Friday, December 2, 2011

DIY #1: Homemade Edible No-Cook Play dough

My little kids have always been fond of playing with clay.  And I find it a good exercise to develop their fine motor skills.  My artsy girl is especially interested in creating simple clay art pieces.  However, after several uses of their play dough, they usually harden when left exposed in the air for a prolonged time, which make them not moldable anymore.  And it just frustrates me when especially the expensive imported ones were not kept inside their containers and left exposed to harden.  I thought it’s a waste of money to keep on buying the expensive play dough when I discovered that you can in fact make one right in your own home using simple ingredients that are usually already available in your own kitchen.  Since then, I just make play dough at home, and I found it more fun making it with the kids!  What’s good about it, too, is that this play dough recipe is edible, no need to cook, and doesn’t easily harden.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Tips to Peaceful Living

Are you stressed?  Are you like the man in the photo who, when under stress, tends to overeat to the point of gluttony?  Or are you like the woman in the photo who looks old for her age because of stress at work?  In our fast-paced, highly-competitive and modern world, I think no one is exempted from experiencing stress.  Even a baby inside a mother’s womb experiences stress on certain occasions!  Indeed, everyone will experience stress, whether major or minor, whether positive or negative.  Certainly, stress has become part of every human being’s life that cannot be completely avoided.  Given its inevitable nature, the question now is – how well do you handle stress in your life?

Some people handle negative stress well, and it has little effect on their emotional or physical health.  Others, who are very negatively influenced by it, become the victims of fatigue, chronic headaches, irritability, change in appetite, withdrawal, high blood pressure, insomnia and gastrointestinal disorders.  Negative stress creates a tremendous breeding ground for illness.  Researchers estimate that stress contributes to over 80% of all major illnesses, including cardiovascular disease, cancer, endocrine and metabolic disease, skin disorders, and infectious diseases of different kinds.  And even if the illness is not caused by stress, it most certainly is made worse by it.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Weekend Lifestyle and Organic Market Soon to Hit South Metro!

I noticed more and more weekend markets are emerging in the metro these days.  I remember the very first weekend market I’ve been to, and it wasn’t actually here in the Philippines, but in Bangkok, Thailand, and it’s famously called ChatuchakOh, don’t I just love and miss Chatuchak!  Chatuchak is a 35-acre market area that is home to more than 8,000 market stalls, and is actually one of the largest weekend markets in the world.  Similar to our local Divisoria, it’s where you can discover great finds and a wide variety of goods - from food and beverage, clothing and accessories, handicrafts and ceramics, furniture and home decors, down to antique and collectibles, pets, plants and almost everything under the sun, at prices cheaper than in most commercial establishments in Bangkok.
Chatuchak Weekend Market
Here in the Philippines, however, the very first weekend market I encountered is the one at The Lung Center of the Philippines in Quezon City.  Opens on Sundays at The Lung Center hospital grounds, Mom used to come here for some fresh organic veggies and some local delicacies.  The other weekend markets I know are the Salcedo Saturday Market in Velasquez Park, Salcedo Village, and the Legaspi Sunday Market along Herrera and Rada corner Legaspi Streets, Legaspi Village, both located in the sprawling Makati City residential-commercial neighborhood.  Then there’s Mercato Centrale, situated at the corner of 34th Street and 8th Avenue (across MC Home Depot) in the new cosmopolitan business hub, Bonifacio Global City, in Taguig.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Parenting Tips: How to Positively Influence Your Child

Inspired by our recent trip to a pottery farm, I remember a beautiful poem I first encountered in a parenting seminar.  Likened to a potter, parents have the influence to mold a young child’s innocent and yielding heart like a piece of living clay.  And the poem goes…

A Parent’s Influence

I took a piece of plastic clay
And idly fashioned it one day;
And as my fingers pressed it still,
It moved and yielded at my will.

I came again when days were past,
The form I gave it still it bore,
And as my fingers pressed it still,
I could change that form no more.

I took a piece of living clay,
And gently formed it day by day,
And molded with my power and art,
A young child's soft and yielding heart.
I came again when days were gone;
It was a man I looked upon,
He still that early impress bore,
And I could change it never more.
- Author Unknown

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Greater Health...God's Way!

Are you the type of person who always seems to do as you please with regard to your health to the point of abusing or neglecting it?  Consuming all the junk foods, fatty foods, coffee, soda, alcohol and cigarettes you want, or not getting enough rest and exercise?  Or are you the type of person who knows the right way to stay healthy, but choose to ignore and not to follow?  Or are you like me who have the determination to live healthy but did not exactly know how and where to begin?

