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Thursday, December 20, 2012

Keeping Christ in Christmas, I am trying...

"I’m participating in the Keeping Christ in Christmas Blog Carnival, hosted by Raising (& Teaching) Little SaintsTruly Rich Mom and Arma Dei: Equipping Catholic Families. We'll be sharing different ways, tips, stories and real-life experiences that will help us focus on Jesus as the Reason for the Christmas season. Please scroll down to the end of the post to see the list of carnival entries.”


I am excited to read the post of other participants in this blog carnival!!! How is it like for others?
As for me, every year is an attempt to bring Christ into my Christmas celebration, I hope, I move a little closer to Him and I bring our family a little closer to Him every time we celebrate His birthday. In all the hectic glitz and jingle the season brings, to make room for Jesus Christ is absolutely possible. To make Jesus Christ the center of it all is a struggle for me.

I did not grow up with Advent Prayers and candles for Christmas. I was married and in my early 20s when I found out there is such a thing as the Season of Advent and the priest was just not feeling festive thus the sudden pink in his outfit. I am Catholic all my life, so imagine my eyebrows meeting and my heart swelling when I learned of Advent while chatting with a friend!
I make sure my children know the Season of Advent not just Christmas Day. We come up with Advent Candles every year. I plan out our Christmas activities: decorating, gift wrapping, gift giving (thanks to my eldest daughter, we now have a family Christmas exchange gift tradition, 8 years on going now), deliveries, baking, parties, Christmas recitals, Christmas bazaar and family prayer time. This year is an extra challenge for our family prayer time, but we manage, despite our time difference and distance, thanks to skype.
Here we are with our Advent Candles right after praying the Angelus. Its 4 pm where I am with my
two younger children and its 8 am in London where my husband and 2 older children are.

When it comes to decorations I keep the theme simple- focus on the reason for the season/ the birthday boy! The Nativity is the highlight of our home. Decorating for Christmas is a family activity in our home. I saved up a lot of money by doing away with the elaborate Christmas tree and other Christmas decoration. Everybody in the house helps with the decorating (I hope my children remember this fondly, this year we did some painting. you can read about it here).
I keep the little baby Jesus of our Nativity until Christmas morning. When my children see that the baby Jesus is in the manger, it means we can open our gifts. We also put our gifts around the Nativity since we do not have a Christmas Tree.  

I wish that years from now, my children will remember the Christmas of their childhood joyfully laced with faith, love, generosity, trust, hope and truth. I hope that in my mundane efforts, I am able to relate Christmas with humility, generosity, of security in uncertain times, of provisions in times of need, of a helpless infant born in a filthy place who had/ has all the love to give, of a young woman  more than a thousand years ago, who said yes to a massage from an angel. Every year is struggle to make Jesus the center of all our merry making busyness. To have an open heart to adore a baby, who is Jesus Christ, who loves all including people I do not like.
 PS
One activity I also want to do for myself and with my family is to complete the 9 days of Simbang Gabi and finally, Misa de Gallo. As a child I thought is as an activity for old people simply because they can wake up early because they do not know how to party and they do not have school. I guess I am old now or getting there for sure. Oh will I get to do this next year? I would like to know who has done this and get some encouragement. How did you do it? Any tips and advise will be a Christmas Gift to me. Thank you for dropping by. Merry Christmas to you and your family.
Here are the other blog posts, Enjoy:

Monday, December 10, 2012

Waaaaaaaahhhhh!!!

I have never known hectic so intimately as I did this last week of November and first week of December!
Waaaaaaaaahhhh!!! for:
  • How am I going to do this?
  • How can this be happening now?
  • What shall I do first?
  •  I never thought I could...
I prayed and vowed to make the most of our family being far apart. The fact is, I seem to have forgotten what its like to be with an 8 and 4 year old, but before I realized this, I had the following in my hands and I was certain I could manage:
+our home 
+ my schedule at The POD
+ bazaar,  Marco Polo, then DavCon.
A few days before my husband, A and As leave:
+ +one helper (our cook) needed to go home for her sick lolo,  Not planned but manageable still
As soon as I said goodbye to my husband, A and As at the airport ,
+++my mom gets admitted to the hospital !!! So straight from the airport, I went with L and Nh to Brokenshire Memorial Hospital. Totally unexpected!!!
 He so reminded me of Tiny Tim, walking with my moms cane while my mom was on a wheelchair! I had to take a picture.  I can't recall how many hours we spent in the hospital but when we got home I encouraged L to make poster to cheer my mom up and to keep her busy while I was on the phone with my younger sister.
While my mommy was in the hospital, L, with my permission and instigation, started playing Plants vs Zombies on the iPAD! This was my solution so that they will stay in the bed/couch while in the hospital. I can't believe I did this! She is also able to finish the game and watched the sunflower in concert! Waaaahhhhh! I am thinking of keeping the iPAD now!

