Thursday, 31 December 2015

15 for 2015

Over the years, the events in our lives will come and go but  the joys and good memories from the experience stay in our hearts or so I thought.  When Dadilo was diagnosed with a brain tumor and he told us that a big chunk of his memory got lost,  I think that there is a possibility that anyone may have memory loss.  It is more painful than any physical pain to have forgotten some important details in our lives.  So while we can, we need to cherish and feel the joy of being with our families, explore the places we never thought we will set our feet on or simply breathe and live the blessings and favors that God bestowed upon us.

Here is a snapshot of our family's travels for 2015:

The year 2015 was special because of the many events that happened in my life.  I usually would list top ten events but this year I have 15 for 2015:

1.  I successfully completed my Project Management Certificate at University of Toronto.
2. Lito and I renewed our marriage vows a day before my 47th birthday.
3. Mama and Dadilo returned to Canada.
4. My sister Wendy and her family (Carter, Candy and Carlisle) visited us in Toronto.
5. We travelled to Niagara Falls, Ottawa, Montreal and Old Quebec City.
6. High School "Besties" and our families had a reunion - Joy and Carlyn in New York.
7. Our original bible study cell group had a reunion and our families are growing bigger.
8. I took driving lessons and still learning how to drive.
9. My career is doing well and hopefully moves to the next level.
10. I got hooked on "Aldub" and admires the moral lesson in courtship and friendship it promotes.
11. My kids have grown taller and are excelling in school. Aloysius moved up to High School.
12. We had a "no snow" trip to Blue Mountain Ski Resort this winter.
13. Aloysius had a one day work experience at Molson through the Take your kids to work day program and he enjoyed talking to my Managers, Directors and peers.
14. Kyle won in the Art Calendar contest.
15. Alexus celebrated his 7th birthday with a Minion Party attended by his classmates and friends.

Thank you Lord for these wonderful memories. May you continually bless us this new year.

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Lessons learned from the Miss Universe incident

Being a Filipino and a fan of beauty pageants, I was so excited to watch the Miss Universe 2015. I even participated in the voting system. Of course, I used my critical judgement in selecting the rightful candidates to be in the finals. Miss Philippines without a doubt stood out both in the swimsuit and evening gown competition. The Q&A in the semi finals was not a casual talk but put Miss Philippines bet Pia Wurtzbach in the hot spot who came out with a safe answer and nailed it for the judges.

It was exciting and suspenseful as the pageant progressed especially when they announced the top 3 and Miss Philippines emerged as one of them. We were shrieking and clapping when Pia gave the best answer. Now you can just imagine how we and the rest of the Filipinos all over the world were patiently waiting for this moment because it has been 42 years since Philippines had her Miss Universe title.  When Miss USA was called to become the 2nd runner up, I told myself that this is it, Philippines is going to win because Miss Colombia's answer to that Q&A cannot beat that of Pia's.  But then the incident happened, Steve Harvey mistakenly announced that Miss Universe is Miss Colombia instead of Miss Philippines. That incident hurt not only Miss Colombia and Miss Philippines but also the Filipinos and Colombians who were expecting their candidates to win.  It stole Miss Philippines' crowning and victory walk moment. It stole the limelight from Pia who remained humble and poised under pressure.

Confidently Beautiful with a Heart

When Pia was finally crowned and was ready to do her walk, she tried to approach and comfort Miss Colombia who was unbecoming of a true sport and a Lady by crying like a child. But the ladies surrounding Ariadna shoved Miss Philippines and told her to step back.  Pia did her walk while the other ladies were shouting Colombia Colombia! The atmosphere which was supposedly jovial turned out to be like a boxing arena or a gladiatorial fight. But our newly crowned queen has remained calm and poised. She kept smiling even though deep inside she's hurting. She had her proper crowning moment backstage and there she poured her tears out, away from the cameras and audience view. She was humble and didn't complain but rather commented that the traditional crowning ceremony is so 2015 with a smile. What an attitude!

So, What's in it for me anyway?

It's been 24 hours and I still cannot get over it, well I think most of the Filipinos are.  Before hitting the sack last night and after waking up this morning I kept on reading updates about the Miss Universe 2015.  Like most of the Filipinos and Colombians and other fans, I'm following everything from that event, down to the last replies, what could have beens and even nasty comments and bashings. I would not call it patriotic but I would side with Pia not only because she is a Filipina but more so because Miss Philippines deserved to win that crown. It is the pride and honor that this victory meant and we Filipinos have been longing for this in the past 42 years.

Lessons learned from this incident

I've read so many comments about this incident but there is one that I am reposting here because it is timely and relevant to all of us regardless of our circumstances. Thanks to Dhee Jhey for these lessons:

Everything happens for a reason. God is in control of everything. Now ask why would He allow such thing like this to happen?

1. The whole world is watching, God wants to show us that earning everything in this world means nothing to Him but what matters is what's inside our hearts and how we treat other people.

2. Unexpected incidents reveal what is really within us. We can't rehearse for it, we don't know when it is coming and this event shows a lot of revelation from all the candidates, especially their true colors.

3. Beauty will fade but the goodness of a person's heart lasts eternity. Most of the time we put value into things that are seen while things that are unseen are the most important.

4. Those who humble themselves will be lifted up, those who boast will be put in shame.

5. It is not what people around you says that matters but how God looks at your heart. And He will entrust you with what He thinks you can manage.

I hope we realize these points so we can understand why the Miss Universe 2015 incident happened and what we can learn from it.  I want to quote Miss Colombia saying "Everything happens for a reason."

