It’s All Good

Whenever I get words of wisdom from parents of big families with grown up kids,  I cannot help but take it to heart. Our lives are not and will never be easy but it doesn’t mean it will not be joyful. As a matter of fact, we have been enriched with an abundance of blessings. Now I get it when they say that every child is a gift. They bring their own life, character, and meaning into the family. Then God orchestrates things behind our understanding so that we can raise and provide every child not only with their material needs but more specially to fulfill each child’s longing for unconditional love and acceptance.

It’s not always easy. Failure abounds. But with grace, love prevails.

My 80-something friend from the parish with 13 grown-up kids told me “It’s all good!”

He’s right. Everything always turns out for the good.

@ Emerald Lake Park

2017-04-04 12.07.09

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Love Beyond I Do

This was a talk I gave to mothers in a monthly recollection.

Shots taken from our last date of the year @ Essenza.


We all got married because we want to be happy, we want to make our husbands happy. Without a doubt, we had the best intentions. We wanted to be the best wife for our husband.

Then life happens.

Children start coming in along with the associated difficulties and demands with raising them. There are no affordable helpers here. There is never enough money. Tuition fees are rising. Technology is driving the family apart. Work is so stressful. Your boss is a pain. Winter can be so depressing. Mothers in law thicken the plot even more.

You get tired and irritable being with your children most of the day who never seemed to stop complaining or bickering with each other while you struggle to just get some housework done or do an overdue nappy change or dinner ready. Your husband comes home with the pressure and burden of his job plus the frustration of driving home through the M1 jam.

Then you see your husband at the door. What happens? More often than not, this key meeting with our spouse is a defining moment not only of our day, but also of our marriage because it happens so regularly and inevitably.

Unity in marriage doesn’t mean there are no disagreements. Even Mary and Joseph had their share and it almost caused them a divorce. Unity in marriage doesn’t mean you just always give-in to what your husband wants to avoid any kind of conflict and achieve a false kind of peace. Unity in marriage doesn’t happen only to two perfect spouses. Such couples don’t exist.

What is unity in marriage?

It is about dreaming, looking together in the same direction, sharing and working together for the same values and goals.

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“What do we want our children to become? Do we want them to practice and love our Christian faith? How do we do that?”

“Do you really have to work or maybe we can cut our cost so you can stay at home with the children?”

“Can we really afford another child and give up whatever comfort we have now or maybe we should live our life with greater faith in God and let Him give us the number of children He wants us to have?”

God wants husbands and wives to become only one heart and only one soul and together attain their human perfection.

Marriage is not just a social institution. It is a real supernatural calling. It is a vocation, our path to holiness. Your ticket to heaven has your husband’s name on it.

How do we achieve this ever elusive physical and spiritual oneness, this joy of love?

  1. Humility is imperative. Real love has to cost.

Our interior attitude towards our better half is of utmost importance. We can learn all about the communication skills and master the psychological differences between man and woman but if we always think that we are right, our marriage won’t go far.

At the root of all marital strife is pride.

We have to watch out for its many subtle symptoms.

From Furrow 263, St Josemaria said:

Allow me to remind you that among other evident signs of a lack of humility are:

  • Thinking that what you do or say is better than what others do or say;
  • Always wanting to get your own way;
  • Arguing when you are not right or – when you are- insisting stubbornly or with bad manners;
  • Giving your opinion without being asked for it, when charity does not demand you to do so;
  • Despising the point of view of others;

A humble person does not take herself or her opinions too seriously. In an argument or in discussions, she never presumes that she’s always right and is open to advice and suggestions.

Humility takes a lifetime to learn.  St Josemaria advised: “To acquire it, we must regularly pull self-love out by the roots and plant in its place love for Christ. This is the secret to happiness.”

If you can’t say anything good, it is best to keep quiet.

We have to sift our thoughts and desires first in prayer.

