Christmas Simplified

christmasCan you believe it: Only 1 more week left and it’s December! If you’re a mom I know you could be as tensed as I am. I’m trying to get my eyes off the last day of November because until then… the madness begins!

And I just realized I have 3 weeks left before that first family trip. I do not know if I should be doing some conditioning exercises for the little girl before she hops on the plane for the first time. I don’t want to stress… no, not during Christmas. I’ve come to a point when it feels like for several years I’m only getting swayed with all these festivities that at the end of the day it all feels pointless.

So I am embarking on the challenge to simplify Christmas, like this mom blogger: 5 Ways to Simplify Christmas

1) Finish Shopping by November 30

Item number 1 is already a challenge. I hope I could get the funds as soon as possible to finish shopping. Not only that, I’m launching these crazy Black Friday sales with some of my client’s websites. Hope I could sneak in my own time to buy gifts. Tip: Do the Christmas gift list early to make this one more feasible. And shop online!

2) Think-through Gifts

And there’s nothing wrong if your favorite girl friends all get purses from you! I realized gifts aren’t a measure of the depth of our love and friendship. So giving generic but useful gifts are ok, especially when you can get them online! It saves time and budget. But of course if you have very special relatives (like your husband!) – he doesn’t have to get the same item you gave your male neighbor :))

Also, writing cards that you bought (or made) make very heart-felt gifts. Consider making some for friends you hold dear.

3) Stick to a simple Christmas menu

No more fighting over the last piece of pasta sauce in the supermarket. Or maybe do it early if you can store in the fridge. Schedule cooking/baking time so you don’t cram on Christmas eve and look entirely swept out once the family pictures come out on Facebook.

4) Choose to stay home

Two years in this marriage and we only fight big time during Christmases and New Years — because we’re kind of spread thinly between our family visitation schedules. It adds stress in the relationship too because we’re still kind of adjusting to our new family. So this year, my husband declared we’ll stay home on Christmas and New Year. Much to the dismay of the grandparents, I know.

5) Decorate Simply

If you like (and has the time) to DIY, go ahead. But if you must shop, choose items carefully. Pick the ones that will really be complementary to your home. And make sure these decor items are pretty flexible – meaning you can use them to mix and match with most of your decorations yearly.

6) Praise Him!

Praise Him for choosing to love us by coming into the world. Praise Him for all the moments He held us close; All those late nights when He listened to our most ardent prayers; when He chose to bless us even if we were undeserving; when He helped us persevere so we will have greater faith.

And thank Him for He has shown us how to really love.

Now, go and share that love to others regardless of how simple your ways are :)

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Sharing the Blessing of Work

Apart from having more time to spend at home, and the privilege to provide for my family, another one of the many reasons why I thank God for giving me this work-at-home career is the opportunity to bless others.

james 1:17

Through my online work, I became a channel of opportunity to send freelance projects to my husband, friends, and former office mates. Every lead that I pass along is often received with gratefulness. It’s a wonderful feeling to bring hope!

It’s such a delight to be able to share the joy of earning online on your own while having the flexibility of time, plus the ability to dictate your own price. For some people, this may not be a big deal. But for people who desire a different beat, it’s life-changing.

Now that the holiday season draws near, for sure there will be more projects to work on and to share with!

It is true – “Every good and perfect gift comes from above.” – James 1:17

 

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A Father’s Love for my Daughter

My eyes were all wet when I chanced upon Jenni Eperson’s blog post about his dad. Read the birthday letter she got from her dad below:

How I wish Summer can write something as profound as this one when she grows up. Thinking about his dad’s love for her, I can’t help but get so excited – and emotional at the same time. I pray that they’ll have a meaningful and positive father-daughter relationship. Because Jenni’s words were true when she said that:

“A father and daughter relationship has the profoundest of bearings on whether or not we grow up to be happy, serene, healthy, fulfilled individuals. The way in which a father interacted with his daughter as she was growing up is a major factor in how a woman’s nervous system is wired, which in turn impacts her physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health, her self-image, her view of the world, and the ease – or otherwise – with which she loves and trusts as a woman.”

