• "Everything is a grace, everything is the direct effect of our Father's love—difficulties, contradictions, humiliations, all the soul's miseries, her burdens, her needs - everything, because through them, she learns humility, realizes her weakness - Everything is a grace because everything is God's gift. Whatever be the character of life or its unexpected events—to the heart that loves, all is well."
  • - St. Therese of Lisieux

Monday, July 25, 2016

7 Day July Challenge Day 5

It has been raining lately so we took a break form the challenge and kept ourselves busy indoors. The next challenge is:

Practice pouring water from a pitcher into cups. Take it outside!

Since this activity involved water, I decided to wait until the sun shined to do it.

My little one loves to play with water so this activity was a hit.

I prepared a basin of water too so he could just get water from there when his pitcher was empty.

He would pour all of the water out in just one cup though.

This is such a fun way for him to learn how to pour. We have practiced pouring water into his sippy cup a couple of times too. He gets the plastic water container from the refrigerator, pulls a low stool to the kitchen counter,  carefully climbs on it, asks me to flip open the lid of the water container and carefully pours.  We have only done it a couple of times because I think its just too messy! Hahaha!

We will be doing this activity outdoors many more times and maybe soon, indoors. 

After several minutes of pouring exactly how I showed him, he decides to go crazy.

This activity helps your child develop eye-hand coordination - he has to hold the pitcher above the cup to get the water in; fine motor skills - he has to control the amount of water he puts in; concentration - to accomplish the first two tasks; estimation - so he still has water for the rest of the cups; and lastly, independence - he will be able to pour himself a drink when he is thirsty.

I had some resistance calling him in the house to get cleaned up. So I told him that he could still play for a few minutes. I think he was really challenged by the activity.

After a few minutes, I talked to him about the activity. It was more of me asking the questions and him answering 'opo' (Filipino way of saying yes respectfully, especially to elders) or 'no'. I described what he was doing and how he was doing it. I reminded him that it was almost time to clean up and assured him that we will do the activity again soon. 

Surprisingly, without even asking him to stop, he collected all the cups and gave them to me. So I sang our clean up song and we happily went in the house to get ready for nap.

Friday, July 22, 2016

7 Day July Challenge: Day 4

Day 4 Challenge from Hands On As We Grow!

Draw a target on the driveway or sidewalk in chalk. Make, or gather, mud to throw at the target.

We did this challenge after our afternoon walk so it would be shady on the sidewalk.

Since our little one is just 2, I drew a red circle on the sidewalk and told him that we will try to throw mud in the circle.

My husband and I prepared a little planting spot for our tomato plants, pechay , oregano and sweet potato tops. Since they have not been replanted yet, I got the hose and made a little mud puddle.

I invited my son to grab some, as I put my hands in the mud, but he shook his head and said "No." So I went to the sidewalk with mud in hand and showed him where to stand and throw. He still was not interested. 

Not giving up, I asked my son if he wanted to throw stones instead. He immediately looked for one and dipped it in the mud. Ha! Then went back to the target and hurled the stone. I cheered on as he went to retrieve the same stone which hit the target but bounced out into the grass.

He did this for probably 2 more times as I cheered him on and watched, but it seemed he was more interested in the mud because there were earthworms squiggling in and out.

So he abandoned the target practice, found a bamboo stick and started poking in the mud.

As I sat on the grass beside him, I asked, "What are you going to do?" He made a stirring motion, his sign for cooking, and pointed to the mud. Remembering that we are working on his expressive vocabulary, I said, "Oh, you're going to cook." Then he started putting stones and leaves in as I tried to label all his actions.

Labeling actions is one way to scaffold your child's learning. In our case, learning to say the words. Scaffolding, like in construction, refers to a temporary support for a learner (child). 

As the little one played with mud, I also asked questions like "What do you think is under all the soil?" He would answer "eeh, eeh, eeh." Meaning insects. So I say "Oh yes, insects! I think I saw one right there." Or I say, "You're putting in some leaves. Leaves. Leaves." And he tries very hard to say it back. Whatever sound comes out, I say "Yes. leaves."