It was only after I became a stay-at-home, hands-on mom to my two little “angels” that I decided to pursue a healthy lifestyle.  I realized there are now lives that are dependent on me, and it would not be fair to them to not take care of myself as I take care of them.  And as I seek to know God more intimately, all the more that I am determined to honor Him in my life by loving, respecting and taking care of the body God gave me, which is the temple of His Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).  To be honest, however, my current health condition is still far from my ideal.  I am still a “work-in-progress” - learning what my options are, and working myself towards pursuing a healthy lifestyle with discipline and determination…and lots of prayer!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Dr. Seuss - The Book Benefits and the Musical

Courtesy of Repertory Philippines

Don’t you just love the classic Dr. Seuss books?  My children and I do.  We have a collection of these all-time children’s favorite classic books by Mr. Theodore Seuss Geisel, better known as the beloved Dr. Seuss.  The nonsense rhymes and repetitive words combine sentences that just make the tongue roll off, not to mention the use of some weird-looking characters and weird-sounding names, are the unique mark of Dr. Seuss that both adults and children alike love.  But do you know that reading Dr. Seuss books also provide some substantial benefits in developing your child’s language skills?

Sunday, September 11, 2011

T.E.A.C.H. Green: My Earth-Friendly Tips

As a supporter of “green living”, I mentioned in my previous post some “acts of green” that we do at home.  And everyday I get a daily dose of green living tips from one of my sidebar widgets, which I find really helpful as a friendly reminder and as a good information dissemination tool.  Conservation, recycling and re-planting are just some of the common earth-friendly tips that we hear or read about.  But to put together all that I want to share to you today, there are 5 major earth-friendly tips that my mind can think of right now as I write this blog post, and I found an acronym to best describe them, that is T.E.A.C.H. Green!  Here goes:

1.  Teach –  As parents, I believe it is our social responsibility to help our children understand about the one world they live in, and teach them how to be more environmentally aware and socially responsible for their actions towards their environment.  As a homeschooling mom to my 2 preschoolers, I try to incorporate this in our homeschool subjects, like in Science, Arts and in our simple Social Study lessons.  We also try to do some simple environment-friendly projects like planting a tree and growing a plant and recycling old materials and transforming them into works of art.  We also get a lot of interesting facts about our world and how to take care of it by reading the National Geographic Kids Almanac book and other related materials.

Friday, September 9, 2011

A Trip to Cornerstone Pottery Farm

Last week, our homeschool group visited a pottery farm called Cornerstone Pottery Farm owned by husband and wife, EJ and Eva Espiritu, who happen to be homeschooling parents as well.  Their farm is situated in the cool highlands of Silang, Cavite, and is just about 500 meters away from another favorite farm of mine, Ilog Maria.  The ambiance is very peaceful and relaxing as the farm is situated in seclusion amidst the countless narra trees and coconut trees and bamboo shoots, and can be reached through a dirt road branching out from the main Aguinaldo Highway.  The cool, fresh breeze and the rural experience in Silang is where the Espiritus dwell and thrive in building their world-class products.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Weekend Blog Follower Caravan #21

I’m joining the Weekend Blog Follower Caravan again this week!  It’s been months now since I last joined this very helpful weekend meme hosted by OnlineBiz and Resources.  And since my blog is less than a year old, I think I still need all the help and support I can get from kind fellow bloggers out there.  And lately, what makes it more exciting to join this weekly meme is the $5 added bonus to be raffled off every week among all who participated!  Thanks to Coffee on the Side and Walking News Paper for being this week’s sponsors.

Looking forward to blog-hopping this weekend and connecting with more blogger friends in blogosphere…Have a great WBFC weekend!  Thanks for stopping by. ;-)

Sunday, August 28, 2011

32nd Manila International Book Fair Coming Up in September

Time really flies so fast!  We’re already on the last week of August.  A few days from now will be the start of the “ber” months, and that means it’s also the start of the Christmas countdown.  Not only is September the beginning of the Christmas countdown, but to many book lovers in the country, it’s also the much-awaited month for the annual Manila International Book Fair (MIBF).  Now on its 32nd year, the MIBF is scheduled to happen on September 14-18, 2011 still at the SMX Convention Center, Mall of Asia Complex in Pasay City.

I went there last year and bought different kinds of books and educational toys/manipulative that we can use mostly for our homeschooling.  I also bought some books that I can give as Christmas presents, and was fortunate to get an autograph on the storybooks I bought from one of my favorite Filipino children’s book authors, Grace Dacanay-Chong.  Last year’s book fair was also a memorable experience for me as I was candidly interviewed for the TV show “The 700 Club Asia” regarding the benefits of reading books by parents to young children.  In our case, I have been exposing our children to reading books ever since they were babies.  It has become a habit for us to always read a book (be it the Bible or a children’s devotional or storybook with character-building lessons), usually at the start of our daily homeschooling and at bedtime, or even anytime we like.  Not only has reading become a great bonding moment for us, but as a parent, I would also like to develop in my children the love for reading books.  And since they were exposed to reading books at a very young age, I noticed that they also learned how to read early.  I can go on and on, but the bottom line is that the benefits of reading books to children are truly immense and invaluable.

