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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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WAHM Now

ImageNew title for me. After a long wait, I’ve finally landed a job that allows me to stay at home with the baby. The setup is perfect, but it is not without work and time challenges. I still report to a boss, and I still log my hours. Not to mention adjust to a culture different from the nice Aussie teams I’ve worked with :)

I can’t complain though. I knew in my heart I am always destined to thrive working in the home space.

God is really good. His timing is always on time.

My only wish (as in final na talaga, Lord!) that one day, maybe before the year ends… I can be my own Wahmeo.

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What is your greatest struggle?

I can say that at this point in time I have somehow fully-accepted the fact that I am a working mother. Different from my original plan to be a WAHM (although I work from home once a week). I came across a post about a working mom who has struggled mostly because  her plans on how to live her life were otherwise re-written by God.

Her revelation resonates so much in me as I am just like her – a planner by nature. Most of us women have this built-in tendency to be 20 steps ahead, planning our next course of action, taking calculated steps toward the kind of life we idolize. But of course, life has a way of throwing us things we never planned to have. We struggle.  We suffer a bit because it is out of our plans. Plans are always within our comfort zones. But we change our minds all together in the end.

life-begins-at-the-end-of-your-comfort-zone

I’d like to share an excerpt of her post here:

What is your greatest struggle?

I have spent too much of my life discontent because my life does not look like as I expected it to. I have struggled throughout my adult life to learn contentment and find joy in living the life I have.

I am a planner by nature, and this is a very useful skill in my career as an Executive Assistant and Project Officer and in my role as wife, mommy and even friend.  But I would by lying if I said that this has always served me well.  You see, beyond planning logistics, I have invested my heart in expectations of how my life would be.  I have made these plans an idol and sacrificed my own joy at their feet.

 I have spent over a decade planning and struggling, planning and struggling.

Of course, each one of these diversions from my plans has led me to meet people, have experiences and learn lessons that I would not have otherwise. There has been so much joy and so much beauty along the way, but there has also been grief.  I have had to grieve the loss of my own plans.  

When I read that part of her post I realize how many times I have deprived myself of my own joy and contentment simply because I have focused too much on my own agenda. There is nothing wrong in planning your own life. But if the blueprint is too hard to erase/re-write then we just fall into the trap of discontent.

I often tell people that motherhood has a way of pulling us in the right directions. Before I became a mom, I would have never thought of changing careers or even go for more intentional living. I have operated within a very limited life architecture I mapped out that going beyond my comfort zone is unimaginable, at least for me pre-mom stage. Now is different. I have been stretched further – so symbolic are the stretchmarks you get after giving birth. I assume it’s because mothers will always want to give their best to their children that’s why we become fearless in making hard decisions.

I have also learned a great deal about letting go of control. When I allow God to shape my life, trusting His lead – I become less afraid of the outcome of anything.

The writer ends with a note on the best advice she has received when fighting discontentment:

It doesn’t matter what “things” my heart is chasing after day by day (be it a deadline, or a goal or something my son is needing) seeking Jesus is always the “right” answer.  Seeking Him first always manages to take care of everything else.  It’s too simple, and often seems trite.  But it’s true.

How about you, what are you planning/struggling about?

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What’s your Life’s KPIs?

Life KPI

In most business reports, we put premium on the KPIs or Key Performance Indicators. These statistics tell us if what we have been doing is bringing us any closer to our objectives or not. Most of the time, KPIs dictate the next course of action for any organization.But why not apply it to our own lives?

I’ve thought of this long and hard last night as I got a ‘yes’ from a long-standing aspiration. The irony is, the green signal is quite hazy that I constantly have to ask myself if this is REALLY WHAT I TRULY WANTED. I know it is a dream come true but really, will it resonate to my values and priorities now that I have moved to a new phase in life? So it brought me to the next relevant question: What is my life’s KPI?

There are 4 things that came to my mind. If I have to set my own KPIs in this particular life season, these would be:

1. A healthy, secured, and well-developed child

Not to neglect my spouse, but I just believe that at this point in time my little baby needs me for her full growth and potential. Of course, the obvious course of action in order to meet this is to spend as much quality time with my child. I’d like to be able to monitor her development and make sure I am raising a good one and not a future monster. Kidding.

