Rags 2 Riches Launches a New Line of Decor

Rags 2 Riches, the home and design store that taps local craftsmen and women to weave their products recently collaborated with designer, Marilen Montenegro of Marilen.ph.

img_0788-1.jpgMarilen is a talented designer but she is also a model, tv personality, blogger, homeschooling mama and friend. One look at this home line tells me she’s mixed in all these aspects of her person into the handwoven planters, serving trays, poufs, and hampers. The colors pop and say happiness.

  
I could imagine one of the teal poufs on the floor of a homeschooling room. It’s something my own kids would enjoy sitting on to read a book. Here’s Marilen’s son, Santiago, enjoying his seat. He started bouncing on it later on, too. (As a mom of two energetic kids, I am sure she thought of that sort of thing when she had these made.)

img_0772.jpgOne of her serving tray designs followed the lines of her Marilen.ph logo – simple, clean, but far from boring with their textured handles and white washed finish. 

My top picks are the planters which remind me of the macrame projects my mom used to do. They look mid-century but with a colorful punch to them. 


And of course there’s the hamper which can also be used as a planter, which Marilen whispered to me she named Joy. And how joyful looking it is! The hue and style make you want to smile. I certainly did!


Be sure to stop by one of Rags 2 Riches’ stores to see the whole line. This one is in Podium, Ortigas. 

   

  

  

  



 

Things that matter…hmm…showing up for a friend’s product launch because you want her to know you’ve got her back. 

  
For more info, check out R2R’s social media accounts and website:

  
Visit Marilen.ph, too, for great tips on how to style your home with heart! 

 

For Official Use Only

When we moved into our newly built home a year and a half ago, Edric and I dedicated it to the Lord. First of all, our house was finished through much prayer and God’s faithful provision, so it most definitely belonged to Him. Each month of the construction phase He supplied what we needed to complete it. My prayer always was, “Lord, please provide above and beyond what we need to finish and furnish our home.” (Up to this day, he continues to add to what we have so we can get pieces here and there to decorate our organically modern home.) 

Psalm 127:1 says, “Unless the LORD builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; unless the LORD guards the city, the watchman keeps awake in vain.”

When the monumental task of constructing our place loomed over us at the very beginning, Edric and I claimed Psalm 127:1 as both a promise and a reminder. Even though we had an amazing architect and contractor, we knew that God was our architect, contractor and designer. We also prayed that this would be a home where God’s presence would dwell and His purposes would prevail. 

Therefore each space was considered with ministry in mind…ministry to our family and ministry to others. How could we make areas that invited people to conversation and connectedness? How could we be hospitable with our home, and utilize it for gatherings where people hear God’s word? What configuration for the rooms would encourage family bonding and keep our kids close to one another? 

Shortly after our home was livable, we invited family and friends over. Our furniture wasn’t complete and the decor needed help, but we couldn’t wait to use our home to bless people. 

Some of the events we hosted were chaotic and crazy, others quiet and intimate. Some things were damaged and soiled, but we don’t have pricey furniture or decor, and we don’t own luxury goods or keep wads of cash at home. So I did not feel stressed when people were all over the house. There was nothing super costly to break or even to take! More importantly, God blessed us with this home to steward it for His use. Hence the title “For Official Use Only.” Or, more accurately put, “For God’s Use Only.” 

It deeply delights us when people come together in our home for fellowships, bible studies, activities and play dates. The joy outweighs the cost and the clean up that follows.

At the turn of the year, Edric and I decided to be more intentional. So the first event we hosted in January was for neighbors. We teamed up with our couple’s bible study group to invite their family and friends to a backyard barbecue. Because everyone helped out, decorating and setting up became such a fun bonding experience. Some baked cookies, others lent their tables and chairs or house help, others came early to string lights and style the tables, and still others contributed ice cream and dessert. We also prayed two weeks prior that neighbors would come.

To be honest, I had my qualms. Would neighbors be willing to show up at another neighbor’s house whom they didn’t know? And without alcohol being served to loosen everyone up? (Of course they didn’t know that alcohol wouldn’t be served when they were invited.) 

Well, the good news is that eighteen of the invited guests came, excluding the headcount for their kids. Most of them met us and one another for the first time. Edric got to insert a short talk on how to live in 2016, which centered on the principle of numbering our days. So our guests heard from God’s Word and they sat through the entire thing! Only one guy had to stand up and take a call. 

After the evening came to a close, I thanked the Lord for the privilege of having a home where we can host occasions like this. 

God tells us in Romans 12:13 to “practice hospitality.” It takes effort and monetary sacrifice to do so, but Edric and I remind ourselves that God built this home for the sake of the gospel. Yes, He also gave it to us to enjoy and raise our family in, but may it best be known as a home where people live out the gospel message of God’s love and forgiveness, and where people who step inside it experience how much God loves them!

Getting the backyard ready:

 

   

    
 

Praying as a team:

    
Preparing the food: 

    

  

  

The guests arrive (each person who invited someone sat beside their guests): 

   
   
   
Edric gives his talk:  

  
If you want to organize your own backyard barbecue, here are some printable homemade food labels you can use: 

   
  

  

  

  

  

  

    
  

  
 

Highlights of 2015

 

Before January gets really busy, I would like to thank the Lord for the year that was and thank you, my readers, for taking the time to visit this blog. Your comments, messages, and prayers have been a blessing to me, and a motivation to keep writing whenever I get lazy or tired. Many of you have come up to me in person, too, to take hold of my arm and whisper that this site has been a part of your life, and you can’t imagine how your words have brought me joy.

