As a mom of 4 and a pastor’s wife, trying to meet everyone’s needs and meeting with different people leave me very little time to work out. But I do feel my age taking its toll on my body so I try to exercise somehow, even just at home. For my husband’s birthday this year, I got him an elliptical trainer which I actually ended up using, because he prefers to work out at the gym. My personal best on it so far is going 5 km in 18 minutes. You might laugh at it but yeah that is such an effort for me already.

Image and video hosting by TinyPicLately though, my regular workout has been disrupted by expected and unexpected events like the death of a friend, hosting a South African family for a week, the flu going around the household and the like. It’s been challenging to go back to a regular workout routine. What I’ve found helpful though was One day I just thought of looking for aerobic dance videos, just to help me jumpstart,  and found some that I really enjoyed doing. You get to have your pick: from hiphop, to latin, belly-dancing, even gospel dance aerobics. Most of them are for beginners and are therefore very easy to follow. Even my toddler Joaquin enjoys exercising with me. Try it!


Janina told me the other night that her least favorite subject was Filipino. She told me she didn’t want to learn the language anymore. I told her that a Filipino who didn’t know how to speak Filipino is like a bird who didn’t know who to fly. Yesterday when we were reviewing for her Filipino exam, I asked her to give me an example of a “bayani.” She asked me what “bayani” means. I told her, it means a hero. She said “Superman.” Oh my! Not only doesn’t she know our own language, but she is far from being patriotic. When most kids would have said “Jose Rizal,” she said “Superman.”

Image and video hosting by TinyPicI am to blame. If my kids don’t love our nation and our language, it is because I haven’t instilled it in them. If they are not proud of their race, it is because I haven’t taught them to be proud of it. I haven’t modelled a life of patriotism and nationalism. Our kids watch how we respond to things like the hostage-taking at luneta or the major major blunder of our Ms. Universe representative. Our kids hear us whether we mock or defend our fellow Filipinos. Our kids listen when we bless or curse our nation.

I pray that I will always be a good role model to my kids.


We just finished dinner in the mall and our son Ryan wanted to buy some cotton candy. One bag costs P25.00. I knew I didn’t have enough cash anymore so I rummaged through my wallet and bag and came up with one 20 peso bill and 4 peso coins. I was short by P1.00. I asked Paolo if he had any coins in his pocket but just like me, he was broke. 😀 My poor Ryan, he was so looking forward to enjoying his cotton candy. We proposed for him to sing in front of people and maybe someone will throw in a few coins. Or he could give the saleslady at the cotton candy stall his most pitiful, heart-rending look and maybe she would take pity on him and accept his P24.00. Of course, he didn’t agree to do any of these. I told Nathan to do one of his magic tricks and get one coin from my ear. Well, he tried, but he came up empty-handed. So finally, I said, “Ok let’s pray that somehow God will make a one-peso coin appear from nowhere.” That seemed like a ridiculous prayer, right?

Image and video hosting by TinyPicAs we were preparing to leave the restaurant, I turned to grab Joaquin’s baby bag, and lo and behold, there was a shiny silver one peso coin just sitting on top of it!! I asked Paolo if he was playing a trick on me and put the coin there, but he really didn’t! God did literally make that coin appear from nowhere! How amazing is that!

Rom 4:17 the God who gives life to the dead and who creates something out of nothing. (NCV)

1 Timothy 6:17
… but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us  with everything for our enjoyment.


Your child is more gifted than you know. Most traditional schools just focus on academics. It is our role as parents to tap into our kids potential by recognizing where they are gifted. Your child can be an astronaut, concert pianist, counselor, writer, architect, entrepeneur, scientist or athlete. The problem is when we get so focused on them getting honors in school and fail to see where their strengths really are.

Here is a simple checklist I saw on the net to gauge which area/s your child is strong in: (based on Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences.) The list is quite lengthy but i’m sure you’ll enjoy assessing your child’s or children’s strengths.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Linguistic: The Intelligence of Words

Writes better than average for age
Spins tall tales or tells jokes and stories
Enjoys word games
Enjoys reading books
Is a good speller or has advanced spelling skills for age
Appreciates nonsense rhymes, puns, and tongue twisters
Enjoys listening to stories, talking books, or people talking
Has a good vocabulary for age
Communicates to others in a highly verbal way
Has a good memory for names, places, dates, or trivia

Logical-Mathematical: The Intelligence of Numbers and Reasoning

Asks a lot of questions about how things work
Adds numbers easily in her head or has advanced math skills for age
Enjoys math class, counting, and manipulating numbers
Likes math computer games, or enjoys other math and counting games
Enjoys playing chess, checkers, and other strategy games
Enjoys working on logic puzzles or brainteasers
Enjoys putting things in categories or hierarchies
Likes to experiment in a way that shows higher-order cognitive thinking processes
Thinks on a more abstract or conceptual level than peers
Has a good sense of cause-effect for age

