Titus’ Marble Continued…

This morning, I finally convinced Titus to sit on the toilet. He did go number 2 and I had the terrible privilege of going through fecal matter for the marble (with a stick). This is too graphic. Needless to say, I felt like throwing up. The images will haunt me forever. It was definitely not how I had imagined CSI work to be.

And I couldn’t find the marble. But, I still believe its going to come out.

Titus kept trying to tell me that he feels it inside him. (I don’t think he knows what he is talking about.) As usual, he was still his very smiley self all day.

When he saw me holding the poop stick, he said, “I don’t want you to poke me with that.”

“I’m not going to poke you! This is for the poop!”

“Oh…”

When I started looking for the marble he said, “Oh my goodness! Ew! What did I eat?! I think that’s my fruit and vegetables!” Of course, I started laughing. It was really quite a comedy.

Parenting can be such comedy, especially when you are parenting a Titus!

Titus teaches me not to take life too seriously, but to approach it with a sense of wonder, belief, curiosity, attentiveness, and fun that is child-like and innocent. I don’t think God meant for us to loose those things. I think he meant for us to marvel at his creation, to experience it with our senses, to taste and see what an amazing God he is. I think he meant for us to notice the little details of his workmanship. I think he meant for us to be filled with his joy and good pleasure, to rejoice and randomly break out into song because we understand a deep happiness that cannot be taken away. I think he meant for us to trust in him easily, without fear, without restraint. I think he meant for us to live life to the fullest like he said.…I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. (John 10:10 NASB)

I don’t know why Titus really swallowed that marble, but a part of me feels like he probably wanted to see what would happen. And I almost want to applaud him for his courage because I am not so brave. He has been my cause and effect child. If I do this, what will happen? Titus has colored my world. He rocked me out of my comfort zone as a parent, as a homeschooling mom, as a person. I had to get to that point of interpreting him positively and studying his personality to appreciate his design. And when I stopped to consider his many wonderful traits, I realized that our family needed a Titus. God knew!

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Titus’ Marble

Definition: The marble that my four year old son, Titus, swallowed yesterday afternoon.

Oh my dear boy and his adventures! Titus has a penchant for getting himself into predicaments that are a mix of hilarious, dangerous, and absurd. It is his wonderfully curious personality that has gotten him into situations like… getting his head stuck in between railings, putting a plastic tub on his head that he wasn’t able to remove, locking himself in a storage room for about 30 minutes until the door had to be broken down, inserting is finger into a metal hole and trapping it in there, falling into a shallow pond and coming back up with his head covered with water plants, etc…

And now, to add to this list, he has swallowed a marble. Where is this marble? Based on last night’s x-ray it is making its way through his small intestines. I saw the white solid circle, measured at 1.6 cm on the computer screen, and I was like, it looks big in in his tiny body!

How did a marble get in there? He was playing with it in his mouth while he was lying down and then he accidentally swallowed it.

Initially I was just happy he didn’t choke on it. It could have entered his wind pipe and for a while, this was the image that kept disturbing me. What if he had choked? After all, Edric and I weren’t home when he swallowed the marble. I just praise God that He spared him from choking.

But at present, we are waiting for the marble to exit his body and into the toilet. Sigh. It hasn’t happened yet…even after laxatives. A part of me feels worried. A part of me wants to force the poop out of him!

Titus, on the other hand, has been a picture of peace…laughing, playing, singing, acting like the marble was just another part of his day (and now, his body).

When Dr. Joy Ty-Sy, the best pediatrician the world, (I just had to say that because my kids love her so much and so do we), asked us to go to the ER to get his abdomen X-rayed, I realized that the marble situation was a little bit serious. Before then, I figured it would probably take its normal digestive journey like everything else. But apparently, a marble in the tummy is no small matter. It has to get past the narrow, winding and bending tube that is the small intestines and this can be tricky.

I waited all day for that darn marble to come out and so far, it has not. Titus hasn’t pooped since the pre-marble incident. It has been almost 30 hours since he swallowed it, too. He ate like crazy today but did not poop! Right now, he is sleeping soundly and could care less. I am the one on edge and trying to be calm and relaxed about it.

This whole ordeal has been a lesson on faith. Titus has been such a good example to me of what it means to chill, be still, and be positive. Before we left my parent’s house, he was announcing to his cousins that he had swallowed a marble and that he was going to the doctor. It was like a field trip for him! He was his usual happy-go-lucky self at the ER. He was even singing, “I’ve got the joy, joy, joy down in my heart…”

This morning, he woke up singing that same song, too!