I slowed down a little bit this year with writing, primarily because it felt like our family lived two years in one this 2015. This was probably the most hectic year I’ve ever survived. Writing kind of took a backseat at times to give way to motherhood and wife duties, homeschooling, ministry, work, speaking, traveling, or much needed rest. But this site is still important to me and I haven’t lost the desire or drive to keep using this site as a means to reach out to people and talk about what God is doing in my life, marriage and parenting. This is what keeps me pressing on.

Indeed, He did much in 2015. I would even call it the best year I have ever lived. God is amazing in this way. Every year that I walk with Him, every year that I give to Him turns into the best year. This doesn’t mean that my family and I are free from problems or crises, but it does mean that His grace and faithfulness abound.

These were my personal highlights of 2015 and I hope that going through these will remind you that God is a loving Father who knows the needs of his children, the desires of their hearts, the purposes He has called them to, the mistakes they make, and the correcting that is painful but necessary along the way.

Our family capped off 2014 and welcomed 2015 with a trip to the U.S., where we survived a month without household help, the cold, and learned to serve each other through sleepless nights and endless chores. We came back to Manila in the second week of January recharged and ready to jump into 2015.

10426101_10101573682763927_1619582336462094523_n

IMG_4238 1

One of my first challenges was running in a 21K, which I thought was going to be a killer but Edric and I got through it by God’s grace! (I actually finished ahead of him which was another surprise but I couldn’t have run it without him so he helped me “beat” him.)

IMG_2905 1

Soon after we had our family commercial for Cetaphil which was an unexpected blessing. Catalina acted up a couple of times which is why she wasn’t in the final video edit but they included her in the print materials. Edan actually had a fever that started the day of the shoot (look at the photo below and his eyes), but he was a real trooper and the team behind the production was very easy to work with. It’s been a privilege to be brand ambassadors for a product line we really believe in and use as a family.

IMG_0010


Shortly after, Meg Magazine featured my testimony. They asked me to talk about how God brought healing to my life.

11068294_901764179881741_7719222920298713704_n

11070794_901764209881738_1710444612510786744_n

Our homeschooling had its highlights, too. Edan discovered an interest in botany. He grew his carnivorous plants for a season. Unfortunately they eventually died which was a lowlight but he continues to be interested in animals and plants. Looks like we will be buying more carnivorous plants again this year!

IMG_3993 1

Elijah graduated from elementary and moved on to high school! This opened a new chapter in our homeschooling, especially for me! More grace, strength, and wisdom needed from the Lord!

IMG_5405

Titus took his first achievement test and did well! He also excellent at math this year which I didn’t even know was a strong point for him. But praise God. He knows that I’m not the best math teacher. I also discovered that Titus has a God-given musical talent. He started harmonising at the age of 6 and taught himself to do this!

img_6287.jpeg

My fourth child, Tiana, started to read which was a big milestone!

 

 Catalina, my youngest, became a real a chatterbug. She grew in her ability to express herself and comprehend, and has showed an inclination to learn and be part of our homeschooling. She got exiled many times because she was disruptive but I hope to include her as often as possible this year.

FullSizeRender

One of the kids’ homeschool field trips was to Costales where they learned about organic farming. God saved Ethan (my nephew on the right) from drowning, too! He got sucked down a drain and it’s a miracle that he popped out the other end and my brother was able to pull him out!

IMG_3939 1

Over the summer the boys attended Coach Siot’s basketball camp, which they will be joining again at the end of this month. They learned to push themselves physically.

IMG_5752

IMG_5753

They also enrolled in Ninja Academy’s Parkour course, which has been incredibly fun for them. What boy doesn’t want to learn to scale walls, jump over bars, free fall off a ledge, and swing from ropes?

FullSizeRender-2

Tiana finally made it through her ballet classes without crying through them. She turned out to be quite a graceful dancer (most probably from Edric’s side of the family).

The boys improved immensely in their violin playing.

FullSizeRender-6

We also got to fix our homeschool room which made a big difference in our kids’ daily learning.

IMG_8355

IMG_8350

IMG_8353

God opened up opportunities to be featured on television to talk about homeschooling. The first was on CNN’s Mommy Hacks.

11406873_944711482253677_31800007460877040_n

I was also interviewed about homeschooling for Mommy Mundo’s new show which should be airing soon!

FullSizeRender-5

Throughout the year, the kids spoke with us during retreats, business speaking engagements, and other ministry activities. This was a great way for them to use their communication skills to bless people.

IMG_6444

IMG_0962

Our homeschool Coop gave our kids the opportunity to develop some great friendships. I also enjoyed connecting with other homeschool moms and team teaching with them. By the end of the year, when we celebrated our Christmas party, we were nearly 100 people! We had to cater the party!

10271345_10152855327994646_7351532995875860431_o

IMG_6131

IMG_4722

Our coop covered culinary arts, art history and theory, speech, ethics, apologetics, science, social studies, history, and it culminated with a Kid’s Praise musical thanks to the talented moms who contributed their expertise for directing, teaching dance, singing, and designing the set. The kids performed for an audience of underprivileged children at Revelation Church in Sta. Mesa.

