Momma’s favorite things for Gellibean

I’m happy when my kids are happy.

My kids are happy when I’m happy…and I’m happy when they are happy, comfy, well fed, and well adjusted.

And just because we can all be happy together, I wanted to share this video with you. I LOVE IT. It REALLY makes me happy. I hope Gelli grows up to have some of these smooth dance moves. Someone made it for World Down Syndrome Day, last month and it does wonders for my soul. 

 

But some other things that make me happy? Gellibean…AND some of my FAVORITE THINGS for Gellibean are included in this post.

Even as I’m typing this post I’m softly humming a Julie Andrews song….

 

But back to the matter at hand…My Favorite Things for Evangelina…

Piccalilly Clothing

This line of organic cotton clothing has been available in the Philippines for almost a year now. Exclusive distributor Pia Casenas was looking for a line of clothing that was as ecologically responsible and aware as she and her husband are. They came upon Piccalilly and knew that conscientious parents would claim these pieces for their precious children. Pia knows that when it comes to the environment, “Small things make a big difference.” This is exactly why she and her husband love the thought and care that goes into producing classic clothing designed with children in mind that is not only age appropriate, but meets GLOBAL ORGANIC TEXTILE STANDARDS. (GOTS)  ”What’s even more important (for Pia) is that she knows immunity is built in the first five years of life. So the advantage to buying Piccalilly is that they will be less likely to be sick from toxic dyes used in the process of making their clothes.”

Gelli is so fresh in her Piccalilly summer dress and her Cotton On ballet flats.

Gelli is so fresh in her Piccalilly summer dress and her Cotton On ballet flats.

Piggy Paint

When Gelli was just an infant, Gia and I would paint her toes with our polish…UNTIL…she found her toes. And at that time, all she would love to nibble on is those yummy piggy toes. So-when we realized she was doing this, we stopped painting her toes for awhile.

My friend Jenny Ong over at Chronicles of a Nursing Mom wears many hats as a momma. She’s a lawyer, a breastfeeding advocate, an entrepreneur, a blogger, a “do gooder,” a mother, and a wife. When she’s not busy with all of these jobs, she finds time to attend brunch with the SoMoms, too, which is where she gifted Gellibean some Piggy Paint :-)

I didn't know when I snapped this pic last year, that this was Jenny's product!

I didn’t know when I snapped this pic last year, that this was Jenny’s product!

Anyway-we love this polish…and not just because it’s summer and sandals weather-but because there is nothing harmful in this water based polish. I’m not worried if Gelli takes a little nibble. (but of course I wouldn’t encourage it)

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Aren’t these piggy toes even more adorable with Piggy Paint? (To order Piggy Paint-email fabnaima@gmail.com or text 0922-898-2713)

Lalaloopsy

There are not many toys that Gelli has shown a preference for at her young age, but how oh how could I not buy her a Lalaloopsy doll when this is her reaction?

 

What I learned through an event with the SoMoms, was that Bankee Trading is responsible for so many happy things in our house! Here in the Philippines, they are the exclusive importer and distributor of many familiar brands that we enjoy and depend on. From Graco, to Boon, and B-Daman to Lalaloopsy, they make Aventajado kids (and Mommas) happy campers. You can find all of these great brands at the bigger department stores and at Toy Town in Glorietta.

Bankee Trading is responsible for so many of the toys that we love!

Bankee Trading is responsible for so many of the toys that we love!

Chooze Shoes

I found Chooze Shoes when I was looking for sneakers for Gellibean. She was just learning how to walk, and since Stride Rite is not available in the malls nearest our home, we decided to try and get her some sneakers that were light in weight, cute, good for her feet and close to home. We found a pair that we were looking for, but we also stumbled upon these adorable shoes that were mismatched by design! I fell in love with them! 

I love the piggy toes that are hidden away, the chunky legs connected to them, and the mismatched shoes with ruffled socks. Ruffled socks with Mary Janes on little girls make me happy.

I love the piggy toes that are hidden away, the chunky legs connected to them, and the mismatched shoes with ruffled socks. Ruffled socks with Mary Janes on little girls make me happy.

Truth: Back when high top Reeboks were the fashion in all different colors and I was a teenager, I was known to sport one pink sneaker and one gray sneaker. (So I had my own mismatched shoes, before it was made cool and cute for toddlers and Big Kids!)

 

I was even able to purchase Chooze SANDALS last week with the helpful staff of Babyland. I saw the pair I wanted on Instagram but knew they were not available in a branch that was close to me. When I inquired thru IG, they had two pairs sent to the Festival Mall branch so Gelli could try them on. Of course we ended up taking one pair and some other Fab Finds home with us too.

Manila Baby Wet Bags

My friend Neva over at Manila Mommy is much like Jenny. She wears a multitude of hats in her life as well, but one of those hats puts her in a special club. Her son, Noah, was born with Down Syndrome, just like Gelli. And since meeting her through DSAPI, I am happy to say that we have been able to nurture a beautiful friendship filled with love and support.

It's swimming season again...that means we will be using our Wet Bags a lot more! I can't wait for The Bean to start swimming lessons!

It’s swimming season again…that means we will be using our Wet Bags a lot more! I can’t wait for The Bean to start swimming lessons!

 When Neva and I first became friendly last year, I saw her at one of the Mommy Mundo bazaars and picked up a Wet Bag for Gia from her Manila Baby Shop. At the time, Gia was going on lots of play dates where she was swimming at a friend’s house so Neva’s Wet Bags seemed like the perfect alternative to bringing around plastic bags which are not environmentally friendly.

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Manila Baby also makes the diaper clutch which is super convenient when you are running to the bathroom to change baby girl. Check out the Manila Baby Shop Facebook page for more information on how to purchase these handy dandy Wet Bags.

 I loved them so much that I bought one for each of Nino’s nieces and nephews, and stocked up on a few more for myself because with a family of 6 people, one can never have too many wetbags once summer weather hits. Now, that Gelli will be taking swimming lessons soons, these bags that I stocked up on will certainly come in handy.

Now that I have shared my Favorite Things with you…maybe you can take a minute and share some of your Fab Finds with me?  Remember :-) Sharing is Caring!