Spatial: The Intelligence of Pictures and Images

Reports clear visual images
Reads maps, charts, and diagrams more easily than text
Daydreams more than her peers do
Enjoys art activities
Draws figures that are advanced for age
Likes to view movies, slides, or other visual presentations
Enjoys doing puzzles, mazes, “Where’s Waldo?,” or similar visual activities
Builds interesting three-dimensional constructions, such as LEGO buildings
Gets more out of pictures than words while reading
Likes to doodle on notebooks and worksheets

Bodily-Kinesthetic: The Intelligence of the Whole Body and the Hands

Excels in one or more sports, or shows physical prowess advanced for age
Moves, twitches, taps, or fidgets while seated for a long time in one spot
Cleverly mimics other people’s gestures or mannerisms
Loves to take things apart and put them back together again
Puts his hands all over something he has just seen
Enjoys running, jumping, wrestling, or similar activities
Shows good fine-motor coordination in crafts, such as woodworking, sewing, or mechanics
Has a dramatic way of expressing herself
Reports different physical sensations while thinking or working
Enjoys working with hands-on materials, such as clay or finger-paints

Musical: The Intelligence of Tone, Rhythm, and Timbre

Tells you when music sounds off-key or disturbing
Remembers melodies of songs
Has a good singing voice
Enjoys playing a musical instrument or singing in a group or choir
Has a rhythmic way of speaking and/or moving
Unconsciously hums to himself
Taps rhythmically on the table or desk as she works
Sensitive to environmental noises, such as rain on the roof
Responds favorably when she hears a piece of music
Sings songs that he has learned outside of the classroom

Interpersonal: The Intelligence of Social Understanding

Enjoys socializing with peers
Seems to be a natural leader
Gives advice to friends who have problems
Seems to be street-smart
Belongs to clubs, committees, or if younger, has a regular circle of friends
Enjoys informally teaching other kids
Likes to play games with other kids
Has two or more close friends
Has a good sense of empathy or concern for others
Others seek out her company

Intrapersonal: The Intelligence of Self-Knowledge

Displays a sense of independence or a strong will
Has a realistic sense of his strengths and weaknesses
Does well when left alone to play or study
Marches to the beat of a different drummer in her style of living and learning
Has an interest or hobby that he doesn’t talk much about
Has a good sense of self-direction
Prefers working alone to working with others
Accurately expresses how she is feeling
Is able to learn from his failures and successes in life
Has high self-esteem

Naturalistic: The Intelligence of Nature and Classification

Likes outside activities, such as gardening or nature walks
Has a strong sense of sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch
Notices and categorizes things from the natural world
Easily recognizes patterns, similarities, and differences in her surroundings
Is interested in and cares about animals or plants
Notices things in the environment others often miss
Likes to keep collections and scrapbooks about natural objects
Likes to watch natural phenomena, such as the moon and the tides
Enjoys shows, books, or stories about animals or nature
Easily learns characteristics and names of objects or species found in nature


Image and video hosting by TinyPicJoaquin is almost 2. He has already discovered the infectious power of a smile. He learned that his smile brightens up mommy’s day. He learned that his smile gives daddy a nice “welcome home” after a long day’s work. He learned that when he smiles, somehow, everyone around him lightens up. He learned that when he smiles, people react with their “awww…. or how cute!” He has mastered the art of smiling.

Lately though, I’ve noticed Joaquin misusing, abusing and overusing the power of his smile.  When he wants chips from his sister Janina, all he needs to do is flash his smile, and Janina gives him what he wants. When he wants a toy that his brother is playing with, he does the same. When he touches something he’s not allowed to touch, he smiles at me knowing that my heart will melt and I’l let him get away with it. That is my mistake. When he hits his brother even if he knows that’s not allowed, he knows how his smile can transform my stern face. Again, my mistake.

I’ve realized one thing: I’ve been duped by that smile. I’ve allowed Joaquin to get away with a lot of the wrong things he’s done because of that powerful smile of his.  I’ve had to toughen up against those smiles and have told myself that I will not be manipulated by them. And it’s been hard to keep a stern face. But I need to do it if I am serious about discipline. As Janina tells me, “Don’t always give in to his smile.”


Image and video hosting by TinyPic
Nathan and Janina, taken maybe 7 years ago

It really touched my heart when Nathan spent one whole day to record this song (click here) for Janina while she was in the hospital. One of a mom’s greatest pleasures is to see her kids genuinely loving and caring for each other.


Image and video hosting by TinyPic
Janina in the recovery room with her dad and anesthesiologist, Dr. Joey Banzon

Motherhood is an adventure. This week I learned about bone injuries. The terms I’ve long forgotten in science class were brought back to memory, like ulna, radius, closed reduction and the like. Janina fractured her arm while playing in the playground last Friday. It’s amazing how a split-second fall can cost you thousands of pesos in medical care and weeks of recovery. Now her whole left arm, from the wrist to the armpit, has to be in a cast for at least 4 weeks. My already independent daughter is now once again, very dependent on me. She needs assistance for basically everything, from fixing her hair to feeding herself.

