Monday, March 30, 2015

Life Lately: Bringing A Toddler To Church

Even in the busiest of times, make a priority to stop for a moment and smell the roses. Or in my case, enjoy a beautiful sunset.

Hi, Friends!

Life has been extremely busy lately. Work has been crazy that I arrived home late in the evening everyday. On top of that, the weather has been pretty unpredictable: nice and sunny in the morning, scorching hot in the midday, and pouring rain in the late afternoon!

One day I managed to get home early and it was a beautiful twilight. The sun almost set and the sky is the colors of jewel: gold, deep blue, pink, lavender and purple. It was a rare occassion during the busy week that I could come home when the sun is still in the sky that I snapped a picture through my car's sideview mirror and said a little prayer of thanks that I have eyes to savour the precious view. Sunrise and sunset is an everyday occurence, and quite often - it provides a magnificent, magical, serene moment. Unfortunately nowadays people are too busy to appreciate such beauty. Next time, why don't you take the time to watch the sun sets over the horizon in a good weather? It's uplifting to the spirit and makes one feel calm.

It was only fifteen minutes after five when I snapped the picture. I live in the tropics, so the sun sets at six o'clock in the evening pretty much all year round.

"She is not concerned for her household when it snows -- all her charges are doubly clothed." (Proverbs 31:21)

As busy as I was at work, and as much as I love my job, I never forget that being and a wife and a mother comes waaaaay before work. So when I saw that my husband's only proper sandal looked like they have been attacked viciously by a big cat, I bought him two new pairs of Crocs sandals. Crocs are expensive, but I managed to find an online outlet store that sell them at a fraction of the retail price. Crocs are comfortable and durable, they protect the feet and look a bit like shoes which make them versatile. Hubby loves seeing his wife all dressed up, but he dislikes being dressed up himself. Being his wife, I want him to look nice, so knowing his penchant for casual and comfortable outfits, I got him Crocs so he can wear them shoe-style for Church and at least they will look better than him wearing sandals! I am still working at persuading him wearing more formal shoes for Church. Sometimes he complies, more often he doesn't. Well, at least Crocs are not open-toed sandals.

I got him two in different colors: black and camel for nightime and daytime. Also, black is just suitable to wear when he goes off to construction projects because his feet will be protected.

Let children play! Let children be children!

I'm firm believer that the ability of using gadgets 'fluently' at young age is not a big accomplishment. On the other hand, I believe that gadgets are a negative distraction for children's learning process. Do you know that Steve Jobs didn't give iPad to his young children? Some time ago, I read an article about Waldorf School in the US that supports my gadget-limitation for children policy. Waldorf is a school that is computer and gadget free. They believe that technology is supposed to aid the learning process, but introducing them too early will hinder and distract the learning and creative process. The odd thing is, high executives from high-tech companies such as eBay, Google, Yahoo!, Apple and Hewlett-Packard send their children there. A Google executive parent stated, "We at Google, as well at other tech companies, created such a user-friendly devices and system that using them is just like brushing your teeth. There is no way a child will not be able to master gadgets later on when they're older."

I let my two-year-old son play with my iPhone once in a while. Michael is also alloted some time to watch chosen YouTube videos, mostly children nursery songs. However, Hubby and I don't let him play games on iPad like we see with other children. We do notice that families who hold a gadget each don't communicate to each other, they do with their gadgets instead. That's not the direction that we want to go.

Also, we limit TV time. We are firm believers that children should be children. They should jump and run and play and be active to develop their motor and coordination skills, as well as teaching them a lifetime of healthy habit and active lifestyle. Children should not be cooped up for hours watching TV and stare at smartphone screen.

Therefore we often take Michael to the park. Last weekend we went to the mall to visit an event by Morinaga, a baby and children's nutritional food company. A friend of ours work there. They created a colorful playground in the mall piazza where children can play hide-and-seek, climb, play with swing and other stuff. Michael was ecstatic! He was a little bit scared at first, seeing so many people and children in one place. But five minutes later he ran and climbed and play with other children, laughing and giggling with joy that was so fun to watch. We always encourage our son to take yet another step towards independence. With our supervision, of course.

Let your children take part in the decision process that involved them, and most likely they will be more willing to stick with it.

Morinaga just launched a new product: a line of pasteurized milk. Michael was given a sample and at first - being a suspicious child - refused. I encouraged him to give it a try and promised him that if he didn't like it, he didn't need to finish the cup. He drank it all and asked for more! So we decided to buy him half a dozen bottles to carry home with us, in his favorite chocolate flavor.

Lately we have been adding UHT ready-to-drink chocolate milk to Michael's daily milk portion, in addition to his formula. Every evening, one or two hours after dinner, we give him a bottle as a treat. Michael doesn't like milk all that much, so our goal is giving him an option - or an additional portion if you will - of milk that he would enjoy. And he does like chocolate milk. Also, it's very convenient when we travel. All we need to pack are some ready-to-drink milk that we can also buy at any convenience and grocery stores.

Last week, we took him for a walk to a grocery store in our neighborhood so he can pick and choose his own ready-to-drink milk supplies.

Teach your children from an early age that it is a courtesy and good manners to dress up for Church. And more than that, it shows respect to Our Lord.

One dressed up for a date and job interview, so how come one doesn't to go to the House of The Lord? As mentioned, Hubby is not a believer of formal dressing, and I try to keep my tongue to constantly 'harass' him about his Church clothes pick outs. Instead, I'm trying to teach my son to dress properly for Church.