Oh God why did he say that I always want to get my way? Can’t he see that I am so overwhelmed with the ever growing responsibilities here at home? He doesn’t have a clue how hard it is to take care of our children? Or maybe he has a point. I do give him a long list of things to do once he reaches home. I get crossed if he doesn’t do it. The poor guy probably needs some time to relax first. Oh God what should I do?”

Love is not so much in giving as in understanding.

Do we listen to him so we can give a rebuttal to his argument or do we seek to understand where he is coming from?

Love is patient and kind.

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  1. Forgive and forget.

It is not enough to be right. Love requires more. Love calls us to forgive. Love is a curative balm for our soul and our husbands. Hatred is a poison.” Love Refined: Letters to Young Bride by Alice von Hildebrand.

We have to love our husband with his defects because we also have defects, probably more and they are trying their best to live with that.

We can’t always put the blame on our husbands. “If only he earned more, I can afford to stop working to be with the children”. “If only he stops watching TV instead of helping me. I would then stop nagging”. “If only he talks to me more than his mother, I will stop being jealous”.

Look for the good qualities in him not the bad. Most of us find what we look for.

Change has to start from us. To be less complaining, to be more patient, to be more cheerful.

Pope Francis advised “There are always arguments in marriages, and at times even plates are thrown. But we must not be sad about this: this is the human condition. And the secret is that love is stronger than the moments in which we argue, and I therefore always advise married couples never to let the day draw to an end without making peace. There is no need to call in the United Nations peacekeepers. A little gesture is enough: a caress, see you tomorrow, and tomorrow we start afresh. This is life, and we must face it in this way, with the courage of living it together. Married life is beautiful, and must be protected.”

If God has forgiven us, how can we not forgive our husband?

If we don’t forgive, we only leave one person hurt. That is ourselves.

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  1. Learn the art of giving.

Christian marriage is not just a contract.

Christian marriage is a covenant. A covenant that forms a solemn agreement between the couple and God.

A COVENANT is a matter of self-gift, entails unqualified obligations and responsibilities and is for unlimited amount of time.

Married life is not for the selfish, comfort seekers. It demands a constant self-giving, more than anything else.

This love is total.

After the love that unites us to God, conjugal love is the greatest form of friendship in which husband and wife generously share everything without undue reservations or selfish calculations.

The best gift we can give is ourselves, those countless, heroic and unnoticed sacrifices. We do it for the love of God through our husband.

  1. Make it grow

Great marriages are like wine, it become better in time.

It is not enough to get by. Our love for each other has to grow, has to set us on fire. We have to love each other with the love of our youth. We have to live our engagement period well into our married life.

How?

Date.

Rekindle the romance. Set a time just for each other. To do what? To have a walk, a movie, a good meal without any interruptions. To talk about each other’s plans and dreams. And yes, to laugh about your children. To enjoy each other’s company just how it was like before everything got so complicated. To fall in love over and over again.

Make sure he knows that you will prioritize your relationship with him over your children, your career or your parents.

Happy marriages = Happy children.

We have to take care of our looks. Men are visual beings and we have to learn to charm them through their weakness.

The best form of make up, the most attractive of all is a SMILE.

We have to keep our husbands from going to other doors.

Refinement

Love is not rude.

We have to show every mark of kindness and respect. Be sensitive to their needs. Don’t nag. Never shout at them in front of the children. It will undermine their authority.

Don’t demand. Request.

Don’t command. Suggest.

Love is in the finer thing. It is in the details.

How many times do we say thank you, sorry, please.

Always remember: Marriage is a sacrament

Christ instituted and elevated marriage as a sacrament to make saints out of us. Marriage is a fountain of grace. We will receive the grace as and we need and ask for it.

“My grace will be sufficient for you.”

God didn’t say “Rely on your husband for all that you need”. This mentality causes many unmet expectations and often leaves us frustrated.