Here’s looking forward to going to the Manila International Book Fair again this year…

Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers. – By Charles W. Eliot

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Natural Ways to Avoid Mosquito Bites

The news about the rising number of dengue cases in the country is definitely alarming.  Personally, I am extra cautious in going outdoors and, sad to say, even preventing my children from staying outside the house, too, nowadays that the dengue outbreak is in its height.  Unfortunately, medications to neither specifically treat a dengue infection is yet to be discovered nor a vaccine available to prevent a person from being infected.  Thus, the only way to avoid mosquito bites is prevention.

The Department of Health promotes its awareness campaign and urges the public to remember its 4S strategy to counter dengue, and these are:

1.  Search and Destroy
2.  Seek early consultation
3.  Self-protective measures
4.  Say “no” to indiscriminate fogging

I will not delve now on all these 4S’s as I think the Department of Health, together with media partners, is already doing a great job in making the public aware of these strategies.  There are also a number of resources in the internet to help us know more about the dengue disease and how to “search and destroy” or prevent mosquitoes from lurking in our households.  There are some very interesting “self-protective measures” (one of the 4S), on the other hand, that I discovered which I would like to share to you.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Our Recent "Homeschool" Family Field Trips

Our children are young, and they still have a lot of places and opportunities to explore.  Most of the time, my husband and I bring them to places that they have not visited yet.  And as a homeschooling family, we occasionally do our own family “field trips”.  My husband and I intentionally bring our children to places where they could find opportunities to learn and explore, at the same time, enjoy and have fun.

Here are some snapshots of recent field trips that we had as a family:

First, the Science Discovery Center in SM Mall of Asia to expose the kids to the different wonders of science...
After watching a short film inside the Planetarium, we somehow felt how it was being in outer space. Cool!
The kids enjoyed watching this robot play the electric keyboard.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Healthy Cooking Tips (Part 2)

Bake, Boil, Broil or Roast This I learned from my Cardiologist that the healthy ways to cook lean meat, fish or poultry are baked, boiled (or steamed for fish), broiled or grilled or roasted.  If frying cannot be completely avoided, stir-frying is the better option than deep frying.  And use the right kind of oil.

Use cooking oil with high amount of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats – Firstly, let us distinguish the “bad fats” from the “good fats” and let us define what monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are.  Monounsaturated fats lower total blood cholesterol and LDL cholesterol (the so-called bad cholesterol) and increase HDL cholesterol (the so-called good cholesterol).  Polyunsaturated fats, where Omega-3 fatty acids belong, also lower total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol.  Both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are the “good fats”.  On the other hand, saturated fats increase total blood cholesterol and LDL cholesterol (the so-called bad cholesterol) while trans fat increases LDL cholesterol and lowers HDL cholesterol (the so-called good cholesterol).  Both saturated fats and trans fat are classified as the “bad fats”.

Healthy Cooking Tips (Part 1)

This day and age, when fast food chains and instant foods are widespread, it is not enough that we eat a balanced meal in order to achieve a healthy diet and a healthier you.  Though food selection is important, it is not enough that we simply purchase foods that are high in complex carbohydrates, complex proteins, fiber and low in saturated fats.  Food preparation is equally imperative.  Food must be free from harmful additives, and it must be prepared in a way that it preserves its nutrients and avoids the occurrence of harmful substances.

Here are some basic guidelines that I would like to share to you for preparing and cooking foods the healthy way:

Avoid foods that contain additives and artificial ingredients – Additives are placed in foods for several reasons: to lengthen shelf life; to make a food more appealing by enhancing color, texture, or taste, and even make the product more marketable.  Anyone whose diet is high in processed food products clearly consumes a high amount of additives and artificial ingredients.  Additives and artificial ingredients simply add little or no nutritional value to a food product.  Some additives could even pose a threat to our health.

Friday, July 22, 2011

My Top 5 Favorite Stores

I’m not really a “shopaholic” person.  As much as possible, I try to buy only what I or my family need, and I mean this of course falls within the categories of food, shelter and clothing, and to add one more, education.  Gone were the days that I splurge on shopping for myself ever since we had children.  I guess I’m the kind of person who would prefer to be lazing in the beach or savoring the quietness of nature than being in the crowded malls.  The grocery store is, of course, the only store we commonly go to for obvious reasons.  But there are simply some specialty stores that I really love going to for great finds, quality service, and for personal/family health care.  And let me just share them to you today – my top 5 favorite stores!  Unfortunately, I don’t have any photo of me and my family in any of these stores, but I can share to you the links to their website, in case you get interested, too.

