FTM (First Time Mom) and still learning..

 

Less than 6 months into motherhood and I already feel what other moms says as, one of the most beautiful feeling as a woman. For me, there is something so inexplicable in having a baby who longs to be with me all the time, depends me so much for their life (milk specifically 🙂 ), distinctly recognizes my face then smiles, finds comfort in having me around, and likes me more than her father (haha!). I don’t know about other moms, but this has, so far, gotten me fall in love at motherhood.

Being a new and stay-at-home mom feels to me like I’m in a new corporate role and the first three months is my learning curve, so much learning to do and getting used to. Each day seem to happen too fast that as soon as you go into labor, you finally take the full mother hat on and hit the ground running. Rest is oftenly missed. So far, this new job title that I have called ‘Motherhood’, though undeniably rewarding, has gotten me stretched in just four months into the role.

Please do not get me wrong here – I love being a mom to my little girl. In fact, I wouldn’t want to miss a moment seeing her accomplish her ‘firsts’ with delight on her face. At times I think of going back to my corporate career but entrusting her to other people (other than my husband) to care for her just don’t sit well with me, for now at least. I’m happy to have the opportunity to be a full-time mom. <3

So yes, I have been officially a hands-on mom to Oona for 4 months now. Hoooray! The longest that I have stayed home in my whole life. But I tell you, no time is ever boring and without work when you have a newborn at home. Everyday is just full of action in our house – from poopy explosions, to newborn outrage and cries, to playtimes, and a lot more – a full day with a baby can go by very quickly.

What did I learn in so far as my three months of full-time motherhood? A LOT! And I’m sharing those personal nuggets of learning here in my blog post. If you happen to have additional mommy need-t0-learn items that you think would be of great help to me, please please go ahead and comment. I need all the mommy learning I could get.

1. Motherhood is a 24/7 role and it does not come with breaks  – heard of this countless times but only knew what it is really like when I became a mother.

2. It takes a village to raise a child – I realized early on that I couldn’t do it on my own. I needed help from my husband,  my mom, and a helper especially when I give Oona a bath.

3. Sleep is precious – I wish I had listened to my friends when they told me to get plenty of sleep before giving birth. Honestly, I haven’t had a sleep lasting more than 2 hours since I gave birth. But no complaints, I love feeding Oona. 🙂

4. A hands-on mom doesn’t mean an overly obsessed mom – as how our Pediatrician would put it, “I can see even the tiniest speck in my baby’s body,” hence my frequent SMS consultations. But I realized I couldn’t be too obsessed about every single thing about Oona. I can’t obsess about numbers in terms of weight, height, head circumference, not about every single change in her body, every milestones, and all others. Since motherhood is something I’d be doing my entire lifetime, I have to keep it manageable and relaxed. And besides, I do not want my daughter to feel that I am too uptight and all by the book as a mother.

5. Motherhood is not a one-size-fits-all thing – what works for others may not work for me and what may have worked for me may not be the case for other moms. I realized it just does not work like that. Yes, mothers can exchange notes for all they want but in the end, I am my own kind of mom. The same applies for motherhood books/articles, I believe – it may work and it may not.

6. Being a mom makes you strong in many ways you have never imagined – specifically in scenarios where – you need to watch a needle being pricked on your baby for vaccine, hold a baby in your arms while sleeping because she wouldn’t just sleep in any other position (this has been definitely a challenge for me), wake up in odd hours only to cut short your sleep and sooth a wailing baby, keep up with the household chores while running on just a few hours or no sleep at all, endure the pains of breastfeeding, tolerate the pains of post-partum body just as if nothing happened, and the list goes on. All because we’re mothers, and we’re made to be strong for our children and family.

7. It makes you do things you never did before – getting exploded on countless times of the day and still change nappies patiently, making up your own lullaby just to soothe the baby, sleeping with one breast out (for hourly breastfeeding), sleeping on cramped space because such a tiny baby has conquered a huge part of your bed, not being able to take a bath for an entire day because baby is soooo clingy, or taking a bath for a quick 10 seconds before baby belts out a loud cry again, while on the flip side, I have never adored such a tiny creature and watch her for long hours just because my heart is full of love for her, I have never researched that much to look up on ways and means to be a better mom for her, and never imagined I can stay home and be a full-time mom for her. Being a stay-at-home mom used to freak me out before but having Oona entirely changed my game.