Friday, 13 November 2015

Strategies to teach your child to read - Part 2

My previous post was for parents with children who know how to read.  The following will benefit those moms with younger children.  I remember Aloysius became interested in books even if he didn't know how to read yet as early as 4 months old. That's when we started the mommy and child-reading-routine.

With younger children, you need to give them hard board books so that even if they chew on them, or they throw them or spill milk on them, they will still be readable.  These books have great pictures and colors in them that children get glued at looking at them.  This is the perfect opportunity to introduce reading to them.

Here are the tips:
1.  Look and point at the picture.
2.  Get your mouth ready to read.  The child will be looking at the picture and at your mouth while you are reading.
3.  Tell your child how does the word begin. Emphasize on the sound i.e. O - the mouth should form the O too.
4. Read the word all the way through.
5. Start again.  Skip the word you want the child to learn.
6. Ask the child, does it make sense? He would now recognize the word you missed.
7. Be consistent on the pronunciation of the word. if you say it differently, the child will notice it, if not, ask him "Does the word sound right?"
8. Go back and re-read the whole sentence.  You can ask him to point the picture and the word.
9. Give your child lots of chances to read the story again and again.  This is the key to successful reading.  It is called fluency.

The more your child reads, the more confident and successful he or she will become.

Strategies to teach your child to read - Part 1

I met my youngest son's teacher today at the Parent-Teacher meeting.  It was a fruitful conversation learning how my son is doing in school.  Alexus is turning 7 this month and I am so proud to receive the teacher's report that Lex' reading is excellent, Level S or DRA 34 Lexile 750.  I don't know what all these meant but I was so happy to hear that his reading is advanced, even more advanced for ages 8-9. I am so thankful that my kids love reading and I hope they will continue to read real books even with ebooks and electronic information are available online.

I want to share the tips I used to encourage my children to read.  Children are never too early to read and we as parents can help them become proficient in reading as soon as they recognize our voice and read our lips.

1. Read to your child everyday.
Reading aloud builds positive attitudes toward reading, stimulates interest in books and exposes your child to a variety of reading materials. This should be a fun, relaxing time for you and your child. This is our family bonding time before we read God's word and do our family prayer and devotion.  Kids look forward to each night's reading time.

2. Visit the library weekly.
We do it at least every three weeks because that is the maximum number of weeks we can get hold of the books we borrowed.  On the way to the library, I am asking them what they plan to borrow.  Are they going to get the same author (our favorite is Robert Munsch)?  or get the next the series (Geronimo Stilton, Captain Underpants, Wimpy Kid etc.)?  Get many different varieties of topics: mysteries, nonfiction, science fiction, animals, poems, rhymes, etc.  You and your child may go to the library with no plan in mind and pick out whatever interests you as you browse.

3. Look for accessible materials.
Help your child see that reading is found in every aspect of our lives,  help them read to you the recipe as you cook or bake together.  Read all the boxes and labels as you shop together. Have you child find signs as you travel somewhere, or when you are in a mall or a restaurant.

4. Have your child read to you everyday.
Children need positive feedback and genuine interest from their parents about their reading abilities. Be excited to hear your child read to you everyday.  Sometimes you child may choose a book that is much too difficult but has beautiful pictures.  Instead of reading, have him or her tell you about the pictures using as many details as they can.

5. Share book talks.
After you have read a story aloud or your child has completed an independent reading assignment, have him do a retelling of the read aloud or reading assignment. Retelling helps children review and organize the book. Listen for the following: Does the retelling makes sense? Have your child used the same story language and pattern from the book? Do you have questions?  you can use the following:
-What was your favourite part? why?
-What didn't you like? Why?
-What would you have done? Why?

I hope you can benefit from these because I did. My 3 children are worthy of these and the time spent on reading has paid off.  The return on this investment is long term.  Happy reading.

Monday, 26 October 2015

ALDUB nation and ALDUB Libraries

I admit I am an ALDUB fan, although I already swore oath to Canadian allegiance, I am still a Filipino by heart and will be part of the culture that makes all Filipinos uniquely special, one of which is ALDUB nation. It didn't surprise me that I became glued to Filipino TV show Eat Bulaga with the animated dubsmashing of a new character Yaya Dub. Add to it the split-screen romance blooming between Yaya Dub and a good-looking lad named Alden Richards. It felt "kilig" and good and the whole new way of making the audience yearn for more " kalyeserye" brought back memories from my  teenage years. Watching the show became a regular thing for our family, even my young kids laugh at the gimmicks, even sing and dance along but the 3-sisters (Nidora, Tidora and Tinidora) characters added more spice to the love team. The lessons about love, courtship and relationships taught the viewers - some of which have adapted to the fast-tracked, modern ways and missed out on the real values. Lola Nidora ensures that we learn about the right way and that there is a right time for everything.

"Tamang panahon" is the venue for the split screen pair to finally have more time to be with each other as the previous attempts have been cut short due to unavoidable circumstances. Of course, I got excited, I wondered about what's in store for Alden and Yaya Dub at that moment. Meanwhile, the show is going to be held at the Philippine Arena, the biggest indoor arena in the country. It is supposed to fill 55,000 viewers.

