I thank God for giving me a husband who is excited to give his children an amazing experience. Going some distance and over some traffic is no big deal, as long as the family gets to experience something great together.
I was amazed on one weekend that Steve decided to bring us all to Manila Zoo. I was not sure what we would be seeing but the opportunity to show real animals to the kids, especially to Joshua, meant learning! Animals in our picture books are no match to the real thing.
The entrance fee was only P50. I was so surprised how orderly and clean Manila Zoo is. It is the oldest zoo in South East Asia and has been operating since 1959.
We were able to see the controversial elephant Mali. She is a lone elephant whose residence is a cemented structure. There were volunteers who were feeding her and showering her water to keep her cool from the heat. She is controversial because many want her to be transferred to real Elephant sanctuary (like Thailand) where she can live a more normal elephant life with other elephants. She has been in captivity for more than 40 years. It makes me wonder if she can still adapt with others after being so alone for all these years.
Daddy took Joshua to meet different animals. We got to see different kinds of birds (peacocks, flamencos, etc) and see how big ostriches are…
The Manila zoo is a 5.5 hectare park. It is so nice to walk around because of all the trees and the greens found inside. You can also tell that the animals are also well fed.
Daddy Steve showed Joshua the deers, crocodiles, turtles, monkeys, lion and Tigers. But I think the most fun part was touching the animals while taking a photo with them! Inside you will find a photobooth where you can take photos with different birds. Look, Joshua held a bird in his hand and Anna had one on her head!
Manila Zoo also sold refreshments inside and for sure you will need water. Walking around the zoo can make you a bit thirsty!
I love how Joshua now realizes the cartoon videos we watch on his tablet like “5 Little Monkeys” are just inspired from the real thing. He actually felt a little concerned that real monkeys don’t look as friendly as the one on his video.
I love Manila Zoo because it is stroller-friendly too. Even our little Anna can enjoy just strolling around this park.
And before leaving Manila Zoo, we took another family photo this time with some albino Python snake. Joshua did not get scared, he actually held it too!
I recommend the Manila Zoo for family bonding trips. It was interesting and educational for our little boy, and it was good fun for us all. I was actually happy to see how clean and well maintained Manila Zoo is.
If you plan to visit, here are some information you need:
Location: Quirino Ave., Adriatico St., Malate Manila Luzon Philippines (corner of Mabini St. and Harrison St.)
Hours: 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily
Telephone numbers: (632) 400-1884 or (632) 522-6179
My husband, Steve, is a public servant and he is a very busy man. So most of the day, I spend with the kids taking care of their needs, teaching and disciplining my toddler (because I catch the moments of disobedience). However, despite his very busy schedule and the stress that comes with his job, he makes it a point to spend time with the kids every day. I really appreciate that about him.
He is the type of dad that wants to be the first one to make his children experience something different or new in their life.
He likes to buy gifts and play, but he is also stern in discipline.
When he gets home, he likes spending time being in one room doing nothing (ok, maybe watching TV).
He also likes to hug and kiss the kids. He loves holding them!
When we are away, he keeps saying, “I miss you guys, and I keep dreaming of Joshua”.
The most stressful part about being married to Steve is when any of the kids get sick. Even just a slight fever can be like the worst has come! He just wants all of us to be well and happy!
As a father, he prays for his children. He lays his hands on them and releases blessings in their lives. So I know that our heavenly father is listening and will grant his prayers.
It seemed like a blink of an eye, that time in our life when we prayed to the Lord for our children. I recall the day when we found out we were pregnant and weeks later, that first pregnancy was going to be terminated because it was ectopic. The night before the operation, Steve embraced me to sleep with his hands clasping mine, as I cried to the Lord for the loss. He was crying too because we both wanted to be this baby’s parent. The Lord in His faithfulness, on the 7th year of our waiting, made us parents. Steve was finally a legitimate father. A daddy to Joshua, and now a daddy to our little Anna.
I thank the Lord for the privilege he is giving my husband to be a father. I thank God because Steve is experiencing a different kind of love. He is experiencing another dimension of joy. Most of all it is making him know God more as our father.
