Brazil, Brazil

Edric and I are off to Brazil! I just said a tearful goodbye to the kids and cried as I hugged Catalina. This is my first time to leave her since she was born.

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The trip to Brazil is so long and Edric and I will be speaking while we are there. After weighing the pros and cons we decided to let her stay behind. I will keep pumping while I am away and some dear friends donated milk for her.

We are taking this trip because my dad invited us to speak at a conference in Curitiba. We will team teach on biblical parenting.

Initially, I didn’t want to go because Catalina is still breastfeeding, we just moved in to our home, and I am trying to finish our homeschooling year. The timing isn’t ideal.

When my dad first broached the idea to me, my response was, “There’s no way, dad. Not this year. Plus, I really don’t think Edric can go.”

“We shall see…just pray about it,” My dad said this with a playful smirk on his face. I knew he was going to try and convince Edric to go. But I thought for sure Edric wouldn’t be available to because of his taping schedules and work load. In fact I was counting on him to say “sorry, dad, but we can’t go.”

Surprisingly, when my dad called Edric, he was like, “Yes! We will go!” He was so eager! Edric and I talked about it later on in the day and he was inclined to go for two reasons. First, we were invited to speak about what is closest to our hearts — a biblical blueprint for families. Second, we haven’t been to Brazil. The opportunity to travel to South America was very enticing.

My parents were thrilled when they found out. They love doing ministry together. If circumstances permitted, they would take all of my siblings and I, as well as our spouses to every parenting seminar they give (no matter where in the world) so we can minister as a family. For the most part, I feel the same way. It’s always a joy to serve the Lord alongside them.

But this year, I self-declared that I would avoid public speaking. I turned down several opportunities to speak because I knew that the preparation time, traveling back and forth, and engagements themselves would take me away from my duties as a wife, mother and homeschooler. Since I felt “tsunamied” by major life changes like a fifth baby, new house and new ministry, I determined for myself that speaking was low on my priority list.

When the Brazil trip was finalized, I wrestled with frustration. Why not next year, Lord? Why this year? Is it so wrong for me to want to take a break?

I know it sounds ungrateful of me to have asked these questions. After all, what a privilege to minister in this manner and what an opportunity to serve the Lord. And wow! In Brazil! Hello, lady, be excited! Be thankful!

Well, I grumbled…

It wasn’t until two weeks ago that God gave me another perspective to meditate on. I was reading through the gospels and I came across the biblical account of Jesus, right before he performed the miracle of the five thousand. He received news about the beheading of his cousin, John, and he intended to withdraw to a secluded place. (I empathized with this part — wanting to withdraw.) But then I got convicted by what he did next. When the multitudes followed him he felt compassion for them and attended to their needs. And then be performed an incredible miracle — feeding five thousand people with five loaves and two fish.

The passage reads…Although he (Herod) was grieved, the king commanded it to be given because of his oaths, and because of his dinner guests. He sent and had John beheaded in the prison. And his head was brought on a platter and given to the girl, and she brought it to her mother. His (John’s) disciples came and took away the body and buried it; and they went and reported to Jesus. Now when Jesus heard about John, He withdrew from there in a boat to a secluded place by Himself; and when the people heard of this, they followed Him on foot from the cities. When He went ashore, He saw a large crowd, and felt compassion for them and healed their sick. (Matthew 14:9-14 NASB)

When I read this passage, it tore me up inside. In contrast to Jesus’ servant heart and selflessness, I was thinking only of my wants. I really wanted a year to homemake, develop consistent routines for our family and homeschooling, enjoy Catalina and her milestones, maybe even write more and paint and sew! So I cried and cried while telling the Lord, “I am not like you, Lord. I am so sorry.”

In the narrative, Jesus had just lost his cousin. He had every right to get away to mourn and spend time alone. And yet he set that desire aside for the sake of the multitude and their needs, for the sake of God’s work.

I felt so ashamed. If the God of this universe made time for people, even when it was emotionally and physically inconvenient, then who was I to reject the opportunities to do the same?

All seasons of my life belong to God. I may want to linger in one or get out of another, but I have to listen to and obey God’s leading. I have to remember that I am on active duty for his kingdom. At any time I may be called to serve in a capacity that may not be what is convenient, comfortable, or timely from my perspective. However, being available means having the disposition of willingness to go where he wants me to.

Coincidentally or not so coincidentally, we were told that about five thousand Christian leaders will gather at this conference in Curitiba, Brazil. I am sure it’s going to be an amazing time for Edric and I, not just to speak, but to be attendees and participants. Plus, it’s our anniversary next week so God gave us a special gift for our 13th honeymoon! We will make a side trip to Rio!

I once heard Andy Stanley talk about the “irresolvable tensions” of life. He said that we can’t always remove these tensions. For me my irresolvable tension is my commitment to “private” ministry — Edric, kids and home — and my commitment to “public” ministry — writing, discipleship, speaking, and counseling. To forsake the public in favor of the private is not the solution. I must learn to balance the tension in between these two poles with a positive attitude.

While my priority is still Edric and the kids, there will be occasions when God makes it clear that I am supposed to serve in a more public capacity. This Brazil trip is one such example.

Edric and I are headed to the airport. I miss the kids terribly but I am also looking forward to serving God with Edric and “honeymooning” in Brazil. And no, we will not make another baby! ;)

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Totally Cute Theme For Girl’s Birthday Party

I had the privilege of being a ninang (godmother) during a birthday party today. And I just loved the Farm Girl Theme! What a great idea for a birthday party!

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Party decor and theme by:
LUXE PARTIES & Photography
Luxe Parties
Email: luxepartiesmanila@gmail.com
Contact no. 09189851203

Father To Son-In-Law

This is something I should have posted last week, but here it is anyway…

We celebrated a belated Father’s Day with my dad two Tuesday nights ago. Of course we went to his favorite restaurant — Summer Palace in Shang-rila.

There are only four top hits for my dad when it comes to Chinese food…Lugang, Choi Garden, Summer Palace, and Gloria Maris.