He said ” Apart from me, you can do nothing. With me all things are possible.” In our marriage, does God play a lead part or is He just ones of the extras? Do we really rely on Him to give us strength, to make us feel loved?

So how do we greet our husband once they come in that door after a long day at work?

Do we need to call the UN Peacekeeping Forces? Or will we give him that warm look or gentle smile at the end of his long day?

How to Really Love Your Child

I read this book by Dr Ross Campbell while I was on an annual course. I was swept away by his words of wisdom and practical advices to struggling parents like me.
We are expecting baby no 7 by month end but that is never a guarantee that we’ve gotten everything right when it comes to parenting. It is first and foremost the greatest lesson in love for me and the Captain. It is an evolving, adaptive process where our ultimate dream is to make our children as holy as they can be. Unknowingly and not admittedly at times, our kids are actually the ones bringing us closer to God.
I’ve taken down some notes from this spectacular book which I jotted down below.
I assure you, it is better if you get a copy, devour it and keep it for life.
1. Every child needs sufficient physical affection. Hugs, kisses, caresses, back rub, massages. I noticed this need easily in my children. The moment some of them wake up, they instantly go near me for a hug.
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Some of them rub their heads to my arms. Clue that they want some motherly love.
2. Every child needs enough eye contact. In a family with many kids, it is difficult to focus on one child trying to tell me the highlight of his day when an urgent need arises. Urgent needs like a toddler screaming to get mom to wipe his bottom, a baby who is on the loose and about to fall over a chair, two boys trying to rip open each other’s heads.
It is hard but possible. I’ve chosen the dinner table as one of the best places to connect via eye contact. Every child gets to have her time of glory to talk and mommy will listened as if it was only the two of us in that room.
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Of course there are many down times too when the smaller ones are napping or we are having quiet time. I usually pull one child so I can spend that special time with him or her.
3. Undivided attention. Where in the world will you find time to give each and every child focused attention?
The Captain is very good with this. He either bring one of them for a bike ride, grocery trip, or lunch at McDonalds.
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I go out for a walk or coffee with anyone of them whom I felt didn’t spend enough time with me that week.
Giving a bath, baking, painting with them are means and ways of spending one on one time.
You will realize that your time multiplies with the number of children God gives you.
4. Punishment is different from discipline. Hardly any child benefit from physical punishment. Disciplining them requires patiently instructing them in ways they should and ought to behave. It will take years to raise a child to become mature, responsible and loving.
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I would like to end with the best thing I learned from the book. Every child needs to be love and they need it unconditionally. While it is easier to like children who are obliging, nice and kind, that is not an excuse to not love our more challenging children any less.
Those who need most love deserve it the least.
Parenting after all is a matter of charity.
Do I see Christ in my children? Or do I just want them to do whatever I want because I am their mother and I am already fed up with all the noise and chaos?
Am I the kind of person my children would like to hang up with for the rest of their lives? Or does my temper and impatience drive them away?
Do I teach them to love unconditionally by my example?
I had to face many issues while reading this book and I continue to face new ones. The important thing is that we have tools now to help us and invaluable advices to become the best parents that we can be.
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Let’s seize the day.

Finding Happiness @ Home

Let’s cut it to the chase.

Most of us are overwhelmed. Overwhelmed with life, with the children, with our husband, with ourselves, with our jobs, with our boss, with our bills.

Life just happens and you feel like you can’t even take a grip of it. Most of the times we just fall prey into the routine and motion of our day without much thought put into it.

Most of us here are mothers, stay at home or working. I don’t know if you’ve ever felt like I’ve had enough of this life or when will this madness ever going to end. When will I stop getting pregnant? When will the workload ever ease out? When will the children stop fighting? When will there be an end to the noise and chaos in the house? When will my bills stop stacking up? When will my husband come home early enough to help me out with the kids and the housework? When will he ever measure up?

We have tons of questions like these going through our mind every day. Sometimes thinking about them is exhausting enough.

My husband often asks me “Are you happy with your life?

