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.

Sofitel Manila Sunday Brunch with The Little Prince

Champagne and white wine are all chilled and ready to be poured.

Champagne and white wine are all chilled and ready to be poured.

Brunch is probably my most favorite meal to prepare. It leaves so much room to interpret what you would like to eat or serve. If I’m serving brunch, I can put anything on the table from eggs, to sweets, to pasta and fish. It’s part of the reason why I love it so much! You can go heavy and hearty, or light and sweet…And brunch wouldn’t really be brunch, if you didn’t indulge in a mimosa or two, or better yet a nice glass of bubbly.

I always enjoy the one on one time I spend with each of my kids.

Diego was my date for the day :-) I always enjoy the one on one time I spend with each of my kids.

Recently the SoMoms and SoKids were invited to enjoy the champagne brunch with The Little Prince at Sofitel Manila Hotel. I knew that it would be the perfect bonding opportunity for Diego and I to have our one on one date.

The last time I was at Sofitel for the Spiral Buffet it was Nino’s birthday, and I was pregnant with Gellibean. That was three years ago, and before their renovations! I remember totally loving the Thai station at that time because I was seriously into pomelo salad. What I didn’t know back then, is that you have a choice. You can opt for the buffet with or without alcohol. (Of course at that time-I did not have any alcohol.) Since it was such a long time since I visited, it was fantastic to see how the buffet has grown from 7 to over 20 stations!

There are so many healthy choices! You can choose your salad dressing, ask the attendant to add the dressing and take your salad back to your table shake shake shaking it! NOTE that there is a an allergen in this dish and it clearly states that for those who might be concerned.

There are so many healthy choices! You can choose your salad dressing, ask the attendant to add the dressing and take your salad back to your table shake shake shaking it! NOTE that there is a an allergen in this dish and it clearly states that for those who might be concerned.

Before we ventured off on our own to explore the buffet, Blessy shared some of the changes that took place during the renovation. The area where we were seated was actually, open air, prior to the changes that Sofitel made. They also added a ton more stations, and once the champagne was poured for the mommas who were able to have as sip of the bubbly, the  balloon twister came around to entertain the kids.

All of the kids loved their balloons and props they received.

The kids were all mesmerized by the balloons which were twisted and pulled into works of art or toys . Of course, Diego ended up with a balloon sword…

The Cheese Room (a.k.a. L’Epicerie) was Diego’s favorite place to visit while checking out the buffet. (even more than the dessert station!) He kept going back for his favorite Manchego cheese and then even took a picture of his plate that was full of cheese to iMessage to his dad so that he knew he was eating Manchego for him.

Diego really enjoyed the different selection of cheeses, most especially the Manchego.

Diego really enjoyed the different selection of cheeses, most especially the Manchego.

Amy had shared that The Little Prince roams the restaurant all day, chatting with the kids and giving away chocolate lollipops that are available for sale as well, just in case your kids love ‘em that much, that you need to take some home.

At 4pm, there is a maze activity led by The Little Prince. We couldn't make it last Sunday, but maybe we can do this activity the next we are there with all the kids.

At 4pm, there is a maze activity led by The Little Prince. We couldn’t make it last Sunday, but maybe we can do this activity the next we are there with all the kids.

In fact, if you come a little bit later for the brunch, the kids can go through the maze at around 4pm with him and find their way around. Even the place mats fit The Little Prince theme!

In fact, The Little Prince was the theme of the day...even the place mats for the kids had activities for the kids to do.

The Little Prince was the theme of the day…even the place mats for the kids had activities for the kids to do.

There are tons of activities for the kids to get involved in! Spiral is such a great place to eat with the kids because after you feed them, you can send them off to the activities which are with in your view while you enjoy the bountiful buffet, leisurely. We know that we must eat leisurely, when there is THAT much food in front of you! It’s a take your time kind of Sunday-when you go for brunch at Spiral!

All the kids were assisted in making butter cookies to take home. They can fill their tray up and when they come back from playing the cookies have been baked, cooled, and put in a take home bag with their name.

All the kids were assisted in making butter cookies to take home. They can fill their tray up and when they come back from playing, the cookies have been baked, cooled, and put in a take home bag labeled with their name.