IMG_1379

TMA Homeschool did some much needed expanding this year. We did several roadshows to connect with homeschoolers around the Philippines…

IMG_4793

IMG_4754 1

IMG_4410 1

TMA Homeschool also moved into its new office to help serve parents better, and Learning Plus, our homeschool bookstore, opened to provide curriculum and homeschool-related materials to parents. Our guests from the U.S., Mike Donnelly of Homeschool Legal Defense Association, and Davis and Rachel Carman of Apologia Press graced the ribbon cutting.

IMG_2394

IMG_2396

The portal, Homeschooling Solutions, became available for families who can’t come to the Learning Plus Bookstore because they live farther away or out of the country. Materials are delivered within 48 hours. A lot of non-TMA Homeschool families used this site for their homeschooling needs.

We had two big homeschool conferences this year. Set Them Up for Success and Ready for the World, where we partnered with Manila Workshops ,  The Learning Basket and HAPI. These events brought the homeschool community together.

10904400_793568844065210_8415782671038821609_o

11951749_900493830039377_7149421809619271405_n

12096506_914123218676438_6384378214633870076_n

IMG_4011

On the Family Ministry front, God provided an amazing team to mount three very special events —  The Before and After I D seminar for engaged and newly married couples, Family and Finance, and Counterflow. We intend to make these events a yearly thing for young couples and families who want to know more about biblical marriage, finance, and parenting.

BID4

FullSizeRender-3

IMG_4012

IMG_8559

Here’s a super big one which was made possible only by God’s amazing grace! My book, When A Good God Allows Rape, got published and was launched at the Manila International Book Fair by OMF Lit Publishing. It’s now available in bookstores around the country like National Bookstore, Pages, OMF Lit, and as a online ebook via Amazon, buqo, and others.

IMG_1159

IMG_1160

Writing the book opened doors for me to talk more about the Lord. On CNN Philippines’ Real Talk the hosts devoted the entire 45 minutes to asking me questions about my book and my faith in Christ! I was thrilled! My dream for this book is that it will inspire people to follow Jesus. May He get all the glory!

IMG_3665

We had some favourite family photoshoots over the year. The first was done by Mayad Studios, who ventured into lifestyle photography with their Mayad Beginnings. They captured our family so naturally. 

IMG_9442

IMG_9267-2

IMG_9554

IMG_9344

Another one was done by Alex Adiaz, which we also appreciated very much. He shot this one in our backyard.

Mendoza_050

Another super highlight was Elijah getting baptized. 

 Yet another personal favourite of 2015 was how God worked in our Thursday couples’ group. We grew closer to the Lord and to one another, and most of us got to attend The Executive Couple’s Retreat in Baguio Country Club, where we learned and re-learned marriage principles. Some of us also served by facilitating other couples’ groups.

12004095_10156051904810557_9183094049650360886_n

12039668_10156046117045557_2370667723417943667_n

As a group, we put together a surprise wedding for the Avelinos. This really knit our hearts together in a special way.

IMG_2935

Our bigger discipleship group family grew, too! Unfortunately we didn’t get to see everyone as often as we wanted to because we moved far from the area where we used to meet every week. But, we got together for “trimester” fellowships. These people are our extended spiritual family for life and we love them dearly!

IMG_3580

IMG_8595

IMG_8591

The year had some sad turns. Steve, who was like family, died tragically a day before he turned 30. My grandfather, angkong to us, passed away at 96. Both knew the Lord so we shall see them again, but it was difficult to lose both of them.

IMG_1902

 

IMG_4819.JPG

 

We didn’t do too well in the pet department. We lost three of our Siamese cats – one committed suicide off the top of our roof, and two got run over by crazy drivers. Our Myna bird fell over in its cage and expired, and several of our fish were found floating lifeless in their tank. We also had to give away two dogs to more deserving and caring owners. (They are still alive and much happier now.) We hope to have less tragedies with our animals in 2016.

  
Our family also lost a very loyal and hard working household help who went to work abroad. We gave her our full blessing and support but she continues to be missed.

A definite high was celebrating the wedding of Edric’s sister, Danie to Vince Valdepenas. 

(null)(null)I started sewing dresses this year. I sewed the dress I wore for the wedding and made 6 yards of mistakes in the process! Experience is the best teacher! Thankfully, the material was only P80/yard. Ssh.

Another endorsement fell into our laps when we were asked to do an online commercial for Vernel Fabric Softener as a family. We love these family endorsements! We are so thankful! It’s an undeserved bonus from God whenever we are asked to do these things.

 (null)The year ended with a number of parties and engagements (my last count was about 20) but my favourite part was being with family (Edric’s side and my side). The Mendozas were almost complete for Christmas this year. The Tan-Chis most definitely were which was extra special for all of us.

We left a spot for Edric’s sister, Nicky, who was terribly missed.

My sister, Carolyn and her husband, Joel, were MIA in this photo because she gave birth over the holidays. But we were together for opening presents on December 26th.

 

 

I am a pretty simple gal. Edric and I always have a lot going on, but my best memories of the year were the quiet ones… being at home, enjoying our house (we finally completed a year in it), exploring the outdoors as a family, getting to know our kids better and growing closer to one another, playing board games, curling up on the couch for some me-time, watching movies, going on dates with Edric, eating around our kitchen table…These are the moments that made up the best of 2015 for me.

