Real Simplicity. Life on the Fast Lane or Life in Slow Motion?

 

Everyday has now become a blur of fast-paced activities and need to complete to-do-lists. With technology all around us, they all encourage us to multi-task – read while watching news on TV, while waiting for dinner to simmer, while sitting with the kids doing homework, all while your mind gives you a list of what you might have missed to do today.

I know it wasn’t chance when I got my hand on the book Real Simplicity written by Rozanne and Randy Frazee. The similarities with this author is just uncanny. Author had four kids, juggling parenting, work, home and everything in between. Don’t get me wrong. I am not in any way complaining. If I were to have a chance to relive my life, I am definitely sure I would have made the same decision to have chosen the life I am living now. What with four differently gifted, brilliant kids, a loving husband, the best spiritual family and the best and yet most mom-friendly job I can have, there is nothing else to ask for. Today’s cherry on top came with good news that my eldest passed the exams for a Science High School.

So I went on asking God : what do I believe Him for, for 2016? For today’s post, we will look at just one word Simplify.

Real Simplicity. Get Creative. Memories need not be Expensive.
One does not need to step out of the house to have utmost fun. I always write that the best moments I have in my memory bank are those that I have spent at home. So on weekends where I get to have full days with the kids, we get the drawing materials out and build dreams. Kyle dreams of taking a Science course (it is a mix of Industrial Pharmacy and Marine Biology). It is fun to watch him weave and draw fictional stories with made up characters, away from Science which he usually tackles most parts of the day in school. It is the talking over coloring/drawing part that I enjoy the most. It takes me to a level of familiarity and comfortability that I get just enjoying how my kids are so different from each other.

 

Real Simplicity. Get Moving. Memories need not be Noisy.
With gadgets and electronics keeping our kids attention away from meaningful conversations, we can always opt to do activities that do not require any sound. Yep. Like biking around the village while enjoying everything around you. David who has recently learned how to play bike and now never fails to be out of the house keeps me encouraged. Just the other day, he has learned to get one of his (bigger) playmates on his bike while he drives.

 

Real Simplicity. Get Playing. Memories are not always with Toys.
Last Christmas, we found ourselves with family games we can play right at the comfort of our homes. Games where we can introduce sportsmanship, values that say It is okay to lose or we can’t always win at everything, we gather around Uno cards, Stacko, Skribbage and even loombands!

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It is our prayer for this year that no matter how busy our life gets, we will never miss to pause and enjoy family and relationships around us. After all, Jesus did not just move in yesterday, He has always been in our homes and all it takes is to introduce Him and His peace/comfort to everyone.

What Other Things You can Do While in Baler – Other than Surfing

rsz_1mbp_pinkBaler can very well be dubbed the surfing capital of the Philippines. It attracts countless tourists and locals, surfing enthusiasts flock to Baler year on year. But if you are a mom like me, to four kids, what other things can you do as a family, while in Baler? We all know that Baler is best known for its big waves perfect for those who want to ride them and perfect for those who want to get started with surfing. Surfing (as defined by Wikipedia) is a surface water sport in which the wave rider, referred to as a surfer, rides on the forward or deep face of a moving wave, which usually carries the surfer towards the shore. So we braved the big waves, armed my boys with their kickboards, because the surfboards are surely too heavy and too big for them. I see surfer learners who end up falling towards the water, with their surfboards falling right behind them.

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So if you are on the lookout for other things to do while in Baler, read up and know your options.

Baler Destination #1 – Ermita Hill

On the way up to Ermita Hill, it is hard to miss the beautiful landscape around us. I made a quiet thank you prayer to God for creating such beautiful places to visit around the Philippines. The view from the top is breathtaking, you can see the shoreline against the beautiful sand surrounded by lush trees around it. Ermita Hill has a lot of scenic spots where you and your family can take Instagram-worthy pictures while enjoying the view of the ocean and the sound of the breeze. If you have more time to spare, take more time from one of the view decks, remember God’s blessings and thank God for His gift of nature.