Just before my mom's laser surgery I seriously thought I have reached the end of my rope! Waaaaaaaaaah!!!!! To keep things together for me, I set myself for some quiet time and tea, and look what I find inside the tea bag,
I am unlimited? 
Yeah okay I am!
More like I have to be! 
Thanks Yogi Tea, your little words always seem to get it right for me. My mom left the hospital 10 days after being admitted. Now, that my mom is out of the hospital, I am more than determined to make the most of the time I have alone with L and Nh. I am thinking now of how little attention (compared to what I gave with A and As at this age) I have given L and Nh when it comes to academic work. They seem to know a lot anyway. But as I said, I want to make the most.

L is doing geography now and it goes hand in hand with the cursive writing book I got her in Fully Book in Abreeza. I wonder now if I started this if As and A were here. We are using some old books that my husband used when he was a boy and of course, Geography Song Kit is back in action.
Nh is learning how to write numbers now. And count using his fingers. I have observed that after about 2 to 3 pages of writing and talking he tells me he is hungry so we close our work by counting with our fingers. This is something he resisted. I told him I need to check that his fingers are not paralyzed. Of course, I made it sound ultra important and serious enough for him to ask me, "what's that?" Waaaaaaaah! for him.
 Now I have to make room for Nh in the working table. Or should I have another working table?  He now knows how to return the pens, scissors and his workbook after working!

I am now in love with Lego. I never thought this will happen! Waaaaaaaaaah!
I never liked Lego even when I was a kid. I have a litany of reasons why I do not like Lego. I just decided to sit down with my dear son as I imagined he might be missing his dad when playing with the Lego bricks on the floor. Now here I am, controlling myself from heading to The Oak and Acorn to get some more Lego! Waaaaaaaahhhhh!!!!

We did some baking and Christmas gift wrapping too!!! With Nh this means scotch tape to the fullest and with L its all about the biggest bow and the longest ribbon. I pretended not to mind as she generously lace up her precious gift! Waaaaaaaahhhhh!
Things are sort of settling down for us now. So I like to believe that all my Waaaaaahhhh!!! will start becoming a mere memory. I learned a lot and I feel blessed that I am able to prioritize despite feeling very short. I am grateful that I have time alone with my 2 younger children and for the insights. I miss my 2 older ones and I can't help but wonder if life will be this sort of longing once they leave home. Waaaaaaaaahhhhh!!!
Praying every evening with L and Nh is such a joy. Its such a perfect way to end my day. No matter how hectic it was, how worried I was, or how late our day ended, their concerns and love, sincerity and trust that they offer in their little prayers makes me feel small and grand all at once. I am not sure how to explain that but it makes me not want to go Waaaaaaahhhhh!!!

Thank you dear reader for dropping by and have a good week ahead! And as my tea bag declared,
 "You are Unlimited."

Friday, November 16, 2012

In Brace X Ray

I wish I could share a picture  of As in brace x ray but its in film!!! Now I wish we had it done in another facility since getting it in the place where we had As's x ray in June turned out to be complicated. Anyway that's for another post (if I have to write about it!?).
 First of all my husband and I did not want to get the brace for As. Back in January, I certainly did, but my husband explained to me why he is not for it and I did my own reading and I felt a brace might not be a good idea since not everybody with scoliosis ever wore a brace, its restrictive, costly, might weaken her etc., etc.
 .
Back in July after her 3rd x ray,  I called Spinal Dynamics . My call was answered by a lady named Heather and since I had a ton of questions she passed the phone over to their physiotherapist named Cindy. At that time, Cindy said, she thinks As should be in a brace (given the progression from 20 degrees in January to 28 degrees in 6 months) and part of our conversation was having an in brace x ray and why it was necessary. Even after this conversation, As and I carried on with the Schroth Exercises we were trying to figure out since we did not get to find a physical therapist who was willing to read it, come to the house, get paid at the same rate whereever he/ she practices and try in on As (I only offered this to 5 physical therepist, but 3 turned out to be students who were merely fulfilling their requirements at the therapy center where As was having therapy back in January)My husband and I changed our minds about the brace after the 4th x ray that was taken in Manila in August. Also the spine surgeon that we are seeing here in Davao  (I have to say the only doctor with an action plan) wanted a brace. So, I wrote the Scoliosis SOS Clinic and here's the email reply I received on Sept 11, 2012:

