Our 2011 DIY Ornament

Every Christmas, it’s become our tradition to make our own Christmas ornaments at home. Christmas in Manila is usually so busy and you can get up in so many parties while your kids are just left at home. Making your own ornaments is just one of the many things we schedule with the family to make sure that our kids are not left out in all the festivities. It’s a fun activity to do with the kids to help build up the excitement of Christmas plus it makes your tree more meaningful. Here’s some of the ornaments we came up with this year 🙂

ADVENT NIGHT

Advent night in our home is when we gather the kids to spend time singing Christmas songs, reading the Christmas story or other Christmas story books and reminding them about the true meaning of Christmas. It is always good to remind them, and ourselves too, that Christmas is about celebrating the birth of Jesus, and not about wish lists and receiving presents.

PRICELESS RETURN ON INVESTMENT

Hello everyone! I’m happy to be able to blog again after several weeks of absence. Some of you have probably seen our photos on my facebook. Our family spent 3 weeks in the States. Paolo and I from the beginning of our marriage have put a great value on travelling. It is something that our parents have passed on to us. We could easily upgrade our cars or appliances but there’s never a discussion. We always choose to travel. Whether it’s to a place that’s an hour’s drive or a fourteen hours’ plane ride away, travelling creates so many memories for our children that I know they will cherish for the rest of their lives. They might not remember every detail anymore of every place we go to but they will remember the happy emotions and family bonding for sure.

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Driving to Mt. Hood, Oregon
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Feeding the birds at Sta. Monica Beach
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with Mickey Mouse in Disneyland

We try to do something different in every trip and this time, we went on a road trip travelling from south to north of the West Coast. This meant spending looong hours cooped up in our mini van, driving over 3,000 miles in total. Never mind eating one year’s worth of Cheetos and Goldfish crackers or peeing in the water bottle (ooops I won’t tell you who did that). We had to come up with silly things to fight our boredom like howling like Indians everytime we see the Target logo or rolling down the windows and screaming with the wind. Owl City’s “Hello Seattle” and Rebecca Black’s “Friday” kept us dancing and singing. Never mind the LSS (last song syndrome.) The road trips were fun!

Travelling is costly, whether it’s within the country or abroad. It takes months or even years to save up for it, depending on where you are planning to go. (Thank God we were able to get 3 free airline tickets for this trip.) It was costly to go to Disneyland but seeing Joaquin jump up and down when he saw Mickey Mouse for the first time is priceless. It was costly to go to Knotts Berry Farm but hearing Ryan shout “Piece of cake, piece of cake” after he got off one of the most thrilling roller coaster rides is priceless. Driving to Mt. Hood, Oregon was costly but hearing our kids’ delighted screams as they went snow tubing down the hill is priceless. These are things that we will never regret spending for.

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Snow Tubing at Mt. Hood

Sure we have clunky cars and bulky TV’s but while the kids are young, we wanna invest in memories, in the intangible, in what really counts.

RANGO

Rango
Watched "Rango" today on our family day, since Mondays are Paolo's off from work. Joaquin has gotten much better at watching movies, just sitting and eating the whole time.

FAMILY BOND

Our kids are ages 15, 11, 7 and 2. Obviously, they are spaced quite far apart from each other. Some parents prefer their kids to be closer together in age so that they can grow up together and enjoy the same things together, which makes a great point. But we decided we wanted to devote ample time to enjoy each of our children in their toddler years, hence the age gaps of our children.

Though each of our kids have their own “barkada” or peer group, and they’re into different extra-curricular activities, and though they have moments of disagreements (sometimes more than i can handle), people are always surprised to see how close they are to each other. Once, we were out of town, our good friend Janelle watched the kids for us and told us how she was amazed at how the kids were affectionate to each other. But that didn’t come without any effort. Here are some of the things we have done and still do to keep the kids close:

1. Probably the most important of all, we don’t play favorites. We make sure we praise each kid for their individual deeds, gifts and talents.

2. We didn’t put TV’s in their bedroom. Because they share one TV in the den, they have to agree what to watch and they have to watch it together.

3. On weekends, we let the kids camp out in our bedroom, sleeping on futons on the floor, watching TV series together like Chuck, Monk, 24, White Collar, etc., over bowls and bowls of popcorn.

4. We invest in toys that are of common interest to all. One of the biggest and greatest investment we’ve made in toys is LEGO. Our kids, no matter what age, love to build and they can spend hours just playing together with their Lego pieces. We also play a lot of boardgames as a family. And recently, we’ve had to spend on beyblades.

5. We plan regular family trips out of town. Trips force the kids to depend on each other for companionship and entertainment.

6. Never underestimate the power of a group hug. 😀

It is such a great joy to see that our kids have bonded pretty well over the years. I pray that they will even be closer even after Paolo and I are long gone.

beyblade
My sons' favorite game. I'm so happy our 15-year old still loves to play with our 7-year old!