8. Motherhood is instinctive – prior to giving birth, I have read so much on parenting such as bathing, cradling, soothing, feeding, and a lot more. But none of those best described the actual thing – it’s just different in real life . I say motherhood is instinctive because as a first-time mom, I knew my way around Oona by just being with her. More than the concepts, knowing my daughter as a baby helped me be the mom that she needs me to be. With me knowing my baby well, I could give bathe her the way she prefers, I could cradle her in positions that she likes best, I could feed her following her hunger cues, I could play with her in means that highly stimulates her, and a lot more. Books and references are definitely a great help but if you’re a new mom, you don’t need to fret about motherhood and its intricacies. Trust that a woman like you can be a mom to a baby, it’ll sure come as the situation calls for it. Ask for God’s wisdom too in this new season in your life as this will sure be your greatest arm as a first time mom.

9. No comparing, Mama! Never. Many times, as a new mom, I fell into the trap of comparing Oona with other babies. Why did she weigh lighter than other babies? Is she at par with other babies in terms of milestones? Did it help me? Absolutely not! I knew as a mom that comparing wouldn’t really do me any good. Either it would make me appreciate Oona less or belittle other babies. At one point, I had to make an effort  to stop (this is honestly and seriously challenging) this whole comparing thing because it steals me the joy of motherhood. On the flip side, I also feel that I have to respect other parents by avoiding comparisons especially when it’s just so tempting to do it just to brag or affirm my parenting style. Mothering is a challenge of its own so I have to give it to mothers who selflessly devote their life to their children. This kind of effort does not deserve nonsensical comparisons from me.

10. Love is spelled as T-I-M-E  I am blessed to be given the privilege to be a full-time mom to Oona. I say privileged because I understand how the need to go back to work is pressing for most families right now. I say blessed because my husband, Otap, ensures that he provides financially (by God’s grace) for our family while I have to put my work on the side. I’m basically with Oona 24/7 and knowing that I have all the time in the world to watch, care for her, and attend to her needs, allows me to give her the kind of security she requires at this time. I love how I am able to personally attend to her. Nothing against mothers who work – it is certainly a much greater challenge.  I don’t know if we can sustain this kind of set up – I’m not sure how circumstances would present itself in the future, but for now, I want to cherish each time I spend with my daughter and be the mother that she needs me to be.

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I will forever keep this mental photo in my heart. This was me and Oona 10 days post-partum. You could see my face bloated with eyes that long for a restful sleep. While Oona looks so peaceful and comfortable in her most favorite sleeping position as a newborn baby. <3

11. Motherhood is purely by God’s grace –  I just could not emphasize any better how God has been my greatest help in this motherhood thing. As a new mom – you can expect me to suck at it most of the time, and I tell you I’ve already had quite a number of boo boos to date, but only by God’s sustaining grace that I am able to get pass each day confidently and and affirmed that I’m doing just the right thing. Each night I go to bed, I thank God for letting me go through another day as a mom and a wife. Every completed day is like a huge milestone for me – that I am able to be an okay mom for another day. I say ‘okay’ because I have yet to learn a ton about being a mom and gain expertise for it. Motherhood seem less daunting and stressful knowing that I can turn to God for wisdom. James 1:5 affirms that if anyone of us lacks wisdom, we can directly ask God for it and He will give willingly. This new season in my life allowed me to come to God in humility to help me handle varying mom concerns, both minor and challenging, like bathing, vaccines, developmental milestones, breastfeeding, major child-impacting decisions, and trust Him for His sovereignty in everything.  With only 4 months into motherhood, I know I have more to deal with as Oona grows. I can choose to obsess about my future mom life, but I want to make an effort to put my trust in God alone – that He alone can help me become the mother that Oona needs, one grace-filled day at a time.

I have always agreed with various speakers when they say that Motherhood is the best job there is to do for a woman. No further questions and validations needed for me – it really is so far the best role I have taken. The challenges it brings do not equate the heart-warming joy it brings to our family, more so to me. So if friends would ask how it has been with me for the past 4 months, I say with all honesty that it’s a complete challenge for me but with all might I counter with “it’s all worth it, trust me.”

Please pray with me and for me as I journey into motherhood – that I will continue to seek God in all that I do, say and think. I pray that I will be able to give God the highest praise and glory as I go through this new season in my life.

