Thursday, September 10, 2009

I Love Scrapbooking!

Travel scrapbook page

Baby's arrival scrapbook page

Halloween scrapbook page

Birthday scrapbook page

my travel scrapbook  

   It's really not hard to figure out why I love scrapbooking like millions of  other women. 
  What exactly makes me addicted to scrapbooking? Well, I have so many reasons to love it! Scrapbooking is a wonderful hobby for me! Besides being relaxing and fun, it also allows me to be creative and to spend quality time with my family and friends. Plus, it results in a storybook of lifelong memories. I have been in the craft for years now and still do not foresee myself losing interest in it anytime soon or ever for that matter. There are times when I find myself in the store shopping for something completely different, and yet being drawn ( like a kid in a candy store ) to the scrapbook section like a magnet; I tend to feel the intense feeling of needing more things for future projects that will never come to an end.
   Scrapbooking is a fantastic way to be creative. And with all there is to offer with the variety of supplies, there is no excuse for creating something new and different. And the best thing about it is there is no right or wrong way to scrapbook. It is what you make it, and because you made it, it is beautiful unique and special. I love scrapbooking also because it provides a way for us to escape the grind of life's daily challenges, responsibilities and concerns. Because it requires time, thought, and a creative mind; it allows us to think of other things for a while. In turn it can bring inner peace, contentment, strength and energy to the sole. 
    For me, scrapbooking is a healthy habit. You get to appreciate life more. In creating a keepsake album, you have learned to celebrate and appreciate the moments in your lives. Each page renews a memory of happiness or pride that much too often is taken for granted.
    I've made scrapbook albums for each of my children where I place all of our cherished family photos. It is really wonderful to capture as much of their changing looks because it happens so fast and at least I will have the memories to share with them as they grow up. I want to make sure that they will remember our fun family times together with scrapbooks and show them to their own children in the future. I've made several albums also for me and my hubby for us to share and show our future grandchildren our family history.
    Well, I will always take the time to create a  scrapbook because I believe that the memories created in a scrapbook live beyond me, to be cherished and enjoyed forever. I will always put a bit of love and soul into it. And that I know I will be happy that I did when I look back in years and live those times again.

Friday, May 8, 2009

The power of a mother

    In life, we come across numerous forms of relationships but the dearest and most heartfelt relation of all is between a mother and her child. The bond of mother and child is the purest and holiest. In her creative capacity, mother, after all, is next to God. She is a gem who forgives everything. A warm and affectionate touch from a mother gives us immense security: we feel safe and proud. 
    Motherhood has long been considered the embodiment of self-sacrifice, and for good reason. From the first manifestations of "morning" sickness to the sacrificial act of birthing, it consumes mothers through the physical body. Of course, it doesn't begin with pregnancy nor does it end after giving birth. Not at all. Every stage of a child's life requires a different set of motherly attitudes, analyses and discernment based on her judgement.

    A mother is the heart of every home. On her shoulders lie the responsibility of striking a balance between softness and strength. She takes it upon herself to smile through every heartache just so the emotional security of the home is not disrupted. She devotes to her immediate precious circle an abundance of love and yet at the end of a long day she is sure to have enough left to offer those who may still be in need of it. The resilience of a woman is amazing and it will take no less than motherhood to bring to light the truth. 
    Today is Mother's day. As we thank heaven for the blessing that is Mom/Mama/Nanay, let us likewise be thankful for the other people in our lives who have treated us like their own children. Unlike romantic love, which is often just anchored on feelings, motherhood is always both a feeling and a decision. A mother loves her child unconditionally and she communicates that love 24/7. What she does and says is just a faint echo of all that is naturally written in her heart. Even when a child turns into a impossible, bratty monster the mother's love will persevere because she knows that hidden inside the monster is her child. 

    My brother and I are blessed with a wonderful, wonderful mother who always supports us in 
everything we do and showing us her never ending love. Mommy is the love of my dad's life, and she is to Fenton and me a loving ally and a precious jewel. Thank you Mom, for so much - Happy Mother's Day!

    Now I would like to tell you about another mother of mine ( she is yours, too), who not only is a source of much comfort but my hotline to heaven, too. Let me begin by saying that I honestly cannot remember a time when I wasn't aware of the existence of the Blessed Mother and her son, Jesus. Just like Jesus, Mama Mary was, still is, and will always be a strong, real presence in my life. For little things as well as big things, I turn to Mama Mary. I always carry a rosary and my handbags have a rosary each. She was to me a great, powerful intercessor. She was my way to Jesus and the more I prayed, the better things always turned out to be. 