During lunch today, I prayed with him about the marble and he said afterwards, “Jesus is going to help me, right?” He was not worried at all. Several times I tried to convince him to sit on the toilet to go but he kept telling me, “I don’t have to yet. When I do, I will.” In other words, mom, just relax and let me be! Poop will happen.

For now, all I can do is wait, pray, and remind myself that God is in control. He knows what is going on inside Titus’ body. While I have been preoccupied with the marble DOWN in Titus’ intestines, Titus has been singing about the joy and love of Jesus DOWN in his heart. That’s why he has been all smiles and happiness!

The saga of Titus’ marble will continue tomorrow…

The lyrics to the song, “Down in My Heart” by George Willis Cooke

I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy
Down in my heart
Down in my heart
Down in my heart
I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy
Down in my heart
Down in my heart to stay
And I’m so happy
So very happy
I’ve got the love of Jesus in my heart
And I’m so happy
So very happy
I’ve got the love of Jesus in my heart

Disruption

There’s nothing like a message on the end of the world to jolt you out of your present preoccupations and make you think about living the bigger picture.

I have been so caught up in a microscopic understanding of the world, that I have forgotten to consider the many events taking place in the Middle East that are happening in accordance with bible prophecy. Which brings me to my point. I have badly needed this disruption.

We are entering into the days described in Matthew 24 and Ezekiel 38. Amir Tsarfati, who travels the world speaking about the Middle East and Bible prophecy gave a powerful message this morning in worship. He connected all the dots between Russia, Turkey, Iran, Europe, US, Egypt, and Syria’s current events and presented them in relation to Israel. Wow. I have been clueless and now I am clued in.

I went through the end times series of Joel Rosenberg but Amir’s talk simplified everything and his main purpose was to say, Jesus is coming soon! Are you ready? What are you doing to prepare yourself and others for God’s coming kingdom?

He said something like this, “I believe that everyone chooses eternal life. But it’s about location, location, location! Will it be eternity with the Lord or eternity separated from him and in Hell?

Biblical prophecy is one way to know that God is the sovereign, almighty, all-present God he claims to be in Scripture. History is a continual validation that He exists and is at work to the end that He has purposed.

“I will magnify Myself, sanctify Myself, and make Myself known in the sight of many nations; and they will know that I am the Lord.”’ (Ezekiel 38:23 NASB)

This morning’s message reminded me to consider all my daily concerns, activities, projects, busy-ness, worries, thoughts, and desires based on the inescapable reality that Jesus is coming soon.

So do I forget about teaching my kids mathematics, science, language etc? I mean, what for? Maybe we should camp out on the streets and hold up signs that say, “Repent, the end of the world is near,” and be like those crazy people we see in movies.

But thankfully, Jesus told us what to do.

Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming. “But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what time of the night the thief was coming, he would have been on the alert and would not have allowed his house to be broken into. “For this reason you also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will.

“Who then is the faithful and sensible slave whom his master put in charge of his household to give them their food at the proper time? “Blessed is that slave whom his master finds so doing when he comes. (Matthew 24:42-46 NASB)

Be on the alert. Be ready. Be aware of the deceptions and lures that are a counter force to desiring God.

Be faithful. Faithfully love God, faithfully love our spouses, our children and one another, faithfully share the gospel, faithfully use our gifts and abilities for his glory, faithfully persevere to the end. And for me…faithfully homeschool my children!

My dad used to tell me, “plan for eternity, live like it’s your last day.” Is there anything I am doing that I would be ashamed of if it was the last thing I did on this earth? Am I living short-sightedly and holding the things of this world too tightly? Are my energies, strengths, and doings channeled with laser-focus towards God’s will? If not, then what is distracting me? Am I really doing my part to tell others about Jesus? Am I ministering to the spiritual needs of my children and discipling them versus just passing on knowledge?

These are some of the questions that this morning’s disruption compelled me to think about. Life on earth is a temporary assignment. It is not yet home.

“And behold, I am coming quickly. Blessed is he who heeds the words of the prophecy of this book.” (Revelation 22:7 NASB)

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God Will Find You

The true story of a Jewish family friend…

Once upon a time there was a Jewish boy who was a foster child. He went from home to home but never really had parents who loved and cared for him. He didn’t want anyone to know that he didn’t have parents. He was ashamed. So he busied himself studying, working hard so that he was always preoccupied. He also tried to be the best at everything. But he kept his real background a secret.

As he grew up into a teenager, he felt a deep emptiness and sadness. He didn’t feel there was reason to live. So he planned to take his life at the age of 17.