In random order, my top 5 favorite stores are:

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Gluten-free, Vegetarian and Hypoallergenic Children’s Multi-vitamins

A friend of mine recently asked me what vitamins I give to my children because she noticed that my daughter is looking “healthier” these days.  My little girl has indeed gained more weight (and height, too) and that’s primarily because both of my children have not been getting sick for a long time already.  In fact, their last visit to their Pediatrician prior to their recent annual well child check-up before school started was almost a year ago.  And in their well child check-up, I was glad that the results for both children were good - that their weight is within average (not over or under weight) and their height is in the upper percentile.  My daughter is quite a picky eater; therefore, she needs nutritional support for health and overall well-being.  My children are no longer taking any synthetic vitamins and supplements but instead I give them multi-vitamins and mineral supplement from whole food concentrates.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Pigeon Feeding at The Venice Piazza

I just usually see in the movies those flocks of pigeons roaming and flying around Piazza San Marco (or St. Mark’s Square), amidst the baroque and age-old structures and buildings in Venice, Italy.  I didn’t know that there is already a place in Taguig City, Manila that imitates such a Venetian ambiance and experience, not until my children and I fetched hubby from work weeks ago and got the chance to go to The Venice Piazza (that’s the name of the place!)…Hubby’s office happens to be located across The Venice Piazza at McKinley Hill in the heart of the new cosmopolitan business hub, Bonifacio Global City.  I thought it was a cozy place with lots of posh restaurants surrounding the open piazza.  A nice covered play area is likewise accessible to children, and my children enjoy playing there every time they get to fetch their Papa after work.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Daddy Moment Special Edition - Our Father's Day Celebration

Last Sunday, the whole “Baranggay” (that's how we call our big family) is at our parents’ house again to celebrate another special occasion - Father’s Day.  I gave my dad a card with a personal note in it, and my kids made a card, too, for their Papa.  As usual, the food was a feast!

My little boy was camera-shy that time...

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

God’s Best Dad for Our Children

What a great way to pay tribute to my one and only partner in life, the father of my two little angels, as well as to all the fathers out there, but to remember the wonderful promises and reminders coming from our Most Awesome, Loving and Almighty Father Himself.

I have been experimenting on some photo effects lately, and here are what I have come up with.  I call them art expression and labor of love :-)  I hope you’ll enjoy looking at the photos of my children with their dad and be inspired with the verses, too.

“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” – Ephesians 6:4

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Beginning of Another Homeschool Year

Some of our homeschool materials
This week has been a very hectic week for me as my children and I have officially started our 3rd year of homeschooling.  Just like any other moms out there with school-aged children, I, too, kept myself busy with the nitty-gritty of preparing for the coming school year which, of course, includes the initial requirement of enrolling the children with a local homeschool provider located in Metro Manila, and as their “Teacher Mama”, choosing all the curricula that we can use this year, organizing our daily homeschool schedule, and planning for the activities that we can start with this week.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Healthy Recipe #3 - Tuna Carbonara

I love pasta food!  I consider a pasta dish as my ‘comfort food’.  And here’s another healthy pasta recipe that is very easy to make.  My kids are sometimes choosy when it comes to food especially seafood, but this is one simple recipe that I can cook in a jiffy that they really like.  Main ingredient for this carbonara recipe is tuna

Just to briefly give you some of the health benefits of tuna, tuna is an excellent source of high quality protein, and is rich in a variety of important nutrients including minerals like magnesium, selenium, and potassium; the B vitamins niacin, B1 and B6, and the most important and beneficial omega-3 essential fatty acids.  Omega-3 is named essential fatty acids because these are indeed essential for our health but cannot be made by our body, thus must be obtained from foods like cold-water salmon or tuna fish.  Omega-3 helps prevent blood clots, heart attack and stroke, improves blood flow, helps reduce inflammation of the skin and reduce the risk of skin cancer, and is essential for liver health which helps to promote the detoxification of the body.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

A Blogger Award for Me?

When I received a comment in one of my posts here in my blog that I was given a blogger award, I immediately got excited to discover what it was.  Yes, I was given “The Versatile Blogger” Award, my very first blog award!  Thank you to Mommy Chris of The Mommy Journey for thinking of me and appreciating my new blog.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Mommy and Me Monday: Family Time in Tali Beach

Two weeks ago, hubby and I celebrated our 11th wedding anniversary.  I thank God for the eleven blessed and blissful years with my former officemate (and buddy), now my lifelong mate.  We usually spend our anniversary in a place significant to us as a couple.  And since our special ‘I do’ day falls in the summer month of May, what could be more significant to us than being in a place where our friendship bloomed into a romantic love affair (LOL) – that’s in the beach!