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Baler Destination #2 – Chef Gerry’s Picnic Bay

Craving for the buffet places from the metro? You will never miss it when you visit Chef Gerry’s Picnic Bay where you can go for eat-all-you-can-buffet for just Php200.00, kids plates are at Php150.00. Choose from any of their seafood, Inihaw and shabu-shabu specialties. I am not so sure if you know but Chef Gerry is actually a migrant from China, you would be interested how a Chinese chef like him has mastered serving Pinoy dishes with the best Pinoy flavours we love to have.

Shoreline in the background right outside Chef Gerry's Picnic Bay Php200.00 eat-all-you-can
Shoreline in the background right outside Chef Gerry’s Picnic Bay Php200.00 eat-all-you-can

Baler Destination #3 – Asia’s Biggest Balete Tree

As soon as we get to the place, the tree is hard to miss with its size and height. It actually looked so intimidating and to an extent, creepy because of its big branches stretching from the roots to the top. In fact, the tree is so big, a tour group can actually get inside the tangle of branches (they are so big they look like a group of trees). We chose to climb up from inside and from outside, too. Make a mental note that one is only allowed to climb upto 3 meters high. Anything higher than that is not allowed by any of the site guides.

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Baler Destination #4 – Nanay Pacing’s Souvenir Shop

Tagaytay has Rowena’s and Baler has Nanay Pacing’s. There is an advantage about visiting Baler off-summer-peak-season. All of the destinations are crowd-free and you do not have to queue to be able to go around. And so, we were able to choose what we want to take home without rushing and without having to wait for our turn around Nanay Pacing’s Souvenir shop. Tried their sampalok goodies, peanut butter, pastillas, and meringue. Oh by the way, do not be surprised if you happen to spot Nanay Pacing herself manning the counter.

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Baler Destination #5 – Museo De Baler

There is something that sets this museum apart from other local museums. It accurately allows you to view the cultural heritage of the past and present. The ground floor is full of historical displays and facts that have helped shape Baler to what it is now, while the upper floor displays modern art and sculpture that clearly expresses what Baler has become. Museo De Baler’s facade is so inviting it became the beautiful background for our family picture. I didn’t realize all of us were aptly clothed red and blue, it looked like a picture we have planned to take.

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Baler Destination #6 – Ditumabo Mother Falls

This is not the first time our kids had to take a trail before getting to a perfect place to swim. We did the same thing for Kabigan Falls, Pagudpod where everyone had to walk for 30 minutes on a trail of land, mini-rivers and hanging bridges. Caramoan also required my kids to do a bit of walking before finding the right spot for swimming in one of the Caramoan islands. And so when it was time to take the 45 minute walk to Ditumabo Mother Falls, my kids were all for it. The falls did not disappoint. Just make sure you do not stay too long with kids because the water can be too cold for swimming.

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Next time you visit Baler, make sure you ask for a Baler map so you can freely create your itinerary as you go around the nooks and corners of what makes Baler a family-destination.

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Taking Gifting to the Next Level

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I am sure that for all my mom readers, having kids at home means Christmas starts earlier than usual. In fact, as we speak, we already have the Christmas tree set up and had our first Christmas activity with kids, an afternoon spent completing craft with styro, paint and glitters.

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So yearly, my family and I complete these Christmas traditions that not only allow us to celebrate the reason for the season, Jesus, but also allow us to build traditions that display our family culture/values and the things that we are passionate about. Among the things that we do yearly as a family include: a Jesus birthday party, watching Disney on Ice, Christmas pajama nights with bibingka and hot choco, and putting up our Christmas calendar of family activities (Dec1 to 24).