One evening, however, his friend invited him to have dinner with his family. He didn’t know that his friend was a Christian. As he watched the family pray, he was surprised that they didn’t read their prayers mechanically. They spoke to God as if he was real and present. And they prayed in Jesus’ name. This surprised him.

Over time, as he got to know his friend’s family, he began to be curious about Jesus. His friend’s mom encouraged him to pray to Jesus to ask him to reveal himself. He didn’t really know what to pray but he wrote out a sincere prayer asking this. And, he prayed it.

The very next day, he went to work like he usually did. (He would work from 6 to 7:30 am before school, go to school, and then work again after school.) The grocery where he worked would make him sort and organize the newspapers every morning. As he was sorting through the papers, on one of the main pages, he read the name “YESHUA.” He could not believe it. Why? This was a very reputed Jewish newspaper and they were advertising that the Jesus film would be showing in one of the major theaters in Jerusalem! He knew this was his answer. The film was brought in by Campus Crusade for Christ. They had added verses from the Old Testament at the bottom of the film.

He went to watch the film and he said everything converged. Since he knew the Old Testament very well, he suddenly understood that the prophesies were indeed fulfilled in the person of Jesus Christ. It all made sense to him. He made the decision to believe in Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior.

That same day he went back to the foster home and he shared the good news of the gospel with the other kids. Only one of the guys also believed (the one guy he thought would not because they were “enemies.”) Eventually, however, they were both kicked out of the orphanage because of their beliefs.

But our friend explained that God was with him and blessed him. He took care of him. The Christian family took him in. And in whatever he did, he prospered. God’s hand of protection was also upon him. He should have died five times when he was in the military but God preserved his life.

Today this family friend is a messianic Jew who is an ambassador for Jesus Christ. He speaks all around the world about end-times. And his message is clear — Jesus is coming soon! His story ministered to me because it made me think of the sovereignty and love of God.

God pursues us. He finds us and lets himself be found by us. He wants to be our father. He has a special plan for all of us. And in Jesus’ death and resurrection we have the beautiful message of God’s invitation to this fellowship. God sent his son as payment for a debt we could not pay. He did everything possible to make a way for us to come to him and be his children. Such is his love for us.

Some people say, “If there is really only one way to God through Jesus, then what about all the people who never hear about the gospel?” Well, I am absolutely convinced that we cannot put God in a box. He has a time table for every person to know Him. He reveals himself through his word, people, circumstances, and even miracles when necessary. But we have to make a choice, we have to respond.

He doesn’t want to give us religion, he wants to give us forgiveness, unconditional love, joy, righteousness, peace…all the things we long for…all the things we were made for…

Seek the Lord while He may be found;
Call upon Him while He is near
. (Isaiah 55:6 NASB)

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Romance, 11 Years Later

Edric and I woke up early on our anniversary to the best gift — our four children climbed into the bed with us, smothered us with hugs and yelled, “Happy anniversary!” Contained on our king-sized bed and under the covers were the people I love most in this world. That was good enough for me.

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Titus also added his innocent insight, “Before you and daddy got married, Elijah, Edan, and me were still in your tummy, right?” Something like that…And then it was like, whoa! I had a sudden flash back to 11 years ago and I thought, where did all these kids come from?! Have we been this prolific?! One of our other sons started to make the discussion anatomical and talked about sperm and eggs. (Yes, the kids know about the science of sex and they can talk about it objectively without getting squirmish.)

When Edric asked me what I wanted to do for our anniversary, I really didn’t know what to say. We thought about options…stay at a hotel? Eat a massive buffet? Get some steaks? Go to a spa? Nothing seemed as appealing as lounging around the house with the kids, ordering pizza, eating in our bedroom, and watching a DVD. It probably doesn’t sound that romantic but that’s all I really wanted. (But yes, we did go out on a date in the evening.)

After 11 years of marriage I don’t know everything but I know some things. I know that roses, fine dining, jewelry, and other stereotypical expressions of love are great, but they aren’t really what equates to romance in marriage. At least, not for me.

Edric is a very creative person who likes to surprise me with unique gifts and experiences. And while I appreciate this about him, I often tell him that I am thankful for the romance that happens everyday. I really feel incredibly blessed to have a romantic husband.

I think it is romantic when Edric tells me he loves me every night before we go to bed (even after we argue and I have been completely annoying.)

It’s romantic when he is gentlemanly about opening the door for me or holding my hand when we are walking through the mall even when he wants to walk faster.

It’s romantic when he sees me carrying a heavy bag and he takes it from me so I don’t have to carry it.

It’s romantic when I lag behind during our morning jogs and he keeps circling back to me so he can stay near me.

It’s romantic when he tells me, “You know I will always rescue you,” when I ask for his help on something that stresses me out.