This year, together with our kids, we hit it off to a private residential resort called Tali Beach in Batangas.  Thanks so much to our very good friends who blessed us with a generous accommodation to their humble and charming abode, our family had a grand time swimming in the calm beach and relaxing in the quietness and breeze of a private resort, away from the crowd.  And on our second day, we were all ecstatic because we had the entire Palm Beach (I think the best beach in Tali) all for ourselves!

View from Tali

Some snapshots of Batangas beach (in the Philippines) from a private residential resort called Tali Beach.

View near "The Cliff"

Monday, May 30, 2011

For Moms #2 - Want to Get Rid of Your Flabby Belly Fat?

To continue my month-long special topics dedicated to mothers, I think here’s another interesting topic that is a common concern to all mothers who have given birth.  Well, after giving birth twice via C-section, it’s kind of a personal concern of mine, too.  Although I’m proud to say that I have lost a lot of weight (and fats, too!) since I last gave birth 4 years ago, there’s still a bit of this fat in my belly that I need to work on.  Yeah, this stubborn fat on the lower stomach can really be embarrassing and frustrating especially when you are trying to wear tight pants or swim suit (especially 2-piece) or anything tight and body-hugging.

Of course, we know that one of the helpful benefits of breastfeeding is contracting the mother’s uterus to help her get back into shape sooner.  And this is one great natural remedy to shrinking down the belly faster.  But most of the time, during the course of pregnancy, we tend to gain more weight, thus gaining more of those unwanted fats especially the gawky fat in our belly.  This flabby belly fat is also called “mother’s apron” because the fat deposits make the lower stomach hang down over the pelvis like an apron!  It is more widespread in mothers who have undergone a cesarean birth.  Losing this unwanted “apron-like” fat may not be easy, but with sheer determination to go on a proper diet and regular exercise, you may see some positive outcome on regaining a more fit body and toned belly.  Here are some interesting sites that you can visit to help you get rid of this stubborn flabby belly fat:

Friday, May 27, 2011

Healthy Recipe #2 - Homemade Herbed Tomato Sauce

A few weeks ago, my whole family visited our family orchard in the province north of Luzon (Philippines).  Veggies there in the province are quite cheap this time of the year, especially tomatoes.  And since summer time is the peak season for tomatoes, they can be bought at a very cheap price.  So Mom bought crates of tomatoes and other local vegetables to be distributed among her children. (How sweet and caring of her, really!)  When we came home from the province, I just thought I needed to make use of all those veggies, especially the bunch of tomatoes I got from Mom.  So I decided to make a basic homemade tomato sauce with different herbs to add flavor and aroma.

My fresh tomatoes which I made into sauce
Tomatoes, by the way, are rich in nutrients and provide lots of health benefits.  Some of these benefits include an abundant source of antioxidants and reduces cholesterol and protects the heart because of its large amount of lycopene, improves vision, keeps the gut healthy, lowers hypertension, prevents gallstone, and a rich source of vitamins and minerals.

This is another simple recipe you can make at home - all-natural tomato sauce without preservative and food coloring.  It's so simple that I don’t even keep track of the measurements!  I just go by my own personal taste and preference.(LOL)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Mommy and Me Monday: The 1st Philippine Homeschool Kids Fair

With proud Teacher Mama
Just last Saturday, my daughter and I attended the very first Philippine Homeschool Kids' Fair organized by HAPI, which stands for Homeschool Association of the Philippine Islands.  It was a fun-filled day of celebrating the homeschool children's passion for music, arts and science.  And boy, was I amazed at the exhibit and performances of those children!

My daughter and I had to wake up early that day for the early ingress of the exhibit.  I drove all the way from Sta. Rosa, Laguna to Pasig City (Philippines) and back.  The weather was hot but perfect for the occasion.  It was a very tiring day for me and my daughter, but I must say it was really worth the effort joining in this momentous event.  Seeing once again some homeschool parents I know and meeting new acquaintances, viewing all the wonderful art displays and science projects of the children, looking at the educational books and toys and some yummy baked goodies of the kids, and watching the live performances of those very talented young children have all really made my day.

My 5-year old girl really loves arts and crafts.  She's always fond of drawing, painting and doing some crafts at home.  In fact, this summer she didn't want to enroll in any sport clinic or dance lessons.  So I enrolled her in an art and craft class, instead, which she really enjoyed.  For the homeschool kids' fair, she exhibited some of her art works which are a showcase of different art medium - water color, oil pastel, paint and collage.  Teacher Mama (that's me) chose the theme for her oil pastel and collage art works, which are about homeschooling and taking care of Mother Earth.

Friday, May 20, 2011

My "Barangay's" Mother's Day Celebration

Other than birthdays, Christmas, New Year, my parents’ anniversary, Valentine and Easter, there are two more special occasions that my family celebrates, and these are Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.  (Oh, and I remember one more…Grandparents’ Day!)