He got his Peking Duck and steamed Lapu-Lapu fix so he was very happy. Everyone wrote him letters and cards and he read through each one aloud.

My dad has always appreciated home made cards that tell him what he means to each of us. It’s not a narcissistic thing. Like any good father, he wants to know that he made and is making a positive difference in our lives.

During the dinner, the grand kids hovered around him as he gladly received their written gifts. He was delighted to read everyone’s cards and letters, smiling and adding drama to his voice as he went through each one.

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As the night came to a close, we all asked him to give the fathers at the table his words of wisdom. This was his 3-point, very simple sharing:

1. Assume responsibility for your family’s well being – God has entrusted to you your wife and children. You are to provide physically and spiritually and you are to give direction to your family. You are responsible. Your role cannot be delegated.

2. You have to be intentional. This is about modeling Christ-likeness and spending time with your children to teach them the habits, attitudes, and life principles that will prepare them for true success.

3. Have a positive home environment. Be fun. Do not complain and grumble or focus on the small things. In other words, don’t be reactive or easily irritated.

As I listened to him I appreciated how consistent he was at applying those same things when we were kids. He has truly been an amazing father. It was because of him that all of my siblings and I became committed followers of Jesus. His example, discipline, encouragement, godly leadership, and love for the Lord made us desire to serve and follow Christ, too.

But there is something else I am really thankful for. My dad discipled his sons-in-law. (He continues to do so.) In fact, I teared up when he read Edric’s personal letter to him. Edric shared about how important my dad’s affirmation and positivity have meant to him over the years. He said he learned God-confidence from my dad.

As confident as my husband may seem, he struggled a lot with insecurity when he was younger. For example, one relative told him he was “very ugly,” which kind of scarred him. Another one made him feel like he wasn’t good enough. So he grew up with certain emotional pains that made him feel like he had to continually prove his worth. My dad helped him to understand who he is in Christ.

During a recent retreat, I heard Edric say that his life has been a story of three fathers. His first father (my wonderful father-in-law) raised him and taught him about manhood. His second father, my dad, healed him of childhood insecurities, and led him to the father of all — God the father. Edric’s third father — God — saved his life and brought meaning and purpose to it beyond his own selfish goals and ambitions.

Many years ago, my dad sat down with Edric and told him about Jesus Christ and how to have a personal relationship with him. This changed his life forever.

Before Edric married me, my dad had a “talk” with him about God’s design for sex in marriage. Sounds pretty crazy and awkward but Edric actually appreciated it.

When we got married, my dad mentored and discipled Edric. He invited Edric to join the group of men he met with weekly for accountability and the study of God’s word. And he would ask Edric regularly, “How are you doing, son?” which allowed Edric to share what was on his heart. He also gave Edric opportunities to serve along side him in ministry. My dad would affirm Edric’s gift for speaking which encouraged Edric to preach and teach God’s word to others.

My dad’s presence as a father to Edric made such a difference in Edric’s life, which ultimately, turned out to be beneficial for me and our kids! I got a husband who was mentored by two great dads — his own and mine.

In Edric’s letter to my father he wrote…Inscribed in the British pound is a quotation by Sir Isaac Newton, which reads, “If I have seen farther it is because I have stood on the shoulders of giants. I want to thank you, dad, for being a giant in my life.”

What a blessing a father can be to his son-in-law when he takes it upon himself to mentor and guide him in love! Thank you, dad!

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Biz Kidz Version 2

Our kids participated in the Biz Kidz event of TMA Homeschool last Saturday. It was such a well-planned event. I am not tooting my own horn here because I had nothing to do with the planning (even if Edric is the Managing Director of TMA Homeschool :) ). What I especially enjoyed about being at the event was seeing all the ideas and creations of the homeschool kids who were present. Plus, there was that homeschool community vibe that made the place feel like we were among family. This is one of the benefits of being a part of an accredited program like TMA which has over a thousand students enrolled in it. It’s like a huge family where collaboration and fellowship can happen among parents and kids.

Biz Kidz held its second year run and the kids were required to submit their business proposals before getting the approval to participate. Our kids did origami art like they did last year. This time they also added a published book based on a story they wrote. It was illustrated with origami figures.

Honestly, they didn’t really make money because the printing wasn’t cheap but the experience was worth it. The kids worked hard to sell their products. They put in the time and effort. By the end of the day they sold all their cupcakes with origami toppers, almost all their books (about 40 of the 50 we had printed) and they sold some of their origami cards, too. I was very proud of them for trying their best.

My applause extends to the other families and kids who were there. Everyone did a great job and some of the ideas were super creative. Events like these make me appreciate our homeschooling lifestyle. Our kids aren’t getting a typical education. I feel like they are getting so much more, especially when they get to be a part of an activity like this that requires them to apply practical life skills.

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The Magic of Unconditional Love

The kids and I spent the morning at Splash Island with my siblings and their kids a few days ago. We were having a belated celebration for one of my nieces who turned 7. It was my first time to visit Splash Island and I would give it a 6 out of 10 for cleanliness and upkeep, an 9 out of 10 for fun.

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From a parent’s perspective the hygiene and sanitation factor is important to me, especially since I have little kids who often put their fingers in their mouths and swallow pool water all the time. But my kids could care less about these things. They were laughing about the frog that was swimming in the water, which the lifeguard nonchalantly picked up and chucked out of the pool, and the dark mold which made creepy patterns in the water tube slide (according to Titus).

Regardless of how Splash Island has aged over the years, the kids had a blast. Some of them even liked it better than Imperial Palace (a beautiful, world-class water park in Cebu).

Unfortunately, two unpleasant things happened during our water park morning. Elijah lost his very expensive prescription glasses, and Edan’s old and ugly crocs were stolen. (I find it hard to believe that anyone would have wanted those shoes!)