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His question never failed to make me think.

What is there to be happy about when you can’t even have a 5-minute uninterrupted coffee break?

FINE.

Well, despite all these seemingly insurmountable odds, I have good news for you, for us.

We have at the very palm of our hands the recipe for happiness.

Motherhood is divine.

That sleep you had to interrupt in the middle of the night to attend to your child who is sick, that dinner you lovingly prepared for your husband, that moment you bit your tongue so as not to unleash uncharitable words to your child who can’t eat fast enough in the morning or who woke up the baby for the nth time, that time you organized the living room for the third time during the day. All these little, unnoticed and often unappreciated things if we supernaturalize it, if we offer it to God, if we do it for and with love, it acquire a full and deeper meaning.

Either we find God in our ordinary everyday life or else we shall never find Him. – St Josemaria Escriva

Motherhood = Life of Service

Service is royal.

Why? Because Christ served and is still serving through us. It is pleasing to God.

The essence of our lives is to love. To love is to sacrifice. To sacrifice is to give-up one’s comfort, one’s self to make another happy.

Victor Frankl, an Auswitz survivor and a pyschoanalyst wrote in his book, Man’s Search for Meaning, that “Those who have a “why” to live can bear with almost any “how”.

The one question we should always be asking in everything we do is “Why am I doing this? Is it for Christ?”.

Christ gives a deeper meaning to the things that we do. Our work becomes a smile of God. Affection will grow in the family.

Pope Paul VI (Apostolic Exhortation, Gaudete in Domino (On Christian Joy)) Happiness is a spiritual thing, it is a gift from God. Happiness is a consequence of self-surrender. Happy people know that their joy stems from a heart that knows itself to be loved by God and which in its turn is madly in love with Him.

Remember, we are God’s project, His masterpiece.

Isn’t it true that you feel joy even after a long hard day of work? You are happy to see your children eating healthy food, enjoying each other’s company and growing in virtues. You are recognizing the impact of your hard work in their souls. Don’t you feel elated when your husband praises and thanks you for the meals you serve, for keeping the house warm and for being around and taking care of the children? Don’t you feel satisfied after you have performed your duty with your utmost best? Don’t you feel rewarded with the peaceful silence at the end of the day or a good night of uninterrupted sleep? These simple joys are the fruits of your demanding sacrifices.

Once we have experienced this joy, how do we ever keep it?

(1) Through prayer.

St Josemaria said” Prayer is all powerful.”

“Apart from me you can do nothing”.

Mental prayer is nothing but a friendly conversation in which the soul speaks, heart to heart with the One who we know loves us.

It is a loving conversation.

You pray in silence “Lord, I can hardly get up today and I don’t want to leave my bed. The baby barely slept last night and the rest of the kids are sick. I don’t know if I can through another day. I think it’s too much.”.

Then the Lord may answer, “Just breath. Carry on. Take it one moment at a time. Don’t even worry about the rest of the day. I will be your strength.”

(2) Go to the Sacrament of Mercy

It is difficult to experience God’s love if you haven’t experienced His mercy yet. The other name of God is Mercy.

We are not perfect and we make mistakes all the time. We carry that burden of guilt unnecessarily.

We have to lighten our load by going to Confession. Let Christ through the priest show us His mercy, His love.

(3) Another way to keep our happiness is through mortification or sacrifices.

Our lives as mothers and wives provide sufficient opportunities for self-denial. We don’t even have to invent, they come in naturally and profusely.

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Another difficult but fruitful sacrifice is loving our better half for who he is and not for who we want him to be. To renew our marital vows everyday. Most of us are overwhelmed with family responsibilities and commitments and we always expect our husband to help as much but sometimes they fail to meet that.

In this year of Mercy, Pope Francis is encouraging us to avoid judging people. The less we judge, the more we forgive. The more we forgive, the more healing takes hold in our marriages, in our families.