It’s romantic when we walk into 7-11 and he tries not to look at the racy magazine covers because he wants to stay pure.

It’s romantic when he makes random phone calls to tell me he misses me or talk to me about his day.

It’s romantic when he pays me silly and outrageous compliments that sound ridiculously untrue but make me feel beautiful.

It’s romantic when he lets me leave the night light on even if he hates it because he prefers to sleep in total darkness.

It’s romantic when he wants to take me out for weekly date nights even if he is so busy because he says I am his favorite person to be with.

It’s romantic when he uses comedy and corny humor to make me laugh when I am feeling down.

It’s romantic when I visit him in his office and he acts like seeing me is the best part of his day.

It’s romantic when the first thing he wants to do when he gets home is greet me with a hug and a kiss (and he feels hurt when I don’t.)

It’s romantic when he tries his hardest to be patient and forgiving when I make mistakes…especially the same ones.

It’s romantic when he spends three months contemplating about whether he should buy a mountain bike because he doesn’t want to spend for himself and would rather spend for me or the kids…and he visits every bike store in Manila to canvass for the best deal because he wants to be frugal. Then he buys the most reasonable bike he can find and tells me, “Can I give you some shopping money because I bought something for myself.”

It’s romantic when I tell him my senseless insecurities and fears, like I miss my pre-mommy body and he listens with all sincerity and does not make me feel stupid. Then he adds, “I like your body at every stage.” Really?!!

It’s romantic when I struggle with uncertainty and he reminds me to trust in God or he tells me, “I will always take care of you.”

It’s romantic when he assures me that he has chosen to love me forever, flaws and all, and I trust him because he loves God most of all, and that is my security.

I think any marriage that begins with God at the center has a greater shot at never-ending romance. Edric and I have realized that the honeymoon stage does not last long when a husband and wife love out of human capacity. Marriage takes work, humility, selflessness, faithfulness, sacrifice, forgiveness, and unconditional love. There’s just no way to keep giving those things without the inexhaustible source of God himself. After 11 years of marriage, I don’t know everything, but I do know that a happy and sweet marriage is from the Lord. It is only by his grace. And because of his grace, romantic is everyday I get to love and be loved by Edric.

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Too Cute NOT to Spank

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My two year old daughter is a charming cutie-pie who can get away with a whole lot if Edric and I don’t discipline her. She knows how to put on that smile of hers to hypnotize you and make you forget that you just gave her a command that she did not obey.

Just the other day I asked her to stop playing with the hand sanitizer that she was squeezing onto her legs. She looked up at me with those puppy eyes and said, “Okay, mommy,” and acted like she put the hand sanitizer away. A few moments later, she hid in the bathroom and squeezed all of it out while no one was looking. She didn’t think I saw her, but I did.

I don’t know why I let that instance slide but it was clear disobedience. Usually, I would spank her for defiance. But, I was relaxing on the bed and she looked super cute covered in hand sanitizer. Okay, it was a moment of weakness.

But after this incident I committed to be more consistent. So this morning, when I told her not to play with the intercom and she did, I disciplined her for it. It was 6:30 am and she wanted to press the buttons on the intercom but I knew this would inconsiderately wake everyone up. I very clearly commanded her, “Tiana, don’t touch that. Don’t play with it. Obey.” Again, she looked at me very innocently and said, “Okay.” Less than five minutes later, she was trying to press the buttons.

“Tiana, mommy said don’t do that. You did not obey.” I picked her up to take her to the bathroom so I could spank her. And she knew that she had disobeyed. She started crying because she knew she was in trouble. I looked at her darling face and was tempted to cave in and say, “Okay, next time, don’t do that. I will give you a chance.” (She is very verbal so she would have understood this.)

But, I also knew that if I let her get away with disobedience her behavior will go from cute to ugly as she grows up. So, I explained to her what she did wrong and why I was going to spank her. And I reminded her that she only gets spanked when she does not obey. After her spanking (one good swat across her bum), I hugged her tight, told her I love her and that I was spanking her so that she would learn to obey. She understood and I gave her the opportunity to say sorry for not obeying.

I brought her back out to the bedroom where Elijah, my eldest, spoke to her about what just happened. Even though I didn’t ask him to do this, he explained to her that spanking was for her good, that “we only get spanked when we don’t obey.” He was reinforcing everything I had just told Tiana and as I listened to him, he sounded so much like Edric and I when we explain discipline to our kids. Our young acolyte.

Elijah hasn’t been spanked in a couple of years. As an older child he has been trained to obey. His present issues have to do with responsibility, attitude, and respect for authority. He has graduated to withdrawal of privileges and logical consequences as forms of discipline. But he well remembers the years when he received the rod for disobedience.