What surprised me and made me emotional is the objective of the Eat Bulaga show to donate the ticket sales/proceeds to charity - to build libraries in public schools all over the country and they will call it ALDUB libraries. That is an amazing initiative! ....scenes from my elementary and high school days came flashing and it made tears fall down my cheeks. I hope my kids will be able to read this:

I love to read and always loved books. I think it was triggered by the fact that in my early years of studying, there was scarcity of books in our library. Only when you are given the chance to get hold of one, you will appreciate the joy of reading and learning.  I went to a public school in Pasig (then a municipality) and the books were shared, unlike in the private schools where each student use their own books.  Let's say a typical class have 40 students, most of the time, the number of books available are only 4. The 10 students per group share the book. During high school, I volunteered to become a student-librarian so I will have access to the books available in the library, I took the opportunity of reading Sawyer, Huck Finn, Austen, Odyssey, Iliad, Othello, Wuthering and other Literature in that library, there were only few Filipino classics. The books were old, and pages were brown, fragile and dusty but because the characters and scenes in the novels seemed more interesting, the physical attributes of the book didn't matter. By the way, I belonged in the highest section class and my schools were in Pasig City close to the capital so can you imagine a scenario in a public school in Isabela or in Dumaguete or in Tawi-Tawi? You will be lucky to see 4 books in a class.

My nanny back home told me that the reason why she stopped studying and opted to work as a nanny instead was because there were no books and no classrooms even in their province. My heart sank thinking about the plight of other school children in the Philippines, it is totally the opposite here in Canada.  But I am also sad that with the abundant, newer books, crisp pages and endless varieties here in Canada, children don't read books on their own unless asked by their parents or teachers. Isn't it ironic, don't you think?

ALDUB gave us hope. With the successful Tamang Panahon show and its fundraising that reached 20 million pesos, I'm pretty sure the books will fill each library for the Filipino school children. I am so thankful to ALDUB and Eat Bulaga. They're taking advantage of their popularity for a good cause, it may fade but they will leave a legacy, the ALDUB libraries will make a great impact to our country.  You are not only making us happy and excited everyday but you also gave hope to education and the future of this nation. May the Good Lord bless you more. Salamat sa inyo!

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Book Review: The 7 Habits of Happy Kids

The 7 Habits of Happy Kids by Sean Covey

I'm sure this 7 habits phrase is familiar to you. The other bestselling book entitled The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People was written by Stephen Covey.  The 7 Habits are based on powerful Principles that have been enriching lives for generations - principles such as responsibility, vision, respect, teamwork and balance. It is a proven philosophy for adults and teenagers that can now be applied to kids. I am just one of the parents who are interested in bringing the 7 Habits into our home and into our kids schools, that why we are reading this book for the nth time. I am thankful that Sean, the son of Stephen Covey took the next steps in creating a version for teens and kids.

This book teaches kids timeless values and principles contained in the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People - from figuring out how to take charge of their own lives to discovering why balance is best. The characters depicted in the stories might be the same as our children and their different moods, situations and personalities. They can relate to each story as it might have happened to them or they have encountered them in their friends or classmates lives. Each story illustrates one habit or principles that will help our children apply the 7 habits in their activities. After each story, there's a section called Parent's Corner which has some suggestions on how to bring out the habit in that story.t also include list of questions to ask kids and small steps/ tips that kids may start practicing.

Here are the 7 Habits of Happy Kids:
1. You are in Charge - Be Proactive
2. Have a Plan - Begin with the end in Mind
3. Work First then Play - Put first things first
4. Everyone can win - Think win-win
5. Listen before you talk - Seek first to understand than to be understood.
6. Together is better - Synergize "together everyone achieves more"
7. Balance feels best - Sharpen the saw.

Of all the seven Habits, my favourite is the 7th as it talks about balance and it is also aligned to our family's three goals - Feed your Mind, Feed your Body, Cleanse your body.  We feel better when we are balanced, when we take time to renew the four parts of who we are: body, heart, mind and soul. I like the part when Covey explained in the parent's corner that as the car has four tires, we as people, also have four parts. And to be healthy and happy, all parts need time and attention.

The explanation in the story is simple but adults can relate very well.
"You use your heart when you play with your friends." Build and Nurture good relationships.
"You use your soul when you find something quiet to do that makes you fresh inside." Reflection and time to spend with God through prayer.
"You Use your body when you exercise." Physical activities make you well.
"Use you mind when you read." Knowledge is power.

My children remembered  the illustration we saw on a Christian TV show about the soul man and spirit man fighting or getting weak when the body is weak or in sin and how the relationship with Jesus Christ can lighten and bring the joy, peace and love to the soul man, spirit man and physical man. We need Christ as He is the only one who will make us live a balanced and complete life that he desired for us to have. How blessed, how marvellous this life is and we thank God that even in storybooks or inspirational books like these, it is still going back to Him. Read this book and God will reveal himself to you and your children too. God bless.

Monday, 14 September 2015

Green Apron Behaviour - something to learn from Starbucks

I was listening to my favorite AM Christian radio station from the Phillippines when I heard this. The sharing was timely as I am contemplating on what's important in building relationships.  Everything was falling into place -I've learned about different personalities and how to deal with each, the different parts of the PIE of life and their portion, how to apply Planning, Leading, Organizing and Control management principles and how to balance knowledge, faith, love to live a God-fearing, purpose-driven life and become the outcome of all these inputs.  Yesterday, in church we learned about our inner calling, our gifts, our influence and how to respond to the "calling" and apply it to our daily fishing for God. Yes, it is too big to handle but with the right formula and willingness to obey, one cannot miss this opportunity.

The Green Apron Behaviour that the Starbucks employees were trained to deliver shows why the coffee store stands out.  It's not only the coffee but the "People" factor that contributes to the increasing and retaining customer base that Starbucks is known for.  The Christians who are also called Fishers of men can learn from the Green Apron Behaviour to fulfill the task. Here is list of the attitude that those who work with green apron are expected to show / deliver:

1. Welcoming - you know when you are truly welcome - you are greeted, there is a genuine smile or the talk is more personal.  Remember, they ask your name to put in the cup, that's you, it's personal. When we want to bring someone close to God, we welcome the person regardless of race, color, size and age into our homes, into our circles, into our lives. Hindi porke ibang religion or beliefs, ayaw na natin makipagusap sa Kanila.  Hindi porke inis ang pamilya mo dun na wala ka naman kinalaman dahil away ng pamilya yun, Iiwas ka na rin sa tao na yun. Paano na ang channel of blessings through you? Alam mo yun feeling na welcome ka di ba? no walls, no pretentions, warm and open. Someone  who is willing to accept anyone including the person you just met and who will connect with you right away. Break that wall, welcome one another.