Need prayers, mama? Feel free to comment and let me pray with you. <3

 

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My Personal Preggy Essentials

When I was still pregnant, I researched as much as I could for the preggy essentials. My first trimester of pregnancy was spent reading up on how I can prepare for each semester of my growing belly. I did have a lot of questions like what products to use for what concern, how to manage certain pregnancy symptoms, where can I get certain products, and the list goes on. Most of the good and reliable information I got were from my mommy friends, mommy blogs, reviews and articles. All were super helpful for me in going through my pregnancy. So, as I have been able to pass that season of my life with flying colors (yes, I will say this in confidence. haha!), I want to share my personal pregnant essentials for mom-to-be readers.

Just a quick mentioning that I am not in any way or form paid for the product recommendations in this post. These are all out of my first-hand product experience and I am writing on a satisfied consumer perspective. These recommendations may work for some while it may not to others, to each is own, I believe, so let this be just a personal recollection of my preggy must-haves.

Anti Stretch Mark Products – early in my pregnancy, I have devoted a time and budget to fight it out with this common preggy problem – stretch marks. I have used quite a number of products like Mustela Double Action Stretch Mark Cream, Clarins’ Tonic Body Treatment Oil, and Human Nature’s Sunflower Oil. Of the three, I like that of Clarins’ for its calming scent and non-greasiness. But for cost effectiveness and equal effect, I am for Human Nature’s Sunflower Oil. It has worked its magic to me even before I got pregnant.

 

Leg Soothing Cream – my mommy friends said this is a must for every preggy women. Somewhere within the 9-month big belly period (last trimester for me), legs would cramp often and feel tired most of the time attributed to the added weight brought by the growing belly. So in aid of this, a good friend gave me Clarins’ Energizing Emulsion that soothes tired legs. Coupled with a nightly leg massage from my loving husband, it definitely worked its wonder for me. Oh, did I mention that this cream and the nightly massages, helped me not get feet swelling the whole time I was pregnant. Amazeballs!

 

 

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I highly recommend Clarin’s leg cream. A bit pricey but definitely effective for me.

Maternity Support Belt – my first maternity support belt which I got from Mercury Drug looked like a boxer champion belt. So glad a friend lent me hers which she got from Mother Care. True to its name, the belt serves as a support to the mom’s growing belly. Aside from using it to support my belly, I also used this to help me still wear my old jeans/pants/shorts – it binds them in such a way that I don’t need to button it. Trust me, I’ve rocked my big belly comfortably, especially during the final trimester, because of this belt.

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Mothercare’s maternity support belt. Of the two support belts I used, this one is definitely my favorite. 🙂

Loose Clothings – When I first learned I was pregnant, my immediate concern was to buy maternity clothes. Good thing for me, my bubba only made a show at around 5 months, so I was able to fit into my non-maternity dresses and some pants. But after the 5th month mark, I had to buy maternity clothes yet kept it to a minimum number because I tell you, they are not cheap at all. It can cost you a lot. So to avoid buying expensive maternity clothings, I had to rummage through my closet and check for loose-fitting clothes. I am more of a dress person so this wasn’t too much of a concern for me. My mom was also generous enough to give me her loose-fitting clothes that suits me well and my belly. I opted not to splurge on the maternity clothings so I can allocate to some essentials, but if there’s really a need to purchase, go ahead. Otherwise, feel free to creatively improvise as well.

Dry Brush – this one I recommend even before pregnancy or for non-pregnant women too. Amazingly, this has a lot of health benefits specifically to the lymphatic system apart from its relaxing effect.  This has been part of my preggy regime, before bath time and on specific intervals of use, to help me from getting too much battle scars — stretch marks. I also used this to exfoliate my skin for a good detox. I’d recommend though that you consult your OB Gyne (for preggy women) before trying this. As I’ve said, to each is own, so this might’ve done me well while it may or may not to others. It won’t hurt to check with your healthcare practitioner. 🙂

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I’ve tried looking for quality dry brushes here in Manila. So far, Watson’s carry a certain brand of quality dry brush. Photo from www.aliexpress.com

Water Bottle – I’m naturally a heavy water drinker but I never imagined I would be that overly thirsty as I was preggy back then. I can gulp liters and liters of water to ease my thirst and a handy water bottle (filled with cold water) with me all the time was a huge relief to my always thirsty body. This is a complete essential for me back then. Chugging in water, by the way, helps preggy women achieve a desirable level of the amniotic fluid that’s good for the baby to swim in.