For our younger children — toddler stage to about 5 or 6 — spanking has been the simplest way to communicate the importance of obedience. When they don’t obey, they get spanked. They get that. It’s not complicated. And obedience has, on many occasions, saved the lives of our children. Literally.

A few days ago, my four year old Titus was about to run across the road to me when I noticed a car speeding towards him. I called out to him to stay and not to move. Titus froze immediately without hesitating, and he stood at the edges of the road as the car zoomed pass. Titus was perfectly alright but my heart had skipped a beat. What if he had not listened? What if he had tried to cross anyway and not obeyed? Instances such as these make me thankful for the Lord’s instruction to train and discipline our children, to teach them to obey. Learning obedience is life-saving!

The Bible says, “Do not hold back discipline from the child, although you strike him with the rod, he will not die. You shall strike him with the rod and rescue his soul from Sheol”. (Proverbs 23:13, 14 NASB)

We don’t just protect our children physically when we teach them obedience, we save their souls. Discipline is supposed to be redemptive. It hasn’t gotten easier to spank our kids when they disobey because we know that it means they will feel pain, but the blessings we have seen in their lives remind us that spanking is one of the ways that we seek the highest good for our children.

At the end of the day, we want our children to learn to obey us so they learn to obey God. Hebrews 12:11 talks about the peaceful fruit of righteousness. “All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.” (Hebrews 12:11 NASB) Obedience brings righteousness. Righteousness brings peace.

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Outside of the Coop

A majority of the time, homeschool kids are not weirdos who can’t relate well to children their age. But, I do believe parents have to give their kids opportunities to interact with and learn along-side other children because there are some very important benefits of social interaction.

They don’t NEED to be with their peers on a daily basis to have a learning advantage but they can learn how to cooperate, share, wait their turn, imitate positive behavior, listen to instructions delivered by other adults or older children, respect other people’s property and things, mind their manners, apply contentment, encourage one another, assist others and share the gospel…to name a few.

Personally, one of the reasons why I like to get the kids out and about is this: I get to observe facets of their personalities, commend good character and identify areas of improvement. So Edric and I give our children varied and diverse social experiences as part of their homeschooling.

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For our little brood, Edric and I do the following: We let our kids hang out with their cousins often. They attend regular music classes, sports activities and weekly playgroups. As often as possible, they also accompany Edric and I to our activities where they learn to communicate with adults and behave in socially appropriate ways like not picking their noses, speaking too loudly, or saying excuse me when they need our attention.

Thankfully, cooped up at home does not describe our children (and most homeschoolers). But, allowing our children to have lots of social interaction has its “risks.”

Our kids do encounter negative peer pressure and “undesirable” examples in other children or grown-ups. The key, however, is that we come alongside them to help them process and identify how to respond to the behavior they see in others. Most of the time, they are pretty open and will ask their questions. And our kids, like all other kids in the world, are not impervious to negative peer pressure. But we try to disciple and mentor them, so they have a fighting chance against it.

Yesterday my boys came up to me chuckling and partially embarrassed as they told me that they had a classmate in Taekwondo who was calling other students “Booby and Boobs.” Yet another classmate was saying “Barbie-butt.” (I don’t even know what that means.) Granted, these terms are not as bad as hearing elementary-aged children cussing.

My boys started cracking up as they told me this and I tried to be calm. “Do you know what boobs are?” I asked my boys. They explained. And I said, “Well, that is a private part and you don’t need to say the same things your friends do when it is not appropriate.”

“Yah, we know.” They also revealed that one of their good friends called booby-boobs friend “evil witch!”

“Well, that wasn’t nice either.”

I asked them, “What is our guideline for the words we speak? They must be glorifying to…” And they finished the sentence with,”God!”

I have already come to accept that homeschooling cannot bubble-wrap protect my kids from the world. And homeschoolers aren’t a perfect breed of children who always behave and act in the ways they should. (This includes my own.)

Like all other kids, homeschoolers need parents to spiritually mentor them and shape their character so they are equipped to stand for what they believe. Edric and I don’t always get it right but we are committed to do the following:

– First, we introduce our kids to Jesus Christ and trust in the transforming work of the Spirit of the Lord. “Jesus is the author and perfecter of faith.” (Hebrews 12:2a)

– Next, we build bridges to the hearts of our kids by spending lots of time with them and communicating to them that they are loved, precious, and special to us.