Aside from the cookie making, there is a children’s tent, playground, and of course, Gymboree is still there for the parents who want to drop off the kids to play and catch some one on one with their partner.

IMG_2484

Leaving the kids at the children’s tent is easy when you purchase a craft kit and pay by the hour. Just make sure to bring your own socks :-)

Sofitel really has thought of everything for when you visit. If you decide you would like to take some pretty flowers home for the table, all you have to do is ask them to put together a bouquet for you.  As someone who loves the excuse to put fresh flowers on the table-seeing the cart full of available bouquets ready for purchase was something to take note of.

Who wouldn't want this beautiful bouquet for their table?

Who wouldn’t want this beautiful bouquet for their table?

Diego and I had so much fun hanging with Blessy and her daughter Sophia and all the SoMoms and SoKids. We are already planning our next visit so that Diego can bring his siblings (and his dad) for some more family bonding.

SoMoms in attendance with Blessy and Amy from Sofitel.

SoMoms in attendance with Blessy and Amy from Sofitel.  Jackie, Cai, Patty, and Jenny all agree that we had a lovely time learning all about the new activities and areas to bond with our kids.

If you are interested in visiting Spiral and their all you can eat buffet with over 20+ stations for you to indulge in you can make reservations by visiting  their reservation site. If you decide to avail of the buffet inclusive of champagne and wine it’s a little over P4000. If you would opt for the non alcoholic buffet it’s about P3300+, while children 5-11 years old are P1800+. Children ages 0-4 are free.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SpiralManila

Twitter: https://twitter.com/spiralmanila

 

World Down Syndrome Day 2014 Part 2

In honor of World Down Syndrome Day 2014, I wanted to share a photo stream of the celebration we attended at St. Luke’s Hospital BGC. We had a great time making new friends!

We were so happy to have Gellibean included in the photo exhibit by Tony Camacho.

We were so happy to have Gellibean included in the photo exhibit by Tony Camacho.

Thank you Nancy for suggesting Gelli be included in the photo exhibit to Hosanna. Hosanna-it was so nice to finally meet you in person!

Thank you Nancy for suggesting Gelli be included in the photo exhibit to Hosanna. Hosanna-it was so nice to finally meet you in person! Than you Sharon for sharing this photo :-) Looking forward to seeing you both again with Naomi and Scarloe! Photo Credit: Francisco S. Yabut.

Having friends with babies just like Gelli makes parenting a little easier. We love baby Joey and her parents Suzi and Johnmel :-)

Having friends with babies just like Gelli makes parenting a little easier. We love baby Joey, and her parents Suzi and Johnmel :-) We first met Suzi and Johnmel in person when they attended the Early Intervention Seminar offered by DSAPI. DSAPI offers seminars, workshops, and support for parents to turn the fear and disappointment of a diagnosis into “positive attitudes of warmth, love, understanding, and hope.”

It's heartwarming to see celebrities like Thor understand that inclusion is vital to the acceptance of our children.

It’s heartwarming to see celebrities like Thor understand that inclusion is vital to the acceptance of our children.

With organizations like Best Buddies Manila, I know that Gelli, children and adults like her, can also live a full life. Best Buddies promotes inclusion through friendship. Here we are with Best Buddies Manila, director, Anj Onrubia.

With organizations like Best Buddies Manila, I know that Gelli, children and adults like her, can also live a full life. Best Buddies promotes inclusion through friendship. Here we are with Best Buddies Manila, director, Anj Onrubia.

It is with like minded parents that we can learn about the newest therapies and services that can help our children reach their milestones. Someone I look up to is Noah's mom. Neva and I learn from one another and share the challenges and joys to raising our children together. Thank you for continuing to inspire me :-)

It is with like minded parents that we can learn about the newest therapies and services that can help our children reach their milestones. Someone I look up to is Noah’s mom. Neva and I learn from one another and share the challenges and joys of raising our children together. Thank you for continuing to inspire me, Nevs :-)

Thank you Dr. Dimalanta and St. Luke's Medical Center, BGC for hosting such a wonderful celebration full of love, laughter, and support for our children.