In his Catechesis on the Family (Wounds of the Family), Pope Francis emphasized that parents should focus more on the needs of their children and not to think obsessively of their own need for freedom and gratification. Children hurt more in silence and are spiritually wounded when husband and wives hurt each other in whatever way.

Let’s always think of the children.

(4) Rest.

Yes, we all need it. If I can take an hour afternoon naps with 6 children around me, I think anybody can. When our body is rested, our soul sings.

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I noticed that even if I was faithful to my schedule of prayer, if I don’t get enough rest, I still snap.

It is important that we do something different or creative even for an hour. Write. Read. Try a new recipe. Volunteer. Jog. Knit.

Make time to meet up with a friend. Many people around do not suffer from material poverty but spiritual ones. People need someone to listen to them, to counsel them. This is one of the spiritual works of mercy.

If we know of a family who is going through an extremely difficult time (i.e. the mother is ill, a child is hospitalized), a pot of hot meal will definitely help and go along way.

Old people in our parishes will certainly light up with a visit from a family with young children.

We cannot remain blind to other people’s misery.

(5) Fill your life with gratitude.

Thank God for your husband who puts up with your defects and strives to love you more. Be grateful for your children. They give your life a deep meaning. They help you mature spiritually. Be grateful for the house you live in, this is your children’s school of love. Be grateful that you can afford to stay home with your kids.

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Count your blessings and don’t focus on what you don’t have. The less you need, the more you have.

(6) Last but not the least is through divine abandonment.

Our brother or child who is in an inappropriate relationship, our best friend who can’t find a job, our old and sick parents, our disabled child. After we’ve done our best, let’s leave the rest to God. Let God do the worrying. Allow God to surprise us.

They said that women worry a lot. They worry more if there is nothing to worry about.

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Let us go through life completely convinced that we are daughters of God.

We have every reason to be happy.

So to answer my husband’s question.

I am happy with my life because I have him and it is grace filled.

St Therese of Lisieux said that “Everything is grace”.

Caring for Your Newborn: Notes to My Daughters

I’ll probably be in my mid-50’s to 60’s when you’ll have your first born child. Hopefully not in my 40’s.

 Oh please.

I want to give you some advices now less I forget them given all the anesthesia I have taken in the last eight years. Now that I’m nursing Kiko, our sixth baby, I thought of writing these notes to remind myself of how it was like to have a newborn and to guide you along your first year of motherhood.

Kindly remember these…

1. Being overwhelmed is normal. No one told me this. Everyone is just excited about the baby.

Actually, the state you will be in is a potent mixture of nervousness, fear, exhaustion, delight, excitement and whatever feels extraordinarily new to you. This is probably the first time you are primarily responsible for the survival of another human being.

 If you want to cry it out, just do it. No one ever felt worst after a good cry.
 I suggest you get as much help as you can from your husband, mother, in laws, sister, friends, priest. Ask, ask and ask. Its okay to ask for help in how to do things. People are more than happy to help and share the experience of raising this special child with you.

2. Enjoy your babymoon. Try to sleep when the baby sleeps during the day. You will need all the strength available to make it through the night when baby wakes up every 2 to 3 hours. Don’t worry, it will not last long. Nothing lasts forever.

 3. Breastfeed as much as you can. I strongly believe it’s best for babies. However, do think its the end of the world if you do not have sufficient milk. I’m a poor cow myself and I had to painfully accept that over time. I tried latching Sasha for one whole month, day in, day out. But not even that stimulated my milk production which made her malnourished after her first month of life.

Oh dear.

Try to supplement with formula milk if breast milk is not enough. For the meantime, you can ask a lactation specialist on how to improve your breast milk production. Trust me, they will help you greatly.

Invest in one of those breastfeeding pillows. I never knew how much comfort they can give you until a friend lend me hers when I was nursing Nina. Unless you want to build your upper arm muscles, I suggest you get one of these.

