A Sarangani Christmas!

Usually, during Christmas we would leave Sarangani and take a vacation. This year is different. I’m now 8 months pregnant and giving birth in January. I’m no longer allowed to take the plane and I’m really needing the rest for my upcoming big day.

Good thing that my husband’s siblings and nephew decided to join us in Sarangani. Christmas is about Jesus coming to the world to save the lost. Each year families celebrate this time to get together and celebrate what God has done for us… giving Jesus as a gift to the world. We are blessed to be around immediate family and our extended family (our household), though we wish we were with the rest of our family.

This year’s Christmas Day we set out for a simple family grill by the beach of Kling… Pork Barbecue, grilled shrimps and fish, salad and an all-day swim and family bond just like the days of Steve’s dad and mom… We had a lot of reminiscing of childhood memories and how my father-in-law, Ruben, would enjoy this simplicity.

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Joshua is experiencing a family tradition being passed on. My husband’s family grew up on that same beach and also roasted their food for an easy lunch with their parents. Now we are doing the same kind of tradition. Joshua warmed up to the black sand beach and he had a good swim with his dad and uncles…

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Joshua also enjoyed harvesting local cherries and green mangoes from the farm. He also bonds with daddy around the farm to see the cattle and other animals. What a joy it is to spend such quality time as a family. What a blessing it is from the Lord to have this time to make new memories.

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This Christmas in Sarangani has made us grateful. Beyond any gift, family and time are most precious… It’s really a time of thanksgiving to the Lord for our life, our family, our talents and opportunities, our time, and most of all our Jesus who has given eternal life.

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Model and Teach

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My son observes everything. He has gone to the bathroom and tried to put deodorant of his dad on his armpits. No one taught him to do that, but he picked it up from observing his daddy. He likes to wear our shoes, he tries to type on our computer, he likes to try what we do… There are many things that Joshua has imitated from us… and many times its from him watching and emulating what we do.

This can be both good and bad. Good because family values are passed on. Bad too, because bad habits of parents can also be copied! I am more aware of my actions because I have a pair of eyes just watching my every move. Action does speak louder than words. Our children are aware if we lie with our lips and because our actions do not match what we say. We cannot preach and expect our child to get it. We need to model it.

Thank You’s

When have been teaching Joshua that everytime he receives something, especially when he asks, to say “thank you”. In the Philippines we are fortunate to have baby sitters/nannies to help us. Joshua has learned to ask for his milk at the age of 15-16 months. So everytime he asks for his milk and his nanny gives it, we tell him to say “thank you”. We also teach him that if we ask him to do something, like throw his own diaper in the diaper bin, we tell him “thank you”. We say “thank you” to each other alot at home. That is why, now that he is two years old, he says “thank you” on his own even when we don’t prompt him to say it. Although, from time to time we do have to remind him when he forgets. The attitude of gratitude is so important to be taught and this can be taught really early.

Please
At home, we also have been teaching Joshua to say “please”. It is like an endearment when asking a favor from someone. When he wants something, we tell him he has to say, “please”. When he likes to play with a toy like his play doh… often he would say “I want play doh”. So we tell him, “Joshua, if you want play doh you have to say ‘can I have play doh, please?'” When he follows, he gets what he wants. Today, this is his endearment especially to his daddy. He likes to play or make “ukay-ukay” daddy’s side table. So when he wants something of his dads, he says “Daddy please”.

I’m Sorry
Teaching this phrase “I’m sorry” is usually not common. Well it depends how you grew up. If your parents modeled to say “sorry” when they are, then it is common. But in our home, we want to practice saying “I’m sorry” when we know we have done wrong. If we accidentally hurt each other such as bumping one another, I say “I’m sorry” with a hug and a kiss. If we play rough and lets say Joshua falls, I say “I’m sorry” with a hug and a kiss. For Joshua, it is when discipline is required on him that he has to express it with his mouth that he is sorry. When he becomes disobedient, usually he finds it hard to say, “I’m sorry”. We have to go to a place where it is just the both of us, and he knows that mommy will have to discipline and administer a spank. This is where after the spank, I have to teach him to say, “I’m sorry”. Then we give him super hugs and kisses. I tell him “I love you but since you disobey and not follow mommy I have to spank. Okay?” Usually he would respond, “Okay” while wiping his tears. Then I would tell him, “Please say, I’m sorry.”… Then he would say, “I’m sorry”.