Last May 8, the whole “Barangay” is at our parents’ house once again to have a different kind of Mother’s Day celebration.  I wrote “Barangay”, by the way, because that’s what we label our family since we’re big in number, quite an exaggeration, I know…but we’re really a bunch.  Anyway, I mentioned that this year’s Mother’s Day celebration in the family was kind of different from the previous years’ celebration mainly because Mom didn’t do any of the cooking, which is so not her.  Instead, we agreed that each of us (her daughters and daughters-in-law) would prepare a dish for her and the whole family – kind of like a pot bless - so Mom can just relax and take a day off from cooking.  For my contribution, very different from our usual Sunday get-together lunch menu, I decided to cook a Thai cuisine called Tom Yum soup, similar to the Filipino "sinigang" dish except that it’s spicier and is made up of shrimps and squids specially flavored with lemon, tomatoes, ginger and cilantro.  Even though may be a little bit of mucus oozed from their noses (LOL), many of the family members liked the soup’s spicy taste.  It’s actually a favorite soup of mine which I discovered from my frequent trips to Thailand in the past.  It’s just too bad I forgot to take a photo of my dish. :(

Anyway, here are some of our photos…

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Earth Celebration at Nuvali

In its commitment to environmental awareness and appreciation, Nuvali Evoliving pays tribute to Mother Earth with its I ♥ Earth: Nuvali Earth Celebration.  This 15-day event started last Saturday, May 14, and will end on May 29, 2011.  Various activities and displays have been lined up all through out this Earth celebration event, which include aerobic and yoga sessions, wellness cooking, bonsai and flower arrangement workshops, nature photography workshops and photo exhibits, and more.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

For Moms #1 - Prevention and Natural Remedy for Stretch Marks

For this whole month of May, I am dedicating all my health and wellness-related posts to all the mommies out there reading my blog by writing about topics or common problems and concerns typically faced by mothers like me.  As a believer of going “natural and organic”, I am in pursuit of finding natural ways to curing all sorts of health-related problems and concerns that I encounter in my life.  Some, I have already discovered and used, but for many, it looks like Mother Nature has so much gifts and wonders that I have yet to discover to find health cures.  Such an interesting journey to discover…

Well anyway, for a start, here’s one common concern I think any mother who has given birth would be interested in.  Well, it’s a personal concern of mine, especially when summer time comes…Would you believe I have been dreaming of wearing a two-piece bikini in the beach?!? (LOL)  But because of this problem, I feel so awkward to flaunting my body with these marks all over my tummy.  What are they?  STRETCH MARKS!
We all know that in pregnancy it is common to develop stretch marks because the skin stretches very rapidly that the fibers in the deep layers of the overstretched skin tear.  Unfortunately, once the marks appear, they are permanent, but they do become much less noticeable with time.  And I learned that the best way to avoid stretch marks is by preventing them.  How?  Here are how.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

A Different Mother's Day Giveaway

In celebration of Mother's Day, my good friend Mommy Chris of The Mommy Journey in partnership with photographer par excellence, Tracey Heppner of Tracey L Heppner Photography, are giving away a free family photo shoot to one blogger mom and her family.  I rarely join giveaways since I started blogging three months ago (yeah, pretty new!) and this is my very first time to join a local giveaway.  I do not want to pass this one because I think it's different from all other blog giveaways I've encountered so far.  For one, we do not have a really nice camera to capture a complete family photo.  And every time the four of us go out, either mom or dad is not in the picture with the two kids because she or he is behind the camera taking the picture.  So this giveaway would be a great chance for me to be treated with a very nice photo opp with my family - all four of us in the picture this time.  Also, I am enticed to join this giveaway because I do not only get to receive something out of winning (in case I do win), but what's more important to me is I get to participate in a worthy cause and give something to others, especially to the less fortunate little children of Gentle Hands, a ministry (located in Quezon City) dedicated to helping the urban people, especially children, of the Philippines.  In effect, I will not only be blessed with a treat of an excellent photo shoot with my loved ones by an international photographer (again, only in case I get to win this giveaway, haha!), but I also get to become a blessing to the ones very dear to my heart - the little children.  That to me is already a reward not here on earth, but in heaven...I just hope I could get to visit Gentle Hands with my children sometime in the future, and be a blessing to the little children there once again.

If you want to know more about the giveaway details, check them out here.  There are only four more days to go before the giveaway ends.  And if you want to be a blesser of Gentle Hands, too, you may visit their website here to get more information on how you can donate.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Remembering Mothers

Oh, I hope this is not yet late…A few minutes from now and it’s going to be another special day to celebrate in our family.  Even though there are many material gifts that we can think of giving on Mother’s Day, I think the simplest and most inexpensive yet profound and eternally-meaningful gift that we can offer our Mothers is a special prayer.  So this is my prayer to all the women who have been blessed to raise God’s children and heed the high and noble call of motherhood.  Happy Mother's Day!