The day began with the kids bouncing around in the huge wave pool. Since I had gone to the park with 5 kids, no yaya, and no Edric, I wasn’t very “on the ball” about certain details. One very crucial detail was telling Elijah to give me his glasses before he got into the wave pool. Initially he wanted me to keep them in the locker but I was afraid that he wouldn’t be able to see anything if he got lost in the park. So I told him to keep them with him. Bad idea.

While I was preoccupied with watching my three younger children, Elijah and Edan took on the biggest waves right away. A few minutes later, Elijah’s glasses were knocked off his face by a wave. Unable to see clearly, he had no idea where they were in the water. I was at the opposite end holding Catalina so I couldn’t rush over to help him find them either.

Some moments later, my siblings and I tried to look for them, hoping they would be washed “ashore.” Nothing turned up. I prayed and prayed. I also asked Elijah to hold on to Catalina when the wave pool was turned off so I could do a more thorough search. Since I didn’t bring goggles, the life guard was kind enough to lend me his. On any normal day I wouldn’t have used a stranger’s goggles, but I was pretty desperate! I swam along the sides of the pool to check the corners at the bottom. I dove down numerous times to survey the floor. Even if the water was kind of murky at the part where the waves came from (which should have totally disgusted me), I didn’t stop my hunt until I covered every inch along that end of the pool. My siblings searched other areas of the pool as well. Sadly, it was all in vain. Visiting the lost and found twice and asking them to call or text me in case the glasses were turned in didn’t make a difference either. Sigh. I felt horrible.

In the meantime, Elijah didn’t seem to mind a bit. He couldn’t see much but he was having such a good time it didn’t really matter that the entire park was blurry from his perspective.

The kids and their cousins spent the rest of the morning on the slides while I held on to Catalina. I was kind of glum because I couldn’t believe the glasses were gone. Plus I dreaded to call Edric at work to let him know.

In the changing room, I finally phoned him. Surprisingly, Edric didn’t seem too upset. He was disappointed but he didn’t get angry. I didn’t really expect him to flip out but I thought I was in for a teaching session that might have begun with, “So what were you thinking when you told him to wear his glasses while swimming?” There was none of that.

At about 12:30 pm, I had to leave. The boys stayed with their cousins and I took the girls home. During the ride home, I profusely apologized via text, telling Edric again how sorry I was. I didn’t check my phone until a while later but when I did, I read this message…”I love you and I will always take care of you.”

What?! Wow! I texted him right back, “Thanks babe. That actually made me cry…” To which he replied, “Great, that’s the idea.”

He knows what a sucker I am for sweet, tender professions of his love for me, especially when I make a mistake and feel very ashamed and unworthy. In the grand scheme of things, losing a pair of glasses may not have been a big deal. But ever since we moved to our new home we have emphasized to our children the value of being good stewards of God’s blessings. Letting Elijah wear his glasses while running around the water park was a very irresponsible decision. I should have made it very clear that he could wear them while walking from one ride to another and then asked him to hand them to me before swimming.

While I was mulling over my impaired judgment, the last thing I thought I would receive was a text message telling me that I was precious, important, and cherished. When Edric sent me his message, I felt a sudden rush of joy. He didn’t rub salt on my mistake by giving me a lecture about responsibility. Instead he emphasized my value to him as a wife. That made my day! In fact, I was so excited to spend time with him that I dressed up in an outfit I knew he would like, dropped by the store to buy him snacks, and went to his office for an impromptu visit. He was thrilled to see me.

When we were finally in the car together, he looked at me with a big smile and said, “I like it when you give me undivided attention!” He also asked, “Did you notice that I didn’t say anything negative when you called me about the glasses? That’s my new realization. I won’t say anything if I have nothing good to say and I will wait before responding.” (Edric is such an intense person that he can be reactive when circumstances trigger his emotions.)

Of course I noticed! And I loved it! After all, he knew that I was very cognizant of my wrong. So he took a much kinder approach and reassured me that I didn’t have to fret over what happened because he loved me and would always take care of me.

I felt transported to one of those cheesy scenes where I was running towards Edric in a field of flowers wearing a white billowy dress (no braces or bangs) and everything was golden with sunshine. My, my, my, the power of words spoken in a timely fashion to soothe and calm the soul of a perturbed lover (aka me)!

This incident made me realize that spouses need to say things like this to one another more often. It’s like a magical formula for romantic feelings. It’s hard for lovey-dovey feelings to blossom when the soil of a relationship is overgrown with the weeds of fear, shame, anger, disappointment, insecurity, and unforgiveness. But when unconditional love is offered, especially to the one who is undeserving, it inspires them to change for the better and to love the giver in return.

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From a spiritual perspective, it’s the same way with God. An understanding of what He did for us on the cross should result in the desire to repent of sin, serve him, follow him, and be with him. He is the truest example of unconditional love and he invites us to rest in this love rather than hide in our shame or continue in sin. Furthermore, being filled with His love allows us to channel it to others…especially to our spouses who need it the most from us!

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. (1 John 4:7-11 NASB)

 

Moms be Proud: Shout You The Mom!

By the time a child reaches his second birthday, his mother would have changed his diaper 7,300 times. By his 18th birthday, she would have prepared for him 19,710 meals–and spent more than 100,000 hours caring for him. Motherhood is an all-encompassing vocation, which can sometimes overwhelm mothers themselves.

But what makes moms so good at what they do is that they absolutely love what they’re doing. Caring for baby while running her home, making sure healthy meals are prepared at home, and all the children’s needs are met. They do the groceries, take the kids to the dentist, and oh, in most households, moms hold 9 to 5 jobs or run successful businesses too!

Mommy Mundo Founder Janice Villanueva says, “We admire moms for their almost superhuman qualities, their powers in time management and multitasking alongside their ability to do anything and everything for their loved ones, and they all do these things wholeheartedly and passionately at that!” And because most moms do all these tasks with grace we may sometimes forget to show them some appreciation and affirmation.