As early as now, I can see how much my husband adores our little girl – to the point of spoiling her (much to my protest!). He won’t think twice about buying that expensive-toy-kingdom-version-of-Barney-the-dinosaur-stuff-toy, while I manage to ramble about how cheaply I could get that with just one trip to Divisoria. Summer can never tell the difference, anyway.

Truly, a wife will love his husband more when he becomes a father. It is awesome to witness a man’s outpouring of love and his tender weakness towards his child. I hope someday, Summer will know about his dad making all sorts of Photoshop work of her when he misses her… his excitement to come home to kiss and play with his baby… his habit of bringing home pasalubong (Mcdo fries, fake Elsa doll, slippers with light and sound, etc.) for her… and his urgency to bring her to the hospital at the slightest weirdness of health.

I long to see the day when our daughter will give thanks and praise to his dearest, loving daddy :)

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What made me fall in love in the first place

Warning: This is an utterly cheesy post. But I am writing it anyway (and publishing here!), just in case in the future I will forget how I fell in love with my husband – and how crazy I went. You know, past the honeymoon stage, so much practicality takes over one’s marriage (add kids to the picture) and we can easily fall to the trap of losing the memory why you are married in the first place.

I can strongly remember the first time I exclusively spoke with my husband, I got easily drawn to his character – so much gentleness, humility, and kindness towards me. So genuine goodness. And as you know, I am some sort of a strong-willed woman who’s not used to this type of simplicity of character. So this is like finding a vanilla cupcake amidst a glorious bunch of dark chocolate ones.

I don’t believe in sparks or magic or love at first sight. But I knew right there and then that what I felt was something I have absolutely never ever felt with anyone before, even with past boyfriends. I used to deny this to myself back then, thinking that ALL LOVE is just the same. We can feel the same feelings we felt before. But I knew deep inside, he was different. THIS is different.

And when I realized I have fallen in love with him, there was no stopping me or us. I went for it – with all my heart. I was just so madly and crazy in love with this guy, thinking he is really a nice one. But my eyes were also open to our realities. I knew we were two different people coming from different backgrounds. But it was like meeting your soul mate. It’s okay. It’s fine. We can work it out.

And so we did. One by one, things fell into place and our relationship grew even stronger. Although, there were times when I wanted out because I felt he can sometimes take me for granted. Maybe because I wanted us to have more time together. It came to a point when I no longer get it why we should be apart. Maybe, because we were truly meant for each other.

I remember the passion, the “always looking forward to see him again” feeling. The first few months had my phone beeping non-stop from his texts. I remember spending a whole day at work, in front of my pc, but phone in my hand – so busy answering his messages. I was not working at all!!

Fast forward – and now we’re married + 1 kid. Most days we talk about house chores, schedules, plans, money, and work projects. I get annoyed by his little idiosyncrasies I can’t stand. Until now, I cannot be ok with his laziness to take a bath/brush his teeth. BUT despite all these everyday annoyances – I.always.want.him.around.

I still love being with my husband – beside me, inside the little home we made. With or without our child.

I’m writing this down to remind me. In case there comes a time I no longer want him around. Or forgot why we are with each other.

I pray that that won’t ever happen.

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How to know if you’re fit to work from home

I once received a private message from a former superior who wanted me to join his team. Since I have found quite a balance of work and family in my life stage  now (thanks to the blessing of working straight from the house), I respectfully declined the invitation. It was really tempting because the offer was good and the work seemed manageable. However, I knew in my heart that I fought long and hard to really attain not just my work from home job, but a lifestyle that I authored myself. He understood my decision but made a comment that doing corporate is good plus I have the skills – so it’s a loss. While he only meant well, at the back of my mind I found myself saying that ‘It’s quite the opposite, really. I believe it’s a bigger loss if I will just exhaust my talent and time working for someone else instead of building my own thing.’

The Anxiety that Comes with Quitting your Day Job

I understand a lot of people who are quite anxious to quit their day job to pursue a work-from-home career. Whether one gets hired full time or part time working remotely from home; or become a full-fledged freelancer, or a home-based entrepreneur – there’s a lot of breaking-down-the-comfort-zone-wall that will take place. But despite the anxiety, a lot of people (especially home makers) go for home-based work because of lifestyle goals, childcare issues, and yes – the passion to create something of their own doing.