– We train our children so they develop essential character traits — the foremost of these is obedience. (Proverbs 22:6)

– We pass on faith and what it means to love God, seek him and live for him. (Deuteronomy 6:4-7)

– We tell them that God has a plan for their lives and a purpose that is unique to their gifts, abilities, and personalities. (Jeremiah 29:11)

– We teach them to reject sin while loving the sinful and the broken to Jesus. The Bible tells us, “Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor…” (Romans 12:9, 10 NASB)

– We equip them with social graces to convey respect and appreciation for cultural, societal, and racial differences in people because God loves all people and we should to. 2 Peter 3:9 tells us that God desires for all to come to repentance.

– We give them guidelines for choosing the right friends –friends who are wise and share the same biblical values.

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“How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers.”(Psalm 1:1-3 NASB)

– We teach them to point people to Jesus by sharing the gospel and living in a way that attracts people to Jesus.

– We encourage them to make it their highest goal to glorify God in everything they do (2 Corinthians 5:9).

– We pray for our children as often as possible, knowing that the task of raising them is beyond our capacity.

Homeschooling is counter-culture but it does not have to produce children who are socially awkward or disconnected from other children. They can be in the world but not of the world. More importantly, they can see greater purpose in winning friends and influencing people.

I don’t believe in isolationism because we are supposed to go out there and be a light for Jesus. Our kids are starting to get this. More than once they have asked me how they can share the gospel. I have tried to give them examples from my own experiences but they have to experience it for themselves. I can feel that time will be soon and I am excited! In the meantime, my encouragement to them is to live like Jesus is present in their hearts so that God can bring them the opportunity to share their faith when they are “socializing” and mingling outside of the coop.

Mix it Up!

If I had to homeschool the same way every single day, I confess to you, I would be bored out of my mind. I am sort of a free-spirited chick who can handle routine for a certain period of time, but needs to mix it up once in a while. Okay, I am routine about homeschooling in the mornings, but it doesn’t have to be done the exact same way. Like this…

I wanted the kids to be outdoors. The sun was bright and shining. The grass was oh, so green. So I set up a table outdoors, brought out chairs, and a rug for the younger kids to enjoy. It made the morning so much more invigorating. Of course, the kids were sweating like anything, but they got their work done like good little homeschoolers.

Whenever I give my learning styles talk to parents, I always say, “Prioritize the love for learning.” Children are natural learners, but they don’t always learn in the way we want them to. So be willing to adjust your teaching — whether it be mode of delivery, content, environment, disposition, etc. A child who enjoys his learning experience is highly motivated and easy to teach. But if you force-fit kids into a one-size-fits-all approach to learning, it is very likely that you will get frustrated with their responses.

I wanted my son to make a collage-like painting of what the Philippines means to him and he hated the idea. He was like, “I don’t want to do that. I don’t know what to paint.” I thought it was a great idea! After all, painting is sooo fun. Well, it is to my second son, who likes to do art. But to my older son, it was like bleck. So, I suggested that he pour different colored sand into a glass bottle to show the “colors of the Philippines.” Well, that appealed to him and he did that without my assistance and it turned out beautifully.

What’s my point? When teaching your children, don’t be afraid to mix it up so you can get your goals of instruction accomplished. If your kids are having fun while homeschooling, you will finish your checklist of things to learn and get done by the end of the year (maybe even earlier).

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Look at Edan’s serious face…deep in thought about Sing, Spell, Read, and Write. And there is Elijah’s head while he reads his Civics.

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And here is Titus, putting red magnets on his eyes.

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Edan is sweating, but doing great!

Handwriting Practice Worksheet Maker

You will like this! Forget about buying penmanship workbooks. Just make your own worksheets. The nice thing about D’Nealian’s writing style is that it makes the transition to cursive more natural. Instead of boxy print letters, D’Nealian uses slanted letters. Admittedly, I have used boxy letters when teaching my kids and I forgot all about D’Nealian. So I was happy to rediscover this worksheet maker. It is free!

D’Nealian Handwriting Worksheets Maker

The Kind of Day Our Kids Love

Ran with Edric, did ab workout with the kids — teaching them P90 Ab Ripper X routine! Edric’s abs coming to form but mine…too many children. They are somewhere behind the layers of childbearing but nothing impressive yet. Sigh.

Breakfast with the kids and let them eat the ice pops we made the day before. Titus stuck gummies in his ice pop. He likes unconventional.

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Lunch with Edric's family...They are always a delight to be with and the kids always love their food.

Off to High Street to let the kids run around...Yeah! The old bouncy sculpture thingy was back. We missed you! Now the boys can actually jump off it without assistance.