This day, I thank God for all fathers, who make themselves available for their children. To dads who are ever present, who provide for their children, who love and discipline their own kids, who prays for their children, and who thinks about their future. God bless you and may God increase your joy! I love and thank you Steve, for being that kind of daddy.
I did not realize that it has been 5 months since I last went to Manila. This is our first travel as a family of 4. Anna who is known for her opera singing a.k.a crying spell went to Manila for the first time at 2months old. Thank God she was a good girl on the plane!
We looked forward to this short break to spend time with family, especially with my sister-in-law, Samantha, who now resides in Australia. They are in the Philippines for a short visit and it is an opportuned time for us to introduce our new baby Anna.
The newest buzz in Manila is the opening of the City of Dreams complex. We have been to City of Dreams in Macau and we enjoyed the entertainment it offers the family. Unlike the old days where casinos were just for gamblers, now it’s concept has evolved to cater to entertain the entire family.
This facade is adding flare and glamour to Manila Bay. A complex of 6 hectares is operating a hotel, casino, shopping malls, and an array of restaurants and cafes. It also has an area specific for entertainment such as night clubs, shows, and even a Dream works amusement center for the kids to enjoy.
This investment is quite big and has the stamp of excellence just like the City of Dreams in Macau. There are shuttling of buses from airport to City of dreams. I am very impressed with the architecture and the interiors. What was a planned lunch for the family became a 5 hour stay… Yet it was not enough!
Some restaurants have opened and it included a Chinese, Korean, Filipino, and continental cuisine. The family chose to eat at Erwin’s…the food served were burger, pizza, steaks, and salads.
After lunch we were given an opportunity to see the soft opening of the amusement center called Dream Play. Dreamworks characters are inspiring the themed center with rock climbing, slides and canopy walks, rides, 3D theater show, and even their own retaurants including ginger bread’s bakery.
They were on dry run so not everything was opened. It was a look and see of what it could be. It was good fun especially for kids above 3ft! I would suggest it for 3 year old and above!
What I loved about the place was how they considered every detail. Like providing a mothers lounge for breast feeding moms like me. I took our 2 month old Anna with us and having that mothers lounge helped me feed and change my infant while my toddler kept on playing!
It is impossible not to return to this place because they make it a whole lot of fun for the entire family. I look forward to going back and discover more of what City of Dreams can offer.
When I gave birth to Anna, I’m so blessed because the man behind Imaginenation photography was in town… He happens to be my brother-in-law, John Ong. His gift for photography has blessed many couples for their prenuptial photos and wedding in photos. Now, they have a new segment called Life, where they capture moments in one’s life. They take baby, maternity, and family photos.
It was Imaginenation that took my first maternity photos. We could not resist to have photos taken because we waited 7 years for this first child. We were excited and wanted to make sure we encapsulate our journey through photos. Imaginenation’s team of photographers plus the direction and styling of my sister, Monique Lopez Ong made it exceptional.
Now, John and Monique captured Anna’s first days at home! She was absolutely adorable with their direction! Also our first family photoshoot with Anna were made possible because of their presence!
Imaginenation does not only capture photos, they are also involved in family ministries. They organize “Before I do” premarital counseling seminars. Many couples who plan to take the road to marriage and want to prepare for it should consider joining one of these sessions. Another one is actually coming up very soon in Manila… If you are interested to know your fiance and know God’s plan for your marriage start booking today!
Recent days have been very tiring and for me because caring for a newborn has no schedule. At times I get to sleep by 12mn and wake occasionally to feed my infant. But there are nights that are so long that I have caught the sun rise before getting my sleep.
For several weeks, I have missed being the first one to get my son’s morning kiss. Joshua has tried to see me and wake me, but I’m too tired to get up… Even our morning play time is not the same as before. I begin to sense that this has been an adjustment for my older son.
My two year Joshua asks for mommy’s attention by acting like a baby. He would ask to wear diapers even if he is potty trained and no longer needs it. When he sees me feeding his baby sister, he would ask if I could carry him just the way I am holding his sister. He also has periods of crying for no reason so I can hug him and embrace him. Sometimes, he gets moody and tries to fight me especially when he wants to play.