He was really enjoying himself that he did not notice he was putting his hands in the mud already. He tried to dig up some earthworms with his stick but I think they all went deeper into the soil.

This is definitely better than sitting your toddler and teaching him how to talk. By using his senses as we use words, his brain is able to process and work on the information when the time comes to use the same words in a different situation. Who knows? Maybe tomorrow when we do our morning walk and pass by a pile of leaves, which was swept by the neighborhood gardener he would happily scatter them and say, "Leaves!"

We went in the house all happy and muddy after 30 full minutes of playing. 

Here's how Jamie of Hands On As We Grow did Mud Target Practice with her boys.

I hope you'll try this challenge soon too!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

7 Day July Challenge: Day 3

Today's challenge from Hands On As We Grow is:

Set out paper of different colors. Write the name of the color at the top. Tear up scraps of the paper in the same color hues. Then glue scraps onto corresponding papers.
Here's what we did: 

I used a brown paper bag for the paper to stick onto. Our tot uses them for scribbling too. 

I intentionally made small squares so we could at least make two colors in one sitting. Then, I wrote the color names on each paper and set up the work area.

And we all set out for our morning walk.

We went straight to work when we got back.

We played a little game of 'Give Me The Color ___' using the colored markers first. 

We worked on red. And again, my little one insisted on putting the glue himself. It took him a lot more time with the glue than with the paper!

And then blue. While sticking the blue paper, our tot suddenly blurted out "blue!" 
"Yes! blue!" I replied. This was his first color word! What a blessing. He kept on repeating "blue" until he finished sticking.

We laughed and he shook his hands frantically when paper got stuck on his fingers. And we laughed some more.

 After doing blue, he asked for milk. Ha! So we're doing the rest of the colors some other time. Maybe, just maybe, I'll let him do this activity while I cook. If he can finish one color in ten minutes, I need 6 more colors then. 

Why not try this activity with your tot too? 

Does your little one love using glue like mine?

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

7 Day July Challenge: Day 2

Here is Day 2 of Jamie's 7 Day Challenge for July!

Make a nature suncatcher. Cut the centers out of paper plates. Cover with clear contact paper. Fill with found objects from nature.
See what we did on DAY 1 here.

This challenge put our toddler's 'picking things up' to good use!

Before we set off for our morning walk today, I told our son that we would be using the things he will be picking up today for our craft activity later. 

He picked flowers which fell from trees (because he could not reach the ones on the tree), dried acacia leaves, pretty shoots from a shrub and last, 2 cosmos flowers from our own garden.

Taking time off riding his jeep to walk the dog.

Craft time is always after our walk and before his morning nap. This timing is great because he's a bit tired and mellow and could focus well.

Another way to practice those finger muscles, and talk about colors!

And so we went straight to making our suncatcher. We used wax paper and a glue stick. He asked to use the glue by himself and of course I obliged. 

Then we put glue on the paper plate so we can attach the wax paper. I punched three holes at the bottom and tied ribbons. He wanted to help but had sticky hand so he decided to just hand me the ribbons - after he had played with it. I attached another ribbon on top to hang. Tatay (Daddy) hung it on the curtain rod. And viola!

We looked at it for a while as I talked about how wonderful God's creation is. Recalling last week's lesson on The Creation Story, I asked, "Who made the yellow flowers?" Then he would point up, his 'sign' for God. "Who made the pink flowers?" He points up again. Who made the leaves on the trees and plants?" He points up again. 

It is these moments my heart overflows with gratitude. For the memories we are making, for the blessings the Lord has showered on us, for the gift of motherhood and family and for our son.

I'd like to encourage you to find time to do some hands on activities with your child; whether you work or stay at home. You may want to join this challenge or search for an activity which you and your child can easily do at Hands On As We Grow. I have used some of the activities there when I taught Preschool and Nursery not so long ago. And don't worry so much about the outcome. As long as you and your child are having fun. One activity has so much benefits. And of course the wonderful memories you'll be making.

Monday, July 18, 2016

7 Day July Challenge: Day 1

We've joined Jaime in her 7 day July challenge on Hands On As We Grow.