2. Knowledgeable of product - how can we say or promote something if we ourselves don't know anything about it.  Build our relationship with God first. Learn about God, read the bible, pray, have an intimate relationship with our Saviour,  know about Jesus and the gift of salvation, memorize those verses, learn them and store them in your heart so that when the time comes that you need to "share" or answer questions, the Holy Spirit will retrieve the knowledge and reveal it. Like the Barista, he will give you the right coffee flavour suited to you.

3.  Genuine - you build relationships with others, not just your family or close friends. There is true friendship in every fellowship. Did you know that each time you interact or react to someone, you are making an effort to connect to that person? The outcome of the conversation makes or breaks the interaction. Most of the time you will receive kind words, good comments from a barista because they want to connect more with you. Sales strategy? Maybe, but at the end of a stressful day, having someone to vent out our frustrations to makes up a barista-customer relationship. Naalala ko dati sa ATC, ask ni barista, how's your day mam? I will say, bad trip, init ulo, alam na niya ang oorderin ko - ahh Mocha Frapp ma'am? So how are you with a friend who is in need, do you reach out or just even listen to them? Or do we stay away from him because we don't want to get involved. Where is the relationship-building there?

4. Considerate - when I was pregnant or I brought my kids to Starbucks when they were little, the barista asked me if I will have coffee? He would offer non-caffeine smoothies to my children and less caffeine or fat to a preggy like me.   Are you the same with whatever situation your friend is in? Can you easily adapt to a situation?   Would you consider someone else's feelings or agenda, or only your own? What about God's plan? Sometimes and I admit I am guilty of this too, we tend to focus only of ourselves that we miss out on  the opportunity. selfie ika nga.  Let us be considerate of others even if we are annoyed at that person, there is still something good in that person that we are expected to bring up if we show the love, kindness and consideration that we as Christians are supposed to be full of. Kahit nakakainis na siya, or di niya deserved yun, let us give him the benefit of the doubt and bring out the goodness in another. Anak din siya ng Diyos.

5. Involved - this is related to item number 2, how can we be genuine if we are not involved? How can we lend a shoulder to cry on or a listening ear if we are not available? Tucked away in our"comfort zone" with an alibi," problema niya yun, I don't want to get involved." How can that person know that there is hope in God if we are shutting our doors and windows to that person? God will use us if only we allow him to. We need to admit that we are not created to live in isolation and be willing to be used for another person's encouragement or building up.  "It is not good for a man to live alone, I will create a companion for him." "Walang sinoman ang nabubuhay para sa sarili lamang. Tayong lahat ay may pananagutan sa isat isa."

What makes you go or come back to Starbucks? It's not only the coffee, but it's the total "experience" that makes it more attractive. The traits mentioned are not only for Starbucks barista but for all the people, for Christians who are called to bring others to Christ and make him enjoy the experience. Like the barista who stands behind those counter, we can do the same, share the total experience so that others will know and come or return to Christ. We can be Welcoming, Knowledgeable, Genuine, Considerate and Involved and we can show it in so many ways. Not only lip service, I have to do the same and I ask God for guidance, more love, forgiveness, kindness and willingness in my heart to live the kind of life He wants us to live. May God guide us, in Jesus name.

Filling the bucket and its impact to others (long-lasting)

School year started 2 weeks ago and I almost lost the letter sent by Kyle's teacher last summer. I found it at last and I wouldn't let days passed without recording this in my blog. The letter was short but the content was heartwarming and I must admit I feel proud that I'm considering this as my ROI when it really should have been Kyle's. For our nightly storytelling, we started reading the book "Growing up with a bucket full of happiness: Three rules for a happier life" by Carol Mccloud 2011. And it looks like, we are seeing the results of everyday bucket filling.

Miss DeVal of Briarcrest Junior School wrote this last July 1,2015:

To the parents of Kyle,

Here is the summary of what Kyle's classmates said about him this school year. Words have such power. May the thoughts the children in Room 8 have expressed about Kyle be as heartwarming to you and Kyle as they have been to me as I have typed them up.

All about Kyle:
"You are a good reader."
"Kyle, you are a very hard-working person and always try to enjoy a little laughing time."
"You are very kind to others and are also good at drawing."
"Kyle, you are very smart and very kind to others."
"I like how you play fair and make sure myself and others are okay if they are hurt."
"You always know what to write on your paper."
"Kyle, you always help others with their work."
"You are a hard worker."
"Kyle, you speak up when you believe something is unfair!"
"You are intelligent."
"Kyle, you are funny!"
"You always follow through on what you say you are going to do."
"Kyle, you are very smart. When you win games, you don't brag."
"You always try your best."
"Kyle, you speak to me or help me solve a problem when something is wrong."
"You have very good handwriting."
"You are a good friend."
"Kyle you are joyful and kind."

I was dumbfounded upon reading this and until now, my smile is like Yaya Dub's and Alden's in their second meeting. I am thankful for the feedback and brings joy to my heart.  I am encouraging all parents out there to continue their work of raising their children to be caring and responsible as it is more lasting and appreciated than any other recognition. Relationships count more than numbers. 

"The source of much of our happiness is found in being a caring and responsible person." -Carol McCloud
  1. Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it.

