Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Two heads are better than One :)

Bry and I have known each other for twenty years, and I admit, sometimes, I assume that I know how he thinks and would make decisions for the both of us, especially when it comes to running our household.  However, as we are currently experiencing some major changes in the dynamics of our home (with 3 helpers set to leave almost at the same time), Bry and I have been bouncing off ideas to each other as how to handle things.  I really appreciate the fact that we would come up with strategies that I wouldn't have thought us had I not consulted with him.  It's an effort for us to discuss things given our schedules, with the kids requiring our attention almost every 5 minutes, but its worth the effort.  It's really nice to talk to someone with a different perspective.  It allows me to see a different point of view as well as practice how to articulate my own thoughts so I can properly share them.  This opportunity provides a silver lining during such a time of anxiety! (Can any of the parents out there relate to the stress of having helpers leave? Show of hands, please? :) )

Prayers for patience, wisdom, and energy! This summer is going to be a roller coaster ride but I am hopeful that as long as we put our heads together, Bry and I will someday look back at this experience with fondness and laughter.

Happy Easter to Everyone!

Monday, March 21, 2016

Happy 3 years to us, Bree and Bea :)

Today, the twins turn 3.  I never thought that I'd breastfeed for 3 years.  Whenever I was asked how long I intend to breastfeed, I'd say "I don't know, but the average age worldwide is  3 years". I guess, that was the safe answer.  But like anything that's challenging and important, I had to look at myself and really think about my personal motivation for extended breastfeeding .  Because even if the first few months are the hardest, it also took some commitment to nurse the girls during their second year.

So in honor of Bree and Bea, here are the reasons to nurse your child beyond 2 years.

Nursing helps protect your children who  are now more exposed to viruses as they go out more - For me, nursing the twins wasn't primarily about making sure they are not hungry, but more of my way of protecting them from the viruses they are exposed to at school and other public places.  Also, with Ben starting big school, he is bound to bring home some viruses, too.  By nursing the twins, I am doing my best to protect the girls from being infected with whatever he has.  I'm not saying the girls don't get sick, but I am hopeful that they recover faster whenever they do.

Nursing helps calm down children who are still learning to regulate their emotions - the girls are still learning to be verbal, which means we have our share of tantrums when they are upset.  Once they are cranky, I'd feed them and they quickly settle down, which makes it easier to take care of them especially during instances when I don't have anyone to help me.

Nursing makes travelling more convenient  - Long bus and airplane rides with the twins have been rather quiet.  Nursing has helped them sleep and not be irritated with the change in altitude.  Lighter luggages with more room for shopping is another plus :) 

The thought of extended nursing may be overwhelming, but there's merit to doing it.  Take things a day at a time though, and remember that no matter how long you breastfeed, each day that you're able to do so is a victory!

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Ben, Bree, Bea and their BLSS swimming journey

I've always been vocal about my love for swimming.  As I would say over and over again, it's the only sport I know.  I may not be competition material, and my strokes aren't perfect, but for me the most important reason for knowing how to swim is because it is a life skill.  Survival swim and confidence in the water is something that a person  of any age can benefit from.

Thankfully, my kids have found a "swimming home" in Bert Lozada Swimming School.  My kids are BLSS babies.  Ben and the twins started their classes when they were about one and a half years old and have been (thankfully) consistent in attending classes ever since.  I remember feeling lucky to have gotten a slot in Coach Angelo Lozada's My Baby and Me Classes 5 years ago. Fast forward to the present, Ben is now doing laps on his own and claims that he is faster than me (or lets me win).  As for the twins, I enjoy watching how the girls show their individuality in the water.  Bree seems to be more focused on her speed while Bea takes her take time making sure she does the drills right.

I can go on and on about how BLSS has 60 years of experience in teaching swimming, or how the school has partnered with a lot of institutions to spread the advocacy of water safety to people of all ages, but what I really noticed over the years was how the coaches are really committed to the welfare of each student.  Over the years, I had the opportunity to get know some of the coaches and I admire their genuine concerns for my kids and their other students as well.  They are not just skillful teachers, but caring coaches with big hearts.

For those interested in BLSS Swimming classes, please check out their webpage and like their Facebook page :) classes start for kids as young as 6 months! 

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

On learning something new .. :)

Over the past several months, I've had the opportunity to learn some new skills.  From something basic as learning pingyin to learning how to teach kids.  It has been fun, exciting and at the same time nervewracking.  I was never a confident student during my ICA and Ateneo days, and I must admit, this hasn't changed now that I'm an adult.  Learning something new brings us out of our comfort zone.  This can be a real challenge, but I am glad to be doing it not just for myself, but for my kids.

I always try to encourage the kids to try new things, and to keep on practicing until he gets better.  By learning new things myself, they have observed me struggle, fail, then try again.  It is also a humbling experience.  You are reminded that there will always be someone more knowledgable than you, and that you should be open to their tips and constructive critisims.  Whenever I feel insecure and frustrated with my progress, I'd reflect on how the kids must feel when they encounter challenges during their classes and try to stay positive the way I hope he will.  