Thank you Dr. Dimalanta and St. Luke’s Medical Center, BGC for hosting such a wonderful celebration full of love, laughter, and support for our children. Finding the right doctors and therapists is vital to a nurturing our children with special needs. Ultimately, parents must know that they can take charge of their children’s care. It is vital to be an empowered parent and advocate for our children.

Activities for the kids were planned that centered around one of Gelli's favorite books! The Very Hungry Caterpillar is a popular bed time story for us.

Activities for the kids were planned that centered around one of Gelli’s favorite books! The Very Hungry Caterpillar is a popular bed time story for us.

Whether it was the dancers that took stage to entertain the guests with their superior dance moves, or the teachers who helped the children create their own works of art, Gelli and I would like to thank everyone involved who helped make this a fun filled day!

Whether it was the dancers that took stage to entertain the guests with their superior dance moves, or the teachers who helped the children create their own works of art, Gelli and I would like to thank everyone involved who helped make this a fun filled day!

The numbers 3.21 may not have been so significant to me before you were born, Gellibean-but it is because of you that they will forever be etched in my heart. I love you baby girl!

The numbers 3.21 may not have been so significant to me before you were born, Gellibean-but it is because of you that they will forever be etched in my heart. I love you baby girl!

A friend of mine on Facebook shared this video with me this morning. “Happy” by Pharrell Willams has been my anthem as of late anyway, but now that I saw this version on YouTube, it will be on my favorite list for a while. This is the type of song that just makes me bop and move to the beat…I cried when I watched it for the first time.

World Down Syndrome Day 2014

Today is a special day.

It’s March 21st.

Trisomy Twenty-One is something we have come to understand, since Gellibean has joined our family. We have become more aware of words that can be hurtful, more aware of other children with special needs, more aware of just how precious this life we are given…really is.

Down Syndrome occurs at conception. Typical people have 46 chromosomes. We receive 23 from our mom and 23 from our dad, making 23 pairs. People with D.S. have an extra chromosome attached to the 21st pair, so instead of a pair, they have 3 copies of the 21st chromosome, hence the name Trisomy Twenty-One. While there are many physical signs and characteristics that can be attributed to the presence of that extra chromosome, one thing rings true for me, as I have come into contact with parents who were gifted with babies just like Gelli…OUR LIVES WERE FOREVER CHANGED IN A POSITIVE WAY.

We didn't know how much Gellibean would enrich our lives when we brought her home from the hospital. But luckily, we figured it out pretty quickly, and for that-I'm grateful.

We didn’t know how much Gellibean would enrich our lives when we brought her home from the hospital. But luckily, we figured it out pretty quickly, and for that-I’m grateful.

About a month back, one of my readers contacted me via Facebook and asked if she could put me in touch with this husband and wife team who were doing a special photo exhibit for WDSD. Nancy’s daughter, Naomi was invited to be part of a photo exhibit that is included in a WDSD event, which was spearheaded by Dr. Dimalanta. (Naomi’s developmental pediatrician) They were looking for other children to photograph and include, and since Nancy had just read a post that I wrote about my friend’s daughter Camille, she thought that I might like to include Gellibean in this photo exhibit as well.

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The husband-wife team Nancy made reference to were in charge of the photo exhibit and had recently moved to Manila from the states. Because the Down Syndrome community is very small, I had heard of a physical therapist who came home to Manila, and was doing wonderful things for some of Gelli’s batchmates in DSAPI. My friend Shereen and I have always exchanged progress notes when talking about our kids and the therapies we have them completing weekly, so I knew of this therapist, named Hosanna. Hosanna is the wife of the husband-wife team that I referred to earlier. Tony is her husband, and he is the man behind the camera for the photo exhibit which can be seen today at St. Luke’s.