Monday, 3 August 2015

GPR - to build and expand

I was asked to exhort in our recent family camp at Liebenzell. The theme is Life Builders. While I thought that a training workshop (Colours Insights/Temperaments) would be a good one for the 3-day camping, Pastor suggested that we do that another time. I thought I will not participate anymore, but on our first day, he asked that I do the first night exhortation. I know I'm not qualified but because I believe that God will help me and I do this in my work as training specialist anyways, I responded and it was a pleasure to serve God. Here are some more information that we can use in our meditation. God wants you to think about these:

WHAT: Purpose - God created us for a purpose. There is something that God embedded in us to trigger that longing to know and serve God. Have you figured out why are you put in a certain situation, lead in a church or group of people or became friends with a certain individual? Matthew 28:19-20 the Great Commission and Jabez prayer in 1 Chronicles 4:9-10 says, "Expand God's territory..."

HOW: 1. Prayer - Our way to communicate to God is through prayer and His way is through HIS words- the Bible. There is a need for God's words to enter into our system so we will know what He wants us to do and how we can live our purpose. We cannot do it on our own, we need God. "The effective, pervent prayer of a righteous man avails much." James 5:16;

Prayer and His words are man's link to God, so imagine drawing a line from top to bottom this is the VERTICAL line in drawing the cross.

2. Relationships - there are 2 relationships that we need to build and nurture, the first is with God through His son Jesus Christ and the second is among All the people, regardless of color, size, location, gender and age. Relationships represent the HORIZONTAL line on the cross.

HOW: 1. INPUT - how can we share if our knowledge is limited? The parts of our body were made for a purpose - EARS - "faith comes from hearing God's words.." EYES, HANDS....we link our activities to let God's words enter into our system.

What kind of music do you listen to? Books, magazines or other kinds of media do you read? Who are you always talking to, share your thoughts with? Is he a godly person? What kind of movies, TV shows do we watch, or Facebook, YouTube viral media do we spend our time on? When we listen to God's words in preaching, do we write keywords to remember and meditate later on?

What do we do to nurture these inputs? "meditate on it day and night.." Do we have a daily devotional or quiet time with God?

2. OUTPUT - our actions speak louder than our words. To apply the inputs within us, we need to be aware of God's purpose in our actions. Will Jesus do this? How would He react? Will this build relationships, or break it?

WORDS - what kind of words come out of our mouth, are they encouraging, hopeful, full of love and compassion, kind and forgiving? "Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks..."

ACTIONS - a helping hand, a listening ear, there are lots of opportunities to do good and let God shine in our actions.

What is the impact of the action or reaction? Will a negative situation turn into positive? Are we contributing to making this world peaceful? How is our co-worker or neighbor or even a distant relative react if they found out that we responded differently and not biblically? God will use us to expand His territory so we need to make it happen by DOING and not just say God's words. LIVE it.

As our assignment, I left them three questions that we also use in our lean management/continuous improvement processes, you can also ask yourself these:

1. What am I doing that I'm not supposed to be doing? Commission or subtraction

2. What am I supposed to be doing that I am not doing? Omission or Addition

3. What am I doing that can be done more right, biblically? level up to expand the territory.

GPR - God, Prayer, Relationships

Saturday, 18 July 2015

Who doesn't like to get married again?

I would say...Lito! But he did exchange the vows with me in celebration of our 15th wedding anniversary and my 47th birthday. It was an awesome day, the Lord has made! God must have love us so much that rains only started pouring before and after the ceremony and photo shoot. Our renewal of vows was held a day before my birthday at the gardens of The Peninsula Inn and Resort in Niagara Falls, Ontario. It was an intimate affair as family and close friends were present to witness this event.

This second time of getting married was more meaningful as our kids joined us in the ceremony. The 3-cord symbolism that Reverend Peter Goodrich of the Niagara Falls Wedding World explained made an impact as we really need God to be the third party in our marriage - the cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

Here are some of the photos from the event: (Thank You Bro. Arneil Fabia of SCM)

My Groom

Our children joining us during the blessing.

Sealed with a kiss

Because I was a member of Weddings at Work the first time I got married (Side Note: It was Benz and Abet Rana who gave me an idea when they did their 15th in Las Vegas), I will share some good and need improvement evaluation of the hotel and the Niagara Falls Wedding World services as part of our post-wedding duties for the other couples to take note or learn from.

1. The Peninsula Inn and Resort ( - Ms. Jessica Sanchez was easy to deal with. We made all transactions online and since I was from Toronto and I couldn't go to Niagara frequently, she made it a point that all my requests are granted - from the color theme, music to the design of our paddle fans souvenirs. Our rooms were perfect and we got a good deal since this is summer season where other hotels have sky-rocketing rates. One thing that was missed - there was no one (waiter) to inform the guests that there are cold bottled water and refreshments available to keep them cool while waiting for the ceremony to start. Good thing, it was not too hot that day. Also, great location, lots of areas to use for picture taking, free parking for our guests. Most importantly, very near our Reception location - Mandarin Restaurant at Niagara Square.

2. Niagara Falls Wedding World ( - Same with Jessica, I communicated with Nicole Gibson and Rev. Loretta through email and phone only. I was able to meet them only when we were about to start the ceremony. They were helpful in getting our 3-cord props ready - providing the different colored ribbon to highlight God's presence in marriage. They also gave clear instructions to my children and their part in the ceremony and also sending and making revisions to the program to amend my requests. There were two important things that need improvement - the sound system and the declaration of our vows. The ceremony is a very meaningful one and I would have loved my guests to hear everything Rev. Peter said from the readings, to the Cord and Ring ceremonies to the blessing. Lito and I would also like to say our own vows instead of repeating after Rev. Peter. We wrote our own vows and it would have been more felt (or dramatic) if we declared it ourselves. Well, maybe next time, I will request for that.