IMG_7423

IMG_7602

IMG_7404

   

  

 When I take stock of this year, I am thoroughly amazed at God’s hand in everything. There’s no success mentioned here that can be attributed to Edric or myself. Everything that happened that was good was due to God’s grace. Everything that happened that was unfortunate was part of his grand plan. 

I’m posting this in the middle of our fasting week as a church, while I am praying for God’s direction and leading for 2016. A few days ago I began by asking Him, “Lord what is your will for me this year?” I expected answers like, “Say yes to this speaking engagement or say no to this one,” or, “Pursue this venture,” or, “Write another book,” or, “Do this for your homeschooling,” etc. Instead, this was the answer I received:

“He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me, and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him.” John 14:21

“If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done fore. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.” John 15:7-11

We all want to experience a life of joy. I certainly do. And sometimes I mistakenly think that what I do with my abilities will determine how great a year I will have. But God simplified it for me when he said, “Love Me. Abide in My Love. Obey My commandments.” This is the path to a life of joy, a year of joy!

So my new year’s resolution is not a long list of things I would like to do or avoid. Instead it is dedicating 2016 to loving God, and abiding in His love by obeying His commands. How does God want you to live your 2016?

 

 

 

When A Husband Nourishes His Wife

 
 
It’s rare that Edric plays a support role along side me. Usually it’s the other way around. However, these past two weeks he has blocked off his schedule for every event relating to the launch of my book — the contract signing, digital book press event, and the book signing this Sunday. Because I know he is an incredibly busy person, his commitment to see this project through with me has meant a lot. 

   

  

  

  

  

 Last night, during the digital book press event, he took pictures, tailed me everywhere like a PA, held my things, and waited patiently as I signed books. Since he’s a TV host, it’s more common that people recognize him and give him attention, but he was content to serve me and remain in the background. It was very sweet of him.

What most people do not know is that Edric ought to get a whole lot of credit for unleashing my love for writing. Some years ago, when I stopped reporting to an office, I became a stay at home mom so I could prioritize our children and homeschool them without having to juggle a part time job. Edric gladly took it upon himself to be the provider so my energy could be directed towards our children, homeschooling and our home. This liberated me to pursue hobbies, interests and skills that I wanted to. It was wonderful to be freed from the pressure of making money to augment our financial needs. 

Since Edric knew I deeply enjoyed writing, he pushed me to use this ability purposefully. He was the one who challenged me to get my blog started. He made sure I had every resource available to me to set up TeachwithJoy and keep it going. 

When he found out that I was putting together a book, he was thrilled and encouraged me in every way he could. In fact, he was willing to fund the publishing himself but God opened the door to connect with OMF Literature which turned out to be the better path to take.

In Ephesians 5:28-29 it says, “So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church,”‭‭

The word “nourish” means to “grow” and I want to honor Edric for being intentional about helping me to grow as a person. While I embrace my daily preoccupation as a stay-at-home mom and there’s nothing boring or diminishing about it, Edric continues to provide me with opportunities to develop my passions, interests and skills. I know other women whose husbands do the same and they are blooming, fulfilled, and energized wives. 

I deeply enjoy being a wife and mom and if that’s what I was called to entirely focused on then I trust that God would make my heart and bands content, but there are revelations that come from both these roles that naturally lead to other avenues — writing about my adventures, speaking to younger women about being a wife and mother, enhancing my home management skills or having hobbies that beautify the home, connecting with and learning from other women, working hard to stay fit and healthy so I can take care of my family, and having outlets to deal with the realistic stress of raising kids, and so much more! For as long as these do not compromise my priorities of husband, kids, homeschooling and home, Edric wholeheartedly supports my desire to keep growing as a person in this season of my life. 

Furthermore, he identifies areas of character weakness in me so he can also disciple me as my spiritual leader and he prays for me, too. Whether it is emotional, physical, intellectual, or spiritual growth, he is the one person most committed to making sure that I don’t stagnate as an individual. 

Sometimes it is in the small ways…The other day he made me join him and the kids during their Ninja Academy trial session. We had to do Parkour moves which left me immensely sore the next day. (Me?! Doing Parkour?! Whuuut?!) And Edric challenged me to jump off the “pride wall”, one of the obstacles that I refused to do at first because I am afraid of heights. 

   

  

It really wasn’t super high and four of my kids did it, including Edric who jumped off the wall first. But for me, anything higher than 10 feet feels like a building. Afterwards I felt a real sense of accomplishment for pushing myself physically. Jumping over walls and running up them…it’s really not me, but Edric got me to do it! 

So I praise God for my husband, who nourishes me as his wife. I know there are times when he wants me all to himself like Rapunzel in a tower, but at the end of the day, he has my best interests at heart and wants me to be all that I can be for the Lord, which makes me into a better wife and mother in the end! So we both win when Edric fulfills his role to help me grow! 

Breakfasts In Our Home

Breakfast is a pretty substantial meal in our home. Personally, I wouldn’t mind eating dinner leftovers for breakfast, but Edric and the kids always want hearty, intentional morning meals. Oh how I wish they would be happy with eggs and cereal, but this is simply not acceptable in our house. So it’s always a challenge to think up breakfast food options which…

1. Look appetizing for my dearly beloveds (Presentation matters to them. They got this from Edric’s side of the family because my family was vastly different growing up. Think Vikings eating out of pots and pans.) 