 

 

Born to be a Hero: Investing in Yourself p.2

This is part 2 of a post that I published earlier this week.

I attended this #BetterMe #session with Coach Pia at Sambokojin quite a while back, but I needed some time to process all the learning that took place.

I always enjoy our visits at Sambokojin...sometimes a little TOO much...but the fact that everything is grilled allows me to feel LESS guilty about having to roll myself out the door...

I always enjoy our visits at Sambokojin…sometimes a little TOO much…but the fact that everything is grilled allows me to feel LESS guilty about having to roll myself out the door…

I was able to publish the key points of Coach Pia’s book Born to be a Hero earlier this week, but because there was so much information jam packed into that session, I decided to break up the last 8 (I like that number) points and provide them here instead.

This #BetterMe session had so many key points which I knew I needed to address. I love to take notes, but I was working feverishly to make sure I included everything being discussed.

This #BetterMe session had so many issues which I knew I needed to address. I love to take notes, but I was working feverishly to make sure I included everything being discussed.

While the previous post might have given you many things you realize you need to work on, this next post will give you concrete tips to making things happen for yourself, bringing out the Hero within, and finding your balance and happiness.

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Coach Pia and The One Core offer free learning sessions every month on the second Tuesday. This one looks like it’s worth attending. (Plus it follows the whole “Let it go” theme for my summer.)

If you are just picking up here consider these tips as the starting points you need to reach the goals you set for yourself. Coach Pia shared these tips with us after we had covered many of the ideas found in her book. I know she is currently working on a second book that will assist me in “RAISING (my) Little Heroes.” I’ll be on the look out for that one-and when it’s published, I will surely share that one with you too :-)

1. Always remind yourself that there is no doubt about it:  YOU WERE BORN TO BE A HERO. 

Take away: Think positive and powerful. Know it to be true. Believe in yourself. ALWAYS. 

2. Practice your ability to articulate your needs without any guilt.

Take away: Exhale and speak your needs. Let go of the guilt…all of it. (no matter what your mother or your religion says)

3. Simplify: Have a willingness to get down to basics.

Take away: It’s that SIMPLE. Figure out what is important, what is NOT, and do away with the superfluous.

4. Speak to people you know you will gain wisdom from.

Take away: Choose your friends and associates wisely. Hang out with people smarter, more self aware, and really good at what they do. It will rub off. Promise.

5.Always define your greatness from within. Never define your greatness from the without. Your self worth is NOT defined by how people view you.

Take away: Ever heard of that saying? “What people think of you is none of your business?” YUP. Exactly.

6. Remember: Genuine greatness does not put you at the center of attention.

Take away:  When you do find greatness, it will be because you have done it for all the right reasons. (Remember No. 5 on the Hero Meter? Do I have the ability to work without seeking recognition?)

7. Perception of myself and my perception of other people (Do the I am a 10 exercise.) 

Truth: I had to ask for some help on this one. Remember how I was saying that I was taking notes frantically because there was a plethora of information to take in? For some reason I didn’t have anything more on this topic. I asked my fellow SoMoms about this one, and basically it boils down to The Golden Rule. If you quantify your self-worth, you are a 10. But everyone’s self worth is a 10. So even if you disagree with others, have different points of view, or different values, you should still treat that person as you would want to be treated, because we are all 10′s. 

8. Your parents’ pain is your pain too. Choose the proper teaching moment. It’s a belief, a value, a principle.

Take away:  It doesn’t matter how much therapy you have had, how many life coaching sessions you have had, or how committed you are to your growth as an individual, you will still have baggage (hopefully you are aware of it by that point) from your parents.  Hopefully, all the therapy and the continued quest for self awareness will diminish the amount of negative beliefs, values and principles that you pass on to your own children.

Children learn by example. If they see you continually trying to better yourself as a person, then that is what they will pick up on. 

I always enjoy the "me" time I spend with Coach Pia. It's the time I invest in myself to become a better mom, partner, blogger and ultimately a better person.

T-B L-R Pat, Thammie, Didi, Tina, Belle, Cai, Jenny, Jen, Jane, Coach Pia, Me :-) and Kris.                                                 I always enjoy the “me” time I spend with Coach Pia. It’s the time I invest in myself to become a better mom, partner, blogger and ultimately a better person.

Baked by Anita Bocaditos

The other day, I had a friend over for a “family play date” so that we could catch up on the past few months that both kept us busy with life. We usually like to get together for breakfast while the kids are in school, but since it had been so long since we last saw each other, I thought it would be great to try and get the kids together as well. 

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I wanted the kids to have activities to keep them busy, but not so busy that we wouldn’t see them. The boys can sometimes get into it and even get a little rough in the process, so I wanted to guide their activities but not have to walk them through anything, because it had been a long time since I last saw Jo.

The kids were busy with their electronics while we prepared lunch.

The kids were busy with their electronics while we prepared lunch. (Photo Credit: Joliza)

We started with a simple lunch of grilled veggies, salad, fried chicken wings, and anchovy pasta. Jo remembered my love for Indian mangoes with bagoong, so we had a big plate of that to nosh on as well. My bbq grill was acting up, so lunch took a little while longer than I expected to get on the table, but the boys occupied themselves with their hand held electronics.

Enjoying our Braso de Mercedes from Cielin's with some tea and coffee. SoMom Michelle Lim turned me on to Owl coffee and I recently found it in the Metro supermarket right near my house!

Enjoying our Braso de Mercedes from Cielin’s with some tea and coffee. SoMom Michelle Lim turned me on to Owl coffee and I recently found it in the Metro supermarket right near my house!

After we were done eating, the kids asked if they could swim, and for the most part everyone got along stellar. While they swam, Jo and I had a cup of coffee and dessert in the lanai, all the while, still staying within earshot if the boys had a disagreement.

Swimming for the big kids, and nap time for the little girl.

Swimming for the big kids, and nap time for the little girl. (Photo Credit: Joliza)

After lunch, baby girl took a nap. But doesn't she look super cute in her bathing suit that her Momma sent over?

After lunch, baby girl took a nap. But doesn’t she look super cute in her bathing suit that her Momma sent over?