2. A comfortable lifestyle that we can afford

We are at a phase when the mommy is still the breadwinner of the family. We just could not give up my income yet. I do hope that one day this is no longer our reality. But as for now, as for the present moment – it is the place I am in. For all the young mommies out there who are in the same circumstance, I know there are days we despise this fact of life. But I’d like to believe that we are in it because our KPI requires us so. We have set it up ourselves. Hashtags #GinustoKoTo #AlphaMarsPalaHa. Joke :)

3. The most-coveted work-life balance

The most overrated phrase that you hear from parents and single adults, alike. What is with this so-called work-life balance – is this really achievable or is just an on-going myth? I’ve read somewhere that working mothers (whether they are office or home-based), will always be at a dilemma. For me it  looks that a work-from-home mom is just as hectic as an office-mom. Some say the former even has more on her to-do-list. So for this KPI, I believe it is up to us to define what is “work-life balance”. There really is no correct answer or solution to totally say: yes, we are living a well-balanced life. You just have to keep moving and take the next right step. It’s relative for every family so I guess the more important objective is: To know what works for your family.

4. A meaningful career

Whether I decide to quit corporate and work from home, the real cost is time. In any way I see it, it will still be time away from my child and family. So that has got to be meaningful work unless I want to be a miserable mother at the end of the day. And the classic equation still stands: Unhappy mom = Unhappy hubby and baby.

Can a woman have it all? YES! – but not all at once. If I have 1-2-3 checked, does it mean I should be content even if I’m losing the KPI stats for #4? Something has to give, isn’t it? Such is life.

But for all its worth, setting our KPIs is like our guiding compass. It gives us a clearer picture of where we are currently and where we want to be headed. It’s some sort of a simpler roadmap of life. There could be times that the tension between our priorities can grow intense and super conflicting. Because of the expectation vs reality one can feel just as defeated at the end of the day. But remind yourself this: It is not us who is in control. Might as well trust in His leading and just take the next right step. I know it is easier said than done. But really, that is the only choice if we want to keep going with some meaning.

How about you, what is your life’s KPI?

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A Working Mom’s Schedule: A Guide to Keep Your Sanity (Hopefully)

I do think women can have it all. Just not at the same time.

- Madeleine Albright (former US Secretary of State)

workingmomgraphic

This has been my mantra for the past couple of weeks when I started working back in the office after the maternity leave. Not many knew about my post-partum depression of being a working mother and leaving the baby at home.

BUT in God’s grace, I am progressively dealing with the circumstance and overcoming the challenges.

FYI, this post is:

  • For those of us who are the breadwinners of their families and cannot sacrifice their income contribution yet
  • For all full-time working moms who are still in that phase of actively waiting for that ideal “work-at-home” opportunity
  • And for those of us who do not balance, but JUGGLE work-family life

I have listed my own share of a “Working Mom’s Schedule” hopefully to help you out in this crazy phase of your motherhood.

Big shout-outs go especially to working mothers with newborns!

6.15am – Wake up. Prepare my office baon (last night’s dinner + the local bakery’s pandesal for breakfast)

6.30am – Bath. Dress up. Handbag was prepared last night pa.

7.10am – Kiss hubby and baby good bye. Commute, go!

7.45 – 8am – log-in to work.

8am – 5pm – CORPORATE SLAVERY HAPPENING

5.15-5.30pm – Out of the building to go home.

5.30-6pm – drop by the grocery if I need fresh ingredients/meat for dinner

6.30-7pm – Home. Rest. Play with the baby

7-7.30pm – Give Summer a bath. Prepare her milk and diaper for the night.

7.30-8pm – Prepare dinner

8pm – Yaya eats dinner. I put the baby to sleep (most of the time, I’m not successful)

8.30pm – Husband and wife dinner and bonding time

9pm – Baby decides she’s not sleepy yet and needs me to soothe her AGAIN. I put her back to sleep AGAIN (most of the time, successful!)

9.30pm – I take a bath and prepare my things for tomorrow

10pm – Collapse

6.30-7am the following day – Summer decides to wake up just in time for mom’s morning alarm!

Me and the hubby take alternate days of doing middle-of-the-night feeding + diaper change for the baby. I do the MWF-Sundays. I get “me time” on Thursdays (I don’t think I ever used this privilege). My husband takes up Wednesdays. Saturdays, my yaya is off from work starting at 5pm and returns the following day, same time. Sundays are strictly family days.

So far so good. This schedule is working for us. Routine keeps stability in the home – and mommy gets to keep her sanity in check.

How about you? What’s your working-mom schedule?

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Gonna be a Working Mom

The past 2 months have been one of the most exciting phases of my life. I have delivered a baby girl, started and established my mommy routines, and is now currently a work-from-home mother. Not to mention having organized a baptism party for our little one just a week ago.

The start of this journey has been real amazing! And here’s our little family pic to prove the point, hehe!