If you honestly feel that you want to try this out but scared of jumping in, I’ve got a few pointers to help you decide. But remember, the number one rule is: There’s no certainty in life. There will always be that risk involved. So it’s better to find out early if you are up for this type of career.

Let’s answer the question: How to know if you’re fit to work from home?

work from home motivational quotes

1) You are a self-starter.

Being at home offers a lot of temptations to go slow on the deadline, settle for a mediocre output, or simply skip work all together. Television, Internet, your bed, and even your own hobbies can easily put out the fire of wanting to start. Therefore, the number one trait that you need to posses if you seriously want to make a living while in the house is to be completely self-motivated. Despite external factors, within you lies the drive to get up and do work. I’ll be honest to say that there are days when I just want to lie in bed or play with my daughter the whole day. But I know that at the end of the day I’ll beat myself for being unproductive. That’s the kind of motivation that I think keeps me going a lot of times.

2) You can follow a routine – that can be flexible at the same time.

It’s a misconception that when you work from home, you can choose when and when not to work ALL THE TIME. While that is possible, the bottom line is your ability to stick to a healthy routine. Especially when you are aiming for a balanced lifestyle, you would have to create an hourly schedule to allow time for priority areas: spiritual, health, family, work, not to mention housework, as well. If you don’t have a routine you will most likely fail in this type of set-up because a routine is a good motivator to finish tasks on time (see point #1).

On the other hand, since there would be a lot of distractions while at home versus the regular office job – one must also posses flexibility. You need to bring your child to the pediatrician but there’s a looming deadline – be flexible. Chop and spread out your tasks within the week so you can attend to both; or eliminate the less urgent ones to make time for your kid. When an unexpected friend or relative drops by, have a pre-planned strategy: In short, make a routine that is also open for the unexpected. That’s flexibility.

3) You’re not big on losing some social life because you just love staying at home.

If you’re not the party-goer or the one who needs peer interaction during the day – this won’t be much of an issue. It really boils down to how well you know yourself and your level of social tolerance. Since I’m a home buddy and my social life is my one-year old daughter presently, this setup is just right for me.

4) You are a good financial-steward.

As you will most likely be giving up the shelter of a bi-monthly salary once you become a freelancer, there is much to be said about being disciplined in your financial systems. The good thing about it is you are the one who will decide on how much you are worth based on your output — not the office position that says this is how much this job should pay. But just in any kind of freedom, you have to be smart in budgeting your income especially when there’s waiting time involved in remittances, bank transfers, and the like. It’s also a good reminder for you that from now on, you will be paying for your own health insurance, and other government and social security contributions.

5) You are passionate with your craft and has the motivation to CREATE and CONTRIBUTE.

This is one of the major reasons why I really pursued a work from home lifestyle. If you’re like me who desperately wanted out of the office cubicle thinking it’s so much waste of time being stuck there instead of pursuing an independent career — then this could be the dream job for you. If you have the passion to create something out of your own resources in order to contribute to the greater good – be it for family, church, economy, or the whole of humanity – then, my friend… this could be it!

As a Last Note:

I wouldn’t say working from home is the best job in the world. It has its own advantages and disadvantages. After all, there ain’t no perfect job. And by this time, you probably understand that it’s not for everyone. It isn’t the right career path for all of us. Again, it all boils down to your lifestyle choices, priorities, motivations — and most importantly, your own self-knowledge.

May you have the life that your heart desires :)

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Celebrating Summer’s First Year

Just like any mother, we want to make our child’s first birthday really special. However, I perfectly know that Summer would absolutely not remember her first birthday. And it is most likely that 80% of the guests would be adults. For sure the kid won’t actually enjoy it.

Her birthday falls on a Holy Tuesday (April 15th). So naturally we would be celebrating it on Easter Sunday (April 20th). So I thought Easter could be my go signal to really throw a party in celebration of the Lord’s rising + Summer’s 1st! And what better way to do this but to share the blessings with the less fortunate.

My husband and I decided it’s going to be a Gawad Kalinga (GK) birthday party for Summer!

GK Kids

With our SFC friends, we invited the GK Kids – a community we used to serve in when we were still singles, to celebrate with no other than…. Jollibee!

Meron bang batang hindi nakakakila kay Jollibee?

10299504_10203794915302515_1898366933_nI knew it was going to be a blast for the kids!