4. What will you do when the baby can’t stop crying? They are either hungry, needs to be burped, just pooped, are wet, feels too cold/hot, too bored. Crying is their only means of communication so you have to learn to read the context clues.

You don’t have to feed them milk whenever they cry. Their tummy usually gets empty every 2-3 hours for boys and 3 to 4 hours for girls as per my limited experience. You need to burp them every time you feed them. A must. For tummy pain you can also use azete de manzanilla.

The best way to know if they feel hot or cold is through their tummy. I don’t know where I got this. But I usually check your temperature this way.

Then there is colic. This usually occurs during the second month onwards. For some weird reason, none of those I enumerated above, they just can’t stop crying for a fixed period of time at a particular time of day.

Beats me too.

Anyway, give them colic medicine (I gave you Infacol) and just bear with it. This too shall pass. One of the best way we calm a child is to do the HOP. You just bend you knees up and down and it does great wonders to the baby’s mood.

5. I have read a number of books but these are my favorites: Secret of the Baby Whisperer by Tracy Hogg, Contented Little Baby by Gina Ford and Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Dr. Marc Weisbluth.

These books became my teachers. I would read them over and over again.

I encourage you to devour them.

6. How to put the baby to sleep? If I can help it, I don’t carry the baby to induce sleep. I let them learn to sleep on their own either by using a pacifier, swaddling, rocker or a combi. Pacifiers (I used Avent) helped me get the much needed rest and sleep for both baby and mommy. Swaddling is a technique I learned too late but is a miracle helper. Learn how to do this well.

 

7. Any baby loves a good massage like any one else. I usually give you a massage after bath with oil. I talk to you while gently caressing your skin. You love it.

8. Eat right. There was a time I got coffee happy and decided to drink as much as I liked. The effect? Baby didn’t sleep at all through the day! Awful mother. The lesson is what goes into your system goes into her system as well. Eat a lot of vegetables, fish and soup.

Of course I can’t still stop myself from indulging in anything with chocolate.

9. As always, don’t forget to treat your husband well. The baby will grow up, the children will go to school, the mess will get clean up but your husband will be the one to stay. Take care of him like your youngest child. You will reap a generous return if you put him first amongst others.

10. Treat yourself. Go to Mass the soonest and as frequently as possible. You will have to draw your strength from God. When you have the time, read the book that you love, go to a spa, meet your girl friends, explore the hills across your house, eat that chocolate cake. In other words, take care of yourself or else you will burn out. Entrust your baby to someone capable. Remember you are not the only one who can take care of your baby.

You need to relax too. You will set the tone of your home. Nothing beats a cheerful, happy mother.

I’ve Fallen

We have this picturesque view from the girls’ bedroom window.

Can you see the golden, deciduous tree?

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Fall makes everything a bit dramatic. There are the ever changing hues of the trees, leaves falling out and blown by the wind. Nights become longer. Weather becomes colder. It’s a season with constant change.

I feel that it’s fall all over again in our life with the arrival of a new baby. Everything is changing. Days are upside down. Nights turn into many waking moments. Schedules are all over the place. Temper flares here and there. Well, at least mine.

But I know it’s all for the good. Been here 6x to finally acquire the wisdom which this period is teaching us.

It’s a good time to slow down. Ditch those self- imposed deadlines. Life is starting in the midst of us. It is beautiful. It needs nurturing.

Life is a gift and we have to embrace it.

Things will eventually fall into place. The dust will settle down.

All in God’s time.

Kiko will grow up like the rest of them, I am sure of that. I can see him playing hide and seek with his dad and siblings. I can see him reading a book with Sasha or cooking with Nina or strolling with Lolo. I can see him wrestling with Anton or building Lego with Pio or climbing trees with Luis.

Whatever it is, he is meant to make our lives more colorful, happier and God-filled.

love

Midnight note from the Captain after giving Kiko’s last feed

We’ve fallen in love with Kiko.