This Expo Mom 2014, we shout out YOU THE MOM! – this is a campaign to recognize the many big and small accomplishments of all moms. Through various planned activities online and at the Expo Mom event, we affirm and appreciate all the awesome things that moms do every single day, whether they’re taking care of their babies at home, doing volunteer work for a cause they believe in, or helping out a friend in need.

Now on its seventh year, Expo Mom is the biggest event of its kind, gathering progressive, active moms in an environment that’s both recreational and educational. Showcasing beloved mom brands alongside mom-created products, Expo Mom has drawn over 60,000 mom participants since 2008. It has become a venue for like-minded moms to establish lasting connections and has also become the catalyst for the mompreneur movement in Manila. This year’s Expo Mom will feature over 60 booths at the Glorietta 2 Activity Center, Palm Drive, Ayala Center. Expo Mom 2014 will also feature all-day talks, demos, and raffle draws.

Expo Mom’s You The Mom! campaign puts the spotlight on all the unbelievably good things that moms do by featuring 10 women whose stories represent every mom who has made a difference in her community, her family and in her child’s life. Real portraits of these moms, as photographed by Cres Rodriguez-Yulo, will be showcased via in an online gallery, hoping to spur on a complimenting social media campaign encouraging everybody to take the time to post a #youthemom statement. Statements from moms can be a post on what they are most proud of as a mom. For non-moms, posts can be a shout out to all the good things that your mom has done for you or recognize a mom friend who inspires you. By using the hashtag #youthemom and #expomommanila, posts will be tracked and 3 of its participants will get a chance to win sponsored shopping sprees at Expo Mom.

At Expo Mom, a “You The Mom!” signature wall will allow moms to write their statements on what they are most proud of as a mom. “’You The Mom!’” is a celebration of motherhood,” Janice says. “We want to give value to moms who make a difference in the lives of our families and influence the course of our country. If you know of such a mom, give her a hug today to show just how much you appreciate her. If you’re a mom yourself, go ahead and give yourself a pat on the back because you’re doing an awesome job! You The Mom!”

Entrance to Expo Mom 2014 will be a requested donation to MomShare’s literacy projects. One hundred percent of Expo Mom’s entrance fees will go to its partner beneficiary, Kinder Project, which aims to provide reading tools and training to public school teachers in Quezon City and Payatas. Mommy Mundo Privilege Passport holders get in free and will bring home a You The Mom! Tote bag.

To apply for a Passport, log on to www.mommymundo.com/passport.

For more information and event updates, visit www.expomom.com. Download coupons and the event map from the website and be prepared for a grand time. To be part of the You The Mom! Campaign, check out www.expomom.com/youthemom

Follow Mommy Mundo on facebook, twitter and instagram for updates on events and activities for moms throughout the year.

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When It Rains Inside Your House

We spent the day moving boxes into our new home and everything was going great until there was a downpour outside. And then the downpour happened inside! The water started coming through the hanging chandelier in the entrance and out of the lights in the hallway on the second floor. It was like a waterfall from the top of our second floor ceiling to the ground floor below. I couldn’t believe it!

Thankfully, the architect assigned to our site (representing the contractor) was around to address the problem. Everyone else on his team was scrambling around looking lost and overwhelmed by the ridiculousness of the situation but eventually, they figured out what to do. Someone got up to the roof and found a piece of wood blocking the downspouts. (How the wood got stuck there in the first place is a mystery.) Others found containers to catch the water and throw it outside. The electrician borrowed my Iphone flashlight so he could go into the ceiling and spot the water’s point of entry.

When it rained this afternoon, the water began to pond and seep into the ceiling. Without any other outlet but the lights in the hallway, the water started to flow downwards. First it came down in trickles and then in a stream. It was almost beautiful seeing the water drop down two stories right in front of our main door. We have a lot of glass in our entry way so it was like a water feature! The only problem of course was this was happening inside. Had our four older children been with us, they would have been splashing around in the water and dancing for joy. My baby, Catalina, was with me and she was very fascinated by the spectacle.

Because it was such a crazy, unexpected disaster, I knew it wasn’t just a freak accident. This was a divine message for Edric and I. We went out onto the balcony and thanked God for reminding us that this world is not our home, and we should not love the things of this world.

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On a positive note, it was a blessing that this mess happened at the hour it did. First, the workers were still at the house to address the issue. Had it happened in the evening, when they had all gone home, we would have been in big trouble! Second, it was a good “test” shower before actual rainy season. We got to see how the house faired against lots of rain. Third, we hadn’t completely moved in yet so we weren’t put in physical jeopardy.

But the best reason of all was I believe God wanted us to share the gospel with the on-site architect. When I saw the water falling through the ceiling I wanted to freak out and blame someone, but God gave Edric and I the calmness to consider that there was a spiritual perspective to be had in all of this.

The architect was so apologetic and promised that his team would clear out the downspouts so it wouldn’t happen again. Of course, he also told us the ceiling and whatever else was affected would be rectified. At this juncture…when we are about to move in, the timing of this rectification is unfortunate, but in the grand scheme of eternity, the damage was “worth it.” Let me explain…

Ever since this architect came on board for the finishing stage of our housebuilding, I have been burdened for him to come to Christ. He is a very nice guy who has worked hard and well to manage the final phase of our house project. Two weeks ago, he told me he saw my feature on GMA, but we didn’t get to talk about it. I asked Edric if he could be the one to process the feature with him since it would be awkward for me to discuss something so personal with a man.

He wasn’t able to do so then because we were headed home but after the indoor downpour happened, it
was the perfect opportunity to tell him about Jesus. When he came up to me to apologize once again, I assured him, “This is a reminder that we should not love this world. This world is not our home, heaven is.” When Edric and I were in private, I was like, “Hon, you should share the gospel with him. This is the best time to do so!” Edric completely agreed and some moments later took the architect aside.

On the balcony, Edric introduced him to Jesus Christ and what it means to have a personal relationship with him. Given that the incident made people in the house consider how temporal the things of this world are, it was a great segue for Edric to get into the topic of eternity. Edric also referred to the Tanikala episode of 700 Club which the architect got to watch. At the end of their dialogue, Edric asked him if he wanted to pray with him to receive Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior, and he said, “Yes! Gusto ko yan (I want that).”