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Wall climbing at R.O.X…The two older boys scaled it like pros. So proud of them. Power Up seems more professional than the climbing group in Market Market (and more accommodating to little kids). Titus struggled with his first time climb but he made it to the point we asked him to (even if he was near tears at first). Go Titus! Tiana cheered, “Go, Titus!” while sitting beside me like a little cheerleader. Considering making this a more regular activity for the kids.

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Looking at furniture in Dimensione…Tiana knocked down a huge lamp but praise God it did not break!!! I let out a panic scream that scared Edric and the kids. We contained ourselves to a non-hazardous area of the store while Edric looked around.

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Went to Fully Booked for an amazing twenty minutes. It was cut short. We were getting tired.

Came home and baked cookies…Ate alot of cookie dough…bad bad. Made me hyper and I negated my running and ab workout. Great. Had dinner at 6 pm. I love early family dinners.

Edan asked for a back massage so I turned our room into a “spa” and gave the entire family massages (except for my assistant, Tiana). Edric thought I had gone crazy. He knows I don’t like giving massages but I found all these different massage oils while cleaning out my bathroom cabinets and I wanted to use them before they expire.

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Had game night with the older kids — 7 Wonders. Tiana went to bed with her big bear bear. Titus stuck many many coins into our drawer by slipping them through the opening on top while the drawer was closed. He also broke one of my necklaces and beads were all over the floor. It did not bother me. It was an intentional accident. ;)

Edric tucked the kids into bed and prayed with them. And we had QUIET. Wow. The kids went to bed with big smiles and full emotional tanks. I wouldn’t be able to do this everyday. But this was a good day. The kids love these kinds of days when we are umbilically attached to them.

Edric pooped out early and now I am ready for bed, too!

The Real Crack

Since today was Friday, the kids got to play with my IPad. But they left it on the floor after playing with it. When I picked it up to put it away, I was soooo upset. I saw a crack on the screen!

I didn’t shout or yell, I just cried. Waahhh! I said, “Kids, my IPad has a crack on the screen. I can’t believe this happened. You guys didn’t take care of it!” And I called Edric because I wanted to vent about how frustrated I was. (Most of the time, I am not particular about the kids breaking my things or losing my stuff.) But the IPad was a gift from Edric and he gave it to me with the assumption that I would be a good steward of it. When I saw the crack, my heart sank and I lost it…emotionally. Wow, crying over an IPad. What a baby. It seemed so silly. Even Edric was laughing at me while we spoke over the phone. My kids, on the other hand, were listening to everything I said and they knew I was not happy.

After I hung up, I announced, “No one is using my IPad for one month! That’s it. If you can’t take care of mom’s IPad, you don’t get to use it.” I stormed out of the living room and went to my bedroom to be alone.

How could this have happened? Did Tiana stomp on it? Did someone scratch it with a pair of scissors?

I wanted to see how badly the damage was so I removed the screen protector. And lo and behold, the IPad screen was spotless. What?! Not a scratch or crack. The only thing that had a crack on it was the screen protector.

I looked for the kids immediately to tell them the great news. They were nowhere to be found. Except for Titus who was wandering around caught up in his own little world and perfectly content, I couldn’t find the rest of them. Then I saw my two older boys, Elijah and Edan, curled up in their beds with their eyes red with tears.

“Don’t worry! My IPad is okay! It was only the screen protector that was damaged.” I thought they were crying because they felt bad about my IPad. But that wasn’t it.

They still buried their faces in their pillows. “What’s wrong, kids?”

“We thought you were mad,” Elijah said. And I finally extracted out of Edan the same sentiment. “I felt bad because I thought you were mad.” Oh dear. I had messed up. Titus had followed me into the room and he was nodding his head, too. Okay, so I hurt everyone, except for oblivious Tiana who was probably the sole culprit. (She said sorry and kissed my IPad earlier, when I was on the phone.)

“I’m sorry boys. I did get angry and it was wrong. You are more important than my IPad. I’m so sorry. Will you forgive me?” I hugged them tightly to make sure we were okay. My kids forgave me and our relationship was restored.

What did I learn? One, don’t overreact when my children make mistakes. They shouldn’t have left my IPad on the floor, but I shouldn’t have assumed that they broke it. I judged them before finding out what really happened. Two, don’t make vain threats. I said they couldn’t use the IPad for a month but I didn’t really mean it. I was just upset. Three, anger isn’t always about shouting, cursing, or yelling. My kids know when I put on my quiet anger. They are sensitive to my emotions and I need to be extra careful that I do not wound them. Fourth, I should not make my kids feel like I value material things more than my relationship with them. Material things are temporal, relationships are of infinite importance.