Pre natal vitamins – I had a number of OB-prescribed pre-natal vitamins but all of it I made sure I religiously took for my little bubba’s good health and development coupled with a healthy diet of course.

Pre natal stretching and exercise videos  – Youtube was my ultimate source of pre-natal exercises. As we were aiming for a natural birth and as I wanted to be as healthy as possible throughout my pregnancy, I had to make an effort on this part. I say extra effort because as you know, exercising comes with challenges especially on the motivation part. Haha. But growing a baby inside me was enough motivation for me to exercise regularly then. I did exercises interchangeably evey day, as much as possible. I did a lot of walking, pre-natal yoga, stretches, mild Zumba and even the spinning babies exercises during the final stretch of my pregnancy. All these, are of course, with my OB Gyne’s approval.

Pregnancy tracker app – I downloaded different pregnancy mobile applications but the one that suits my preference in terms of interface and comprehensiveness of content was that of ‘What to Expect When You’re Expecting.’ What I like about it is that they send via email week by week updates and progress of your baby from week 1 to final gestational weeks. In fact, I looked forward to each week’s update  where they show  a video of the baby’s development and it’s physical formations.

Folder for all pregnancy related files – The OCness in me didn’t miss to organize the bunch of papers that came along with my pregnancy. With all the prescriptions, required laboratory tests, and pregnancy-related documents (Philhealth forms, marriage certificate, birth plan), it was too important for me to put everything into one folder and organize everything. I’ve arranged all laboratory tests in chronological order based on test dates so that I won’t have to rummage through all of it when I am asked for the results. My pregnancy folder was most helpful for my husband when I went into labor until post partum when he was the one running here and there to fix hospital stuff. Days before I gave birth, I handed him over my pregnancy file and oriented him of the order of files – where to find this and that. It pays to be organized after all. 🙂

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This pregnancy file folder from www.unoriginalmom.com is definitely a must-do for OC preggies like me.

The nine months of pregnancy may be challenging to some while easy-going to others, not to mention all the preparation it entails before your little one comes out, but remember that this time is most important to be cherished above all. Your wonderful blessings is well on itss way. So moms, be happy, take it easy, enjoy every experience it brings, and congratulations on your bundle of joy! All is worth it when you finally see and hold your baby, dear Mama!

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Finally, motherhood..

It’s been a busy and crazy 2 months and a half for Otap and I. There had been a lot of action since the day I went into labor and until this time. Honestly, we are still on our trying-to-get-back-to-normal mood, looking forward to the days when we’d finally settle into a new rhythm, schedule, and all that. Read More

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On to the final stretch..

As most of you know, Otap and I are pregnant with our first baby, which by the way, is a baby girl. Yay! Yay! and Yay! 🙂 Being together as girlfriend and boyfriend for roughly 9 years plus 2 years of the married life, I know this would be a total game-changer for us especially that we have been so used to just having each other around. We’re excited at the thought of having another family member at home yet totally clueless as to how it’ll go for us. No matter how much we read up, research, and ask seasoned parents about the experiences, we know we will never learn enough about parenting until we get to the real thing on our own.

Pregnancy wise, I wouldn’t say it was an easy-peasy one. First trimester was the most challenging phase for me having experienced delicate pregnancy and some spottings here and there. I had to be on bed rest for some time – which meant laying down at home the entire day and with minimal to no movement at all. This totally weirded me out being someone who likes to keep the action all the time. I was frustrated at the thought of not being able to do house chores, go out for work, meet friends, and do the normal things I have been used to doing. Even more frustrating that my first trimester was during the Christmas holiday season, so this meant being absent for gatherings and celebrations with friends and families. But all these are totally minor frustrations for us; all we were after was the safety and health of our dearest bubba. That she grows fully well in Nanay’s tummy.

Second trimester was more manageable for me – no more food aversions, I started gaining back the weight I lost during the first trimester, I had more energy to work around the house and go out for work. Sure, it did get better during the second trimester as a lot of friends have been telling me. I didn’t put on so much weight during this time, partly I think because I was still recovering from my first trimester experience. Around this time, I decided to go back to doing exercises as I have been practicing before (of course with my Doctor’s permission) – a lot of walking, Zumba, and some cardio workouts. I wasn’t all fussy and too delicate during this time. Otap and I agreed that we would try to do things as normal as possible but with extra precaution. As for our household chores, I thank God for giving me the Supernatural strength I needed to work around the house – cooking, cleaning, running errands and just keeping everything together. Work wise, we started with two new ventures around this time which wasn’t so much of a burden for me, in fact, I would say it was the most enjoying part of my second trimester, that I was able to work on these two new ventures while making sure baby and I are safe. Praise God for opportunities like these and for keeping us safe the entire time.