Lord, you brought someone special to this world for a purpose –
Not just to birth and to raise your children, but to nurture and train them in godliness and righteousness.

I pray that you will bless her with the many ways she’s been a blessing to others.
Surround her with your love and with the love of those who care so much for her.
Grant her strength daily to fulfill the high and noble call of motherhood.
Grant her courage to face all trials and tribulations; hope and encouragement to not grow weary because laboring in the Lord will not be in vain.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Releasing Our Children Into God's Hands

I mentioned in my previous post that our two little angels are products of an answered prayer.  After five years of marriage and waiting patiently in prayer and expectation, God, in His perfect time, granted the desire of our hearts to have children of our own.  Even though it was difficult and high risk for me to get pregnant, God did not only bless us with one child, but two – a girl and a boy!

When our first child was born, I was so concerned about everything in her life.  I wanted to give her the best care and did not want to put her life in jeopardy that we even sought the service of a private-duty nurse to help me take care of my newborn baby as I recuperate from cesarean operation and recover from eclampsia.  And even when she was growing up as a baby, I was still too concerned with a lot of things in her life that all my strength and efforts were exerted much for her and that my life practically evolved around her.  Not until my husband and I dedicated her to the Lord through a simple ceremony in December 2005…My husband and I learned that dedicating our child to God is not just offering her back to her God and Maker, but part of it is releasing her into God’s hands.  I know that we, as parents, are merely God’s stewards and that our children are not ours, but His.  So from that point on, whenever I had fear about anything, I take it upon myself to immediately pray and trust God.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Find Time for Yourself

"If you don’t find time for yourself, the time you have left for others will be less than it could be. Go for a walk, lock yourself in the bathroom, pull over on the side of the road, stop long enough to just be quiet and listen to yourself breathe for a few minutes. Even 5 minutes is better than nothing."

Courtesy of "Begin with Yes" Facebook Fan Page

What a wonderful reminder, isn't it?  A lot of times we are so caught up with our duties and responsibilities, be it at work or at home, that we always forget to find time for ourselves.  Too busy for others, but not for yourself... Are you in that situation right now?  This inspiring message reminds us the importance of finding time to be alone by yourself even for just a few minutes, to take time to slow down, pause...and breathe!  This I learned from Paul S. Boynton, author of the book "Begin with Yes".

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Natural Home Remedy for Sunburn

Summer is up and the heat is on!  A lot of people hit the beach or the swimming pool this summer to cool them down from the scorching heat of the sun.  But if you expose yourself too much from the sun, chances are you can get sunburn.

Sunburn is caused by too much exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays.  As most sunburns are considered first-degree burns, the skin becomes red, warm, and tender to the touch.  More serious sunburn can be a second-degree burn, causing severe reddening, swelling, pain, and even blisters.  I read in a health book that fair-skinned people (like me!) are more prone to sunburn than darker skinned individuals. Yay!  But no matter what your skin color is, you will still burn if you get too much exposure.  And if you do get sunburned, here are some natural home remedies that you can do to help ease the pain and aid in the body’s healing process:

Aloe Vera

Gently apply a thin layer of aloe vera gel to the sunburned area.  Reapply it every hour until the pain is gone.  Aloe vera gel is an amazingly effective treatment for any kind of burn.  It relieves discomfort, speeds healing, and also helps to moisturize the skin and relieve dryness.  Pulp (or the transparent gel) taken directly from inside the fresh aloe vera plant is the best.  If you use a commercial aloe product, make sure, though, to choose one that contains no mineral oil, paraffin wax, alcohol, or coloring.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Weekend Blog Follower Caravan #10

Hi there!  Thank you for visiting my blog.  I'm so excited to join the Weekend Blog Follower Caravan hosted by OnlineBiz and Resources.  As the purpose of this weekly meme states, "it is designed for bloggers to help each other in terms of blog followers either through Google Friend Connect (GFC) or email subscription."

Since I'm a newbie in blogging, I'm really looking forward to meeting more blogger friends and following more interesting blogs.  I'm also looking forward to getting the love and support of fellow bloggers by following my blog...and I will surely reciprocate the love and support back to you. :-)  I am also open to exchanging links with you if you have a "family-friendly" blog.  Kindly leave a comment below (together with your URL) so I can link you up here and follow your blog, too.