2. Are filling. Everyone wants a big breakfast in this house.

3. Are preservative free (as much as possible.) We avoid canned food products like spam, corned beef, Vienna sausages, etc. But admittedly we haven’t quite quit the bacon or the boxed pancakes. Any good recommendations?!

4. Are easy enough for our househelp to replicate.

Here are our family’s top picks for breakfast meals, in no special order. And, I keep adding to these options:   Pancakes and bacon. We use honey instead of syrup. It’s a little easier on the nutritional conscience. 

Tapa and egg. I got a great recipe from my mother in law for this tapa! SM Hypermart also sells inexpensive Rib-eye sukiyaki cut which I get for this recipe. 
Mushroom, tomato, and cheese omelette with basil from our plant. It’s always hard for me to pull leaves off our herbs. I feel sad! We get our pandesal freshly made from our village. As you can see, I am generous with butter, for as long as it is butter and not margarine.   

This is always a winner for my kids. Connie’s Kitchen’s Tuyo. Edric likes Gustazo’s Tuyo. For as long as it’s tuyo, my kids gobble this up!    

Village Gourmet’s Farmer’s Ham and eggs with whole wheat pandesal on the side (and lots of butter! Yeah butter!)

 
Oatmeal (not the quick cooking kind, but the rolled oats and preferably GMO-free when I can find it in Rustan’s Fresh.) Edric and Elijah also love Brie cheese, served here with nuts and prunes.

  
Danggit! One of my more preferred breakfasts. Anything I can eat with vinegar is up there. And stinky fish is always up there! (Not so much for Edric whose olfactories can’t handle the funky smell of dried fish. But for me…ayee! heaven!)

 
This is the only canned product we really eat. Century Tuna’s hot and spicy version and solid in vegetable oil. We cook both versions together with onions and the kids devour it.   

Titus likes his bagels! We put lots of cream cheese on ours and top it with strawberry jam. On the upper left is a bowl of granola with yoghurt and fruit.

  
Adobo flakes on fried egg on rice. If we have adobo the night before, we make adobo flakes the next day. Yummy! On the top left is banana with Nutella. This is Tiana’s all-time favorite way to eat bananas. 

Ideally, the food should be presented the same way so I took these photos to print out for our househelp’s reference. 

Not photographed: 

– Cereal and scrambled eggs with cheese 

– Spicy sardines (we like the San Marino brand) and fried egg, and pandesal.  

Rice is pretty much a staple in all our meals and we usually mix white with multi-grain, red, or black organically grown rice.   

What’s a hearty breakfast in your home? I need more ideas! 

Pursuing Peace at Home

Sometimes managing household help and a driver is stressful for me when their inter-personal relationships get complicated. When unsettled issues linger, their work and the environment of our home is affected. But my greater concern is their spiritual health and what lies behind the conflict.

For several months our household help and driver were embittered with one another. Their dissension began with minor irritations over personality differences. But the hurt escalated until they started name-calling and criticizing. When I asked each one of them what the issue was, the problem between them had become so convoluted, Edric decided to set a meeting to settle their conflict once and for all.

This morning, he mediated a nearly two hour discussion. First we prayed together and then he gave each person the opportunity to share their frustrations. He didn’t let emotions escalate and he prevented the higher-strung individuals from butting in and making snide comments. When everyone had the opportunity to speak up, he helped them identify the main issue.

The main issue was pretty simple — our driver was hurt because one of our household help was moody towards him. So he was demotivated to assist our girls when it came to chores outside the scope of his driving responsibilities. This angered the women who interpreted his attitude as laziness. They began to incite him with comments like, “you just sleep and eat,” which gave him reason to disdain them. Months passed and the angry feelings increased until they became noticeable to Edric, me, and our kids.

Today, Edric ably sorted through the mess with them and encouraged them to pursue peace. The two hour meeting turned out to be a wonderful time of healing for our household help and driver.

Edric asked all of them to say what they appreciated about each other, and what they could improve on. Tears were shed. Humility and forgiveness were present, and reconciliation took place.

At the end, I reminded them that our home represents Christ because we are followers of Jesus and so are they (each one of them has a personal relationship with Him). Therefore I concluded my little part of the speech I was allowed to inject, thanks to Edric, with the reason why we need to be at peace with one another. We want to glorify Christ in our relationships and in our home. They wholeheartedly agreed.

To give them a practical application, Edric went over Ephesians 4:29 which reads, “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.” ‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭4:29‬ ‭NASB‬‬

He made them read this passage and internalize it so they would remember to speak in ways that edify and not wound one other. We also prayed together to conclude our meeting. Afterwards, everyone was smiling and the atmosphere had changed from tense and chilly to warm and sunny!

I decided to write this entry because I was blessed by Edric’s leadership today. He sounded like a frog because he was battling a bad cough and laryngitis but he prioritized this peace-keeping mission to restore the relationships that were broken in our household. He could have left the problem to me to fix, but he knew that I needed his intervention to facilitate the meeting in Filipino and to assert his headship. The women were flaming some some pretty hot emotional fires but because they deeply respect Edric and have a healthy fear of him, they listened to his counsel and guidance. Edric also assured me that he knew the culture and how to steer the course of the discussion so it would remain focused and productive.