Almost to the end of second trimester, we are finally welcoming the home stretch of our pregnancy – third trimester. Things started to get a bit slower for us because of a lot of things – I have significant amount of weight gain now while I try to keep a healthy diet (it doesn’t seem like I gained weight but honestly I did and it’s a significant number now. haha!), I move and work obviously at a slower pace this time. As in, really slow! 🙂 Bubba is moving more frequently around this time giving me uncomfortable jabs and punches :), my bump is growing so much bigger and more obvious around this time, and a lot more pregnancy pains here and there. I haven’t had serious swelling yet at this time and hopefully I won’t get any throughout. No visible signs of new stretch marks yet (yay!) or just none that I have noticed so far. Haha! Ooops, I forgot to say that the scorching summer heat is definitely a torture for pregnant women like me. I just couldn’t stress that any worst. Ang init masyado!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

But seriously, at some point, I kind of missed the second trimester season when I was more snappy and comfortable. I am feeling that the last trimester will require me to significantly lessen or slow down with my activities. My Doctor told me that I am only allowed to do work until my 32nd week which I think would be until May. So I guess, I’m back to home-chilling until the bubba comes out and makes her grand entrance into this world. As some people would tell us, we should be taking this time to cherish our husband-wife quiet moments until the wild baby moments take place. Haha! I hope not too wild, baby! 🙂

Nonetheless, I know this season in my life will only come by for a short time. And it just means I have to breeze through this with a joyful heart. Next thing we know, we’d have to do a lot of nursing, feeding, and baby actions for our bubba. I just praise God for allowing me to feel this season in my life, more so being pregnant, and just experience the awesome gift of child-bearing.

Praying for an easy journey throughout this season and finally when we give birth to Oona Issadore (that’s our bubba’s name).

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My exact feeling today! 🙂 
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Family & Finance Seminar Part II: What to Teach our Kids About Money

Of the four topics discussed during the seminar, this is one of those that really hit home for Otap and I. Obviously not because we have kids already but because, as you may have noticed in my previous posts, our priority now is to prepare for the time when we finally have our own kid/s. And who couldn’t be more thankful than knowing God has been shaping both of us even before our season for parenthood comes. Such exciting times!

As future rookie parents, I believe that money and the responsibility that comes with it is something that Otap and I should teach our future kids early in their lives. We are blessed to have parents who did a great job in teaching us the concept of saving early in our childhood and we are hopeful that we too can do the same with our future kids while being intentional in making them appreciate God’s design and purpose of money.

In God's time, there'll be three or more of us in our future travel photos. <3
In God’s time, there’ll be three or more of us in our future travel photos. <3

Going back – what we like best about the talk is how easy-to-understand the framework that the speaker, Edric Mendoza, and his wife is teaching their kids. Their style in teaching their kids about money is VALUES first before SKILLS. Dave Ramsey, the famous American Financial author once told that Personal Finance is 80% behavior and 20% skill. This made me think of my behavior and my client’s too about Personal Finance & Planning. That yes – you may have all the know-how in the world about investing, saving, and all others but without the boldness, commitment, and decision to do it, we wouldn’t move far to reaching our financial goals.

1. Value: THRIFTINESS 

Function vs. Form – going for quality versus its brand or reputation. This kind of affirmed my personal shopping habits and preference of buying less expensive versions of items. If I take a while shopping and choosing an item, I usually tell Otap that it’s because I want to look for a wise buy – less expensive but more functional. And I think I kind of convinced him into doing the same already. Thanks to the speaker! 🙂

Skill: Saving Money

Teaching kids that every peso counts. I liked how one of the speakers shared that when they prayed for buying their own house, they made a firm decision to avoid dine outs and opted for home cooked meals instead to save up on their desired budget. One time, the husband purchased an expensive coffee and the wife jokingly said that with the same amount of money, they could have already bought kilos of “pako” or nails. We see that it’s really the little things summed together that hits us bad in saving. One time in our feat to save and track our expenses, Otap and I noticed that our miscellaneous expenses are skyrocketing. And to our surprise, when we carefully enumerated these “miscellaneous” expenses, it turned out to be the little unbudgeted purchases all added together. As a wife now, I try to move away from the unbudgeted expenses if not necessary at all. I realized how far a Php100 could go in terms of buying home supplies.