    Whenever I was faced with any trouble, worry, or danger, the rosary proved to be a major source of strength. Mama Mary is really a mother. When we seek her out, she always responds by sending a loving hug my way, be it through a general feeling of peace or through the many earthly angels in the guise of every day people that she sends our way.

    I cannot remember anything that I prayed for that Mama Mary did not help me with. 

    Well, to my loving Mom, Mama Mary, and to all the mothers out there - Happy Mother's Day! 

Saturday, April 18, 2009

My vacation

   When most everyone had hied off to another place, taking advantage of the long Holy Week break, we opted to stay in town. The news says that Manila is like a dessert, a ghost town even, although I would never even have known because I hardly stepped out of the house. 
    My vacation is very productive. Other than little trips to church to pay tribute to the solemnity of the season, I pretty much stayed home. Those days, all that free time in one uninterrupted big chunk, were more precious than I would want to admit. 
    I have been on vacation many times without exactly feeling that I was on one. But this one was different. The days actually felt long. Hot, yes, but thankfully long. There were many hours to do many things. I loved that, if only because they hardly feel that way anymore nowadays. 
    What did I do? I was on home-keeping and housewife mode, naturally, puttering here and there, keeping and putting things away. Again, I sorted and simplified, giving away some stuffs to the maids, a poor family in Baclaran church who became our friend and some friends.
    When I was not daydreaming or eating, I organized. I found satisfaction in finding and employing smart storage solutions for the many things that ceaselessly find their way into the house. And when I got too tired I lolled in bed, reading and seeking solace from the books that set me off smiling and dreaming some more, spinning my thoughts into lovely fabric of ideas that I in turn organized into lists, written in my little yellow notebook, for fear they would slip away with the summer wind. 
     I've rested, yet I have accomplished much actually, although as the case always is, there is still more to be done. Of course, I stuffed myself with chocolate and ice cream, something I loved doing every summer. My husband and I got to spend more time playing with the kids too.
     So that's how life was for me two weeks ago when half of Manila is away - simple and spontaneous, sort of just tossed together like a salad.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter's Eggsciting!

AJ is melting the chocolate chips.

me and AJ

We are making chocolate lollipops!

Easter egg hunting time!

We are making colorful eggs here!

My three older boys made this!

Jehrard, me and baby Andrei

    I remember my first Easter egg hunt. It was in my cousin Jaclyn's house that my brother and I and some of our other cousins joined our first Easter egg hunt. My Auntie Bella ( who has since passed away) planned the Easter activity.
    I remember we would excitedly venture out into the garden where we knew the eggs were hidden. We would comb the lawn, peek through crevices, part bushes and shake flowerbeds. We really can't wait for the prize. But, more than the prizes we would get for all the eggs we collected, we cherished and enjoyed the process of finding them in hunt. 
    Yesterday, my three older boys, Andre and I made chocolate lollipops and just this afternoon, we started coloring and dyeing the hard- boiled eggs. My three boys happily coloring away as many eggs as they possibly could in as many ways as their imaginations allowed them to. We didn't use decorative techniques such as sponging or gold-leafing that seem to be quite popular now. My husband had taken pictures of some eggs that we have decorated to remind us of the day like this. My baby is still too young to join in the activity. But we went to Rockwell this morning and joined the Easter egg hunt. That was my baby Andrei's first Easter egg hunting experience. I can see the wonder in his eyes with each decorated eggs he uncovers. The Easter egg hunting experience this morning was another time of discovery and wonder for my three older boys and first time for my baby, and perhaps a time for reminiscing for Andre and me who were very happy to watch from the side. I'm reminded that these simple but heartfelt gestures were as important to me then as they are now for my children and will be in the future. I may not have pictures of the time I went Easter egg hunting in my cousin's house but I keep the happy memories within me. 
     This morning, I made sure I am armed with a camera so I can record, for my children to see in the future, how traditions that we practice like Easter egg hunting makes us appreciate the beauty of life and the gift of family and friends.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Holy Week

   Where will you be during the Holy Week? More importantly, what will you be doing? All too often, this holiday has been viewed by many as a happy time-off to go to the beach, to hie off to your favorite shopping destination offshore, or just simply stay home. Now there is nothing wrong with that. However, we get so caught up with the relief of having some respite from the hustle and bustle of everyday life that we miss out on the main reason this holiday came about. I don't mean to sound preachy here but it would do all of us (and the world we live in) some good if we were to take sure steps to once again touch base with what truly matters - having a personal relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ. And there is no better time than to start now.