The Vows

I, LITO publicly re-commit myself to love and serve you,
to accept, forgive, honor and pray for you
and to be faithful to you as long as we both shall live.
I am making this commitment before God, family and friends today and so help me God.

I, IRMEE take you my dearest, as my husband, friend and love.
All that I am I share with you. I promise to love and cherish you,
to help you in good times and bad, to respect our individuality,
to make our home one of love and understanding.
I give you all my trust, all of my tomorrows, all of my life.
I declare this vow in the name of our Lord Christ, so help me God.

I will post more pictures and reception account soon.

Thank you to all who attended and shared their prayers and well wishes.

Monday, 13 July 2015

Getting married again...planning a mob-wedding

I will kept this a secret but will publish in my blog about the wedding preparations I will do for our 15th wedding anniversary and renewal of vows.  This blog entry and all wedding related posts will only be published after the event or when he finds out. I spoiled my own surprise when I told him about the event on Canada Day, he was not too excited. :(

I already booked the venue, arranged the decors and reserved for the rooms.  I also asked a friend of ours to be the photographer.  The venue will be in a garden with a gazebo and the reception will be in a buffet restaurant in a mall just across the ceremony area - how convenient and cheap :)

I have decided to use a beige, white, ivory theme because Lito's original Barong Tagalog still fits him after fifteen years. Here is what I am going to wear:

And here are what I am going to ask the guests to wear (strictly white, beige and or cream) it's a beach-themed wedding but not in a beach venue.

And here is our wedding venue - the Peninsula Inn and Resort Niagara Falls

Sunday, 28 June 2015

My DIY Paper Bouquet

I finally am taking advantage of my Cricut machine.  Well, this is the third time.  The first time was when we made bookmarks for Kyle's and Lex' classmates last Valentines. The second was my mini album project for Sophia's Baby pictures.  I am so happy with the outcome, unique and inexpensive flowers.

Here are the steps in creating 3D Paper Flowers using Cricut Expression:

1. Put the Art Philosophy cartridge in your Cricut machine. Load your cardstock, I used cream-colored cardstocks i bought from Michaels. Choose the size of the paper and depth of the cricut blade. Then from your keypad, press SHIFT + FONT feature and then choose the Fleur delis icon. I chose size 5" so i can cut 2 flowers in a letter size cardstock. Then press CUT.

2. Remove the excess cardstock from the cutting mat. Use the cricut paper press to lift the flowers. Gently lift.

3. Using a paper tweezer, secure the end and start twisting and rolling until you it forms like a flower.

4.Secure the bottom with glue and ensure that the petals are evenly spaced. Now you have a rosette.

5. Adhere the rosettes to a styro ball. I used size 6" and secure the rosettes with a glue gun. I added pearlized long pins as accessory.


6. I pierced old pencils into the styro ball and wrap it with satin ribbons with pearls. Now this is how my flower ball looks like.

Now I have a bouquet that will stay forever, like our love.  cheesy :)

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Some trinkets to remember

I have not been updating my blog and I missed opportunities to share the good things and blessings that I received.  I tend to forget about them so now, even if for a short post, I will mention the trinkets to remember so that when I get older and if I decide to make this blog of mine into a book, I will be able to read or pass on the good memories.

My Starbucks mug - my sister gave it to me last 2011 and I've been using it ever since. It was always with me in my meetings and conference calls.  It kept me warm in winters while walking on the streets of Toronto and while waiting for the bus. It was  not just was a vessel to my favorite drink, It was my constant companion and I feel sad that it finally gave  in and broke.  I remember  my director boss told me that she gave that day I was meeting her the deadline that if no one will claim the mug from her, she will take it, because there was no design like that in  Toronto. I told her that I got it from the Philippines and it has a sentimental value to me because  my sister gave it to me. It felt like I got reunited with an old friend. LOL, crazy me.

Slow Down - this was the favorite comment of my driving instructor, especially when I am turning. I need to slow down. Now I come to realize that the same word is to be applied when we are making decisions, when we are angry or  making plans. We need to slow down and think and analyze more before turning or making the next move. Even if the world is at fast pace, we should be slowing down.

The word RESTFUL - my son Alexus gave me a present today and  the word restful was R of the word MOTHER, the other words were Marvelous,  Optimist, he said his teacher said the meaning was positive, Terrific, Heroic, Exciting, but he explained the word Restful. He said it's because I'm always resting or sleeping. LOL! I just explained that I need sleep because I come to office early. I will definitely consider that as my favorite trinket from Lex. Pensive thinking, I believe that the word truly depicts me because I'm putting everything in God's hands and with that I can truly rest.

Salt - I always remember this every time I clean fish, salt removes the smell, cleans, preserves and adds flavor. We are reminded that our life is to be like salt as what God commanded in Mark 9:50, "Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt among yourselves, and be at peace with each other."

That's it for now and I hope I can add more soon. Thank you trinkets.

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Gardening and the Parable of the Sower

It is Spring and the time to tend the garden. Just like the other gardeners, we use this time to plant seeds and clean the garden. When the rain pours, it gets easier to till the soil. I started doing it and to keep my mind about the chance of encountering earthworms, I think about the parable of the sower while tilling the soil.  It is true that before a seed grows, we need to soften the soil, till it, remove the rocks and weeds and water it. I encountered soils that are so hard, they are like dried clay, no chance of seed to grow in that kind of soil. But just like life's trials and tragedies to a man with a hardened heart, the blows of the spading fork or a tiller makes the soil break lose and soft, with watering, it becomes ready to be planted with seeds. With careful and steady tender loving care, the seeds will grow, harden and then bear fruit or flowers.