My new challenge is: How do you bathe a child in a cast? I tried it tonight by using cellophane and taping it around her arm. Well, I guess it worked because I managed to keep her cast dry. But I hope to get better at this in the next few weeks.

It’s been a tiring and stressful weekend but thank God for His grace. I will not allow this situation to bog me down but I am praying it will make me a better mom. I am praying God will give me the wisdom and creativity I need to help make things easier for Janina during her recovery. I am praying that I will not fail to see the blessings in every situation that God allows us and our kids to go through.


I heard a sad story last week. A 12-yr old girl was molested. And this happened 25 years ago. She just finally was able to tell her mom about it recently.  This girl has had several failed relationships in the past and is now a single mother.  I’ve read that at least two out of every ten girls and one out of every ten boys are sexually abused by the end of their 13th year and that most children who are sexually abused, are abused by a family member or close friend?

As parents, we can help protect our children by educating them. We have made it clear to our kids very early that no one, not their teacher, or doctor, not anyone, is allowed to touch them beyond a hand shake or a pat on the back. If somebody attempts to touch them where they shouldn’t be touched, they need to kick and scream and call for help. We also protect them by not allowing them to go into neighbors’ houses or sleepovers if we don’t really know the family that well. They cannot be alone with the opposite sex whatever the place is. We always accompany them in public restrooms. And most importantly, always communicate with your children. Make them feel they can tell you anything. And that there shouldn’t be secrets between you.

It’s always worth it to play safe with our kids rather than risk them going through a traumatic experience.


Image and video hosting by TinyPicJust in the last 2 weeks, several moms have asked me online about what good parenting book I can recommend. Off the top of my head, I can think of one: SHEPHERDING A CHILD’S HEART by Tedd Tripp. I’m sure my husband would make the same recommendation. We got our copy of this book many years ago when we just had 1 child. It was given to us by Pastor Steve and Deborah Murrell, our mentors in parenting. I must say, this book has had a great influence on how we are raising our children.

Here are some of the many things I learned from that book:

Our goal is to empower our children to be self-controlled individuals living under God’s authority.

As parents, we must require obedience from our children because God’s word calls for obedience and the honoring of parents.

The Heart is the Focus of Shepherding (“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” [Proverbs 4:23]) The goal is not to simply direct the behavior of our children, but the attitudes of their hearts. As parents, we should show our children the “why” of their sin and not just the “what.” A goal of simply having well behaved children totally misses the mark.

It taught us the do’s and don’t’s of discipline.

And one of the most useful tools to explain to our kids why we need to teach them to obey and honor their parents: THE CIRCLE OF BLESSING. (This one you can’t miss!! It was super helpful to us!)

I hope every parent who reads this blog gets a copy of that book.


This is the last of the series. For part 2, click here.


Again, I want to reiterate. Hitting will damage your child. Beating will damage your child. Slapping your child in the face will damage him.  These are forms of abuse and will leave major emotional scars on your children. The kind of discipline I am talking about is done within the context of a loving relationship. It is done by a parent who is in complete control of his emotions.

The rod of discipline can take many forms, depending on the age of the child. I don’t spank my 14-year old anymore because for one, he is already much bigger than me, and spanking wouldn’t be as painful as grounding him or taking away his cellphone. For my toddler, Joaquin, I use a small wooden spatula and give him one swat or spanking on his upper thigh or butt. The principle for choosing the specific form of discipline is found in Hebrews 12:11 which says that “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” What about time-outs? Well, the keyword is painful. Most kids continue to disobey because in their minds, “I’m just gonna get a time-out anyway.” But if they know that something painful is going to happen to them like a spanking or grounding, then they will be more careful to obey. Why does it have to be painful? Because in real life, pain happens when we disobey. When we exceed the speed limit and collide with another car, we don’t just get a time-out. We are hurt in the process. The earlier our kids associate pain with disobedience, the sooner they will live in obedience.

Discipline is not a man-made idea. It is a God-idea. God will not command us parents to discipline our children if He knew that it will damage them. God loves them more than we do and He desires for our children to get the best.

Please look at the following verses with me:

Prov.23:13 Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you punish him with the rod, he will not die.

Prov.23:14 Punish him with the rod and save his soul from death.

Prov.29:15 The rod of correction imparts wisdom, but a child left to himself disgraces his mother.

If we parents discipline the way God wants us to, our children will not be damaged by it. In fact, they will benefit from it.

Practical tips:

1. Make sure you use a neutral object for spanking like a wooden rod,  a ruler, or a glue stick. Never use your hands to spank. Our hands should always be used to love and comfort.

2. After you spank or ground your child, give him a hug. Remind him that it is because you love him that he is being disciplined. The word of God says that He promises long life and everything going well for those who honor their parents.

3. Teach your child to always ask for forgiveness from you whenever he has disobeyed. This will teach him to have a heart of repentance, even towards God. Also, parents, be quick to forgive. Sometimes it is us who harbor anger in our hearts towards our children.