I decided to join this challenge because like any parent who wants to be hands on with their child, I want to have at least one activity with my toddler each day. The more activities, the more memories!

The first challenge was to go biking or walking around the neighborhood. 

Our family does morning and afternoon walks almost everyday so this would be easy. So I added a little more challenge for myself. Be extra patient, walk a little slower than before, stop and marvel at whatever the toddler is marveling at. 

Teo on his car, not the jeep, dawdling again. Photo taken a few months back.
Our son's curiosity is insatiable. While he 'drives' his foot powered jeep, given to him by my husband's sister, his generous godmother; me and my husband walk. We take our dog too. Our curious toddler goes in front of us at the beginning but then dawdles after a few minutes. He stops to pick up a stone, or a coat button daisy (which grows everywhere in our neighborhood) and puts it inside the jeep's compartment. 

So this afternoon, we did our usual walk. One curious toddler on a jeep, a nanay and a tatay who will walk a little slower to marvel at the little things we see along the way.

I said an extra prayer today to ask God for the grace to be more patient and to open my eyes to see what my son sees during our walks.

It took us 30 minutes to walk around the block! But it was worth it. 

It had been raining lately and the soil is wet. So we saw big earthworms and snails. Of course we stopped to look at them. And talk about them too. 

There was the usual rocks, leaves and sticks to be picked up and my husband and I took the opportunity to talk about those too.

Our son still has very limited expressive vocabulary but works so hard to get his message through. So we take every chance we get to 'use words'.

We ended our walk all happy and dirty.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Our Adoption Story: The Adoption Birth

Read the first three parts of Our Adoption Story here:


The social worker from the children’s home emailed us Mateo’s child study report and photos in the evening of December 15. I clicked the child study report first and Noli and I read it through. We both agreed we fell in love with Mateo right away; and when I clicked to see the photos, we were smitten! At this moment my heart was beating at a hundred thank you, Lords per minute!

We planned to go to the DSWD office in Sta. Cruz, Laguna where our social worker is assigned to submit a Letter of Acceptance. She then told us that we would be required to visit Mateo for two whole days and then be able to take him home on the third day. We were both excited! In two days, we will finally meet the child God had chosen for us! Our child.

I forced myself to sleep early the night before our first day. We had to get up at 4 am and leave at 5:30am so we could be at the children’s home by 7:00 am. Ha! Who was I kidding I was too excited to sleep and got up at 3:30 am!

It was a pleasant drive with Noli. After saying the rosary, we talked about Mateo mostly; and about how God’s hand was in everything that had happened. We brought books and a stuffed bear for Mateo.

As we entered the home, we saw Mateo riding a toy car, playing with the other children. I called out to him and waved, he came closer and waved back. The other children came close too while the older ones asked, “Are you Mateo’s mommy and daddy?” Oh that was the sweetest thing I have ever heard!

I did not hesitate to pick him up and cuddle him. He willingly let me hold him. It took him a while to warm up to Noli but after his nap, he was playing with him. Noli and I too turns playing and reading books with Mateo and his friends. The caregivers offered me to change his diapers and dress him after I watch Mateo get bathed. We bonded and played with Mateo and the other kids until it was time to go home. We will be back the day after tomorrow.

The second day of our adoption birth, Mateo had already ‘taken ownership’ of us. I noticed when other kids tried to sit on my lap, Mateo tried to squeeze himself into my lap and claim his territory. I felt sad for the other kids but I also felt ‘kilig’ (romantic excitement according to Google but it really isn’t near that feeling) deep down. We went home after Mateo was put to bed that day.

The two and a half hour drive to the home and the three hour drive back to our place was all worth it. The waking up early in the morning, the lack of sleep and the traffic was nothing compared to what happened on our third day.

In order to be able to take Mateo home, we would need to have the PAPA or Pre-Adoption Placement Authority and the ACA ot the Affidavit of Consent to Adoption. So we had to drop by the DSWD Region 4 field office to pick up those documents. We were there a few minutes before our social worker arrived but as excited as I was, I had the patience of a cow. We had waited for this moment for such a long time, a few minutes was a piece of cake.