How Santa Claus Came to Be

I am not sure if you got exasperated waiting for the birth of baby no 6.

I sure did.

This was the series of events which culminated in the birth of our own Santa Claus, baby Nicolas.


10.30 am, April 28, St Peter Chanel’s Feast

We drove to Westfield to buy and overload ourselves with Krispy Kreme donuts. I also wanted to go for a long stroll around the mall to push overdue baby down in my tummy.

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12 nn
We decided to leave the indoor playground to eat lunch.

12.15 pm
We realized my black bag was missing with my wallet, house key, glasses, pregnancy booklet and tons of prayer cards in it.

MAJOR PANIC!

12.30 pm
We’ve informed the security about the loss. Started driving back home.

Overdue baby was heavily stirred. Actually, whisked is a better verb.

12.45 pm
Security called us to let us know that someone found the bag and gave it to the Customer Service Desk.

Nothing was lost. Grateful to that kind soul.

Miracle.

Time to celebrate at China Bar. Bought another dozen of Krispy Kreme. We ate it like peanuts.

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2 pm
Slight contractions started.

3 pm
We reached home and I started to organize the house, the kids.

Contractions became more pronounced.

I had a funny feeling my real labor was starting. I’ve had more false labor with this pregnancy than the number of our children.

4.30 pm
We had family bonding time while at bed.

Regular contractions stopped. Again.

6 pm
Had Roasted Pork Belly with steam veggies for dinner (ready ng bitayin). Contractions came back stronger and was more regular.

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8 pm
Called Hospital if we should go in. Was asked to take Panadol and wait and see for about an hour.

9 pm
Contractions persisted. Drove to the hospital. Put kids to bed and left them with Tatay.

I didn’t know whether I should be happy or miserable. I wanted to see the baby but I was dead scared of the delivery without anesthesia. Sure felt what St Thomas Moore felt.

11.30 pm
Assessed by midwife to be sent home. Labor was still on it’s early stages. Just 3 cm dilated. Baby was still too high in position.

12 mn, April 29, St Catherine’s Feast
Drove home. Contractions suddenly turned epic. Tried to sleep but pain was getting unbearable.

What’s going on here?

I was getting more worried that the baby might come out while in transit. Elmer was tensed beyond measure. Who wouldn’t?

1.30 am
Back in the delivery room. IV in. Straps, monitors in.

Gas mask ready. (But I didn’t even know how to use the new model.)

2.00 am
FULLY DILATED.

2.20 am
Pushed baby out on my own. I am so proud of this. No vacuum, no forceps, no anesthesia.

Caution:
Please don’t try this if you can help it. Midwives in Victoria prefer that mothers who had CS and multiple births go to labor on their own.

Nicolas Yu, our sixth baby, was born healthy and enormous!

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Spent about two days in the hospital to sleep. Then I started to miss home. Opted for early hospital dismissal.


Every birth is unique as every soul is unrepeatable.

Every delivery is a daunting, solitary experience. Until you remember that God is in you. He takes away all the fear.

You are never really alone.

Autumn is the new Spring

Shots taken from Castlemaine Botanical Garden on the first day of autumn.


I have fallen in love with autumn. Never experienced it growing up. Only heard it in a song. But now I am cherishing it. I wish it will forever be autumn.

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 Cool, sunny weather and long days. Children’s laughter (and mess) all around the house. Green leaves turning to orange, red, brownish colors until its blown by the wind.

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So dramatic. Ever changing hues.

It was around autumn when our family moved to Melbourne. Still fresh in my mind were the memories of my first months as a stay-home-mom minus any helper. Like it just happened yesterday.

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It was a period of epic adjustment. We almost didn’t make it. It was all a matter of grace.

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Look at me now. I was given a new lease on life.

Smiling, writing, delighting in the silence my children give me while its quiet time.

The move was necessary. Change is good. Divine abandonment is key. Family is forever.

Love is here.

I live for the moments.