We all know that as soon as the kids get out of the pool they are STARVING. (Yes-even though we just had lunch, they were still starving.) I knew this would be the case, so I had the pizza stone all prepped and ready in the oven for when they were ready to “make their own pizzas.” The girls took charge of this activity, leaving the Mommas to chit chat away while they baked and snacked.

Teaching the kids to be self reliant in the kitchen is a big part of my parenting. Gia knows that their is always pizza crust in the freezer, tomato sauce ready to go (or in this case ready made pizza sauce that I picked up at the supermarket) and cheese in the fridge. Heat up the oven-and voila...afternoon snacks are ready!

Teaching the kids to be self reliant in the kitchen is a big part of my parenting. Gia knows that their is always pizza crust in the freezer, tomato sauce ready to go (or in this case ready made pizza sauce that I picked up at the supermarket) and cheese in the fridge. Heat up the oven-and voila…afternoon snacks are ready!

Even Gelli loved the pizza that the big girls made for everyone! She gives it two thumbs up…sort of….

Self feeding is just as important for my toddler as it is for my big kids to be adept at preparing their own snacks in the kitchen. We start 'em young round these parts.

Self feeding is just as important for my toddler as it is for my big kids to be adept at preparing their own snacks in the kitchen. We start ‘em young round these parts.

After snacking on some crispy thin pizza with all that extra cheese, the kids asked if they could decorate the sugar cookies that Gia prepared for them. Because Easter was just around the corner, I figured that the kids would love decorating Gia’s sugar cookies as the last activity we would do together. Of course, they loved it.

As usual, Gia's decorating skills puts the rest of us to shame.

As usual, Gia’s decorating skills puts the rest of us to shame. #giabaked

All of the kids had a great time. Mommas got to catch up with each other, bellies were all full, and toys were all cleaned up before we sent them off to rest after a long day. When I finally made it upstairs to sit down with Nino for a little while, I looked at my watch and realized that I needed to prepare dinner for the kiddos. (and for us too of course) I still had some leftovers from lunch and some soup for Gelli for dinner but I was at a loss as to what to serve Nino for dinner, especially, since he spent the entire day resting. I wanted to give him something I knew that would be satisfying but not too heavy.

Em sent over a bunch of treats for us to enjoy. Thanks Baked by Anita!

Em sent over a bunch of treats for us to enjoy. Thanks Baked by Anita!

So-my perfect dinner to serve him was a tossed salad and the Bocaditos I had in the fridge. A few days before, Em Sulit had contacted me asking me if she could send me some to try. I had seen many of the SoMoms post about her famous Bocaditos before, so I was curious to see what they were like. They looked like mini pot pies in the pictures I saw on Instagram and Facebook. The moment I began heating these tiny little treats up in the toaster oven I could already smell the butter wafting through the kitchen.

 

I quickly did some research to see what the difference was for each of these little parcels.

I quickly did some research to see what the difference was for each of these little parcels. I was excited to try all the flavors that were there, Wild Mushroom, Baby Spinach, Spicy Italian Sausage, Chicken, Spanish Chorizo, and Chili Lime Tuna.

I had no idea that these little treats packed a heck of a punch in taste. The flaky crust was buttery, and warm, enveloping the savory fillings. I ate slowly and mindfully, because they were so rich and tasty I wanted to savor every bite.

Wild mushroom with gruyere and truffle oil was most definitely my favorite.

Wild mushroom with gruyere and truffle oil was most definitely my favorite.

 Truth:  I was too lazy to even set the table downstairs for a proper dinner. Nino and I ate our toasted treats and salad in front of the t.v. with the continuation of our favorite series on DVD. While I was toasting our Bocaditos, I asked one of the helpers to make a salad so that we could just relax and kick off our Holy Week staycation.

What a simple but satisfying dinner after a whole day of activities to keep the kids (and myself) busy.

What a simple but satisfying dinner after a whole day of activities to keep the kids (and myself) busy.

Wanna know something else? They deliver and you can order in bulk for your parties. LOOK!

1268809_748742131832303_3735597747859849751_oCheck out Baked by Anita on Facebook and Instagram.  

You can also visit them in Megamall or call for orders:  0917.525.9740 or 0939.920.9838 or 02.736.2877 

 

 

 

Zucchini Tomatoes and Eggs

Every Friday in Lent I do my best to abstain from eating meat. I try to make heart healthy meals for my family all the time, but meatless Fridays make it even easier to get the kids to eat the veggies I put on the table. 

The ingredients are always best in any dish when they are fresh.

The ingredients are always best in any dish when they are fresh.

We had a quiet Holy Week this year, because we opted to stay home instead of travel to Marinduque like we always do. Nino has been quite busy with work as of late and the “staycation” was a welcome respite from all  the business that came before Easter. Easter officially marks the beginning of summer for me, as I know that this means the kids are really done with school.

Throwing this dinner together when it's just too hot, was all I could do on Good Friday. It was a good Friday indeed. Quality time spent with the family, reflecting on all of our blessings.

Throwing this dinner together when it’s just too hot, was all I could do on Good Friday. It was a good Friday indeed. Quality time spent with the family, reflecting on all of our blessings.

And summer means it’s hot. When it’s hot-it’s also not the best cooking weather for me. I’ve been known to grill everything (veggies included) when I don’t have any help in the house. It makes for easy clean up as I don’t have to wash any pots and pans!  

 

But this Good Friday it was exceptionally warm. And I didn’t feel like standing in front of the grill all afternoon, so I threw the vegetables in the Philips Airfryer after tossing them in olive oil and salt and pepper, and decided to make this light cheesy zucchini dish the focus of our dinner. 

After you beat the eggs, add a dash of milk, just like you would for a scramble.

After you beat the eggs, add a dash of milk, just like you would for a scramble.

It actually takes more time to chop and prep all the ingredients than it does to cook it! I served our zucchini tomatoes and eggs with garlic bread that I prep ahead of time and asked one of the helpers to toast. (You can actually grill garlic bread too-it’s even better.) On a side note-when you buy french bread and you are sure you cannot finish it while it’s still fresh, we slice it up and add garlic butter right away. Put it in a ziploc baggie for the freezer and freeze! Then when you want to serve something with a side of garlic bread all you have to do is take it out and toast!

