk about "things" with their wives, they become cold, distant. The wives in turn, would be wondering and bombarding the husband with questions. Soon, conflict would arise only because issues were not resolved right away.

Third is taking each other for granted. The wife could be too focused on the kids that they unintentionally neglect the poor husband. The exciting honeymoon stage fizzles out as soon as kids are born. Somehow the wife gets preoccupied with the new baby that hubby feels left out and unwanted. That's why it is necessary for the husband and wife to continue to devote their time to each other. Having babies should not be the cause of conflict in the marriage. It should solidify the bond of the husband and wife. Because as the child grows up, he or she would look up to his or her parents as role models when he or she has her own family in the future.

Another barrier to communication is bitterness. It is said that bitterness is a crushing mental attitude which triggers a wide variety of other sins. Bitterness only means unforgiveness and this will rob the marriage of stability. I like what the speaker said about forgivness, that it is a lubricant that reduces the friction between husband and wife. 

The prophet Hosea was given as an example. Hosea was a prophet of God yet his wife became unfaithful, in fact, she became a prostitute. But despite what the wife has done to Hosea, he forgave her and welcomed her back. This kind of love shown by Hosea is the kind of love God shows us. We are unfaithful to God. We are sinners who love our sin. But wherever our sin has led us, God still calls us to come back to Him. He still runs after us. He loves us no matter what we have done. All He wants is for us to come to Him and turn our back on our sin and follow Him. He says in Jeremiah 31:34
No longer will they teach their neighbor,
    or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’
because they will all know me,
    from the least of them to the greatest,”
declares the Lord.
“For I will forgive their wickedness
    and will remember their sins no more. Jeremiah 31:34

So how do we mend the gaps in our marriage?

1. Show genuine interest in your spouse.

2. Build relationships. We should not find time,  but we need to make time for your spouse.

3. Demonstrate a willingness to forgive and ask for forgiveness. As Jesus said in Matthew 18:21-22, our forgiveness knows no limit.
Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”

22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.

4. We should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.

James 1:19 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry

Friday, August 3, 2012

Homemade School Uniform

Teaching the kids at home is so convenient. They don't have to wake up early, rush breakfast and hop in the school bus just to make to school on time. I don't have to keep their uniforms pearly white and neatly pressed. I don't like ironing that's why!

But sometimes they get too comfortable with learning at home that being in their house clothes or even in their pajamas sets the "lazy or slow" mood.  So, when I started years ago, I made it a point to get Coby some decent shirts, not necessarily going out clothes, to wear as his "school uniform".  For him, there should be some sense of "formality" but we're not "that" formal really :-) It's like setting the tone for him everyday that we have school today and we go to our study area or "classroom".

And because Jianne is now officially enrolled also, I decided to that they should have their uniform and that we create them! I got the idea from a college batch mate, who I think is a Martha-Stewart in the making. In her blog, she shared how to make your own stenciled T-shirt. It looked so easy and it was! The difficult part was cutting the template but the rest is easy. We enjoyed it too much that I will make one for me and my husband soon. I did not give the details of the project but I included a link to her blog here Thanks Irene!

By the way, don't forget to wear face masks especially when painting on the template. It's better if you do it outdoors :-)

Ironing the template on the shirt

jianne painting on the template

homeschool sister
Kuya's turn

Peel off! Peel off! Peel Off!

wearing it proudly 
Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the realm of the dead,where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom. Ecclesiates 9:10

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Being Uncommon

When people find out that we are homeschooling our children, we get varied responses and they are as follows:

"Homeschooling? What is that?"

"Really? How do you do that?"

"Oh... (pause) why?"

"Who teaches them? You? Are you a teacher?"

"I just don't have the patience to do that!"

"What about socialization?"

Since I usually get these reactions from people, I would  patiently answer their inquiries as much as I can. Most of the time, people would get it right away. However, there would be times when you see the skepticism in their eyes and they couldn't keep their eyebrows down. When this happens, I just brush it off and let them be especially if they are strangers or persons I just met. But for those who are in my inner circle, it's a little frustrating. Especially those who are very close to me. Every time they say something negative about homeschooling, I find myself defending it and my children. Even if you share the joys and fruits that we are reaping because we choose homeschooling over conventional schooling, their minds are shut and wouldn't listen to reason. It's like I'm in a courtroom and being tried for not sending my kids to conventional school and not EARNING money. Aaargh!

Still, I'm blessed to have met other homeschoolers who have patiently taught and guided their children till high school. I am just in awe at how they teach chemistry, algebra and trigonometry! I wish I could do that... but then again, I have to focus on a preschooler and 4th grader first :-) Talking to these homeschooling moms encourages me to continue with what the Lord has impressed upon us four years ago. It is an honor to be called to teach our children.

Aside from these homeschooling families, there are people though not really that close but has shown support to what we do. They say they couldn't possibly do what we are doing, but I know they can too if they trust God. I thought I was a patient person until I started teaching Math in Grade 1! But the reality is, when God calls us to do something for Him, He will equip us. He will give us the ability to complete the task. And while completing his mission for us, He will sustain us with His grace, love, and supernatural strength. Yes, I mean SUPERNATURAL strength and Looooooooooooooong suffering! :-)

When my father-in-law came to Manila for a visit, he knew that our kids were homeschooled. The last time we saw him was two or three years ago and I don't remember mentioning to him that the kids were homeschooled. So, he met the kids again who are, of course, much older now. We went to my sister-in-law's house and spent the day with my in-laws. Our kids love going to Ninang's (my sister-in-law) house because they get to play with their cousins. They were their usual selves playing endlessly and laughing boisterously all day. As we were relaxing in the afternoon, I saw my father-in-law talking seriously talking to my husband. I didn't want to disturb them so I just let them talk.

Days after the visit to the in-laws, my father-in-law visited our new apartment. The kids were so hyped that that they took out all their stuff, their artwork, paintings and books and showed it to their grandpa. Their grandpa was overwhelmed by the barrage of stuff the kids wanted to show him. Then my father in law says, "You know what? I was not  sure about the idea of homeschooling. Not because I question your capability to teach but my concern really was their socialization. But my fears were unfounded. I saw them with their cousins and they were able to relate to them. They can relate to adults too. I see also that you really ground them in the Word of God which is important. Continue what you're doing. If you need any books, let me know."

What an affirmation from the Lord!  After all the hard work, we can see something good coming out of this. It feels good to hear that we are doing a great job with our kids especially from my in-laws. But then again, it's all about who gets the credit. We are God's instruments molding these small people the way God wants to mold them. My husband and I were not able to do it by our own strength but because God gives us strength. In the end, it is God whom we want to please not the people around us nor the world.

“I know that You can do all things, And that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted. Job 42:2

"Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may  prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. "Romans 12:1-2