I am Tess, by the way, a stay-at-home mom (hopefully a work-at-home mom soon, Lord willing) blessed with 2 adorable and energetic preschoolers and wife of 11 years now (and going strong) to my BF (bestfriend) and ex-BF (boyfriend).  For more than 12 years, my career evolved around the I.T. industry, and  now I am happily blessed and humbled that my life evolves around my ministry - my family, especially our children.  It gives me so much joy seeing my children grow up and personally witnessing the different milestones in their life, that no amount of money can  compensate.  Everyday, for me, is an exciting journey and a wonderful blessing...Get to know more about me and my life's passion and pursuits...and I would love to get to know more about you, too.  God bless!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Make Your Child a Habitat Hero

Today, April 22, is Earth Day.  Here in the Philippines, however, the celebration of Earth Day has been postponed to a later date, on April 25, if I’m not mistaken, to give way to the country’s observance of the Holy Week.  In essence, however, I think everyday should be Earth Day.  We can help save Mother Earth in our own individual gestures or “acts of green”, no matter how simple or intricate they may be, and incorporating them in our everyday lifestyle.

From Habitat Heroes website

As parents, I believe it is also our social responsibility to help our children understand about their place in the world, how to be more environmentally aware and socially responsible for their actions towards their environment.  And here’s a fun and creative way to help our children understand their environment and the different habitats in the world – through Habitat Heroes!  Habitat Heroes is a social networking website that educates and inspires children about social and environmental issues affecting our planet in a factual but fun format.  Children take on the persona of an endangered specie while playing games and learning about the different countries and habitats of the world.  You or your child can register for a free and unlimited access to this educational and fun website.  Aside from learning about some of the different countries of the world and creating their own habitat, children also get to learn cool stuffs like planting trees, animal rescue, rainforest rescue, global greening, global warming, and recycling, among others, through games and factual information.  More games can be played in the “School Safari” as well as more educational materials about environmental topics like Biodiversity, Climate Change, Eating Healthy Foods, Environmental Disasters, Marine Life, and Recycling can be found there.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Healthy Recipe #1 - Rice Coffee: A Healthy Alternative to Caffeinated Coffee

For the first time, I’m featuring a recipe I know that is healthy and very simple to make.  In fact, this recipe is so simple that it only has 1 ingredient (LOL!) and that is…unpolished rice!

Are you the type of person who loves to drink coffee but is wary of taking in (too much) caffeine into your body?  Well, here’s a wonderful alternative to the regular caffeinated coffee – RICE COFFEE!  There’s even an organic store I know that sells this kind of coffee.  But let me just share to you now how I prepare it at home.

Unpolished red rice variety

First things first, it’s best to use organic and unpolished rice.  Although I read somewhere that there are now violet, pink and black varieties, brown or red are the more common unpolished rice varieties in the supermarkets and groceries nowadays.  Using organic and unpolished rice is a lot better than the regular polished white rice because of its health benefits.  For one, it’s pesticide-free and is loaded with more micro nutrients (vitamins and minerals) and rich in fiber and essential oils compared to white rice.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Becoming a Praying Parent

I remember what our pastor always reminds his church, and that is to develop a consistent prayer life.  That’s my heart’s desire, too - to be more consistent in my prayer life.  And in praying, we do not only pray for ourselves but for others as well.  And one of the most important aspects of our prayer life is praying for our loved ones, especially the ones whom we deal with, take care of and minister to everyday – our children.

Here’s an excerpt from one of my favorite books by Stormie Omartian entitled “The Power of a Praying Parent” that I want to share to you this week. 

It gives me so much hope and encouragement to know that our children’s lives don’t ever have to be left to chance and be tossed and turned by the winds of change.  Instead, we can always turn to the expert parent of all time – our Father God – for help.  This doesn’t mean, though, that we would be abdicating all the responsibility of parenthood to God, but rather we can declare ourselves to be in full partnership with Him.  An important part of our job as parents is to keep the details of our child’s life covered in prayer.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Mommy Moments - Birthdays!

For the first time, I'm joining my good friend Mommy Chris' "Mommmy Moments" this week!  The theme is all about birthdays.  Birthdays are indeed very special moments to cherish and to celebrate God's goodness and faithfulness.  My kids are always looking forward to celebrating their birthday every year.  And here are some snapshots of our recent birthday celebrations...

Our Daughter's Fifth Birthday

Even though there was a nationwide brownout that day because of a typhoon and even though my little girl did not get her desired "Barbie" cake because it was temporarily phased out, we still managed to celebrate our sweet little daughter's 5th birthday at home.  Oh, and she also got two awards that day - Best in Art and Best in Math & Science!  Good job, my dear!

Our Son's Fourth Birthday

We first celebrated our son's 4th birthday this year with all our homeschool friends in the area.  And on the day of his birthday, we went out as a family to a children's play house and restaurant called Fun Ranch. The kids had a blast!

And finally....My birthday!

Had an exquisite and sumptuous dinner with my family, and was serenaded by the restaurant's staff and crew that evening.  What a lovely surprise!  Loved it!

Thank you Lord for the precious birthday moments a mother like me will always cherish!

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