But of course...the star of this dish is the cheese. Everything tastes better with cheese.

But of course…the star of this dish is the cheese. Everything tastes better with cheese. And to think…you might not even know the star is in there, if you didn’t see it go in or you didn’t prepare it yourself.

While this is a dish I have had many times, done by a few different cooks (Auntie Anne, Nana, and my friend Dana) the recipe I’m sharing today is adapted from one of my favorite cookbooks, Elodia Rigante’s Italian Immigrant Cooking. This is probably my most favorite cookbook that I own, and the story behind it is sweet. I was student teaching in Ithaca, New York, many years ago. It was my first student teaching placement and my master teacher, Priscilla, saw how much I enjoyed the cookbook in the faculty lounge where we would eat lunch. At that time, book sellers would leave books (of all sorts) in the lounge for us to leaf through and order if we liked. I shared with Priscilla how many of the recipes that were in the cookbook were dishes that my Nana would make for me when I was growing up, and at the end of my placement, she not only gave me a stellar recommendation, she also gave me a parting gift that is cherished and  still with me today.

I hope you enjoy this recipe as I adapted it. This dish a like a vegetable scramble so there’s no “wrong” way to make this dish. It’s easy, tasty, and perfect for a warm summer day. Make sure to scroll all the way to the bottom for quick IG video on how to make this dish.

Zucchini Tomatoes & Eggs
This is an easy summer dish that can be paired with some crusty bread.
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
30 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
30 min
915 calories
44 g
1167 g
51 g
75 g
22 g
1390 g
1836 g
28 g
0 g
24 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
1390g
Amount Per Serving
Calories 915
Calories from Fat 450
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 51g
78%
Saturated Fat 22g
111%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 7g
Monounsaturated Fat 17g
Cholesterol 1167mg
389%
Sodium 1836mg
76%
Total Carbohydrates 44g
15%
Dietary Fiber 12g
48%
Sugars 28g
Protein 75g
Vitamin A
162%
Vitamin C
260%
Calcium
119%
Iron
52%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients
  1. 2 pcs. medium zucchini (quartered skin on and chopped)
  2. 5 pcs. local tomatoes (deseeded and chopped)
  3. 2 cloves garlic (minced)
  4. 6 eggs lightly beaten with milk
  5. 1/2 cup Perfect Italiano Parmesan Cheese
  6. Salt and Pepper to taste
  7. EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
Instructions
  1. 1. Heat up the olive oil in the pan and saute the minced garlic.
  2. 2. Add zucchini and cook until just tender.
  3. 3. Add tomatoes and cook until just tender.
  4. 4. Mix 1/2 grated Perfect Italiano Parmesan Cheese into egg mixture. Season with Salt & Pepper.
  5. 5. Mix into the zucchini and tomatoes and scramble to preferred doneness.
  6. 6. Serve with warm crusty bread.
Adapted from Elodia Rigante's Italian Immigrant Cooking
beta
calories
915
fat
51g
protein
75g
carbs
44g
more
Adapted from Elodia Rigante's Italian Immigrant Cooking
Momma 'N Manila http://www.mommanmanila.com/
 

Born to Be a Hero: Investing in YOURSELF

There are many things I have learned as I have grown in my motherhood.

One thing I have learned of most recent is that finding and creating my own happiness in life is a fine balance.

These 5 petals to this flower which represents me might look familiar. I have posted it before with some of my other #BetterMe pieces. I always knew it was important for me to balance the different parts of myself before I attended a session with Coach Pia, but seeing it in this way so simply-helped me achieve that balance...

The 5 petals on this flower represent me and the different parts of myself that I try to balance.  It might look familar because I have posted it before with some of my other #BetterMe pieces. I always knew it was important for me to balance the different parts of life before I attended a session with Coach Pia, but seeing it in this way, put so simply, helped me better achieve that balance…

Someone recently asked me…”What makes 40 different from 30?”  I thought for a long while before I answered this question. I tried to rationalize the ease with which I can sit here at 40. I’m not quite sure if it’s the number, the life experiences that have led me to Manila, the people that I have come into contact with, or if it’s the fact that I have had the ability to work with Coach Pia and attend #SoMoms #BetterMe sessions. I would dare say, that it’s most likely a combination of all of these factors.

Yes…I think it’s all of these factors and then some.

I'm definitely more comfortable with who I am, who I aim to be, and where I want to go in this life, with the help of Coach Pia and our #BetterMe sessions.

I’m definitely more comfortable with who I am, who I aim to be, and where I want to go in this life. (Photo Credit: The One Core FB page)

The last #BetterMe session I attended was based on Coach Pia’s book “Born to Be a Hero.”  (You can pick up the book at any National Book Store.)  Highlighting the key points from her book, Coach Pia guided us to realizing the HERO within. The principles are quite simple and easy to understand, but the real challenge is incorporating said principles into your daily life and adjusting your mindset so you KNOW and BELIEVE you are a HERO. Building character isn’t easy, but it’s one of the most worthwhile investments you can make in yourself.

Coach Pia‘s book has helpful activity sheets which aid in reinforcing and processing what you need to take away. Taking quizzes, rating your own behavior, and filling up questionnaires helps integrate the learning that can take place with this helpful tool to improving your character.

What is HEROISM?

“Heroism is your own commitment to your personal development. It’s your call to step out of yourself, whether consciously or unconsciously, that makes yourself present to others and to yourself.  By investing in yourself, and your dreams, you are free to build your hero currency.”

This has gotten easier for me as I have gotten older. I think when we are younger we are too busy thinking about how a certain situation or conversation makes us FEEL. It was easy for me to be egocentric before I practiced yoga, before I gave birth to Gelli, and before I started meeting regularly with Coach Pia. Stepping outside of yourself first, consciously, takes a lot of work if you are not used to it. Once you can do this-you begin to build your HERO CURRENCY.

I think the most important questions we will ever ask, are the ones we ask ourselves-to improve, and build character.