The longer I stay at home, the more I realize that my life as mother cannot be defined by a year or by a month or even by a day. I live for the moments.

There are countless defining and joyful moments with my children which I cannot even fully describe or share with my husband but is uniquely mine to treasure and to embrace.

These are moments which tell me that I am where I should be, that I should persevere when times are trying, that I should always be grateful for the gift of motherhood, that marriage is blessed and beautiful.

No 3 reading to No 4

No 3 reading to No 4

Pio and Sasha shared a mug of milkshake

Pio and Sasha shared a mug of milkshake

Baking Tiramisu

Baking Tiramisu

Picnic by the lake

Picnic by the lake

Driving around Australia

Driving around Australia

Our children taught me to live in the moment. My life will always be rich because of them.

It is worthwhile: Quitting your job to stay at home

Dear Friend,

I am so happy that you finally took that plunge, that big leap from corporate life to home life. I know a part of you still refuse to accept this decision and you still hope that one of these days you can go back to that more  structured way of life and leave your kids to the care of someone you think is caring and competent.

You were educated to be a career woman not a stay home mom.

You are still a bit lost on how to move forward without that thousand of dollars you get regularly at the end of the month. You can’t seem to understand why your children are starting to get into your nerves quite easily. You are getting overwhelmed with the household chores and the noise level of your house. You long to have those adult interaction you were so used to have with your girl friends. You barely find time to yourself since the time you woke up. You want to buy something but simply can’t afford it now. You become critical of your husband since he doesn’t help as much as you want him to and for taking on the “easier” job. You don’t enjoy being home bound.

I felt exactly the same way.

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Until I stopped thinking of myself. Instead, I put the focus on my young children who desperately long for their mother’s love and my husband who boldly stepped up to be the sole bread winner.

You are irreplaceable and indispensable to your young kids. You are their world. They are happiest with you and when they see you happy. By staying at home, you are telling them that they are worth more than anything else in the world. This will have long term repercussion on how they will perceive love, life and family. They will learn to venerate motherhood because you will show them how.

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Always remember that for your children, love = time.

You are teaching them to love.

It will be hardest initially. It will become worse before it becomes better. You will have to let go of a life you have gotten so used to – financial freedom, mental stimulation, career progression, peer appreciation, etc. The decision to stay at home to care for your own kids will be something you have to renew everyday. No mother finds it easy to be at home but it is imperative. I think you’ve realized this that is why you’ve decided to be give up such a brilliant career albeit with certain understandable apprehension.

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Now is the best time to live with a greater sense of faith. How can God intervene if you don’t let Him to? Surrender your financial worries to Him. Surrender your lack of housekeeping skills to Him. Surrender your pride to Him. Surrender all your worries, insecurities and fear to Him. All He wants is you ask Him humbly to help you. If need be at every moment of your day.

Find comfort in His love. Find strength in prayer and in the sacraments.

Love your husband more. Respect and trust his decision. He has the grace of state. Be always united to him. Remember Matthew 19:4-6.

Gradually, you will  find home life rewarding, fulfilling. Noble. Seeing your children grow in virtues will be such a sweet compensation. Depending on your husband to provide for your family while your husband depends on you to nurture your children will deepen and sweeten your marriage. Both of you will have the peace of mind of parents who know that the children are in the best of loving care. You will learn to adapt to everything – financial, care of the home, educating your children. Life will will simpler. Grace will overflow.

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Of course you will lose your temper, you will lose yourself. Who doesn’t? It’s natural. But get yourself together as soon as possible. Start again. Your children will learn more from you if they see you struggle from your own defects. Confession heals.

Then you will find happiness and contentment which have eluded you all these years while working in the office. Your joy will abound. You will discover that motherhood is blessed and beautiful. It is a life filled with self-giving but it will bring you ever closer to your husband, your children and to God.

You are finally living your purpose in life.

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Never forget, your love will be repaid with love.

There is no other way.