I was so thrilled. I couldn’t help but take a photo of the two of them.

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Edric and I have been praying that God will use this house for his glory and his purposes, and that’s what happened today in the most unprecedented sort of way. This is HIS house, not ours.

Even if it meant getting rain inside our house, the ceiling being partially destroyed, our lights and chandelier possibly getting wrecked, and the floor warping because it flooded on the second floor, I was happy. Those things can be repaired and redone. But a soul…what is the price of soul?

God loves all of us so much. He wants to get our attention and make our hearts receptive to the gospel. If it means making rain fall inside a house in a disastrous way so that one person will come to know him, their soul is worth it!

Luke 15:10 “In the same way, there is joy in the presence of God’s angels when even one sinner repents.”

Fasting Week 2014

Fasting week for our church began Monday. I can’t do a full fast because I am breastfeeding. In the early mornings, I go on prayer walks with Catalina (who wakes me up at 5 something! Argh.) I hope I can sustain this. It has been wonderful but this morning I was tempted to go back to bed.

The kids are abstaining from IPads, computers, TV, sweets and junk food, too. Yesterday I asked the boys to write down their prayer requests. Tiana is still too little to participate but I was very blessed to read what my sons wrote down. Titus needed some help from me but Elijah and Edan came up with their own lists to pray about.

ELIJAH:

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EDAN:

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TITUS:

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MY OWN:

For Edric…

- To be discerning about priorities as God wants him to order them.
- To be an excellent TV host and public speaker who can use his talents and platform to further the gospel and attract people to Jesus.
- To be full of wisdom as he makes decisions for our family, work, ministry and business endeavors.
- To have the supernatural ability to manage all he has to with grace and temperance, being constantly filled with the Holy Spirit.
- To be blessed in his efforts to provide for our emotional, relational and physical needs as a family.
- To stay pure in heart and turn his eyes away from evil.
- To love God above all else.
- To live with passion for His work and kingdom.
- To be equipped and able as a leader to mentor the men in his discipleship group.
- To have understanding and wisdom beyond his years and life experiences so he can guide the men he leads and our family.
- To be protected against adultery and wrong kinds of partnerships and connections that will lead him to sin.
- To be healthy and strong all the days of his life.
- To always process experiences and events from a spiritual perspective.
- To honor and obey God in everything he does.
- To have God’s hand and favor upon him.
- To make time to invest in the lives of our kids and disciple them personally and intentionally.
- To be attracted to me forever and to grow old with me in the Lord, serving him and enjoying sweeter and sweeter years together!

For my kids…

- To grow up to love God with all their heart, soul, mind and strength.
- To be easy to teach and to enjoy learning.
- To be healthy and strong.
- To be protected from demonic oppression and influences.
- To stay pure and guard their hearts from evil.
- To be full of wisdom and truth.
- To be discerning and make God-honoring choices.
- To be obedient and respectful.
- To have a love for God’s word and his statutes.
- To be influencers who make a difference for Christ.
- To be purposeful in their use of their time.
- To have favor with God and man.
- To have Christ-like character.
- To excel academically and be very responsive to my instruction when I am with them.
- To become independent learners equipped with the skills to gather information, process and comprehend, communicate and apply, and solve problems creatively and with understanding.
- To be handsome, beautiful and talented.

Househelp…

- To enjoy working for our family.
- To grow in the knowledge of the Lord and to love him.
- To be good stewards of the resources entrusted to them.
- To care for our children with diligence, patience, and kindness.
- To remain trustworthy in their areas of responsibility.
- To be joyful and spirit-filled, not giving in to moodiness, laziness, pride or ingratitude.
- To have God’s hand of protection upon them and their families.
- To be discerning about avoiding relationships with the wrong kinds of men who will take advantage of them.
- To receive God’s blessings for their hard work.

Personal…

- To be able to share God’s love and salvation through Christ to those he brings my way.
- To know how to present the gospel based on the heart-felt needs and longings of people.
- To be able to meet these needs with spiritual truth.
- To have daily resolve and energy to teach my kids and spend these precious years discipling their hearts and filling their minds with biblical truth.
- To be disciplined with my time so I am effective at using the hours to teach them.
- To be more organized and a better planner.
- To love God with all my heart.
- To be faithful to him until the end of my days and have my heart ready for eternity.
- To serve him and others with the gifts he has given me.
- To grow as a writer and have daily inspiration to write.
- To ably minister to the ladies that God has entrusted into my care.
- To be a Christ-filled wife and mother who is a blessing to my husband and children.
- To become physically fit and healthy this year by starting an exercise routine and making wise choices about what I eat.

If you have prayer requests, please email me. It would be a privilege for me to pray for you.

Twelve Things I Love About Christmas

Top 12 reasons why Christmas is my FAVORITE time of the year:

1. Food. It feels like I gain an extra five pounds every Christmas but the pounds are well worth the pleasure of the food I get to eat. This season I am a breastfeeding mom so at least I get to burn off some of it without having to exercise. Thank you Lord for breastfeeding!

Breakfast Christmas morning at my in-laws…Tapa, Ham, Bangus (my dream breakfast)

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2. Going up to Baguio. A couple of days before Christmas we stay at Baguio Country Club with my parents and siblings. We invade the place with all our children!

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The kids always look forward to being with their cousins and the cooler weather. It wasn’t too cold this year…unfortunately. But we still enjoyed a bunch of activities — strawberry picking, horseback riding, zip-lining, roller blading, and buffet-eating at the club.

Tree Top Adventure in John Hay…

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Zip-lining for the little ones…

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3. Celebrating my birthday. My birthday is so close to Christmas, but Edric always manages to make it a special day for me.