The application to the parable is just simple yet profound. All of us are the garden, some of us will have hard, clay-like soil, others will have rocks, others with weeds. If we don't prepare our hearts to accept the seed, it will not stay, grow and bear. God will use something to remind us that purpose, He  will use problems, tragedies or some people to clean us and prepare our hearts fro Gods planting,

When I think about the reasons why our hearts could harden, I though about pride, self-reliance, hurt from past, anger and  rage.  So the weeds and rocks could be our careers, problems, issues, hobbies, Worldly music, shows and movies, love for money and material things that if will not remove them in our garden, will also mean the delay in the planting of the seeds.

The good soil however is the one who is always cultivated, loose and watered. There is a tender loving care to the seed so that it keeps on growing.  The following are the equivalents of the tiller, water and seeds : daily devotions time with God, praise and worship, bible study and activities that promote or encourage God's presence. You know what happens next right? The seed will grow and bear fruit. The daily watering is Gods words being poured out to make seed grow into something bigger.

The seed becomes a young plant then later on blooms and bear fruit. That's the result that every gardener wants to achieve. The same way God wants our lives to become. To bloom and bear fruit for God's glory. He is our gardener and sower.

Saturday, 7 March 2015

Better be safe than sorry

Today, we added to our weekly learning activities a new topic -safety.  Because I work in a continuous improvement department, I wanted to share with my family the valuable information I'm exposed to which is also applicable to our daily lives.  Just like in our workplace, we are also doing "talks" at home.  For each month, there will be 4 talks every week - safety, health, continuous improvement and about being a Christian. We will have information sessions on the stuff that my kids need to know and I wanted them to develop that habit about embracing these four important lessons in their lives.

Our company recently launched a safety initiative which was also launched globally. Our guest speaker was Spencer Beach, a fire survivor and a motivational speaker for safety.  The message moved me and I thought that it would also impact my children if I bring his story home.

I showed them the video of Spencer's interview and we discussed his tips on how to be safety conscious.  I hope that this will be the start of something worthwhile.

Based on Spencer's talk, here are the top 6 reasons and attitudes why accidents happen:

1. Not aware of safety hazards
2. Not taking time
3. Not wearing Proper Protective Equipment (PPE)
4. Love to gamble (taking risks)
5. "It will not happen to me"
6. Failure to demonstrate safety to others

Lito and I took this opportunity to ask the kids the activities where they can be at risk.  After they were identified, we discussed with the kids the ways on how to prevent the accidents or being hurt.  One perfect example mentioned was riding a bike, so now they know why there's the need to wear helmets before going, why they should not be speeding and should look left and right before crossing.  Other activities like climbing a tree, playing a sport, running in the stairs and handling a sharp object were brought up and also what to do or not do in order to be safe.

The talk was a success. Before we ended the session, we left them with 4 things to remember to be SAFE:

1. Be aware. Learn and ask questions.
2. Take your time. DO NOT RUSH.
3. Wear the Proper Gear.
4. Be mindful of others. Take care of ourselves.

I also reminded them that we should take care of ourselves for the sake of our loved ones who are waiting and depending on us.

That's it for now, we'll have more in the coming weeks.

Be Safe.

Monday, 23 February 2015

Back to school again

I'm in my second term for the certificate course I am taking at U of T - that is University of Toronto to those who are not familiar. It was exciting when I first set foot at the university and met my classmates, most of them are working professionals like me. I was apprehensive at first but then just like the first few days in my job, it went fine.  My first course was too theoretical and the project we did was too technical, it was too draining because it coincided with my year-end frantic activities.  But just like in my past career and personal issues, God was there and helped me cope.

Many things have changed from the way I studied before which is 25 years ago, or maybe the methods are totally different here in Canada and with a continuing education course. Here are some of them: Textbooks and reading them are mandatory.  Good thing, I love to read although it's also a different feeling reading a novel.  Writing an exam is also another story. The questions are more situational and tricky and is done by multiple choice. The class participation is really helpful as you get a chance to learn about other companies and industries. The orientation of the classroom is conducive to discussion. Just like in the movies, the students are sitting in an elevated theatre -style seating. The instructor pulls up a white screen and the lesson was presented using a PowerPoint.  We were also given an access to the university portal and all communication is done there. The lessons are also available in the portal's Blackboard where the student can access the course materials. Everything was okay and high-tech. If it were not for my team who didn't coordinate very well, I could have liked it. But since I'm not paying for my studies, the extra knowledge and exposure is really a plus for me.

This term, my team is amazing, everybody is engaged and we liked each other too. I don't have problems connecting and communicating.  I look forward working with my team and ace the project.

Hopefully, after completing this, I will be able to start the next course  - Lean Six Sigma.

Saturday, 31 January 2015

What is real happiness?

For some, it is easy, they are happy when they have food on the table, when they are able to pay the bills and the mortgage. For those in business, they are happy when they close the deal or meeting the targets or exceeding them. It varies, sometimes it depends on how the children are, one new mom said I'm fulfilled and happy when I see my child happy. Some will be happy if they get the latest phone, new purse or new designer clothes. I admit I am happy when I know I will be going somewhere because I love to travel.

Sadly, many people get their happiness only from outward circumstances. As long as their lives are untroubled and they are comfortable, they feel happy.  But when illness strikes, or a relationship breaks down, or any of a thousand other unexpected troubles engulf them, then happiness flees.

Billy Graham said, there is a spring that never varies it's flow. Floods may rage, but it's output doesn't increase. A long summer drought may come, but it won't decrease. It's flow is steady, reliable and unending.