Oh it is so hard to be a mom sometimes! I feel like I am walking on egg shells with my kids because I need to watch my every move – my behaviour, my speech, my attitude, etc. But just this moment God reminded me…It’s only hard when you are operating on your own capacity.

So true, Lord. I didn’t have my quiet time with you this morning. I rushed into the day and didn’t put you first. Of course my “core” wasn’t at peace. I wasn’t walking by the spirit.

Most of the time, when I make mistakes with my children, it is because I am not walking by the spirit. This was a good lesson, Lord. Humbling, but good. I just gave a testimony on practicing your presence last Sunday and I failed to practice what I shared! Ack!

The real crack had nothing to do with my IPad but everything to do with my own character and disposition before God.

Galatians 5:16 – 17

16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. 17 For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.

How could I have been upset at these little people?!

The Assignment

When you have been married for a while, it is easy to fall into “humdidumness”. That’s not even a word but it sounds like what I am trying to say. You can forget to stay creative and romantic in your relationship. You can get lazy and fail to put effort into communicating how much you appreciate your spouse.

Last Wednesday my mom challenged the ladies in our bible study group to do something creative for our husbands. It was our “assignment.” Since it was Edric’s birthday on July 11, I wanted to make him feel extra special. It was about time I did something for him! (He is usually the very romantic one.)

The kids and I connived a surprise dinner for him. We turned our home into a restaurant called “No Place Like Home” and I made the kids dress up. The boys wore suits and Tiana and I wore black dresses. I spent a good part of the afternoon decorating and cooking a 5-course meal which the kids served. There was a spiel the kids had to deliver as part of their role playing and they got pretty into it.

The children also prepared a magic show for his “entertainment” and they performed on the violin and piano. My younger kids monkeyed around but that was fine. (Titus was climbing furniture and doing acrobatic poses on the couch. Tiana was trying to divert the attention to her, as usual.)

My highlight — Edric said it was his best birthday ever! I was so happy. We did not have any grand, expensive presents, but Edric was thrilled to be served like a king.

His favorite part was opening and reading all the cards and letters we made him. The older boys wrote such touching messages to Edric. One of them said, “Dad thank you for keeping your promises.” Another wrote, “I really see God in your life…I hope that someday I can grow up to be a dad like you.” With this one Edric started to tear. And I did, too.

As a father, what matters most to Edric is being able to instill in our children a love for God. And he understands how important his role and example are in the lives of our kids, especially the boys. So their statements meant a whole lot.

As for me, I wrote “10 Reasons Why I Would Marry You All Over Again.” When I made this list I really fell more in love with my husband. The process conjured up all sorts of lovey-dovey feelings toward him.

This is one of the reasons why I think that exerting effort to communicate how much you appreciate your spouse is a very important habit in marriage. I can lose sight of all the wonderful traits my husband has when I don’t make it a point to, as my mom always tells women, “raise appreciation and lower expectations.”

Expectations are a killer in marriage when a person is dependent on their spouse for happiness and longings. Only God can truly fulfill these things. When a person looks to their spouse, they become a leech. If both are like this, it’s two leeches, as my dad likes to say. Both sucking the life out of each other!

When I catch myself expecting Edric to treat me and love me in the ways that I want him to, I become easily reactive and disappointed when he doesn’t. But the reality is, I need to ask myself, “How am I being a blessing to Edric? How am I appreciating, affirming, and building him up? Why does it have to be about me, myself and I?”

So this “assignment” to creatively express how much I love Edric was a very good reminder that I need to put effort into the romantic atmosphere of my marriage. And I have to do a better job of communication and expressing appreciation.

He really is an amazing husband and father. And on top of my list of desirable Edric-traits is that he loves God with all his heart. This is the core of who he is. It is what makes him a good man – a man I respect, admire, love, and yes…a man I would marry all over again!

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An extra bonus for the day was when one of my kids said, “You really love daddy, huh, mom? Because you are doing all of this for him?” Our kids have a microscopic view of our marriage. We are the first examples they will ever encounter of a relationship between husband and wife. It does not have to look perfect but love must abound. It must be obvious and demonstrated in the ways we relate to one another so they will be inspired to generously love their own spouses. And of course, I hope they can someday say that mom and dad were (are) so in love!

An extra extra bonus…my laughable moment…was when my third son saw me kiss Edric on the lips as I gave him my card, and he said, “You are going to have a baby now right? Because you kissed?” Ha ha ha. He sees us kiss often so I don’t know where that came from. Was that prophetic?!!! Just kidding!!! Not yet ;) (And yes, he will be getting the sex-in-marriage talk from mommy and daddy soon.)

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