2. Value: Stewardship

My first time to hear about God’s complete ownership of everything and understand it to its full sense was when I read Chinkee Tan’s book “Rich God, Poor God.” There he mentioned that we own not a single thing on this earth but God does because He is the creator and owner of everything. I have never carefully thought of stewardship until God has dealt with my heart and made me understand the role I play in his bountiful riches – that I stand as a steward, manager, or care taker of his resources and not an owner myself. That as a steward, my sphere of control lies in managing it well and growing it to the best that I could only by God’s grace.

The way we spend, save, invest, grow, utilize our resources – whether monetary or not, says a lot about our stewardship. Otap and initially didn’t live up to this earlier in our married lives, until we realized that we have not been using God’s blessings in a manner that pleases Him. We praise God for  how He has shifted our gear early on and didn’t let us completely slip off in this aspect of our married life.

Skill: Investing Money

I really thought the speaker to be a cool parent when it comes to teaching his kids about investment. He is a Registered Financial Planner (RFP) himself and with his eldest starting very young (about 10 yrs old I think) in stocks investment, it seemed like teaching kids about savings and investing is a breeze.

If you ask me as a Financial Adviser, the kid is certainly the best client profile for me – one who perfectly understands how he wants to roll his money in X number of years. Perfect, just perfect! Haha.

But seriously, investing money, as I usually tell my clients, is making money work hard for us. That value investing within a good amount of time (we are talking of long-term investing here) can help us grow our resources to our desired results, depending on our specific goals. The work of compounding interest – I just couldn’t emphasize how this can work to our advantage if we just welcome the idea and learn it.

3. Value: Hardwork

I have always believed that if we put our heart into the work we do, we can achieve the best of the best results. No grumbling, no whining, no boasting of personal capability but purely work as an act of worship to God. I have had my share of experience with this while working in the corporate world, while serving clients, and best of all, while being a wife to Otap. I certainly have a long list of times when grumbling, whining, and every possible act of rebellion was just very tasteful but was led out of it by God’s grace. In tempting times, God has always been faithful in reminding me of Colossians 3:23 (NIV) – “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as if working for the Lord, not for human masters.” Who am I then to grumble, whine, and rebel if my boss is the Most High GOD?

Skil: Spend

God’s blessings are to be enjoyed on extent that is pleasing and honoring to Him. With all that He has created for us to enjoy and lavish, He sure is not a kill-joy. Like a father to his children, God wants us to enjoy His bountiful blessings. In the same way, as parents or future parents, we too can allow our kids to enjoy the fruits of their labor, whether from a savings or hard-earned money, without foregoing the budget.

Sharing a photo during our recent US trip. God has blessed us immensely with our first out of the country trip and as big as a US trip. Although, we also had to go on a budget during the rip. But nonetheless, God was just so amazing althroughout our trip. <3
Sharing a photo during our recent US trip. God has blessed us immensely with our first out-of-the-country trip as big as a US vacation. We definitely had to go on a budget during the trip. But nonetheless, God was just so amazing althroughout. <3

4. Value: Sharing

Luke 6:38 (NIV) – “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

As parents, it would be such a delight to help kids see the joy of giving through volunteerism, working and sharing with friends, family members, etc. As an only child, I had a “mine” mentality throughout my childhood and sharing was quite a challenge then. But all thanks to my mom and of course to God who patiently worked through my heart, I slowly moved out of that mindset as I mature and develop a joy for sharing.

    Skill: Giving

Tithing / giving is something I have not fully embraced until a couple of years back. I have always had a difficult time giving back with my tithes all because of my “mine” attitude. I thought of my work as the fruits of “my own” effort and skills. Although I knew God and accepted him back in high school, tithing didn’t sit well on my heart too quickly. There were times I would intentionally withhold and rationalize on the financial responsibilities I had then only to realize that my reach could only go to a certain length. God dealt with my stubbornness in the most amazing way, at times very difficult, but too humbling for me to recognize that He is my ultimate Provider. Something that Otap and I would also want to be intentional in teaching our future kids.