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This year, he got each of the children to bring me flowers and he asked all of them to write me notes, including our househelp. Those were especially meaningful to read. He also secretly deposited shopping money into my account. Yay!
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4. Shopping for gifts. I really enjoy buying gifts for friends and loved ones. With the help of Amazon, Bath & Body, Christian Book and my sister’s mad packing skills, I received a balikbayan box full of presents to wrap early December.

5. Wrapping gifts. Because I like paper so much, I have so much fun using wrapping paper, paper bags, ribbons and gift tags to package each present. It’s therapeutic. I found a great deal for Christmas gift bags at Uniwide. P150 a kilo! Also, S and R had a buy one take one for their paper. I like the width of the bigger paper you can buy there. Easier to wrap big presents.

6. Letting the kids shop for one another. We have this tradition of giving the kids shopping money to buy toys for one another and their cousins. It makes them think of others before themselves and they learn how to work with a budget. The little ones have to resist the urge to pick out things for themselves. Of course I go bananas trying to manage them in the toy store. We went to the Toy Kingdom in Podium because it was smaller, less crowded, and more “contained.” I wasn’t worried about the kids walking around by themselves.

7. Throwing a party for our househelp. My siblings and I plan a party for all of our househelp. We organize games and buy them prizes and let them have a big feast. It is our yearly appreciation party, to let them know how much we care about them. These men and women are partners in our ministry and parenting. We value their loyalty and service very much.

Edric’s mom and dad also invite people to come to their home — people who have worked for them in the past or people who are related to those who work for them at present. There were about 40 people who came to receive gifts and money on the 25th. The kids learned to be a blessing. They were assigned to give money to each person that passed in front of them. Afterwards one of my kids said, “I am so glad we did this!”

8. Get-togethers. I am blessed to have married into a wonderful family. Edric’s parents (mommy and papa to me) and his siblings are amazing. I couldn’t have asked for better in laws. They are a joy to be with and it’s very easy to love them. They are big on traditions like Christmas morning spent together, lunches with the Mendozas and dinners with the Espiritus. My parents and siblings are less particular about the 25th, so we see each other on the 26th.

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9. Celebrating with our Bible Study Group. We have an even bigger family that is made up of dear friends. We have shared in one another’s victories, defeats, struggles, afflictions, and joys. When we get together during the Christmas season it is a reminder that we are all recipients of God’s grace. These are the people who have journeyed alongside us in our Christian walk.

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10. Edric is on vacation-mode. This means he is totally chill and relaxed. He has lots of time to give to the kids and I and he is not stressed by deadlines or commitments. I lost his wallet the day we were supposed to leave for Baguio. I told him I didn’t have it but I accidentally put it into my bag! We looked for it for an hour. He didn’t get upset at all. Finally I saw it and sheepishly told him that it was with me the whole time. He just smiled. Whew.

11. Our Children’s Excitement. The countdown to Christmas begins early for our children. I see the twinkling in their eyes when they know it’s just a few days away and I share in their anticipation.

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It is such a thrill to watch them pull everything out of their stockings and then move on to their gifts and tear at the wrapping paper (even if I laboured over each gift’s presentation). They say things like, “Yay! This is awesome! This is my favourite! Thank you mom and dad!” Of course we remind them that they are to share all their toys and we have a policy…only one present is played with at a time so they learn restraint and self-control. Otherwise, they will not appreciate what they have received. This is how we curb their materialism and gift-gluttony. Edric also encourages them to go through their old toys to give some away. (We can’t do this yet because most of their toys are stored in a warehouse until we move to our new place).

12. God’s goodness to our family. I am so grateful to the Lord for his blessings. Everything that we have and everything that we are able to enjoy is from him. We were disappointed that we couldn’t be in our new house for Christmas. Our nomadic situation (spending a good number of weeks in my parents’ and then in Edric’s parent’s place) has been humbling. Even though both sides (Edric’s and mine) have enjoyed housing our army of a family, we want to be the grown ups we are and finally settle into our own home.

Soon after we gave birth we boxed up our condo in anticipation of being able to be in our place by December. But certain uncontrollable factors have extended the end date of the finishing stage. So we have been reminded to be grateful as a family. Our true source of happiness is beyond the material things. It is the presence of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of our lives. He is the center of our family, the center of our Christmas. He is home to us.

DSC_0610-1Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year to You All! Thank you for being a part of my life as a reader. You inspire me to keep on writing. I praise God for all of you!

Baby Shower for Baby Sisters

I am not an event planner but I really enjoy opening up my home to people. My mom was the same way so I must have learned this from her. Since our house isn’t done yet, I asked my mom if we could have a baby shower for my sister, Carolyn, and sister-in-law, Jenny, in her place. They are both due in December. She suggested we have one for Astrid, too. Astrid is a long time family friend who is a pastor’s kid like me and she is due even sooner than my sisters. My mom’s idea was to invite the pastor’s wives to share with all the preggy moms words of wisdom.

So it was a team effort to put together this baby shower. My mom and I worked very well with one another. We usually do. We have similar tastes and she never gets stressed when it comes to hosting parties and events which is great because I can get frazzled when things go awry. She, on the other hand, just floats around in her happiness and finds creative solutions when something goes wrong.

I took care of the decor and food preparation and she invited the guests and asked them to share their insights on motherhood.

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I thank God that I live in the Philippines because I could hand off Catalina to her yaya when I had to decorate and cook. Here is the pink and blue theme for a baby girl and two baby boys…

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Menu:
- Mixed Green Salad with Mangoes,
Apples and caramelized walnuts.
- Deviled eggs
- Pumpkin Soup
- Pasta Carbonara
- Grilled Rosemary Ranch Chicken on skewers
- Homemade Fruit Tea
- Cupcakes

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Birth and Beyond

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My labor began at 3 PM, August 10. Edric checked me into the High Risk Pregnancy Unit (HRPU) of St. Luke’s Medical Center, Global City. We opted to do this with previous pregnancies as well because Edric gets to stay with me in a private room and it’s alot cheaper than the Birthing Room. Plus, the HRPU is right beside the delivery room which makes it convenient for someone like me who births pretty quickly. (I’m talking about the pushing part.)