Of course, I am concerned that he might start feeling jealous of his sister and express that in the way he approaches her. But I am so blessed because God has given my son a tender heart for his sister. He may have meltdowns with mom, but never with his baby sister Anna.
When Anna cries, he would run to her, touch her head and say “Be Happy, Anna!” When Anna is awake he would always ask to kiss her. He often jumps in the crib so he could play with her and kiss her.
Joshua loves being “manong” or older brother. He smiles when we give him praises for being a good and sweet brother. There is such joy in my heart to see that my little “manong” truly loves his baby sister.
Many ask how I met Steve. Everybody gets giddy when I say “it was a blind date”. Yes it was my first blind date and last… and finally he became the man I married!
That blind date I remember so clearly. I arrived 30 minutes late in Les Souffle and he was cool and collected. He was smoking his cigar and having scotch — and I thought, “He isn’t my type”. On the other hand, I had a cold so I was sneezing and blowing my nose throughout the dinner date … (Not very attractive, ey). It was a double blind date because we each brought a friend who we tried to pair as well. It was a tense night, because we were all getting to know each other. The night ended in suspense. I wondered if I will hear from him again. But Steve did call and we got to know each other more through more dates.
When we met he was 28, working as a stock broker and starting a Fund Portfolio Management Company. I was a 22-year-old working student. We became friends for 6 years before we tied the knot. Our marriage is a gift from the Lord… It’s a journey of faith. We waited for seven years before God gave us children. The journey also made us grow as a couple especially when God led my husband, Steve, into government service. Now, we are parents, and together we are learning how to raise our children to love God and our neighbors.
Today he celebrates his 44th birthday. I want to honor Steve, my husband, friend, and the father of my children.
Strength – You have been my strength, my source of security. Your love has allowed me to bloom to be the woman I am today. You have always given me freedom to express my gifts and you encourage me to be my best. Your prayers for me have covered my weak points. You have provided for me and our children. When I feel insecure, you remind me that God is all we need… Thank you Steve for being my strength.
Truth– You have always spoken truth and you avoid sugar-coating the truth. You say what needs to be heard because of love. You have also encouraged me because you love God’s Word. You desire God’s truth and want to obey Him. I am so blessed that you are after God’s heart. I am a very fortunate wife because you are honest to admit your mistakes and you never found it hard to say “I’m sorry”.
Empathy – God has given you a heart for people. Your passion to serve the helpless and bring some light to the hopeless has fueled my own desire to serve others. When you host those medical missions and bring hope to people with challenges on health, it energizes you. When you are able to help someone get an opportunity out of difficulty, I see gladness on your face. It is your joy to see other people happy.
Visionary– The more I know you, Steve… the more I understand that you are a man focused on one vision — To make God the Center. You want God to be the center of our marriage, the center of our family, the center of your service, the center of everything. When God is at the center of everything, then all things will fall in its proper place. We have seen that in our lives. Even in the midst of the storms, because God is at the center, there is great peace. Your vision for Sarangani is God-centered Prosperity — Our declaration is, “Without God we can do nothing”.
Excellence – One thing about you, Steve, is that you like things done excellently. You have patience to train and develop leaders to be more efficient, to think outside the box, and to go beyond. You are not over bearing but you command respect. Even at home, you are patient with us. We know that you want us to do things with eager hearts and to do things well. I thank God that you have that virtue because this sets as a good example to our children. You are a great adviser to all your siblings and to me on achieving our goals and reaching are full potential. God is to be praised for giving us someone like you.
Over all, I want to say “I love you”. You are such a good and faithful husband to me… Thank you for taking care of me and our children. You are the man who continues to hold my heart. We love you dearly, babe.
Last January, my sister and her entire family came to the province to help me out. Joshua needed distraction from my pregnancy and childbirth… and cousins are great sources of distraction! It was 10 days of bonding and 10 days of character building!
Monique, my twin sister has 4 children. Her eldest girl, Sabrina, is 12 years old. Next are 3 boys — Matthew, JD, and Ezra. The great thing with them was that they could stay long with us because they are all home schooled. School follows the student and not the other way around!