Such is the peace and joy that we all yearn for - and such is the peace Jesus promises to all who trust Him: "The water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up in everlasting life....My peace I give you" John 4:14 and 14:27.

What about you? Are you ready when the unexpected or a big storm comes? Will you still be happy? Are you at peace with God? Have you come to His spring? I hope you know where to find the water that will not make you thirsty again. Jesus is waiting.  Happiness is all about Him.

January 2015 has passed and the next month is approaching. What have we done to be near Or bring others to Him? Is it part of our goals this year? Or do we even have a goal in the first place or are we just waiting and being complacent? Are we deep inside truly happy that it shows and radiates to another?

Monday, 26 January 2015

It's a matter of choice

My sister and I were talking about the fate of some of our friends and relatives.  I know it's not fair to judge but everyone can see what happened. It is evident. What was the RESULT or OUTCOME of the decisions made. We have the tendency to say, "Kawawa naman (I pity her)" because of the results we've seen. The reality is, "It's Their Choice!" It's either you suffer or enjoy the consequence of your choice.

The only thing that bothers me is if they knew the other option. Were they given a choice or they were not aware of what's on the other side? In my job, I always create decision trees. What- if scenarios so that the user will know what to do if they select an option. All the activities coming next and results will be presented. I wonder if the people who made their decision knew these results.

One of my best friends married very young, to her first boyfriend. Of course, at that time they were so in love, she was blind. Didn't see the consequences of marrying young. And so the inevitable happened, they grew apart, one was complacent and another driven by ambition. Her career was detested by her husband, he became not only insecure of her success but also threatened by it. To control the skyrocketing career upswing, he prevented her from going to business trips, speaking engagements or launches as this could be her reason to have extra marital affairs. If she insisted, he would hit her. It was a normal scenario in their household, with the kids witnessing it that she later gave up her career for him. She chose to just have a desk job even if she is really smart just to please him. It was her choice. It was not long before she was promoted again and the cycle continued,  at that time we were regularly meeting for our reunion and we found out about her fate when she arrived in black and blue. We asked her if she was happy and if she knew that she had an option. To cut the long story short, she took the other option after the husband left with another girl and got her pregnant. Now she is back on track, very successful in her career and is very happy. Not suffering the fate of her choice. This time she made the right choice, I'm so happy for her.

Most of the OFWs have the same fate, they end up giving up happiness for the sake of the love ones. They keep on extending the contract because the family need more, the lifestyle changed because they had someone to support their "wants" - branded shoes, clothing, latest cellphone, new car etc. The OFW can't go back because the airfare is expensive. Sometimes, if the OFW is a woman, she will not marry because the family will stop receiving  monthly allowance, the husband might not agree with that and the family depends on her. What will happen to them?- Was her question and not what will happen to me?

I hope all the OFWs I was referring to knew what they are committing to, that they are devoting their whole life to supporting the family. I admire that but just like a project that should have been how the activities are linked to before they left, it should have a scope and limitation. Only until Boy graduates, or until we buy a house or until our business grew, or until year 2015. The OFW should be able to give the time and resources to herself, after all she was the one earning the money.  It is sad but most of the time, the OFW will stay as long as she can because the whole family now depends on her, sometimes the whole barangay.  So was she happy? did she want it to go on? It's her choice.

I am just citing that as an example because most of the Filipinos are grateful for an OFW, I was one of them. Without Dadilo's job in Saudi Arabia, I won't finish a degree and will not be able to work and have an experience that is relevant to my job now.   This is not only for OFWs, making a choice is for everyone, whether or not you decide to do good or follow God is your choice. I just hope you realize what your options are and the consequences of not responding to Gods call.

So what do you do? Know your OPTIONS,  what will happen if I choose this course, what will be my career path? What will be my timeline? When will I get married? Will this girl be the right one for me, will we still have a good relationship even if we don't have sex? Have I done my homework in checking her personality and does it matches mine? What is my personality, what goes well, where am I good at or not good at? What do I pursue career or love? Studies or sports? Do I even have  questions to help me decide or do I just go and do it and BAHALA na? Que SeraSera, whatever will be will be!

KNOW GOD and PRAY for guidance.  How can you know someone without finding out things about Him, how can you tell someone your deepest thoughts if you are NOT FRIENDS with Him? Whenever I make decisions, do I pray for it and seek Gods will? Is this Right with God?

CHOICES, CHOICES. We are responsible for the choices we make, we can't blame anyone, it's our choice. Now if the choice was not right, do we continue? That is another choice to make.

PROVERBS 3:6 In everything you do, put God first, and he will direct you and crown your efforts with success.

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Thank you 2014, welcome 2015!

The holidays just flew fast. I can't believe the year ended. We celebrated Christmas with family and friends and even if we were sick that week, we had fun. The kids had a blast opening lots of gifts. The Castillo family was complete this Christmas and that's something we really want to thank God for.

The year 2014 was very good to us.  There were highs and lows but our ride was smooth and sure.  We reached our destination.  We praise God for making all things possible.  Here are some of the highlights of the year 2014 to our families:

1. Our family's 5 years in Canada and our Canadian Citizenship Oathtaking.
2. Dadilo's successful brain tumor operation.
3. Rhea Sharyn's arrival in Canada.
4. Aloysius accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour.
5. Alexus graduated as SK.
6. Wendy and family arrival in US.
7. Irmee's career and going to back to school (University of Toronto)
8. Nanay and Tatay's arrival in Canada.
9. Celebrating 15 years wedding anniversary.
10. Castillo's family reunion in Canada.

Thank you to all our families, friends and church family who supported and prayed for us.  May the coming year be another year full of blessings.