I think the most important questions we will ever ask, are the ones we ask ourselves-to improve, and build character. (Photo Credit: The One Core FB page)

What in the world is HERO CURRENCY?

“Hero Currency is your capacity to give of yourself, armed with all the talents, skills and enthusiasm your have for life.” 

First of all, let’s clarify here that we are not talking about the currency with which you buy things. We are talking about investing in yourself, in your character, in your self esteem, (self-worth) and in your relationships. By working on yourself (a.k.a. INVESTING in yourself) you are destined to improve all of these things, reach your goals, and then realize your personal dreams. 

HERO CURRENCY consists of:

-”Your personal commitment to your personal growth and development.”

Will you set the time aside to improve and build on your character?

-”Your ability to identify and to accept your strengths and weaknesses.”

This is difficult when you touch on things that are uncomfortable…I call these the “not so pretty” parts of myself. It’s not easy to work through this but this is where you must stay the course and follow through with your commitment in order to reap the rewards of all this hard work.

-”Your capacity to make the best decisions you can, given a certain situation or experience you are facing.”

I heard somewhere that 80% of our decisions are based on our emotions, I’ll get into this in another post-but taking a step back and breathing deep has been helpful for me to achieve this. My yoga practice has helped me here too. I have been working on this for some time now. My sister approaches things like this. She says it’s vital to remove emotion from the equation so that you can make a sound decision on the matter at hand. With her help-I believe I have gotten better at this.

I'm aware how my emotions affect my decisions, not just in parenting, but in life.

I’m aware how my emotions affect my decisions, not just in parenting, but in life. (Photo Credit: The One Core FB page)

HERO METER

If there is HERO CURRENCY-then there should be some type of measure  to evaluate ourselves through our growth, correct? This is the HERO METER. Coach Pia has outlined five different starting points for you to consider so that you can determine how much hero currency you can bank.

This part of the book has coordinating worksheets for you to use so you can create a solid understanding of HERO CURRENCY.

This #BetterMe session had so many key points which I knew I needed to address. I love to take notes, but I was working feverishly to make sure I included everything being discussed.

This #BetterMe session had so many key points which I knew I needed to address. I love to take notes, but I was working feverishly to make sure I included everything being discussed.

1. “Success begins with me, but it is not about me.”

2. “FOCUS-Do I have an ability to be silent? How comfortable am I with evaluating the decisions that I have made?”

I’m so much better at this now.

3. “Do I have the ability to name my feelings and know the reasons behind them?”

There are four main emotions we feel. There may be different variations of these depending on the intensity with which we feel, but the 4 main feelings can be identified as HAPPY, MAD, SAD, & AFRAID.

4. “What is my ability to open up and show my vulnerability?”

This is not something I have a problem with. I have been told many times before that I wear my heart on my sleeve. It’s ok. I am one of those self-proclaimed cry babies.

5. “Do I have the ability to work without seeking recognition?”

I’m so much better at this now. I realized only recently that by appreciating other people’s contributions and talents in a small group, I can also offer mine without feeling like I needed something in return. Just the fact that I can share of myself makes me feel good already.

So after you have evaluated yourself using these questions as a guide, it’s easier to take an honest assessment on how you can improve. Honestly looking in the mirror to try and improve upon the person that you are is not by any means EASY, but these points (Not kidding, folks. It really is hard work.) are great to start with.

BUT-there are “Wildcard Entries” that can make it easier on us in this process. Thank goodness there are some things that can make personal development and character building just a little easier. If you have already developed any of these four traits, it becomes easier to invest in yourself and develop the hero within.

Have you heard of that saying? "Everything I need know I learned in Kindergarten." (Photo taken from Coach Pia's FB page)

OMG. Of course!!! (Photo taken from Coach Pia’s FB page)

1. Self Acceptance frees you to be truly sensitive to people around you.

Simply put? Be kind to yourself. It allows your to be kind to others, too.

2. Forgiveness is one of the most powerful secrets to achieving your heroism! Forgive yourself AND forgive others.

I realized this long ago. In fact, I realized this through one of my most valuable relationships. I can’t remember exactly how old my first born was when I figured this all out, but when I did, I was able to let so much of my parental baggage go. (Let it go like Elsa.)

We are all human. Moms and Dads alike. Becoming a mother and realizing that I can’t “DO IT ALL,” that “I’M NOT PERFECT,” and that I would want my kids to forgive me for my flaws no matter how they come across in in my parenting was a huge realization. At some point, I realized that Mom wasn’t Wonder Woman and Dad was not Superman. Forgiving my parents for their flaws (or flaws in parenting) allowed me to also forgive myself for not being the perfect parent to my children.

3. Remembering who you are…at your CORE will allow you to take a step back and not be swept away with the moment. It’s important to LIVE in the moment, NOT to be swept away by it.

Have you ever heard the saying, “Don’t forget where you came from?” This is kinda like that. In other words, no matter where your HEROISM takes you, no matter what kind of success you will experience, staying grounded in who you are and what your passions are can keep you connected to who you are.

You know how my Dad explains this one? “Never forget you see the same people on the way up, as you do on the way down.” In other words, be kind to those people you may meet as you climb the ladder to success…you’ll see those same people on the way down if your success is fleeting.

The pain and fear of raising a child with Down Syndrome that I initially experienced with Gelli's diagnosis has given way to a better understanding of what is important in this life.

The pain and fear of raising a child with Down Syndrome that I initially experienced with Gelli’s diagnosis has given way to a better understanding of what is important in this life. (Photo Credit: The One Core FB page)

4. Embrace Fear and Pain.

Exhale. Breathe your way through it. It’s the only way to do it. Knowing that we will survive  and having the faith that we will get through what ever we are facing is hard but empowering.

When I gave birth to Gelli, the pain and fear of having a child with special needs was too much to bear. I was not sure of the gift I was given, and it took me a little while to embrace the idea of being a “Special Needs Parent.” Since then that debilitating pain and fear has long since subsided. It has been replaced by joy and gratitude even in the face of the unknown.