One time, Joshua was playing with his play doh and he left it in the open. Apparently, his play doh dried up and became hard and we could not mold it into anything because it would crumble. So, I told him tell his daddy what happened to play doh. So with the words he knew, he explained “Daddy, play doh is ‘tigas'(hard). I’m sorry” then he raised his hands towards his daddy and hugged him. My husband took him and hugged him and was surprised that Joshua said he is sorry about his toy. After all, it was daddy that gave him the play doh so he knew who to say sorry to. Daddy’s heart melted that his 22 month old baby boy was saying sorry… So, daddy bought Joshua a new set of play doh the next day.

Amen.
Ever since Joshua was in the womb, prayers flooded over him. We would lay hands on my tummy and pray for him. When he was born, we continued to pray for him aloud… Then as he grew, his comprehension about prayer got clearer. We would pray before sleeping and as we wake. We teach him that after we converse with God to say “Amen”. He has learned to say that… Then sometime ago, I got a boil that got a bad infection. I was nursing the wound with gauze every after bath. He would come and look at me. I tell him that mommy has an “Ow-ow” or a short-cut for ouchie. Then when it was all gauzed up, I asked him to pray with me for quick healing. He would put his hand on the gauze and I would say “Jesus, please heal mommy’s ow-ow.” and he would say “Amen!” and smile. What a joy it is to have my son agree with me in prayer!

Let me be clear here with these accounts. We are not perfect parents and I have lots of stories to tell on how we fail as parents. Joshua is not a perfect son, this is why we have to teach him and train him the way he should go. We are all flawed… But by God’s grace, we are learning to follow what the bible says about raising our family. As the Lord guides, we continue to practice grace at home. It also is hard to teach our children if we ourselves don’t practice what we are teaching. I am convinced that the best way to imprint a character value on our children is to model it. The best way to model these is to have a relationship with God. Every parent cannot fulfill their appointed purpose separated from God.

These bible verses are so encouraging to parents.

“So commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these words of mine. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. Teach them to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, so that as long as the sky remains above the earth, you and your children may flourish in the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors. (Deuteronomy 11:18-21)

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24 Months later

The Lord has been so good to us and really the last 24 months has been a blessing. Our home is filled with joy. Also having Joshua in our lives has brought us to a journey of many emotions — anxiety and worry especially when the baby would get sick; anger when my husband and I would disagree on parenting styles; bliss when you catch your baby’s milestones; agape love when you get long hugs and wet kisses from our little one; and satisfying joy when our little guy says “amen” after we pray… What a privilege it is to go through this journey.

For his second birthday, we decided to do a small get together of about 8 kids. At 2 years old, our little Joshua is more aware of his surroundings. I did not want him to be overwhelmed with so many people and not really enjoy his own birthday party. So, we decided to keep it small.

I did the rounds of ordering his cake, getting balloons, preparing loot bags, planning games, and getting the menu for his afternoon party. I was getting excited for his afternoon party. However, 3 days before his birthday he started to get fever. Though he was active, it’s not a good sign to have fever. We brought him to the pediatrician after 2 days of his fever, and we discovered he had some respiratory infection. This meant he needed to be medicated and to rest. To make the long story short, we had to cancel his party because we did not want any other kid to get his infection. 😦

So, mommy had to make a different plan… Joshua enjoys watching surprise eggs on YouTube. So this time around we prepared him 24 surprise eggs where some surprise item was inside the plastic eggs.

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/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/2ca/46462652/files/2014/12/img_0626.jpg I thank the Lord that despite our failed plans, Joshua nonetheless made us feel he had an awesome birthday. Our prayer is that our son continues to grow in wisdom, stature, knowledge and love for Jesus. Everything else will follow if God is at the center.

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No Sugar Christmas

It was just last week that I was free from obligation and decided to take the glucose test for my pregnancy. At 33 weeks, my glucose test was unlike my first pregnancy. This time around my blood sugar was above the range of the normal and I have been diagnosed with gestational diabetes.

I look at myself and my limbs are rather small but my belly is obviously growing. No one would figure that I have gestational diabetes. Okay, I had a hard first trimester. I was nauseous and I had a bad case of morning sickness that I lost 10 lbs in 1 week. To top it all, I was stressed with forced weaning of my breastfed baby because I needed to care for the baby in my womb and myself. So, in short this pregnancy was hard on me physically and emotionally. That’s why when I had the urge to eat, I did not stop myself from any of my cravings.