Gellibean has opened up our world in more ways than one. Photo Credit:

Gellibean has opened up our world in more ways than one. Photo taken during the Best Buddies Manila Open House by Kimi Lim from Imagine Nation Photography

When I took Gelli for her photo shoot with Tony, I recognized right away that he was from the States because of his accent. And after we got to talking…I ONLY THEN figured out that he was the husband of “Hosanna the therapist”, that I had already heard so much about from Shereen! Tony shared that Hosanna recently opened up a therapy center and that they brought in much of the equipment from abroad to aide their clients in their development and reaching their milestones. Med Mom Clinic is now on the list of places I want to visit so I can share  it with any readers who might live nearby and are looking for a center for their child. (Look for that later on the blog :-))

Liam and Gelli have brought George, Shereen, Nino and I together. They have forged a bond of friendship between our families that has provided comfort and laughter. I'm sure we will continue to grow and deepen our friendships as the children grow up as well. Missing from this pic is Marty and his parents Noel and Elaine!

Liam and Gelli have brought George, Shereen, Nino and I together. They have forged a bond of friendship between our families that has provided comfort and laughter. I’m sure we will continue to grow and deepen our friendships as the children grow up as well. (Missing from this pic is Marty and his parents Noel and Elaine!) Photo taken during the Happy Walk 2014.

If you are in the area today-stop by St. Luke’s BGC. Gelli and I will be there for World Down Syndrome Day 2014…come and say hello!

Best Buddies Manila

Best Buddies is here!

Photos taken during the Open House last February 16th at Fully Booked in BGC.

Photos taken during the Best Buddies Open House last February 16th at Fully Booked in BGC.

I didn’t know about Best Buddies until my friends Neva and Anj started posting about it on Social Media.

(From L-R) David, Dan, Neva, Dianna, Anj, and myself. Dianna came from the US to train the staff for the Best Buddies Manila chapter.

(From L-R) David, Dan, Neva, Dianna, Anj, and myself. Dianna came from the US to train the staff for the Best Buddies Manila chapter. This photo was taken at the Advisor Training which Unilab Foundation sponsored for us.

Initially, when I researched about Best Buddies-the pics I saw with the celebrity ambassadors all had children with Down Syndrome. After speaking with Neva one day when we were together for the Gingersnaps fashion show, I learned that the organization promotes friendship and inclusion for children, teens, and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. (IDD)

I was able to attend an informative training with Head Masters of quite a few schools. These schools will be piloting the Best Buddies program in their schools as early as NOW!

I was able to attend an informative training with Head Masters of quite a few schools. These schools will be piloting the Best Buddies program in their schools as early as NOW! Some of the schools that were present were One World, LaSalle College of San Benilde, ISM, Just Foundations Inc, Bridges Foundation, and Xavier.

Through eight different programs, Best Buddies promotes positive relationships and friendships for junior high, middle school students, and following through all the way into adulthood. Anthony Shriver started the organization in 1989 with the idea that he could change the lives of people with special needs one friendship at a time. He had always loved and admired his Aunt Rosemary Kennedy who had an intellectual disability but could swim faster than anyone in the family and could beat him in cards. And it was because of his love for her that Best Buddies has eased fears, altered misconceptions, and broken down barriers for the past 25 years with an organization that builds on friendship and inclusion.

As many programs for children with special needs, PARENTS are the base with which we build on. Best Buddies depends on parental involvement and guidance from the schools and Best Buddies Staff.

As many programs for children with special needs, PARENTS are the base with which we build on. Best Buddies depends on parental involvement and guidance from the schools and Best Buddies Staff.

Buddies are picked from participating schools through the Best Buddies Club. Usually, what happens is a “typical” or general school will start a club and then find a “special” or inclusive school near by that they can partner with. Students who sign up for the club will be matched with each other…girl to girl, boy to boy, with similar interests. If your child with special needs likes to be creative and artistic-chances are she will be paired with an artistic student from the typical school. If your son with special needs loves the great outdoors-chances are the facilitators will pair him with someone who enjoys the same things. By pairing the buddies this way, it’s likely that they will develop a friendship OUTSIDE of the Best Buddies organized activities. Ideally, Buddies will meet once a month with the group, and once a month for a one on one bonding session of their choice.

Best Buddies Ambassadors Jessica and Vico share a little bit about themselves at the Best Buddies Open House.

Best Buddies Ambassadors Jessica and Vico Cham share a little bit about themselves at the Best Buddies Open House.