On the other hand, I didn't expect perfect manners and behavior from him. Afterall, he's two years old! He did whine and asked many times: "Can we go home now?" And we do let him play a bit with Mommy's bag, stand and sit then stand again then sit again, then walk around a bit. We know that being a usually active toddler, he's bored, and we want him to be excited to go to Church. Or at least, not refusing to go or making a scene when it's time to go to Church.

I try to get him involved in the procession, explaining with simple words. For example, during the Bible reading, I told him "Now we're going to read from the big book." Then when it's Holy Communion time, I told him "Now everyone will go up front and eat bread." He remembers about the breaking of bread among everything else, that the last time we went to Mass, he asked, pointed to the Pastor "Where the baker keep the bread, Mommy?" And yes, he asked with a loud baby voice that made adults around us smiled!

Being a Mommy doesn't give one an excuse to being frumpy!

In respect of my Creator, myself, and my husband, I always try to make myself look at least presentable. Not glammed-up at all times, mind you, just not sloppy-looking. Most of the time I try anyway! Here's the batik dress I wore to Church. After Mass, we went home, tucked Michael into bed, and went out for a late night date. 

Dressing up always makes me feel good. Also, seeing Mommy looking pretty delights Michael as well as his Daddy. Of course, small children will love Mommy regardless how she looks, but we notice that Michael prefers seeing Mommy wearing nice clothes than old clothes. I guess God instilled in us human the love of beauty from a very early age. No wonder, sine God Himself created such a beautiful world for us to live in!

Date night with Hubby doesn't equal extravagance.

We had finally finished our construction project. Our property was now ready for sale. Hubby and I celebrated in a very modest, simple way. After checking the property, we went to a local convenient store and ordered some hotdog, instant noodle, and cold drinks. Wonderful evening, nice conversation, happy mood, awesome husband. Cheap date can be so much fun and memorable and meaningful!

I'm linking up to these wonderful Ladies:



Monday, March 23, 2015

Simply Organized: Book Case in Boxes

Organizing is an on-going process. Last week project was organizing our bookcase. I have a massive book collection, most of them are still at my parents' home. Meanwhile, Hubby has a huge comic book collection. The thing is, Hubby doesn't really take care of his collection. He is the type who buy a comic book, read it, then never touch it again for years. However, he refuse to part with his precious collection. It is his thing, and I let him indulge in it.
We are happy to day, though, that when we had a flood, two huge boxes of our book collection that we had not touched in years got wet and turned into a heap pile of paper porridge-like mess! It was a disaster, but we're glad to get an excuse to rid of them. And you know what? We didn't miss the books at all!
I wish I had the "before" picture to show you how Hubby organized his bookcase of comic books and novels and business and marketing books. Everything was helter skelter and the books have not been touched for so long they collected dust. On the other hand, my book collection has grown out of proportion that it starts invading his bookcase. I am the type who read and reread books. Therefore my book collection moves a lot and don't have time to sit and collect dust. I asked Hubby if I could re-organize his bookcase and in return I can use the extra space. "By all means, " he said. That man of mine practically let me do anything that I want about home arrangement anyway, but still, I always ask.
I believe in a system where everything is sorted and categorized. It makes life so much easier. Instead of arranging all my books on the shelves, I keep each category in separate boxes like this. 

You might think I waste space because you see empty slots between boxes. Let me assure you: I am maximizing space. By using boxes like these, I can stack books in double rows instead of one. I am making most of the vertical space. And it's very easy to access. When I look for mystery novels, I know that I just need to pull out the deep blue box, open the lid, and search through that single box. When I love for my Little House collection series, I know that they are all contained in the blue-yellow-green-striped box. It's so much simpler.
Also, it's easy to leave the system looking neat and organized at all times. If you put your books in rows, when you take one or two books, the row immediately looks less organized. You won't have that problem using these boxes. Also, I like the cheerful colors of patterns of the boxes. Not to mention that they are obviously much easier to clean than having to  dust all the books. You just need to wipe the box with a damp cloth, and you're done.
This is how the bookcase look now. On top is Hubby's comic collection. I am still decoupaging more boxes to keep them.
Best of all, the boxes are very very affordable and easy to make. Basically they are just cardboard boxes with lids that came when you purchase paper supplies. I got them for free from the office, because they would have just thrown them away to the trash bin anyway.
Just take a look at these two pretty boxes that I decoupaged last week. I basically just covered the plain boxes with pretty wrapping papers. I like organizing things in containers, but I don't like paying a lot of money to buy containers! If you are like me and love containers, I challenge you to be creative and think of new ways to utilize free containers that you might already have around the house: used tins and cans, cardboard boxes, etc. Being organized is not about going to the store, buy the most expensive, pretties basket, then dump all your things in it. It's about creating a system that works for you.
When I first started decoupaging used boxes, I used to cover all the outside and inside of the boxes, the lids, and wrap them again with transparent plastic. Now I know better, busier, and there is a toddler and a grown up man hassling for my constant attention, so I threw the perfectionism out of the window. If I used better quality wrapping paper, I don't need to laminate with plastic. (I still do for certain types of wrapping papers). Also, I no longer care to work on the base and the insides of the boxes, because you cannot see them anyway. I mean, I have a life, a husband, a toddler, a home and a full-time job to take care of. Some things' gotta give, including being perfectionist. In my single years, I wouldn't have let myself got away with such sloppy craft!
See here? The base and the insides of the boxes are still in their original form.
And this is the original, not so attractive box!
Michael is "helping" with the decoupaging project. I finished four boxes last week.
Meanwhile, my book collection is still growing. A side note, I purge often. Every couple of months I either sell some books to used book store, sell them online, donate them, or give them to friends. This one is the newest one to the collection and I cannot wait to start reading!

I'm linking up to these wonderful Ladies:


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