 Here's the x rays I sent them:

So we did get As a brace, and you can read about it here, but not an in brace x ray. The spine specialist did not recommend it and the bracing center did not recommend it either. At that time when we fitted the brace, I actually felt relieved that they did not recommend it. I was/ still am a bit concerned about the radiation exposure even after reading this and I saw it as a bit of savings (about P400.00). Despite receiving this email from Scoliosis SOS Clinic back in Oct 23, 2012

A few nights ago,  As cried about her brace and naturally I could not sleep so I emailed   Scoliosis SOS Clinic again asking if its okay for As to stop wearing her brace since she will be there in a few weeks. This is part of the reply from the email I received:

 So my husband and  I talked to As and decided to get an in brace x ray without a doctors order.  From 36 degrees (4th x ray) in August, this time with her brace on, her Cobbs angle is down to 21 degrees!!! Since I have bugged Scoliosis SOS Clinic, I felt I should send word to them about this and this is the reply I got:

I am so happy!!! So proud of my dear girl! The nights she spent crying in bed, upset because of her brace. The responsibility she showed in managing her torso socks and making sure they dry up before she would run out of them. Sometimes I wish I bought her more torso socks but when we talked about it (As with mom and dad) we decided that she might not need it for long if she gets to do therapy (very optimistic bunch here!)
I hope that her therapy will free her form wearing  the brace and put surgery out of the question. I already miss her and she has not even left. This trip is the first time our family will be this far apart for this long. With all my ♥, and my fears, and my hope.

PS. I am so proud too that this brace is made in Davao!!! Just in case you are looking for a brace or artificial limbs you can visit OrthoFrey 2nd Floor FTC Tower or call them at 305 0588.

Monday, November 12, 2012

I'll be Going Around with My Favorite Saop


Everybody in our home have been trying out and enjoying Lotus Bloom Soaps. And there's a lot to try! I have my top 5 favorites for now!!!


I also think they are the perfect giveaways this Christmas. I so want to share my delight, I decided to cut some as samples to share at The POD and to share with my  friends in the bazaar and some  samples for the ladies who have been buying from me since I started joining bazaars (3 years ago).
 
My little worker, L. Always willing and ready for the job at hand!
We cut some of the soap so there will be 3 to 4 different soaps in a box for the ladies.

   Our samples are ready for delivery tomorrow! We have just ran out of cut soap samples at The POD. The good news is there will be more samples at the Marco Polo Christmas Bazaar on November 23, 24 and 25!

You can also take a look at their site and let me know if you like something by leaving a comment in this post, or a private message here. You can also email me at alexmhao@yahoo.com with the subject Lotus Bloom.


I used the soap boxes for the sample give aways I am sending out tomorrow. The soaps are packed and sealed to assure you that they came straight from the maker.

 
If you are like me, who can't decide what scent to choose, then go for the affirmation...
There's a different affirmation in every scent!
Oh I am just so delighted and totally excited!!!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Its Christmas in our home!!!

Our Christmas stuff are out earlier than usual! Just like before I am keeping the little Jesus in the manger until Christmas morning :D
Normally, I would get these Christmas Stuff out by last week of November but since my husband As and A will be leaving, I felt its best to get these joyful stuff that remind us of generosity, hope and ironically simplicity out and all over our little home!


I appreciate the outcome of our labor and the fun and flurry of setting them up!
I got these Christmas plaster casts in National Books Store in Abreeza, buy one take one! So we were all busy, busy busy!!! Now our home is  Chritmas ready. 
Advance Merry Christmas to all!!!

Friday, November 2, 2012

All Saints Day

We went up to Malagos Garden Resort. My husband and I decide that some quiet time out doors is what we needed and that's exactly what we got! The last time we were in Malagos L was still baby in a sling!





Big sister and Little Brother...





 We hanged out with Pixie. One of the 3 miniature horses in the petting zoo.

Dad! What are you doing to the chicken!!!?



Calling the birds...

And they did come! Hand feeding the birds!


On the way home, we drove by my grand parents old house in Calinan since we were in the area and my mom pointed out a spot that brought back memories for her. The house is no longer there. The property was sold some years ago. We arrived home at around 3:30. By 6:30 we said the Rosary and then had dinner. So happy!

Halloween 2012

Come Halloween morning, who drops by the house for a surprise visit? Our one and only beloved Lolo who said pumpkin is "masyadong mahal" (too expensive). 
I say No because:
a. we get to eat it
b. we have a decoration that we last for a few days
c. we are building memories...
Of course I know it mahal (expensive) compared to kalabasa (squash), but here we are and its once a year.