Fri Feb 07 2014 16-43-48 GMT+0800

When all was quiet again and we had a moment together, I thanked him profusely for coming to my aid. 1 Timothy 3:2-5 talks about the qualifications for an overseer as one who is “above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not addicted to wine or pugnacious, but gentle, peaceable, free from the love of money. He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity (but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?)” ‭‬‬

I know this passage is especially for church leaders, but in the verses which precede it, the encouragement is to aspire for church leadership. This means that every person ought to consider putting on the qualities that describe a leader. And being a good leader includes managing one’s household — ordering it and taking charge of it.

I used to think this was about making sure that our kids are well-behaved and obedient. But it was brought to my attention again today that the responsibility is greater. Edric and I need to disciple our household help and driver. They don’t just work for us to serve our family. We must be committed to their spiritual health, too. God has placed them in our lives so we can bless them and minister to them. Sometimes, this means Edric, as the head of our home, has to steer them towards Christ-likeness like he did today.

I may have been able to set up and oversee the meeting today, but I know it wouldn’t have turned out as well as it did so I praise God for the wisdom and initiative he gave Edric. What an amazing difference it makes when a man embraces his God-given position of authority in the home!

Tue Jul 01 2014 09-12-43 GMT+0800

Renovating the Homeschool Room

Who messes up on IKEA instructions?! I do! I did! With a day to redecorate our homeschool room before it was going to be documented for an interview on homeschooling, I tried to rush through assembling eight pieces of furniture with my kids and made several mistakes. Of course I felt incredibly inept and discouraged! IKEA is supposed to be dummy-proof…if you religiously follow the instruction manual. I decided that I pretty much got it after skimming through the manual and took it from there, using my own logic and instinct. Well, neither of these worked perfectly. 

I found myself frustrated and stressed. My kids were doing the best they could, and they were having a lot of fun, but after a while, they too realized what we were up against…Too many pieces of furniture to put together for a mom and five kids. (Catalina had to be banned several times because she was stealing the tools.)

Edric came home and saw me in dire straits. His instinctively announced to the kids, as he surveyed the mess we made, “Have no fear, daddy is here!” Everyone cheered! 

Like a general who had total control of his army, Edric organized all of us into stations and roles. He was much stricter than I was and very bossy which took some getting used to at first, but if it had not been for his leadership, I would have struggled through the renovation. 

Could I have organized and fixed the room myself? Probably. I am not a helpless chick. I know how to use a tool box. But was it nice to be rescued by my husband? Of course! 

There was something about his command over the situation that was very reassuring. I didn’t have to bear a burden that he was very willing to take upon himself. And he knew how to follow instructions much more methodically and carefully than I did. 

I actually waited twelve years to have a homeschooling space like this! Thank you, Lord! I hope you enjoy the transformation of our homeschool room which we got done in about 10 hours thanks to family team work and Edric’s able leadership! Tadah! 

Before…   

  In process…

  
    
   
    
   
After…

   
The kids wanted a stage with different colored backgrounds for their “green screen” videos. (Still working on this part.)

    
 Still organizing the shelves…  
    
    
   
Still to add…beanbags and rug for reading area, kiddie table and chairs, and drawers for more storage. Any other ideas or suggestions? 

By the way, I found most of the furniture at Furniture Source Philippines. They are located along Granada Street, right after Ortigas avenue and before Gilmore in San Juan. You can check out their Facebook page and Instagram. Their prices are higher than what I would pay for from an actual IKEA because they ship products in but I still didn’t spend as much as I would have if I had gone with other suppliers.

 
 

Tree Lighting Project

I saw this idea on Pinterest and wanted to try it out myself. It’s a very easy way to light up your tree beautifully.

Elijah and Titus hammered a hole on the jar cover so the wire could be thread through.  

This is what we used to thread through the cover – outdoor light sockets.
Like this…

And then a 16 gauge flat wire was attached to the light socket wires (the electrician did this).

  

We helped reinforce the wire with electrical tape. Get the rubberized one.   This kind of thing is super fun for me!

   We used our glue gun to seal off the hole in the center.  

Those are my toes…good thing they are pedicured.

     

The 16 gauge flat wire was connected to a thicker, heavy duty wire that was used as the main line.

 
We attached the lights onto the tree using wire and nails.

  
We also needed a ladder.

Our tree is so tall we may need to buy or rent scaffolding to reach the higher parts with lights. (Part 2 of this project)

We screwed on the bulbs and the jars after wires were securely in place and then turned on our lights to appreciate the finished look! I would have preferred Edison bulbs to complete the more vintage feel but they don’t last as long as LED ones do. 

 

Costs: 

1. Electrician’s labor – P1,500

2. Jars from Dapitan Street – P1,350 (for 15) 

2. Light bulbs – P1,500 (for 15 LED lights) 

 4. Other supplies (electrical wires, electrical tape, nails, and metal wire) about 4k

It’s much cheaper to get the more common tree lights that are made out of capiz shells, but I enjoyed this project a lot! I am the kind of person who likes the hardware store and do-it-yourself projects. Plus, I like giving the kids an opportunity to collaborate and get involved. It’s so much more gratifying to work towards a goal together. In Dapitan steet they sell a string of outdoor lights for a little over 1k. Waaay less than what I spent but, hey, the results were worth the trouble and  the cost. I am praying they will last through the rainy season! 