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Christmas Traditions calendar, each bag contains a picture of a Christmas family activity we have agreed to do from December 1 to 24: e.g. watching Ayala lights and sounds show, Christmas family devotionals, Christmas game and crafts night, etc.
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Christmas tradition : Pajama nights served with bibingka and hot choco, enjoyed over watching a movie that kids have chosen to watch together at home.
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Christmas Traditions calendar, each bag contains a picture of a Christmas family activity we have agreed to do from December 1 to 24: e.g. watching Ayala lights and sounds show, Christmas family devotionals, Christmas game and crafts night, etc.
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Christmas tradition: family portrait taken yearly, which we also use as Christmas cards to go with the gifts from kids.

Also, we are excited to fill up our Faith Jar, where all of us put in what we are believing God for, for the coming months or for the coming year. It is a great activity to build prayerful lives with our kids and allows them to see a God who answers prayers. For this Christmas, what tops my prayer list is for us to be able to celebrate the year’s blessings. For one, I would like to get my husband the perfect staycation for December, yep, he has been planning for us to be on one without the kids. I love my four kids to death, and me and my husband has become creative as it gets pretty challenging to carve couple-time away with four kids. While my boys plan to get the latest Lego toys this year, while my daughter is praying for a pink bike.

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Last year, it was also a year to give back as I joined some of my friends visit a public elementary school for a Christmas gift-giving activity. I am praying to be able to do the same this year. There are just so many ways to give back this Christmas, I know of a family who would drive around on Christmas eve to give away Christmas bags to homeless families on the streets. Some join Christmas outreach activities with the entire family. If you do not have the time to spare, you can always give back with SM’s Give a Bear of Joy Today.

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For more updates about this year’s “Merry SM Christmas” campaign, visit SM’s official Christmas microsite and follow its official social media accounts at SM Supermalls Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram; and get an insider access to all the fun happenings at SM Supermalls nationwide through Viber. Shoppers can actively share their holiday merriments inside the SM Supermalls by posting their photos on social media and adding the hashtag #MerrySMChristmas2015.”

However you plan to celebrate your Christmas season with your family, please keep in mind that the most meaningful celebrations you can do are the ones that include the ones who are dearest to you. Plan ahead and let me know what your Christmas plans are.

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Crowdsource the BLISS of a #LiveFreePH

rsz_1mbp_pinkJeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

What comes to your mind when you hear the word ‘future’? What picture comes to mind when you think about where your family would be 10 or 20 years from now? Are the people around you generally in faith and hopeful or gloomy about tomorrow? With the Brighter Life Index: Social Sentiment or BLISS, Sun Life will show how optimism, prosperity, and the bayanihan spirit can produce a positive ripple from ourselves to our loved ones and to the community where we live.

BLISS is a Facebook application that aims to get the pulse of Filipinos about their current financial situation as well as their outlook for the future.

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“BLISS gives us the canvas to paint our #LiveFreePH campaign. Through crowdsourcing, we seek the brightest spots while also determining the areas that are in need of a bit more sunshine,” explained Sun Life of Canada (Philippines), Inc. Chief Marketing Officer Mylene Lopa. “Together with the Sun Life Foundation, we will help turn dim prospects to bright opportunities.”

How BLISS happens

BLISS will also radiate warmth in real life, as the Sun Life Foundation pledges to match survey responses with a donation to help localities with bleak outlooks, as indicated by the stormy icons in the results map. Inspired by the practice of bayanihan (communal work), the initiative translates insight to action, via the information that will be shared by online users.

BLISS to #LiveFreePH

From the present to the future, BLISS narrates the changing story of Filipinos from multiple points of view: self, family, and community. Income, health, and work-life balance are identified as personal concerns; food, nutrition and financial security comprise the familial territory; while access to quality education, healthcare, and livelihood opportunities are the societal factors that impact the nation as a whole. When addressed properly, these concerns can become the building blocks of a nationwide movement towards financial independence.

Share the BLISS to help communities in need and the chance to win awesome prizes like an iPad Air. Go to http://bit.ly/1hDBxhn to begin.