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I can say I am settling well into the WAHM (work-at-home-mom) setup. Thank God for yayabells, I have my sanity intact! There is work-life balance. Our meals are healthy. House is not too chaotic as I expected it to be. My husband still loves me (I hope! Haha!).

Life is not always easy, but I still think it is treating me fair and square. I am enjoying Summer so much as she is now able to coo and smile when we talk to her.

 

Sorry for being a stage momma, but check out how cute she is! :)

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I can’t believe she’s hooked into Disney Babies on YouTube this early! Watching her get all perky and delighted while staring at the Android screen watching cartoons is by now, my life’s greatest wonder.

So this leaves me to having a surge of separation anxiety… Monday will come in a few days and I’ll be working in the office again. I’m still not so sure if my client will allow me to work a few days at home. That would be a favorable set-up. I wish! wish! wish!

But really, I think it isn’t just going back to work that hunts me now. I feel more like a 20-ish girl at a certain point of her quarter-life-crisis (by the way, I’m turning 29 in a few days, yeah I’m old like that!). Some questions that keep bugging me at night especially when I’m rocking the babe to sleep, are:

  • Is this the kind of work that I want to do for the rest of my life?
  • What is that one thing that I definitely love doing that it has never felt like working?
  • Can I achieve security if I quit and move into a work-from-home career?
  • Should I really feel guilty as an office-working mother?
  • Am I simply underestimating myself or am I just too fearful of life?

Whatever the answers are (and I can tell you, I don’t know them yet), I’m keeping my hopes alive. I know there are a lot more other things in store for me and our little family. Isn’t life’s supposed to be a continuous fulfilling of your purpose? I’d like that to happen one day. So here’s my little memo to the universe:

“When we let go of our fears, do what we love, and just take it one step at a time – we can have it all!”

– Masha Malka, You Can Have it All, Chicken Soup for the Stay at Home Moms.

What to watch out for:

The first week of July is my birthday week. During that time, I’ll be launching a test business I have long been wanting to do. I’d like to connect more with YOU here and here so we can make good (and yummy!) treats together – there goes my clue! :)

To make your brand a success, contact: http://www.designsandprintsph.com/

 

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Waiting (Im)patiently: 37 weeks!

I have a group of favorite girl friends and we dub ourselves the #LowEQ Marses!! Why? It’s simply because we can’t stand waiting for life to happen. Whenever there’s a new opportunity or life-changing event that is soon to unfold, we try to find ways to hasten the situation – usually to no avail! Thus, we find our low-EQ selves impatiently waiting for the right time.

And now that I’m soon to pop my first baby in just a few weeks short of a full month, you can imagine the stress of having to wait, wait, and wait!! Even if my OB says she can induce me to give birth on my preferred date, it’s still the best idea to wait until the little one (and my body) are ready for the big day.

preggy at 37 weeks

Me @37 weeks going on 38 now. Notice that my belly is still up too high – and yes, I’m so swollen!!

All my mommy-friends have advised me to get more sleep as much as I can because once the baby arrives, I’ll be joining the zombie party. To make waiting easier, I’ve also been told to move around and walk daily. This they say can help me get the baby into position towards my cervix. Seriously, I’m thinking of getting into a treadmill just to get on with the birth as soon as possible. The only thing stopping me from doing so is the fact that I still have a bunch of SEO reports to submit. Quite anxious about leaving work assignments actually, despite turning over my files in sharp detail = Hashtag, #OC.

Anyway, just to be a bit of help for FTMs (first-time-moms) like me, I’ve sorted out a 15-item checklist to accomplish in case waiting has gotten the best of you in this crucial pre-mom time of your life:

  1. Wash and iron baby clothes
  2. Prepare all your baby’s stuff in his/her cabinet or room
  3. Prepare hospital bag. You can refer to this list (promise essentials lang yan)
  4. Sort out all healthcare and legal documents to bring in separate envelopes/folders
  5. Make sure you have extra copies of your birth plan, admission slip from the OB, ultrasound results
  6. Make sure your digital camera is ready for the big event.
  7. Stock up on groceries & frozen meals in preparation for your return from the hospital
  8. Enlist household or nanny help while you still have time
  9. Contact neighbours/friends/relatives who are willing to drive you to the hospital in case hubby’s not around
  10. Walk around the neighbourhood/park/even inside your own home to boost your energy levels
  11. Spend time with your husband. Go on dates while you still can
  12. Sleep more
  13. Finish a project you’ve been meaning to accomplish (i.e. reading a book, learning a new recipe, baking, arts & crafts, etc.)
  14. Some women continue working while in their 9th month. I still work – but from home now.
  15. Pray that everything will be swift and safe!

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