 

Dapitan Rookie

I may be the last person who knows about the amazing finds at Dapitan, but in case you are clueless like me, here’s a place worth visiting. There is a street off Banawe Avenue in Quezon City that is called Dapitan. It’s a treasure-trove of household items that cheapies-with-taste, such as myself, and my friend who recommended it (Thanks, Emily), will absolutely enjoy. If it had not been for the heat last Saturday, I might have spent more time bargain hunting. But Edric was with me, which was a good thing, because his threshold for summer heat is very low. So we were in and out of Dapitan in a little over an hour. 

Here are some stores that caught my eye:

  
                                       
Here’s a guy that definitely caught my attention! Oh, that’s my handsome husband, pointing at a birdcage!

 
Here are some of the items I ended up buying: 

Jars for my outdoor lights project (P90 each) 

 Milk jar (P100)  

Wooden tray (P50)  

Small ramekins (P30 each)  

Sugar bowls (P50 each) 

Not bad, eh? And I didn’t even do much haggling because the prices weren’t expensive to begin with. I will be going back soon (on a day that’s not so hot!)

Four Weeks As a REAL Housewife

I get it now. Being a home maker is backbreaking work. I mean, a homemaker in North America. By the end of the day, my idea of a reward is a hot shower or sitting on a couch to watch some mindless movie to fall asleep to. There’s hardly anything left in me to give to Edric or my kids because I am tired.

It hasn’t been stressful cleaning, cooking, and doing the laundry. But it has been physically exhausting. I suppose this is why I have taken long pauses from writing as of late. Plus it isn’t very inspiring to talk about house chores. Who wants to know about how I sort dark and light clothing? It’s somewhere in between maddening and necessary. Everyday I look at the pile of laundry that the kids throw into the hamper and I am like, “You’ve got to be kidding! Do we go through that many clothes?!” Well, we do. We are 7 x 2 outfits a day. So when the kids don’t leave the house, I let them wear their pajamas morning to night. And if they don’t get sweaty, they can postpone their shower to the next day (and wear the same pjs!)

Then, there’s the kitchen. It’s a full-time preoccupation cooking and cleaning the kitchen. Now I understand why cereal is so popular. Heck, why not eat it three times a day! The kids went through an uncountable number of cereal boxes this vacation. I am ashamed to admit they survived on Lucky Charms and Cheerios.

In a few days I will have my unrealistic life back — the one that comes with household help. I finally understand why it is a luxury to be able to pay people to wash the dishes, clean the house, do the laundry, cook the meals, etc. America, for all its conveniences and efficiencies, is wonderful and I am glad to be part American.

However, I still prefer living in the Philippines. The kids do, too. They are looking forward to seeing their Siamese cats, toys, own beds, and getting back into the rhythm of our lives in Manila.

Manila doesn’t have the cleanest air or streets. It can get miserably hot. Life is crazy busy for us with homeschooling, business and ministry. But that’s where we are serving God and investing in the lives of others.

I will miss the cold weather, the traffic-less freeways, the quieter life where the extent of your social obligations are four or five good friends, the groceries (oh, the groceries with thirty options for butter!), the steak (I love a good steak), and the nobody-knows-you kind of anonymity that an introvert like myself can really get used to.

IMG_1466.JPG
But anywhere is home where I am with Edric and the kids. This past month has felt like we have been “at home.” However, I am so thankful to the Lord that at present, our mailing address is in Manila, Philippines. I am looking forward to a decent night’s sleep and breakfast that includes rice and comes with a clean up crew!

Some of the things I learned as a happily desperate housewife on vacation this past month:

1. Buy lots of cereal, milk, eggs, fruit, and cheese, and make these accessible throughout the day.

2. Invest in a ton of wet wipes and bring them everywhere!

3. Breastfeed your infant. It’s the simplest, easiest way to make sure she gets the nourishment she needs. Catalina cut back on the solids because she prefers the soupy, home cooked meals our yayas make for her. Thankfully she breastfed a lot so she was fine during this vacation.

4. Use one bag that can double as a diaper bag and purse. Forget about looking stylish. It’s the practicality you are after.

5. Let the older kids bathe, dress, feed, and clean up after themselves.

6. Have an IPad available to entertain a carseat-restrained infant. I gave in and let Catalina be distracted by hours of YouVersion’s Bible App (for kids) so she wouldn’t cry like a screaming banshee.

7. Give the kids vitamins and extra vitamin C everyday.

8. Take your vitamins and overdose on vitamin C everyday.

9. Encourage the older kids to babysit the younger ones.

10. Dress up and look nice even if you feel tired and want to wear pajamas all day. Only your children are allowed to do that!

11. Teach your 16 month old survival skills like feeding herself or going up and down the stairs so she has the freedom to go around the house without you worrying about her constantly. (Catalina learned to scoot down the carpeted stairs backwards very effectively.)

12. Enjoy the moment even if you are sick and tired of the mess, the amount of effort it takes to mind the whereabouts of five children, or preoccupied by thoughts about what you have to do next.

13. Appreciate the effort your husband makes to sweep the floor, clean out the car, and organize the children so you don’t feel irritated when he says he can’t hold the baby for longer than ten minutes.