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Here they are enjoying the “Langhap-sarap” Chicken Joy + Spaghetti meal!

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I think the host was under a bit of “happy” stress because 80% of my guests were kids!!

Kabog ang parlor games!

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At Jollibee Shell Macapagal, they had a nice set-up. I love the colorful roll of fabric hanging from the ceiling.

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We chose the Hello Kitty theme because of the pastel colored banner – just perfect for an Easter theme

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Jollibee parties are mom-convenient and stress-free. BUT – of course, I wanted to try my hands on a few DIY projects. Jollibee is understanding enough to give room for moms who want to add their own personal touch on their child’s party. Naiintindihan naman nila ang kaartehan ng mga nanay!

It started with the flower pom-poms…

photo…. that ended like a classic Pinterest disaster, hehehe!

It’s supposed to hang on top of the Hello Kitty banner – but it was too ugly to display. Even the crew (politely) agreed! I wanted to throw it away but daddy was creative enough to just use it as part of the cake table’s decor :)

photo 3Now here comes the best part. I love loot bags! Auntie Matel accompanied me one Saturday to visit Divisoria to pick up party supplies. That’s when I realized all those online-selling party suppliers are extremely upping their margins! Never believe that their party designs are hard to find – because these things abound in good, o’l Divisoria! From Chevron prints, to polkadots – name it! They’re all there! And they don’t look cheap at all – just their price tags. Go to 168 Mall – 1 floor down the food court and you’ll find this mom haven.

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In keeping up with the Easter-polka dot theme, I packed chocolate Nips candies, 8-piece crayon boxes, coloring books, pencils w/ fun erasers, mallow pops, and Easter chocolate eggs.

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I slowed down on the sweets because I wanted each bag to contain more of the activity/educational items.

For only P1,250 party fee that includes a Jollibee mascot, you have a choice whether you want to order loot bags from Jollibee (P60/each) or bring your own. I think my bags cost around P45/each. Total savings.

My mom bought the cake for Summer. I didn’t order one from Jollibee. I garnished it a bit with some chocolate Nips candies + Summer’s Easter egg toys :)

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For her age, Summer isn’t directly interacting with the kids.

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But I can tell she’s happy to see a lot of little ones all gathered in one place! I hope when she grows up, she’ll remember that she celebrated her first birthday with the GK kids. And that she’ll keep it in her heart the value of giving.

967731_10203794958383592_534964500_nOf course, this cannot end without the must-have family portrait with the Philippines’ most popular bubuyog :)

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Countdown to 1!

Summer is 11 months old

Summer is 11 months old

How time flies and my little miss is turning one year old this April! I can still remember that day when I delivered her into the world. It was the most life-changing event of my life. And how can I forget the many, many weeks when I lacked sleep – but still went through regular motherhood programming.

First time to smile with us for a shot! What a darling! 6-months old

First time to smile with us for a shot! What a darling! 6-months old

So true is the adage that the “days are long, but the years are short.” I can only be grateful to God who has provisioned us all through the difficult times. I used to pray for a full-time work from home job before Summer turns a year old – because I knew by that time she’ll be so needy of me. And God has fulfilled it with His impeccably perfect timing!

As parents, we always pray for our kid’s health and protection. So far, Summer has been spared from major sickness and disease (and I hope she’ll forever be so). Given that I couldn’t breastfeed her, she has turned out to be healthy and active – to the point of my exhaustion hehe. But I don’t mind :)

Lots of people say she’s a good girl. Summer can be left alone playing by herself. And she can now express herself more – so it gives everyone a clue what she wants without her throwing a big tantrum.

She eats almost everything! PG kung PG (as in Patay Gutom)! I hope I won’t ever get into feeding troubles with this kid. She eats her solids pretty well now.

Walking barefoot :)

Walking barefoot :)

Retrospecting, I can say that first-time motherhood is “survivable”. You don’t actually need to lose your sanity. I can only be thankful to all the people who helped us cope with it – our families, friends, brothers and sisters in our community.

A part of me cannot wait for Summer to grow up because I know she will be the kind of person God wants her to be. But at the same time, I am also left wanting for more… more time to spend with her… more time to enjoy her “babyhood” until I am ready for the next stage.

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