After we got all the documents, we headed to the children’s home. Since we calculated that we would arrive there after lunch, we decided to get drive through so we can take our lunch on the road. But first, we should have the documents notarized! It was such a blessing to have a Notary Public beside the most famous fast food chain in the Philippines on the way to the children’s home! So while we waited for our order, we had our documents notarized. How good is our God?

When we arrived at the children’s home we had to do our despedida party at once so the other children could take a nap.

It was such an emotional despedida! After we signed and exchanged documents, we worshiped and gave thanks to the Lord for his goodness.  All the caregivers present gave a message to Mateo and after all the hugs and well wishes, it was time to leave.

We had practiced riding the car with Mateo on the second day so he was not reluctant to ride the car on that day. We sat at the back of the car. I let him nap in the car since it was really his naptime, and relished the feeling of holding my child as long as I can. And again, my heart beat 100 Thank you, Lords per minute.

If you would like to know more about local adoption, please visit http://www.dswd.gov.ph/faqs/local-adoption-requirements-and-procedures/

Monday, July 4, 2016

Our Adoption Story: Preparing Our Home

Read about the first two parts of our Adoption Story before reading this.  
So Noli and I arrived back in Manila on the last week of September and first week of October, respectively. We did not have the same flights because Noli had to stay behind to close all our accounts. We rented a small house not too far from my parents house. Same street, three houses away. If we could all fit in my parents' house we would not have rented, but then again, we had to make a good impression for the home study. And that meant having our own home.
this information is from a poster  outside DSWD Region 4 Field office
We worked on making our new home comfortable and child safe. So while we were at it,  we decided to go to the DSWD Region 4 office to submit our documents. The documents were received and we were given an 8 page questionnaire which became 16 pages after we typed in our answers. In between opening boxes, assembling furniture, cleaning the house, cooking our meals and goofing around; we took turns on the laptop, answering the questions the best way we can.
 We submitted the questionnaire a week after we gave our application and were asked to expect a call from our social worker to schedule our home study. We were scheduled on November 9. By then our house was ready. As we prepared to welcome a baby into our home and into our lives, we also prepared for Jesus' coming into our hearts. Advent was just around the corner.
The home study went quite well. Our social worker could not promise, but said she would try to have us matched before Christmas. Oh, but we were hopeful. What a blessing to have a child with us on Christmas!  It was such an exciting time for us. And it felt like the longest two weeks in our entire married life! After our family Advent Wreath prayers, Noli and I would add our own personal prayer, again praying for the child God has chosen for us and all the people who are and will still be involved in this adoption process.  We got a call from our social worker informing us that we got approved and that the matching is scheduled on December 15. We would also know if we have been matched the same day. So we updated our closest family and friends and again, asked for prayers. This time for us, for our hearts to be ready to welcome this baby.  
In the afternoon of December 15, we got our much awaited call. Our social worker told me on the phone that we have been matched to a 20 month old boy named Mateo. While she finished her first sentence, tears of joy were already flowing and I knew that this boy is the one. Even before our social worker could ask the question, "Do you want him?" I had already said, "Yes, we want him!". She then explained that the name was given to him by the people in the barangay hall who took him in after he was found. She went on and told me that the boy looked a lot like me and that his birthday was on April 29. Then I thought for a moment and tried to recall if we had told our social worker that we secretly wished that our child would have the same birth month as us. No, we did not tell her that. I did not even tell God about that. But He knew. 
Still in tears, I rushed upstairs to tell Noli all what our social worker had told me. We wiped our tears and hugged each other. 
I then contacted the social worker of the orphanage where Mateo was. She told me that we can begin our adoption birth immediately. So we scheduled our three day adoption birth on the 18th, 20th and 22nd of December.
Again, we updated all our closest friends and relatives. A friend replied after we messaged him the exciting news. He said, "That's just a novena away!" So we added this novena to our Advent Wreath prayers. Here are two more links where you can find Adoption Prayers: Adoption Prayer and 10 Prayers For Your Adoption Journey
Don't miss the last part of our adoption story. Follow me by email, Google +, Facebook or Twitter. I would love to connect with you! Whether you want to share your own adoption journey or have a question, please don't be shy, leave something in the comments!

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