    I'm not saying we should be prohibited from smiling and being happy, considering that we are observing a solemn season. But I can't point out often enough how sincere, baby steps on our part can make the Great Guy Up There truly happy. After all, this, too is a season of thankfulness and hope. Let us reflect on how good He has been to us the whole year and take this opportunity to resolve to give back to Him what we know in our hearts He rightfully deserves. Two activities that you can start doing (if you haven't yet) are spending time with Him and offering some sort of sacrifice.

    When was the last time you went to the Blessed Sacrament? Try the experience. When you are ecstatically happy , pop in to say "thank you". When you are at a crossroads, go there to ask guidance. Even when your pain is beyond words, simply be comforted in and be embraced by His presence. You don't have to say a thing. Trust me, He knows. And I guarantee that you will walk out feeling lighter and more positive about everything.

     Every time the Lenten season rolls by, it has become a habit for me to offer some sort of sacrifice. I can't remember where I picked up the habit. For the Holy Week, I abstain from eating meat. I would read to my children passages from the Bible and stay at home and just be with my family. Next year, I will give up eating meat for 40 days and sweets will be included in the fasting. Regardless though of what your sacrifice is and how you choose to go about it, what's important is how true your intentions are. You don't have to ask for anything. It can simply be your way of thanking Him. 

     Most of us vow to be better persons at the start of New Year but for those who have not stuck to that vow or have somehow sidetracked a bit, the Holy Week is a good time to stay in the running. No matter where this holiday finds you, may you uncover, in the pockets of your heart, time to thank Him and truly love Him. It doesn't have to be a contrived effort, neither does it have to happen at a specific time of the day. Your way of loving Him can be expresed in little acts of love spread out during the course of one day.


Monday, March 30, 2009

Why I love doing the grocery

   My love for cooking and baking started when I was seven years old which led to my passion for grocery shopping.  Every Sunday, I would always go to the grocery with my parents and I was so excited to buy items for baking. I remember how excited I was to show my yaya the foods and ingredients that I've bought. I loved spending time with my yaya Josephine in the kitchen. My yaya taught me how to make polvoron, maja blanca mais, ice candy and etc... I would always watch her as she cooks and prepare our meals. 
   When I was teenager I knew I wanted to be a good wife and mother. Call it a simple dream, but hey, that's just me. Although the idea of a corporate job appealed to me at one point (more so because of my fondness for the fashionable power suit and the huge wooden desk overlooking the city on the top floor of a sleek building) it ebbed off as soon as the closing credits of the movie came on. Yup, it's appeal was purely cinematic. Not necessarily real, too rose-colored to be true, fleeting at best. Being a homemaker is an idea I held on to. Although I may not like the thought of a nine-to-five job, I have never qualms about taking on the challenge of being truly domesticated 24/7. I remember when I could not wait to do wifey things like run a household, cook, bake, do arts and crafts with my children, I even wanted to go to the wet market and meet the fish. 
   Now that I am a wife and mother, I have happily discovered that my domestic dreams are not too far-fetched from reality. I enjoyed doing the grocery even if I do it most of the time just by myself. It became such a chore for me that I do it almost everyday. I buy everything in huge quantities (the fresh fish, chicken and vegetables, our cook gets once a week at Dapitan or Kamuning Market). To make my grocery shopping easy,  I drew out a very organized list. I started by listing everything I needed to keep the household running, from groceries to toiletries to cleaning aids, office supplies and personal effects, and categorized them in alphabetical order according to kind (i.e. sauces, canned goods, dairy, medicines, condiments, etc.). It is less trouble for the help because I just print out the list and all they have to do is mark the items needed in addition to specifying the quantity. I avoid going to groceries on weekends unless I absolutely have to and I never go without my valuable custom-made list. It has served me quite well. The few hours you will spend personalizing your list will be worth the time you save going back and forth the grocery aisles like a headless chicken.
   I like going to Waltermart and Puregold because it is consistently well-stocked, it is always neat and clean and I'm already very familiar with the place. Because Puregold is quite popular, the long lines at the checkout counter can be taxing. It is also a good place to get choice cut of meats. I buy the fresh meats at Monterey (you can find this at the meat section) and have them cut the way I want them to. For deli fare, Santi's is an all time favorite.
   Another place I truly enjoy going to is S&R. They have a wide variety of goods, it is also clean, the space in between aisles is wide. You can buy the items in bulk. My kids loved the food samplings along the aisles, especially on weekends. They have a good selection of processed meats and dairy products too.
   Whenever I travel with my family abroad, our first stop is usually the grocery. We buy all sorts of foods and refreshments that we stock up in the fridge of our hotel room.
   I really enjoy going to the grocery because it is there where I can unwind, relax, and have a quiet time. Our house is open most of the times to friends and loved ones, and whenever they drop by the house and they haven't eaten or they feel like eating again, I can make use of whatever is in our pantry or refrigerator to serve them. Come to think of it, maybe that is why I also like going to grocery and buying in bulk, I want to be a girl scout in the kitchen, always prepared! And more than anything else, I love seeing the biggest smile plastered on my children's face every time I come home with bags of their favorite snacks and juices. 

Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Joys of Summer at Home

my treasures

my kids holding their super water squirters

kids playing in my room

  I hear my children squealing with delight. I checked on them just 5 minutes ago and they were in our garage, with swimming goggles on, unapologetically squirting water at each other with bright-colored water pumps. We do not have a swimming pool so we use the inflatable ring pool instead. I guess it's the next best thing to beat the heat.  

   I am sorting out clothes - mine, Andre's, and kids' - putting away some for storage, setting aside a pile to give away. Each closet are crammed (we are six in the family which means I have to clean out six closets...whew!) especially mine and Andre's. I really feel the constant urge to unload. Moments later I go down again, looking for something to eat, only to realize that my boys found another playmate. My husband has joined them. He who loves to swim is now teaching the boys the basic water breathing techniques. I get a piece of banana, settle in a chair contentedly, and watch them while I eat. 

   I am soaking in the sun, the heat, my sweat, the sight before me. It is hot outside and I feel all warm and cozy inside. I feel very blessed. Before me are my real treasures. 

   After taking a shower, they laze around. And in the quiet of this very hot summer afternoon, they lounge. And loll around in bed. Play XBox 360. Watch disney movies. Fight and argue a little. Make up. Goof around pretending to be the monster from the movie Unborn. Then they look again for more food, settling on some fruit. They explore, they discover, they widen their little world and grow. 

   Where did my summers like this go? The long, languid days that stretched on forever, as lovely as my dreams - when can I have them again? I am a wife now, a mommy, with a household to run and many lives to organize. There is a structure to my hours, a plan to my days. I guess from time to time it is but natural to miss the loose knots of youth - those cushy, carefree loops that allowed me to skip from moment to moment with nary a care in the world. I still remember clearly the many joys that came with it. I remember the feeling so clearly that can almost touch it. But I've had that time of my life and I enjoyed it fully while it lasted. I wish all of that now plus more on my children and children their age. This is the golden time of sun and fun. Pretty soon they will all grow up and find out for themselves how life will not be always be so simple. It will still be beautiful, definitely, just not as uncomplicated. So I want to tell them, in all their innocence and youth, to soak it all up, every bit of it, so much so that there will be enough to get by when life's little bumpy rides arrive. Happy childhood memories have a way of molding adults into a resilient, positive bunch.

   They are now playing in my room. I look at them and listen in on their little musings; their conversation making for an interesting backdrop while I am doing my chores. They are now laughing at the name Ilay (the name of an old man from the movie Unborn). For some reason it amuses them and me as well. They say it out loud and promptly collapse in heaps of laughter. The whole day, all the way before they go to dream land, Ilay is a happy word. I wonder what it will be tomorrow. 

   I listen to them and thank them in a big way in my thoughts. Dear God, I am grateful for gentle days like these. I too often forget what it is like when life is this simple, when every day is but a summer's day. Thank you for your hands on my shoulders, for this shot of inspiring joy, coming so unexpectedly, like a warm smile from a stranger, or the fragrance of flowers carried ever so softly by the breeze.

   For now,  this is my summer - my days are packed. I'm craving for mais con yielo, loving my family in heaps, and feeling so blessed. My summers may not be as simple anymore, but there will always be days like this to remind me how carefree it once was, and how one day when I am much, much, much older, it can still be. The cycle of life will make way for that.