Joshua’s “distraction” team!
The house was a riot. I really appreciated my husband because he allowed the kids to make a mess out of the house. Joshua had swimming mates in the pool. Usually he does not like having other people share his swimming pool. This was good for him. There were alot of laughing and alot of crying. There were lots of negotiation and also moments of time outs… For Joshua it was learning to SHARE, saying “can I borrow?” and learning to let go and move on to another toy.
Joshua learned to lend all his toys. I saw him cope when his cousins invaded his space. He took his favorite toys in the baby’s room so he could have alone time with it. I also saw Joshua get into the mode of showing off everything he had. He would bring his play doh then after going through it all, he would excitedly bring out the next toy. His cousins also had taught him different styles of negotations. Like when one gets a toy and the other does not want to share and starts whining, one must find another toy in exchange for that favored toy. It was watching the very principle of barter trade — toddler style!
I guess what I loved the most in bonding moments like these are the growing fondness to one another and the building of friendship. Relationships are built through time. We have to invest in new memories. I am so thankful that my dear sister and her husband make family time a priority.
I got time to bond with my sister which is precious because I live miles away from her. They did not fuss that they did not see any tourist sites when they were here. Spending time with me and my family were more important to them. I am so blessed by their generous and service oriented hearts because they made themselves available for us.
Family is a gift from the Lord! Time is a gift from God! We must intentionally invest in them.
The faithful day of the birth of our second child has arrived. It meant being away from home for 3 days and being confined in the hospital. I requested to enter the hospital on the same day of delivery because I wanted to spend as much time with my 2 year old son. He won’t be allowed to visit the hospital and 3 days is long. My heart goes out to him because he has been feeling the blues and acting very needy and moody. It’s unsaid, but Joshua did feel anxious about the new baby.
God was with us as we delivered my daughter Anna via cesarean section. All my blood donors failed the conditions required by the hospital’s blood bank. Yet, the Lord in His sufficiency guided my doctors and allowed me to recover without any need of blood transfusion. Also, my gestational diabetes was non-existent as well. I had normal blood sugar and blood pressure. I was very healthy to deliver the baby. God is to be praised. Even my internal organs when my OB saw it during the operation said that they looked much better than 2 years ago. There is healing happening in my body and I give God the glory.
Anna our daughter is such a blessing. She weighed 7.2 lbs and 51 cm long. She latches really well and breastfeeds a lot. She also sleeps a lot and is a very easy going baby.
My twin sister was so kind to baby sit Joshua while I was gone. Her kids were a big help in making Joshua busy. However, Joshua still had trouble adjusting to no mommy at night. He had night terrors and would wake more often and cry looking for me. Daddy Steve also doubled his time and effort to keep Joshua bonded with him.
As I was recovering in the hospital, I kept praying that I’d recover fast and that the adjustment of Joshua will be a breeze. I asked God for grace especially because I’m going to be breastfeeding the little one and still have enough attention for my toddler child. I was getting anxious in the hospital and looked forward to going home.
On the third day, I finally got discharged. Though I had a cesarean operation, God gave me strength to move around. I looked forward for the meeting of Joshua and Anna.
When we got home, Joshua was sleeping. I got all emotional that I had to kiss and hug my baby boy. He went through an emotional roller coaster in the past days.
When he woke up to meet Anna for the first time, he looked at her and kissed her. He was awkward with me, but not with Anna. He played all day in the room where Anna and I was. When I breastfed Anna, he took the other side and tried to do the same. When Anna cried he would be so concerned and he would look and try to kiss her hoping she would be pacified. Joshua is a sweet and loving brother. I feel so blessed!
I’m enjoying this blessed week of family. Joshua and Anna are getting to know each other more each day. Daddy is really taking the extra mile to be Joshua’s best friend. Anna is such a sweet angel because she is so easy that I get to spend time with Joshua as well… Now the awkwardness is gone! Truly prayer holds the family together.
“Don’t worry about anything, but in all your prayers ask God for what you need, always asking him with a thankful heart. And God’s peace, which is far beyond human understanding, will keep your hearts and minds safe in union with Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7 GNB)”