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Like my previous experience with St. Luke’s, it was easy to get a room and I was very well attended to. I’ve heard negative reviews by other women about this hospital, but personally I have always been impressed with the level of service given by St. Luke’s QC and Global. I can officially say that I have had 5 births with them that have been consistently positive in terms of service. However, it really depends on who your doctor is, how involved your husband is, your emotional climate at the time of your birth, expectations, and the kind of birth you have.

Since I have Lamaze births, all I need is a private room where I can be with my wonderful husband; the security of knowing my doctor is around; the liberty to labor the way I would like to; and the mental, emotional, and spiritual readiness to face the challenge of getting through labor and childbirth.

This time around, certain factors were different. My labor started earlier than usual. (I tend to give birth on my due date.) With this baby, I was 39 weeks/3 days when I went into labor. But the timing was great. We were hoping to give birth this past weekend because Edric had a free week…no tapings for his ANC show, no major meetings. So going into labor early was a welcome surprise. My doctor was still at her clinic in St. Luke’s Global, too. It gave me piece of mind knowing she was near. With my other babies, she had to come from the home or from other engagements. Unfortunately, with this pregnancy I had GBS, so I needed to have an IV antibiotic administered through my left hand. Thank God for big veins which were easy to locate on my hands. I owe these to my caucasian mother. The nice juicy veins on my body are a needle’s dream.

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My initial Internal Exam showed that I was 4 to 5 cm. I was kind of disappointed. I wanted to be in the hospital closer to 7 cm. But, looking back, I have no regrets. Edric wanted to be safe about this pregnancy and my doctor told me it was better to be in the hospital. After all, my four previous births progressed quickly after the onset of labor, so we all thought the same thing would happen with this one.

Well, this was not the case. What we all expected to take just a few hours turned into over 12 long, exhausting hours. The problem was I was stuck at 7 to 8 cm. My baby’s head didn’t descend and engage into the pelvis like the doctor anticipated her to. This means that my contractions weren’t as regular or as strong as they should have been either.

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I tried distracting myself by reading my Bible, watching TV, and walking around everywhere. In fact, the nurses were surprised that I was pacing back and forth at 7 cm but I could still hop up and down! I did that a couple of times in the room while watching CSI: New York…anything to try and make my labor progress to the next stage.

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It must have been close to 2 AM when my doctor told me that the best recourse would be to break my bag of waters. But she encouraged me to rest first. So I tried to sleep. I slept in between contractions and it allowed me to regain some energy. Edric slept, too!

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By 6 AM when I had not dilated further, I knew that breaking my bag of waters was the next logical step. Walking, swaying from side to side, hopping, going on my fours and rocking were not working. Intervention was needed.

Here were my fears…Breaking my bag of waters would escalate the pain. And if I didn’t progress further, I would need oxytocin to make my contractions stronger which would make the labor even more difficult. If this happened, I would probably need an epidural. My doctor was honest with me and told me that these were all possibilities.

So I struggled inside. I struggled with self-doubt. I struggled with worry. “Lord, I prayed for a quick and easy delivery. How come this is turning out to be my hardest?”

My doctor wonderfully suggested that I take a warm shower before she did the procedure. This was a first for me. I never got the chance to do this with previous babies. But it was a brilliant suggestion! It made me relax. And in the shower while pausing for each contraction, I surrendered my feelings and fears to the Lord. I really asked for his grace and strength to get through the home stretch. Edric was 100% there, too. He asked people to pray and he assured me that he would be with me all the way.

Well, when my doctor did an IE again, she was more hopeful. Previously my cervix was posterior and then it shifted into the right position. The procedure of breaking my bag of water was quick and simple. Then the strong contractions started to kick in. Okay, brace yourself, this is it! I was preparing to stick it out for as long as I could but I was hoping and praying it would not drag on.

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Breathing through each contraction wave, I employed the same trick I always do…just think, you are one contraction closer. And amazingly, each contraction brought to mind a bible verse that I could cling to. What a comfort the word of God was.

Ever faithful, God allowed the most painful part to be swift. After just 45 minutes, I was checked again by one of the assisting doctors who said that I was ready to be brought to the delivery room. Wahoo! I was excited but of course the discomfort was heightening.

Think of a bowling ball in between your legs. It’s a bad picture, I know. But, think about being told to hold that bowling ball in. Well, that feels a whole lot worse. My baby was on her way out and would stop for nothing. But, the nurses had to keep my legs closed while everyone prepped for the baby’s coming. Fortunately, everyone moved fast. Edric rushed in dressed in scrubs to take my hand. My doctor was ready in about thirty seconds (she has mastered this), just in time for the next big contraction that pushed my baby out. After a second push to get her body out, it was over.

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DSC09135I held our daughter, Catalina, in my arms and my one thought was, “Lord, you ever amaze me!” She had a head full of dark hair, like my second son Edan, almond shaped eyes, a cute little nose and mouth. I couldn’t wait for her siblings to meet her! Edric got to cut the umbilical chord which is always a highlight for him.

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Afterwards, I was cleaned up, stitched (for my episiotomy), and brought into the recovery room to rest. Catalina was wheeled in by my side and we both stayed there for at least 2 hours. I got to feed her and hold her, and when the kids came, they got their photo-op with my doctor and Edric. (I also gave them gifts to make them feel special.)

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I have had six days beyond my birth to reflect on the ordeal of labor and childbirth. Here are some insights that I have been pondering…

First, there is something out-of-this-world incredible about the moment when a child is born, especially when you experience labor without anesthesia. Personally I feel that it gives me a foretaste of what it will be like when the earthly, perishable world is traded for the heaven God has promised us. Whatever agony I endured is eclipsed by that moment of perfect happiness. I look back on the long, arduous hours and the desperate desire for them to end and I think… I am glad I pushed myself to the limit. It was worth it!