Coach Pia’s book Born to be a Hero, has actually given me so much more insight into improving my character and my happiness factor. This #BetterMe session offered so much information and things for me to work on, that it took me quite a long time to digest and even longer for me write about it. So much, in fact, that I am breaking up what I have learned into two posts to publish. Be on the look out for the second part to this post where I share helpful hints and tips to continue to build the hero within.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spirituality in My Motherhood

This post is being republished with the permission of Urban Mom. I wrote this piece for them some time last year and totally forgot about it until I saw the new issue in Nurture Nook yesterday. Thanks Janice for allowing me to republish.

Diego has always been an old soul. His understanding of the world and the way it works was far advanced-even as a four year old. Gelli...well, Gelli has taught me quite a bit about life, love, and faith.

Diego has always been an old soul. His understanding of the world and the way it works was far advanced-even as a four year old. Gelli…well, Gelli has taught me quite a bit about life, love, and faith.

A Sacred Journey

Motherhood is a sacred spiritual journey, a path with our children as our guides. There are moments in motherhood that deepen your spirituality. These moments could happen naturally during mundane routines. While having merienda with your child, he turns and shares something so profound that it opens you up, and fills you with love and gratitude. Somehow, something inside clicks with a realization that there is something so much bigger, so much greater than all of us.

Then there are other moments. Moments you know which mark the passage of time-a milestone or life even that will have an impact on who you are or who you will become. These moments are expected, like graduation, the birth of a child, or the death of a loved one. These moments are sprinkled throughout our lives and they are proof that our God is a loving God. A caring God who gives us what we need, when we need it, whether we know it or not.

However, my spirituality doesn’t just involve God. It is multifaceted, and I dare say it begins with knowing and loving myself. Having that connection to myself and the love within is something that I can work on constantly with the help of my children.

I have always said that my children are my greatest teachers. My children hold a mirror to me like no one else can. The have even shown me sides of myself that I might not be ready to see at the moment. Fortunately, it is with their constant love that I can work through the “not so pretty” parts of introspection and fait and spirituality that I might not want to admit exist.

I try really hard to set an example for Gia. She is growing into a beautiful young lady right before my eyes.

I try really hard to set an example for Gia. She is growing into a beautiful young lady right before my eyes.

I have always said that I wanted to be “more.” Every learning experience, whether positive of negative should improve upon the person I am. Of course, we always try to show our children “our best selves.” We show our children the “Godly” parts of ourselves, the good parts of our personalities and the characteristics we wish our children to emulate. Showing this side of ourselves is equally as important as showing our flaws because our children will one day learn that we are not perfect. I am not perfect, but I will do my best to be the best that I can be, and that is because I need to do that for my kids.

But when I think about being a mom, and all the gifts that my children have given me, it’s easy to see how they improve upon my spirituality. It’s easy for me to recognize the wonderful gift that each child is to me. Even in challenging times, it is these situations that have deepened my faith and my belief what is good in this world, in others, and in our God.

These two have shown strength in the face of adversity, and have inspired others around them.

These two have shown strength in the face of adversity, and have inspired others around them.

I have heard it said before that having children is like having your heart walk outside of your body leaving you forever vulnerable in a world where we have very little control. Embracing parenthood, and that sense of vulnerability can leave a lump in your throat, your heart in your stomach, and your breath constricted as if waiting to exhale. You exalt in your child’s triumphs, you soothe the sting of disappointment, and assuage the fears of your child knowing fully well that you can shelter them for so long.

Through each of my children I have learned so many new things in life, in love and in relationships. I suppose, even more importantly, it is through each of my beautiful four gifts that I have been able to deepen my spiritual relationship with God and with myself; all of which not only make me a better mom, but a better person.

Our First Experience at the SM BF Directors Club Cinema

Yesterday I was able to catch up on some much needed time at the laptop. I have been lagging on some of my posts and pieces to submit, but because the event I was supposed to attend was suddenly cancelled at the last minute, it gave me the opportunity to sit down and type away in the open air of the lanai. I sipped my Thai Iced Tea, and felt great about the work I was able to complete.

As timing would have it, the exterminators came right after Miguel picked up his report card at school with his Dad. When his dad and I saw the huge improvement in almost ALL of his subject areas, we said that we should go out and celebrate by eating in Miggy’s choice of restaurants. Since we also knew we had to be out of the house for 2 hours because they fumigated the surrounding areas for mosquitoes and other creepy crawlies, Nino suggested that we watch a movie as well.

What a great idea! We really enjoyed watching one of our favorite characters in action. We'll definitely come back and visit to watch again.

What a great idea! We really enjoyed watching one of our favorite characters in action. We’ll definitely come back and visit to watch again.

We had never been to a Directors Club Cinema before, but we knew it would be a great experience for all, especially because we were watching our favorite…Captain America. Who doesn’t love it when good triumphs over evil?!?

There is a concierge desk to receive you if you need it.

There is a concierge desk to receive you if you need it.

The theater was nice and clean. We each had a leather lazy boy and a shared side table with a call button. I noticed all the cup holders and I was confident Diego, (the messiest boy ever) wouldn’t spill his drink, because his drink would be free from his clumsy hands to knock it over.  Popcorn was brought over to us by an attendant in a glass bowl! I was so amused at the fact that we all had our own bowl and we didn’t have to keep passing the bag back and forth…

You can kick back, put your feet up, and wait for the popcorn to be brought to your seat.

You can kick back, put your feet up, and wait for the popcorn to be brought to your seat.

When the movie trailers began, I put my feet up with the push of an electronic button, and realized the only things missing were my comfy socks and a blankie. (I’ll remember that for next time, though.) Soon after the trailers for upcoming movies started I looked up to find another patron being served a sandwich!

With a press of a button, there is a butler ready to take your order. Note: Popcorn is served in a glass bowl!

With a press of a button, there is a butler ready to take your order. Note: Popcorn is served in a glass bowl!

After the movie was over (and yes, we stayed for all the sneak peeks for the next Marvel movie) I made a trip to the snack counter to inquire what else they sold and served during the movie. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that they not only serve sandwiches, but they also serve kebabs, hot dogs, hamburgers, and pastries! Most of the snacks were near the hundred peso mark and the Angus burger was most expensive menu item at P250.

I could smell the "newness" of the theater and knew that we would enjoy ourselves.