Lolo carving his first pumpkin!



Off to trick or treat by 3 pm...

 Here's A slaving away in the kitchen! Preparing Halloween Dinner complete with table setting! We had Pumpkin Pasta, Ghost Pizza, some kind of dip made with avocado and Chips, Skeleton Marshmallows and Apple Teeth (Apples and Marshmallows)...
I ended the day, exhausted and happy and seriously thinking that A might benefit from some cooking classes or more kitchen time...
Happy Halloween!!!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

30 October 2012

As planned we went back to Puentespina (in Bolcan Street) to get pumpkins to carve and eat. Price did not get any lower, same as the previous post its P180 per kg.

Check out what L is doing to the water plant. This is one of the reason I make it a point to buy here with my little gang. Its so cool to walk around and come home with food supplies.

Then, who walks out from the back of the building, Olive! Davao's one and only cheese artisan.

 For me, Olive is one of those people where every meet up is an encounter. LOL! :D


Olive offers us her cheese. We were there to get some and the cheese tasting turned into all out eating for free!!!

Leaving with our pumpkins, free range eggs and cheese(s), and lemon too...

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

What I am Doing and What I am Uncertain About

If you arrived at this blog because you are searching for home schooling I hope you find the next 5 lines helpful.This is what my husband and I decided to do/ still doing. This is what I am sure of:

1. I did not Bring School Home.
2.  My children will miss out on what school kids are into and that is not bad in itself. It  might even be better.
3. Attitude is better than grades.
4. If my child wants a numerical or letter grade for a given subject she (my son is too young to ask for this) compute it herself and tell me about it. I can show her how but she has to come up with her own criteria.
5. As a mother/ educator, I need and I will get help. I do not and will never know everything. Example, I can not play the piano, violin, read musical notes (despite having music lessons in school for 6 years.) So I need help with this and many other things/ subjects. Another example, playing Badminton with me is nowhere near playing Badminton with friends.


Here are 2 thoughts/ questions I am not sure of the answer and I don't know what to do. I find myself constantly thinking about:
1. The general question of what's going to happen five years from now? This really keeps me on my toes. I know that we reap what we sow...
This is how I see it (all other factors remain constant which means to say there will be no famine, war, etc):
how we spend or act today + time = five year from now reality.
2. Will they (specially my eldest) be safe if we send them away for college? And where? And why there? My husband and I didn't leave our family to go to university so this is uncharted territory for the both of us...

If you arrived at this blog searching for homeschooling or for whatever reason you landed here and have some encouraging thoughts on the two points I am struggling with and not sure about, do share it with me.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Hectic Week for Me

Being busy with the up coming Mommy Sense event with all the little details to prepare and put together is making me miss my little ones. I already told them that this week, I will be particularly busy. Two days ago, I found time (a total of 40 minutes more or less) to sit with my dear little boy Nh and my beloved L. I was with Nh as he was cutting paper and inspiration struck me! I have this idea for a soap dish! If my idea will materialize I have Nh to thank for!

L complained that she is bored! This makes me feel guilty and I see this as L telling me I need to spend time with her. Unlike As who has her academic goals to accomplish and her violin (she  was in Agdao Violin Institute this afternoon) and A who has her academic goals and ballet and her blog and her book to finish etc Nh and L are far more dependent on me.

I told L that she should help me make some gift wrapper.

 L preparing what we need...

Crayon vs Alex, the craft battle!!! 
I must break just a tiny piece of you white crayon to make my plan happen.   
L took the pics...

L at work!

Thanks for this little time I spent with L and Nh I have something to hold on to in this busy week. This evening I planned and look forward to spend the evening with my little ones. I vowed to stay with them until they all fall asleep. And while As, L and I were in bed doing some coloring page activity that L got from Toy Kingdom, Nh was busy by the table.

He suddenly came up to me and said "for you" handing me a paper ice lolly aka ice drop aka popsicle! He made it all by himself! Oh wow!!! Proud and touched I had to take a picture. As burst out laughing saying, "He used A's emery boards as his stick!"

TOINK!!! But in my heart says, "Oh how cute and smart you are!" He did not know it was an emery board aka nail file.

Then, he got the paper ice lolly aka ice drop aka popsicle from me and said "wait mommy it's not yet finish!"
 A showed him what the emery boards are for he looked and listened but of course we can not destroy his paper ice lolly aka ice drop aka popsicle on an emery board!

Hold on my little ones, specially L, after this weekend I will be much less hectic!
And I am so excited for the pictures that will come from Mommy Sense event! The moms assigned to take the pictures will be posting it on the facebook page!

Advance happy weekend to all!!!
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