IMG_1666.JPG
14. Train your 16 month old to obey. Catalina was hitting her younger cousin several times a day, every day, and throwing tantrums when she didn’t get her way. We finally started disciplining her by spanking her for disobedience and defiance. Praise God she improved significantly and made the connection — hitting is a no-no, and throwing herself on the floor while rolling around wailing is a no-no, too. Here she is hugging the cousin she used to bully…

IMG_1696.JPG
15. Saturate your mind with thoughts about God. I downloaded a lot of uplifting music on my Spotify account so I could meditate on the Lord, especially during long drives.

16. Find ways to recharge — nap times while you breastfeed, hot showers, short shopping trips, a fun movie, a chocolate chip cookie (or two or three. You will burn it off with keeping house and breastfeeding.)…Yes, I still managed to sneak in some me-time during this chore-ridden vacation.

17. Serve others with a joyful attitude without grumbling or thinking “you-owe-me.” Several times I was tempted to be irritated at every single person in my family for all the chores I had to do while they got to play or enjoy themselves. But God reminded me to work for Him.

Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve. (‭Colossians‬ ‭3‬:‭23-24‬ NASB)

The kitchen crew…

IMG_1707.JPG

Eating Issues?

Is it a challenge to inspire your kids to eat? Are you running out of ideas that are healthy and reasonably simple to prepare?

I was sent a copy of Yummy Mommy a week before we left for the US. Although I haven’t gotten a chance to try the recipes yet I am excited to when I get back to Manila. Even my second son, Edan, picked some of the ideas he would like me to cook or bake in the kitchen. It is such a great book for moms who want to offer kid-friendly meals to their children. I am sure all moms can relate to eating-related issues with their kids and a lot of recipe books ala sneaky chef style don’t always recommend ingredients that are locally available. This one does.

IMG_0402.JPGas s

IMG_0401.JPGIMG_0403.JPG

Here is Anvil Publishing’s write up on their book…

Anvil Publishing releases Yummy Mommy by Tricel De Guzman, a full-time mother and dedicated homemaker, who collected favorite recipes of dishes of her daughter who is a picky eater. Aside from the delicious recipes, Tricel shares tips on food preparation and proper feeding Celebrity Mommy Cheska Garcia-Kramer tried cooking these yummy recipes for her picky eater Kendra and raved about it on Instagram! What’s more, all the dishes can be enjoyed by other family members.

Mommies can try mouthwatering dishes like, Spinach Rice with Tofu and Kiwi, Nice and Gooey Chicken Wings, Popcorn Shrimp with Orange Dip, Salmon Broccoli Rice Bake. Make kids enjoy merienda with Banana Fritters with Cream Cheese Sauce, Jam and Cheese Grilled Sandwich, Fruit Sticks with Milo Dip. For busy working moms, the No-bake desserts such as Banana Ice Cream Burrito, Blueberry Cheesecake in a Jar, Milk Flan with Honey Prune Sauce, and Mango-Ginger Parfait are perfect meal enders.

Yummy Mommy is now in the BESTSELLER list of National Book Store and Powerbooks nationwide.

It’s Your Mess: Deal with It Darling

By the end of our homeschooling morning, our “classroom” usually looks like someone threw a grenade into it. I’ve tried to manage the mess by cleaning up as we go along, but there’s no better way to keep this room straight than to have the kids take responsibility for it.

Today they wanted to dye eggs as an art activity, but I told them, “If you want to do art, you have to clean up the room.” So they pulled out a broom from the hallway closet, picked up markers and colored pencils, and wiped the paint off the floor.

IMG_9414-0.JPG

IMG_9418-0.JPG

IMG_9410-0.JPG

IMG_9420.JPG
My kids can get presumptuous about our househelp cleaning up after them so I have to remind them to straighten their own rooms, organize their toys, and mop their spills. They aren’t always motivated but a helpful trick is to tell them they can’t move on to the next activity until they straighten up their clutter.

Yesterday, they wanted to watch the Muppets movie. They were all plopped in front of the television enjoying themselves when I went upstairs to check on their rooms. Titus and Tiana had pulled out blankets and re-arranged furniture. They also had stuffed animals thrown around. Elijah and Edan had played with Citiblocks and constructed “trees”.

IMG_9394.JPG

IMG_9379.JPG
I went back down, turned off the television and told them that their rooms had to be spotless if they wanted to continue watching the movie. They complied and got to work. After ten minutes, Elijah and Edan bounded back down the stairs. Titus and Tiana struggled to restore the girls’ room to what it looked like before they messed it up. I told them they were responsible for the disorder and had to fix it.

Elijah, Edan, and I finished the movie but Titus and Tiana never came down. I went looking for them, wondering what ever became of their commitment to put their mess away. And I found them lying on the couch in the study room, ASLEEP! They must have gotten tired trying to figure out what to do.

IMG_9392.JPG
Well, they resumed their clean up duties and got the job done after they woke up.

I want my kids to understand that they are responsible for their things. It’s easy to make a mess. In fact, it’s pretty fun to do so. But if my kids get into the habit of letting others inherit their mess, it’s going to have a negative effect on their character. They have to learn faithfulness in the small areas, like putting away toys or wiping up spills, so it will carry over to bigger areas in the future. If they “mess” up relationships, or make wrong decisions, they need to own up to the consequences and do what is honorable – deal with the mess and do their best to fix what they can.