Like Paul said about the sufferings of this world,For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:17-18

It was inexplicable bliss, peace, relief, and joy when I finally held my baby in my arms. How much more magnified the joy of those who are faithful to the Lord till the very end? I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing. (2 Timothy 4:7, 8 NASB)

I reveled in the victory of pushing my baby out but the reality is I could not have made it to that point alone — Edric’s reassuring support, my doctor’s expertise and years of experience, the accommodating nurses, the prayers of family and friends, and most of all, the deliverance of the Lord — these factors had to be present.

We don’t cross life’s finish line as champions alone or experience our greatest victories without the help of others. We all need one another’s assistance, encouragement, empowerment. We especially need God’s grace!

When I reached the limits of my capacity to labor on, I cried out to the Lord. I was completely dependent upon him. And he did not fail.

Although I was so disappointed when my labor did not happen the way I wanted it to, I surrendered to the Lord’s will and chose to trust in him. Then he made his grace available. He let my baby come out at the perfect time.

God does not fail us. He may not always allow circumstances to turn out the way we imagine them to but it doesn’t change who he is and how much he loves us. Let us never lose hope in the Lord or forget that he is for us. The question is, do we really seek him? Is our life oriented towards him? If it is then be encouraged by these verses…

The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I have hope in Him.” The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the person who seeks Him. (Lamentations 3:22-25 NASB)



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AT PRESENT, CATALINA IS CONFINED IN THE HOSPITAL…story to follow…

Biz Kidz

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What a week we had! The kids had their violin recital and the very next day they were participants in a homeschool bazaar called “Biz Kidz.” Organized by homeschoolers for homeschoolers, this TMA Homeschool event encouraged kids to come up with a business idea, execute, and sell it.

The boys did origami art. Whew. Talk about labor-intensive. Next time, we are going to make cupcakes and cookies! (Our cupcakes topped with origami designs sold out and they didn’t take nearly as long to make.)

Three nights in a row, the boys stayed up way past their bedtime to fold paper hundreds of times. I was their quality control checker and I also helped them embellish their designs to make them marketable. So it was late nights for me, too.

We were all pleased with the finished products. But it was the process that was rewarding for all of us. My kids and I share a love for arts and crafts. We enjoy designing and creating. The kids were willing to push themselves to the limit with their lack of sleep. In fact, the evening before the bazaar, Edan fell asleep on a chair while waiting to be assigned another origami task. He was sitting upright with his eyes closed.

20130601_124239At the end of the day, the kids came away with P4,300 pesos. It was measly in terms of earnings, especially if we subtracted my part of the “investment.” But, the kids learned some great life lessons like…

Making money takes effort. The kids had to do the work and put in the time necessary to produce something sellable. I helped them out with conceptualization but they did the harder part. During the bazaar, the kids also discovered that selling origami products was a challenge. First of all, not everyone appreciates origami. Second, because all our stuff was laboriously hand-made, it wasn’t cheap.

Marketing and selling are an integral part of getting people to buy your product. In the beginning, we waited for people to come to our table. But after a while, I asked the kids to go around themselves. We saw other children doing this and it seemed to be much more effective. Edan learned that you can’t be self-conscious or afraid to talk to people. He didn’t want to go around with a tray at first. But, he ended up being a very good salesman! And he was very excited when he started counting how much money he earned. He told me afterwards, “It’s not scary!” (Referring to going up to potential customers.)

We also came up with a marketing idea that went something like this…Whatever origami art you buy, Elijah or Edan will give you a tutorial on how to make it. This got some people interested, especially kids who wanted to learn how to do origami.

Rejection is good for the soul. If the kids don’t learn this early, they will learn it later when there is more at stake. We didn’t sell everything. Elijah felt badly about some of his unsold goods because he thought they would surely interest buyers. But it was beneficial for the children to experience being turned down. Life will not roll out a red carpet for our kids. They receive a lot of affirmation at home, but it’s not always going to be like that when they finally go into a college or start working.

A recent Time article talked about the problems of the young people today. They jump from one profession to another because they have this entitlement mentality. They come into a job with high expectations about what others should do for them and when they don’t get what they want, they complain or leave. On the one hand, it makes corporations step it up in terms of benefits but on the other hand, there is a character flaw that we, as parents, have to weed out of our kids. Reality check: YOU ARE NOT A SUPERSTAR. I love you. I believe that God has gifted you to fulfill his plans and purposes for your life. But, honey, the world doesn’t revolve around you and your preferences. Get used to it.

Pray for success. When the kids began to be discouraged about having less than favorable sales, I told them, “Don’t worry. Just relax. If God wants us to sell our products, we will. He knows you worked very hard and you did your part. So pray and ask him to help you.” After they prayed, they started selling. But like I said earlier, they had to do what was within their control – go out and sell.

Be thankful and content. In Elijah’s words, “I learned to be thankful for the money we did make.” He wanted to earn at least P8,000, but it didn’t happen. Tempted to grumble, I reminded him to be positive and appreciative that we did make some money. We sold most of the items we had on our table.

“It’s fun to make money!” According to Elijah, it was rewarding to experience the fruit of his labor. Personally, I felt the experience was priceless for the kids for the character lessons more so than the actual money aspect. But it’s true, it is exciting to get paid for hard work.

Congratulations to the winners who received well-deserved recognition for all their effort, too! My personal favorite (besides my kids, he he), was a creative business idea by homeschooler, Isaiah Fernandez. He turned laundry clips into building materials and called them Clip Morphs. Over the years of hanging out with his mom while she did the laundry, he would play beside her and design all kinds of structures. So he turned it into a business concept. My kids are playing with his Clip Morphs right now! I thought it was a brilliantly simple idea that encourages hours of creative play.

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Even if we toiled and struggled to prepare for this Biz Kidz event, I’m looking forward to the next one. Hopefully, we can come up with an even better concept. The event wasn’t nearly as big as the Kiddopreneur bazaar, which draws a very large crowd. But this was a good start for our kids. Many parents commented that they want another event like this soon and I agree!

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