My prayer is that God will continue to open our hearts and minds that we will completely appreciate how much blessed we are, not just in material possession and financial earnings, but also in immeasurable and eternal-lasting blessings. That as parents  or future parents, we will have the heart to be intentional in imparting biblical lessons on money to our children.

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Why we love homemade meals..

Last Sunday, while it was all rainy and bed weather like, Otap decided to make homemade crackers. I have been telling him the past weeks that we need to stock up on crackers, specifically for my consumption (hahahahaha!) since I go out for client meetings and work most of the time. I told him I want to completely let go of my urge to eat fast-food meals by replacing it with crackers instead. Of course he was all for my letting-go-of-fast-food feat except that he keep saying crackers may have a lot of sodium content and it may not be the healthiest meal replacement option for me.

Sooooooo, being the submissive wife I am, I let him work on the homemade crackers while hoping it will turn out to be just the same as the ones I munch on most of the time.

It took me one bite only to like it no actually, love it. Thanks to Otap for baking this homemade goodies.
It only took me one bite to like it, actually, love it! Thanks to Otap for baking this homemade goodies.

Surprisingly, it DID turn out the BEST homemade crackers I have tasted so far. Not being biased for my husband here! 🙂 Apart from it being Otap’s labor of love, I like how it was fresh-tasting, not too salty and bland, The black dot-size on it are the chia seeds he added to make it healthier for me. I honestly think it was waaaay better than the ones I keep buying in the grocery. Hence, I told him that we need to make a supply of it every week to which he eagerly said yes. Yeeeehaaa! 🙂

A lot of you may have noticed our love for homemade food/goodies. Honestly, it wasn’t until I left my corporate job last year that we have developed the love for homemade food. Prolly because I have more time these days but more than that, I feel that home cooking allows me to add more love to the food I prepare – that there is that sense of responsibility for me to be wise and cautious about the kind of food I serve and have my family eat. For one, I want them to eat healthier and second, having known Otap to be a picky eater, I want to be hands-on in feeding him nutritious but delish food (sometimes sneaking in vegetables as ingredients. Hihihi!) 🙂

Apart from these reasons, I also enjoy how creative we have been in preparing homemade food. Aside from making it our “mini dates”, we usually research (youtube is so much of a great help) for out-of-the-ordinary recipes, ask friends, and sometimes just experiment on our own. You may ask if home cooking is cost effective – honestly, for the most part, it doesn’t seem like it is because of all the fresh ingredients we need to scout and buy. But if you compare cost of eating at fine-dining restaurants, it’s definitely going to save you a lot. Is it time saving? It’s honestly not – for the mere reason that home cooking would usually require a minimum of one hour (depending on the type of food) for preparation, actual cooking, and cleaning up. Although the present results aren’t cost and time-saving for now, we hope that the long term gains will be incomparably greater than the time and cost we have invested in home cooking.

I think these similar principles apply when making monetary investments.  I tell my friends and clients, when deciding on where to start with their investments, that 1) their objectives and financial goals should be clear (short or long term) before dipping their fingers into it, 2) that a decision has to be made which trade offs are they willing to make to work on their financial goals (eg. invest now vs. spend now) and 3) that commitment and determination should be consistently present.

Anyhooo, going back to the topic — Otap and I are praying that we can make a good and steady business out of our love for homemade food. We already tried selling the Spanish Sardines in Olive Oil and so far, it’s been a hit. Hopefully, we can develop it further and make it another income stream for our family.

Before ending this article, I want to encourage all my fellow wives, friends, readers, and everyone else to consider home cooking for yourself and your family, if and when you have the time. It’ll not be easy in the beginning, but it can be fun and a lot beneficial for your family. The joy in seeing our family eat well-cooked homemade food is incomparable, at least for me. More than the affirmation and appreciation we can get from our family members, it’s the assurance that we can personally take care of our family’s food.

If it will at all serve as an added encouragement (I hope :)), I am sharing photos of some of our homemade food. Some of these we have already posted on Facebook, while others are not included – we missed to take photos in our excitement to devour the food. Hahaha! Oh and by the way, I would really love to get more homemade recipes, so if you happen to know some, please please please message me here. Thank you!

My version of baked mojos..
My version of baked mojos.
Fresh Tomato & Basil Pasta Sauce
Fresh Tomato & Basil Pasta Sauce
The well-loved homemade Sardines in Olive Oil.
The well-loved homemade Sardines in Olive Oil.
Mashed potato
Mashed potato
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