And thus…a friendship begins when you are paired with your buddy…

I thought it was wonderful that we were able to kick off the start of Best Buddies MANILA during Down Syndrome Consciousness Month! I was able to attend a training which was sponsored by the Unilab Foundation AND we even had an Open House in Fully Booked BGC the same weekend!

Neva, Suzi and I with Rhodora Fresnedi the Executive Director for Unilab Foundation. Unilab Foundation sponsored the training in their Bayanihan Center on Pioneer.

Neva, Suzi and I with Rhodora Fresnedi the Executive Director for Unilab Foundation. Unilab Foundation sponsored the training in their Bayanihan Center on Pioneer.

Best Buddies Manila will be celebrating their 25th anniversary on Saturday March 29th with the first pairing! We hope to pair 10-12 sets of buddies with a simple event at Sonja’s in Shangri La Mall.

Barni, Gelli, and I at the Open House, where many parents came to gain a greater understanding of what Best Buddies can offer their children.

Barni, Gelli, and I at the Open House, where many parents came to gain a greater understanding of what Best Buddies can offer their children.

For more information on Best Buddies Manila and how to get involved, please visit the Facebook page, Twitter account and Instagram Feeds.

 

 

One on One Time with Your Child

I have always tried to spend some one on one time with my each of my kids. I have always known the importance of this precious time we may have together, but truth be told, I have to work really hard to make sure it happens. Recently during one of our Better Me sessions for the SoMoms, Coach Pia reminded me just how important this one on one time with your child really is.

Coach Pia reiterated the importance of having an activity with your child that he or she likes and letting them take the lead in doing so.

Last Friday my son asked me to go out for some one on one time. I actually had so many things I needed to write, submit, and tend to…all of which required me to sit in front of the laptop, but when he came into my office early that morning with his special request to visit Project Pie with me, I could not say no.  I did however, ask him since Project Pie is always so busy during the regular lunch hours if we could perhaps have a late lunch or even heavy merienda together instead of going at 12nn when I knew the line would be out the door.

By about 3pm he was already reminding me that we should get going and since his baby sister was sleeping, his brother was their Dad, and his Ate was at a friend’s house doing a project, we didn’t have to feel guilty about leaving anyone behind.

While we were waiting for our pizza, I was tweeting, checking emails, and posting on Instagram, when Miggy reminded me that this was “our time” together and that he left his phone at home so that we could talk. I quietly put my phone away (after one super proud IG post) and remembered the entire reason why we left the house to begin with…to spend time together.

I posted this pic on Instagram and after I did, I put my phone away so I could enjoy the time with my son.

I posted this pic on Instagram and after I did, I put my phone away so I could enjoy the time with my son.

I asked him how he felt that he was done with school, if he felt good about all of the projects he had submitted this week, and he shared that he was so happy to have submitted his projects on time. (He even submitted some earlier than they were due!)

While we were talking, I remembered something that Coach Pia had advised us to do when we were out with our kids. She said to “Be Quiet.” So, I stopped asking so many questions and let Miguel lead the conversation where he wanted it to go.

It was refreshing. I learned a lot about my son, about some of the things his friends are doing (or not doing) and his thoughts about all of it. I realized how much more my kids KNOW than I knew at their ages, and I’m not so sure if it’s because I’m their parent, or because of social media and the movies they watch, or because it’s 2014 and that’s just the way it is.

I listened. I really listened. He told me some of his jokes, shared some new riddles, and laughed when I couldn’t get the answers. We had a good chuckle, took a walk, and then did a little shopping. I already bought new lunchboxes for next year, keeping in mind that I want to better my lunch box packing by maybe mixing in some charabens, so I figured I should get some smaller Lock & Locks which would make it easier for me to pack.

I didn’t get much done that particular day in terms of writing or catching up on research that I needed to finish, and deadlines that needed to be met. But I did do one of the most important jobs I know I need to do. I listened when my son spoke. I tuned out all the other noise and made sure that I was present for him. He asked me to be, and so I was.

And it felt really good.

What do you like to do with your kids when you spend one on one time with them?