I could smell the “newness” of the theater and knew that we would enjoy ourselves.

Of course there were also the usual movie snacks of popcorn, (different flavors including caramelized) potato chips, and nachos with cheese. These were also all very affordable as well. The only thing, I think that they can improve upon is the freshness of the popcorn. I was served popcorn that wasn’t hot, and even kind of stale. I think that this problem can easily be alleviated by ordering fresh microwave popcorn from the snack counter. 

As a family who likes to go to the movies every now and again, the experience we had at Director’s Club will definitely have us coming back for more. Comparing the tickets to the other movie experiences we have had at IMAX, the typical movie theaters close to our home, and the butler service at Resorts World, we would drive a little further than normal to make sure we can enjoy the lazy boy experience and service that comes along with a P350 ticket! The price is right and since the theater is brand new-it didn’t leave me wanting to sterilize any of the seats or arm rests!

 

Nestle Temptations Dutch Speculoos

It’s summer time again!

Hooray for no homework!

Hooray for swimming and getting “a tan.” (Yes, we apply sunblock, but I do enjoy a little summer glow.)

Hooray for quality time with the kids, and of course, reminding them that they must do a little bit more than their fair share of chores in the house now that we are all on summer break.

But that also means…HOORAY FOR ICE CREAM!!!

Summer time means ice cream in the freezer at all times.

Summer time means ice cream in the freezer at all times.

I’m not sure if I have ever divulged the fact that I’m a certified Ice Cream MoMster. I love ice cream. Any Flavor. Any time of day. (When I was pregnant with Gia, I was known to finish a half gallon of my favorite cool treat every two days. That’s almost 2 gallons a week. *GULP*) Late in my pregnancy, when I was super overweight (I gained 60 lbs from all that indulging.) and we had a heat wave in NY of temps that were like 105 F every day…I was even known to eat ice cream for breakfast. (*head bowed in shame)

So-when I saw that Nestle had a bunch of new flavors in their temptations line (and asked me to write a review about one) I had no problem saying YESSSS. I scream, You scream, We all scream for ICE CREAM! (especially Nestle Temptations Dutch Speculoos Ice Cream)

Now-we all know that there has been a recent craze here in Manila for Speculoos of any kind…no matter the brand or where to buy…people were actually hoarding some of these jars for their creamy crunchy goodness. I for one, couldn’t have a jar in the pantry, because just knowing it was there would cause me to break out a teaspoon, fill it with cookie butter and walk around eating it like it was treat that I have earned for the day. Don’t have dessert? Take a spoonful of cookie butter. Need a little snack? Take a spoonful of cookie butter. Looking for something to counter the salty? Yup-you guessed it…take a spoonful of cookie butter. My daughter caught on to this trick pretty quickly and started to follow in my footsteps. Which lead to my disappointment when I would look for my beloved jar of cookie butter and it was all gone :-(

What I didn’t know, is that when you Dutch Speculoos with ice cream it added another texture. CHEWY. I like “chewy” in this form. (Digression: I don’t like it in the squid grilled form tho…crunchy like calamari-yes, grilled and stuffed with tomatoes-NO thank you) Ok-so there are chewy crunchy  ribbons of Dutch Speculoos Cookie Butter carefully folded into the already creamy ice cream. There is a hint of cinnamon and nutmeg and you should know that this is exactly the kind of cool treat that is right up my alley. (Remember: Ice Cream MoM-ster)

Would I buy this flavor again? YES. Absolutely. But I also want to try out the other Nestle Temptations Flavors! There are quite a few to try and I have all summer to dig in.  I think next on the list might just be French Salted Caramel.

Have I told you about my latest obsession with salted caramel? hahahaha.

Philips Meaningful Innovations and a Liter of Light

Remember that contest that I shared awhile back? The one where Philips asked Filipinos nationwide for their ideas on how to make life easier for themselves?

Screen shot of Philips Meaningful Innovations Home Page.

Screen shot of Philips Meaningful Innovations Home Page.

Philips asked.

The public spoke.

And the finalists were chosen.

Angelia Oh (Philips Philippines General Manager for Consumer Lifestyle), takes everyone through the 5 finalists who were being considered.

Angelia Oh (Philips Philippines General Manager for Consumer Lifestyle), takes everyone through the 5 finalists who were being considered.

On March 25th, a panel of experts composed of the WWF-Philippines, the Department of Health, the Director for National Center for Health Promotion, ICANSERVE Foundation, and local Philips executives announced the winning idea based on its impact, innovativeness, relevance, and feasibility for the areas hit hardest by Typhoon Yolanda/Haiyan.

Picture pulled from Philips Philippines Facebook Page

Picture pulled from Philips Philippines Facebook Page

It comes as no surprise to me that the award winning idea comes from Illac Diaz and his Solar Night Light Project. Known for his Liter of Light which has helped light thousands of homes all over the world in many different countries, he is no stranger for doing good in communities that need the most help. Together, Philips Meaningful Innovations and My Shelter Foundation will aim to brighten the lives of Filipinos most affected by Typhoon Yolanda/Haiyan.

Many people are still living in the bunk houses that the government has been built for them. Electricity is still scarce. The infrastructure needed to sustain the needs of the people is not fully in place, and having a source of light in an area which is still “off the grid,” will help the quality of life for 13,000 Filipino families in an immediate and concrete way.

During the media event

(L-R) : Angelia Oh (Philips Philippines General Manager for Consumer LIfestyle), Enrique Tayag (Assistant Secretary of the Department of Healthy), Fabia Tetteroo-Bueno (Philips Philippines Country Manager), Jose Ma. Lorenzo Tan (WWF for Nature Philippines CEO and Vice Chairman of the Board), and Malone Guevarra (Philips Philippines General Manager for Healthcare)

By building on the Diaz’s design, Philips and MSF will reuse plastic soda bottles and simple circuit boards constructed from readily available parts, to provide solar lighting near and in the bunkhouses of the displaced families. Philips and My Shelter Foundation will continue to work on a prototype which will be sampled and then appraised. Once the design is finalized, Philips hopes to inspire the families in the affected community by launching the solar night lights before the end of this coming December. ”Each solar light will save 200 kilos of carbon emissions by preventing burning of fossil fuels that is commonly used by power plants to generate electricity.”