I had occasional junk food, and maybe a month that I chewed on one chocolate bar a day. Then I stopped eating that way. But when I did stop… I found myself to have some blood sugar issues.

This means buying a blood glucose tester and pricking my finger at least 3 times a day. It also means getting a better and healthier diet. The only sad thing is — it’s Christmas season! Everything seems great to eat with sugar!!!

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So far eating salad with non-honey based dressing, brown rice, and one piece of non-fried protein has kept my sugar level in check. Good thing that fructose from fruits has not been banned but is limited.

My first pregnancy did not reach this point. Now that I’m older, everything seems more difficult. But I am still sooo blessed. Never did I imagine to be blessed with another child… The Lord God is so good. A little sacrifice and a little cheat (as soon as I can find sugarless ice cream and other food) will help me thru the Christmas season.

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Watching Him Grow

In the last 2 months, I have been so amazed at my son’s development. I am so impressed with his ability to absorb knowledge.  Joshua knows numbers and knows how to count. He can identify colors and shapes.  He also memorized songs and sings them. He holds a pen very well and can draw circles and scribbles.  When I see how much he is learning, I am more convinced to just home school him so he can keep going on his own pace without limitation. Joshua now is 23 months old.

Unlike what some doctors recommend of not exposing children his age to the digital world, I seem to disagree. There are so many good videos that teach songs, colors, shapes, numbers, alphabets to preschoolers.  It is really a matter of supervision.  I do understand that over exposure is not good, but for me limited exposure has its benefits.  I will not deny that many of the things Joshua knows are because of these preschool videos found on youtube. Of course, we supplement what he watches with tangible learning tools to help him understand fully the concept presented on the videos.

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I am so happy that there are many educational toys available.  I am also blessed that with Joshua, he enjoys educational toys.  He is the type that likes building blocks, play doh or home-made clay, and wooden puzzles, books, more than toys (e.g. cars, stuff toys, etc.) Let me share with you what gets Joshua busy and stimulated throughout the day.

1. Mega Blocks – These are great toys for kids below two. It helps them assemble towers and gives them imagination on design.  Joshua enjoys this so much because he can identify colors and build new designs every time. He also enjoys destroying what he builds and start over again.

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2. Play Doh – I first made home-made clay. I got a recipe online made of salt, flour, cream of tartar, water, and food coloring.  He was only 1 year and 9 months old when I decided to introduce him to home-made clay and I bought a few cookie cutters to help design shapes and so he can identify them. It was fun!  Then as time passed the clay was not properly stored they became hard and we had to throw them away.  So, he probably had a month of no playing with clay.  He kept watching the youtube review on play doh and watched how they were making ice cream and food with play doh.  So, Daddy Steve decided to buy him his first play doh set.  He was so thrilled he kept saying “I love play doh”.  We still play with play doh every day and we talk about colors, shapes, and food!

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3. Wooden Puzzles – I found a wooden puzzle in national bookstore that had numbers on it and as you removed the wooden piece it would show the fingers corresponding the numbers.  When I first introduced this to Joshua, he was totally enjoying the puzzle. He played with this puzzle the whole day without looking for his “baba” (or what he nicknames his tablet).  He had on his hands the numbers that he was watching on youtube.  The amazing thing is that he does not only recognize numbers, he actually can count stuff.  He actually did a count of the slices of grape fruit and it confirmed he understands.

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4. Magnet alphabets and numbers – This is such a great educational tool too! We would stick letters on the fridge and say its name and sound.  We kinda have to stay near the refrigerator but that is fine.  He finds it quite interesting that he can stick them one by one and pull them out. Its pretty stimulating.  I also bought a smaller version with a magnetic board for travel because its just good fun!

5. Colored pens and papers –  Joshua was holding a pen quite early.  A little after he turned one, we have been making him scribble on the white board.  Then later, I decided to buy him a set of colored pens so he can start drawing on paper.  He likes to write, and its part of his daily routine to either go on the white board or to scribble on paper. He really enjoys it!

It is never too early to introduce our children to explore new things.  I really suggest to my mommy friends to go ahead and try… dont wait for your child to enroll in a pre-school to learn something new. You can do it at home together. As I watch my son grow, I am so blessed to have this opportunity to be part of his development and not miss it!

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