 

About Sun Life Financial

Celebrating 150 years in 2015, Sun Life Financial is a leading international financial services organization providing a diverse range of protection and wealth products and services to individuals and corporate customers. Sun Life Financial and its partners have operations in a number of markets worldwide, including Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Japan, Indonesia, India, China, Australia, Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia and Bermuda. As of March 31, 2015, the Sun Life Financial group of companies had total assets under management of $813 billion. For more information please visit http://www.sunlife.com.

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Mommy Tipid Tips for Ber Months

rsz_1mbp_pinkMy husband recently attended Chinkee Tan’s financial seminar and he came home bringing a Do-it-Yourself Moneykit. It comes complete with Chinkee Tan’s book Till Debt Do Us Part and everything we need to get ourselves started in managing our finances. It got me thinking to list down practical things we have been following to avoid making unnecessary expenses when we can. Please note that whether you are married or single, you need to have your financial goal in mind and it becomes easy to know which ones you should not be spending on and it makes it easy to say ‘no’ to what I call ‘surprise or unnecessary expenses’. Keep in mind that a fool-proof money plan is not exclusive to those who have money crisis. All of us, in whatever money status we are in, can benefit from having wisdom in managing finances.

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  1. Make use of your rewards and perks card

More than having these cards, be on top of what is being offered to cardholders. Most are so fast about signing up but not diligent enough about what to use these rewards and perks cards for. Most of the other perks card holder for a pizza restaurant do not know that they can actually get a second pizza free on offered dates, or that a rewards card from a leading department store will give you seasonal discounts like the one I got from International Women’s day (yep, the marketing arm of companies are getting creative about these and you can get perks and discounts even on an ordinary calendar day).

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  1. I never do Groceries while Hungry

This, I know, that if I end up doing grocery while hungry, I almost always end up getting more food items than I need, end up rushing up to finish and not having enough time to compare prizes or worst, pick up items I do not usually get or have quantity that is more than I need from a regular grocery day. Of course, if you shop with kids, this is a no-brainer. My kids also tend to get too many food items from the shelves when I take them to join me at the grocery hungry. Oh, by the way, having a grocery plan if you do not want to bring a list, works wonders. I know what I will pick up even before I go close to the shelves. So please help ensure you do your item comparison before you get to the grocery. Develop a conscientious consumer mindset and do your research before you head to the stores.

  1. Dilute your dishwashing liquid

This explains why it is still cheaper if you buy a mid-priced dishwashing liquid. Because these are the only ones you can dilute your water while getting the same result you want from your dishwashing. Also, buy a container once and then do a refill, moving forward. If you haven’t got a basin while you do the dishes yet, start having one and you shave off water expenses.

  1. Do your own hair color, or train how to do it

Having a need to cover my gray hair almost every month (yep, that’s my silvery gray hair if I fail to color it), I have learned overtime to get an over-the-counter hair color and apply it at home. I started with asking someone to help me do it then I have eventually learned how to do it, myself. It saves me at least a thousand pesos monthly plus saves me time to queue at the salon. Except for the occasional hair product or hair treatment reviews I need to do as a blogger, I always opt to color my own hair, when I can.

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  1. Bundle cable and internet plans

We used to have a little over a thousand worth of homephone plan but realized that we can have most savings if we go for mobile plans (enough for everyone in the house) and signed up instead for a bundled cable and internet plans for half the prize of the homephone plan!

It is critical to raise relevant questions and exercise your consumer rights at all times. Opportunities to earn and save are everywhere, we just have to be diligent and wise enough to know. I know of the best mommies who sew their own dresses, create their own gardens, and even paint their own rooms. Make each a fun adventure with your family or with your kids and you get additional bonus of creating memories out of money-saving techniques.

Tune in to Lorly’s (Making Working Moms Work (author) first and upcoming podcast interview due out on 11th of September (12Sept Phl Date) at http://www.workingmotherhood.com/podcasts/ (also available on iTunes)

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