Through this innovative solar powered light, Philips country manager, Fabia Tetteroo-Bueno, hopes to inspire the families as they pick up the pieces to move on. “We’re not just lighting up homes – we’re providing hope to more families for starting anew.”

I love the idea that Philips is taking a Filipino’s idea to the next level in helping…it’s not only a greener solution to an immediate problem in the areas that need it most-it’s a solution that Philips obviously has expertise in. I hope to share more information with you about the progress of Philips Innovations and The Solar Night Light Project that will foster better, healthier, and easier lives for Filipinos in The Visayas. If you would like, feel free to visit the website or the Facebook page to stay up to date on what’s happening with the program.

Happy Walk 2014

Team Gellibean continues to grow in love and support each year for the Happy Walk.

Team Gellibean continues to grow in love and support each year for the Happy Walk.

Every year in February, our family is a little bit busier than usual. As parents, we normally plan many of our activities around our kids no matter what time of year it is. In February,  however, many of our activities are planned because we have a been gifted a child with an extra chromosome.

Each year we look forward to making new friends we meet online or through our DSAPI sponsored events. This year, we were able to connect with Hailey, and her mom, Justine.

Each year we look forward to making new friends we meet online or through our DSAPI sponsored events. This year, we were able to connect with Hailey, and her mom, Justine.

Gellibean (Evangelina) was born with Down Syndrome and forever changed the way our family worked. She helped me see just how strong her dad’s faith in God was, and she also showed me how wonderfully loving and accepting my three big kids were. She has given me the ability to see stoic strength of my own mother, and it is because of her birth that I have also learned to admire the strengths in many of the other mothers I come into contact with on a daily basis.

Of course, we also enjoy the time we spend with our "old" friends as well. Liam and his family are near and dear to our hearts.

Of course, we also enjoy the time we spend with our “old” friends as well. Liam and his family are near and dear to our hearts.

She’s allowed me to live a life where I have learned to put judgement aside, of of course in all her perfection she has been able to silently show me my flaws…inside and out. She has caused me to pause and realize what’s really valuable in this life, and she has reminded me that much of what is valuable you can’t put a price tag on. She’s helped me filter through the friends and acquaintances that I needed to move on from, and has solidified our love and trust in relationships that may have needed repair in our own families.

Seeing the support that all the kids have within our organization from their own family and friends is inspiring and contagious! Baby girl Joey even had family come all the way from the States to support her!

Seeing the support that all the kids have within our organization from their own family and friends is inspiring and contagious! Baby girl Joey even had family come all the way from the States to support her!

She has given me the courage to start this blog-and whether she knows it or not-I really needed her. I was in a different place and time before she was born. I thought I had REAL problems. Don’t get me wrong-my life is not a bed of roses now that we have a child with 47 chromosomes…it’s different yet it is the same.  But ONE major aspect of my life has changed because she chose me to be her mom. Evangelina has given me the gift of PERSPECTIVE.

I was able to touch base again with JP and his Dad this year. JP blogs too!

I was able to touch base again with JP and his Dad this year. JP blogs too!

It’s my appreciation of the little things and the innate goodness that I see in people which I can credit to her. In fact, I dare say that she has also brought out that good in each and every one of us even within our own family.  Actually, I think she has quite a knack for tapping into people’s “goodness.”

Sponsors and Donors large and small help us keep everyone safe and happy during our celebrations spaced through out the month. February is a big month for us, because we raise all of our money for the entire year's programs and outreaches during this time.

Sponsors and Donors large and small help us keep everyone safe and happy during our celebrations that are spaced throughout the month. February is a big month for DSAPI, because we raise all of our money for the entire year’s programs and outreaches during this time.

While I’m sure that many could debate the fact that human beings are naturally kind and compassionate, I have always clung to the theory that we are blank slates; compassionate and kind individuals, who would like to help one another. Gelli has reinforced the belief in that theory for me.

Most of all, I'm filled with gratitude during these activities. I see the hard work of the parents and children who come before us. They have paved the way for our family, as we will continue to pave the way for families we will come across in the future. In this picture, Elmer Lapena gives a short talk to those who are attending morning mass explaining the celebration taking place.

Most of all, I’m filled with gratitude during these activities. I see the hard work of the parents and children who come before us. They have paved the way for our family, as we will continue to pave the way for families we will come across in the future. In this picture, Elmer Lapena gives a short talk to those who are attending morning mass explaining the celebration that is taking place.

So, in February, (like in August when Gelli was born) I am reminded to live and feel just a little more grateful. I am reminded of where and who I was before she was born. What I thought was important before Evangelina came into our lives, is not necessarily what I deem to be important now. In short, you can even say she made me…a better version of me. As she continues to grow up she still helps me to be a better person, even if she is too young to understand the idea of it.

It is because of the DSAPI parents and siblings that the Happy Walk is such a big success every year. We continue to grow in numbers and we couldn't accommodate the growing number of parents and families with Down Syndrome without the help of major sponsors like SM Cares.  The parents behind the organization are thankful for SM and all the support.

It is because of the DSAPI parents and siblings that the Happy Walk is such a big success every year. We continue to grow in numbers and we couldn’t accommodate the growing number of parents and families with Down Syndrome without the help of major sponsors like SM Cares. The parents behind the organization are thankful for SM and all the support.

Gelli has allowed me to become more introspective. She has encouraged me to become more self aware. It is through that self awareness that she has gifted me with inspiration beyond measure…happiness beyond laughter…and the tears of sadness and disappointment have long been gone to be replaced by tears of gratitude…and YES…TEARS OF HAPPINESS, AND PRIDE, AND GRATITUDE.

Even if our immediate circle of support for Gellibean begins with our own immediate family, it is through sharing our experiences and celebrating during events like the Happy Walk, that we can continue to foster an understanding and acceptance of all children with Down Syndrome.

Even if our immediate circle of support for Gellibean begins with our family, it is through sharing our experiences and celebrating of events like the Happy Walk, that we can continue to foster an understanding and acceptance of all children with Down Syndrome and special needs.