My prayer is that my kids will have a positive attitide towards learning and that I will have the patience and efficiency of the teachers I have the honor of learning from.

How about you? What new skills would you learn given the chance?

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Our Simbang Gabi Story, 2015 Edition

This year marks the 20th year that I've completed the simbang gabi novena.  And even if it's something I do every year, it feels different each time.

My earliest memories of simbang gabi were during my grade school days.  My dad would wake me up at 4:30 in the morning and we would walk to church.  I must admit that I dreaded it, and was relieved that my parents only took me and my brother to the first and last days of the novena.  It also didn't help that the mass was long and we had to stand throughout the whole mass.

But my journey took a different turn when we started going to simbang gabi at Mary the Queen Parish, where the Jesuits would give articulate, relevant and concise homilies.  I was in second year high school back then.  Also, it was during this time that I found out that you get to make a wish if you complete the nine day novena.  My first simbang gabi wish was "embarrassingly shallow ".  Needless to say, It wasn't granted, haha! But I did the novena again the folliwing year.  It was the first day of simbang gabi of the following year that Bry and I became a couple.  (yes, folks! 3rd year high school.   So young, right? Please don't tell our kids!)   

Because of the role that the novena has played in our love story, Bry and I couldn't help but be drawn to it each year.  What started out as a challenge to be completed, became a way of giving thanks for all the blessings we had during the year.  Our simbang gabi routine also evolved as we became parents - from attending the dawn mass to going to the anticipated mass. (Thank goodness the Greenhills Chapel's schedule was early!)

Whenever we attend the simbang gabi, I couldn't help but look back where I was during the past year, and feel sentimental and grateful.  I remember during one of the masses three years ago, Father Johnny Go, SJ chatted with us before the mass, saw Ben, and talked to him about Xavier, and now Ben is a Xavierian.  Two years ago, I was in a rush to go home early after mass because I had to feed the twins.  This year, the twins went with us during one of the masses.  

Whether it's Simbang Gabi, or another year-end ritual, it's such a blessing to be able to take a step back and reflect on the year that was and enter the new year with hope and prayer.  I know it might be a long shot but I do hope that our kids would someday see the beauty of Simbang Gabi and continue the tradition:)

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from our family to yours!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

What are you grateful for? :)

This month has given me a lot of challenges, but I try to remind myself to focus on the positive and be grateful.  It may seem simple, but it's not always easy, especially when you feel like ranting.  The practice of finding something grateful each day is something  I hope I can pass along to the kids.  When we say our nighttime prayers, I would ask Ben what he's grateful for.  I do hope he'd make that a habit.

As for me, I admit, it takes some effort to be grateful at the end of a long tiring day.  But as I attempt to be a good example to the kids, here are some of the things I am thankful for that I've mentioned in our recent nighttime prayers

I am thankful for
- the good job cards Ben gets from school
- the helpers at home for being into arts and crafts which makes our DIY projects more fun
- Supportive mommy friends
- Bree and Bea singing Christmas songs at home
- Bry already being already home the other day just when I was about to text him if he has left the office
- My quick phone chats with my mom and brother
- My one-on-one chat with Papa during Sundays 
- For being able to talk to my parent In-laws about ALDUB

These things may not be a big deal, but after taking some moments and acknowledging them, I feel that I have some energy to smile and take care of my family. And of our course, a powernap and doing some coloring won't hurt.

How about you? What are you most grateful for as we get ready to celebrate the birth of Christ and the start of another year?

*photo and qoute from instagram's yogainspirations

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Grit and Swimming with Ben :)

I posted last month about how proud we were of Ben for his hard work with swimming and eventually getting medals during his last competition.  It was a milestone and a tipping point for him.  That was't the first time he competed and he was concerned that a lot of kids will be faster than him.  To be honest, I am (for a lack of a better term) "highly invested" in his swimming "career" because I have been taking him to swimming lessons and going inside the pool with him for more than 4 years.  I try not to pressure him but I can't help but feel anxious whenever he gets frustrated abour his speed.  Nevertheless, even we knew he wasn't the fastest, we kept on training.  I remembered Bry telling me that what is important is that Ben gradually improves. So, instead of being discouraged when Ben would be in no mood to swim, we just kept on going and told him that practicing will make him better.  We are very fortunate to have coaches who are able to properly motivate him and push him to work hard while having fun in the water.

I was nervous for Ben during the competition, but reminded him that what matters is that he does his best.  His hard work paid off as he got two bronze medals in backstroke and butterfly.  It was also a humbling experience as well because he almost got another medal for breaststroke but failed to touch the wall of the pool right away, causing him to be 4th place.  (He learned a valuable lesson there!)

When Ben and I talked about the experience, he told me that he was glad he kept on training even if it was hard because it made him stronger and faster.  The coaches also noticed an improvement not just in his speed but also in his attitude towards training.  I am thankful for that chance to make him realize the value of hard work and for not giving up right away when things get rough.  I hope he remembers that and applies it not just in sports but also in other aspects in life.  This experience of him reminds me of why having "grit" is important.  I hope that Ben gets more opportunities to develop it as he goes through his formative years.

How about you? What's your GRIT story?