Motherhood Redefined

The holidays last December was an eye opener for me about what it means to actually take care of my family, all by myself. Our househelp, who has been with us for just 6 months, left us for good. What was supposed to be a short vacation turned out to be permanent goodbye. I thought a post must be dedicated for this story alone, but I feel like it’s just a waste of my precious time, so, I did not bother anymore.

I have always been a hands on Mom to Matilda, even before Mileina was born. Losing the househelp did not paralyze us in that area very much. Although, the difference now is that, we have another baby to take care of. For one, I am exclusively breastfeeding, and it takes so much time in a day for feeding sessions. However, this is still good, because it takes away washing and sterilizing bottles as additional chores everyday if we were formula feeding. Another is that, I make sure we have freshly prepared, homecooked meals daily. This is quite meticulous to prepare, considering I do have meat and vegetables each meal. Preparing the ingredients alone is already time-consuming. 

As a wife to Joey on the other hand, it is a whole other set of responsibilities. Joey likes to have food prepared for him to bring to the office for breakfast, snack and lunch. He also wants his clothes ironed really well, shoes regularly shined and scrubbed, and his gym clothes washed right after use. Well, this is apart from the usual night massage requests he asks for as his love language (Hey, I’m not complaining ha? Haha!).

Honestly, during the first few days, I was grumbling and irritated that Joey expects that much from me knowing that I still have to look after the two kids. After praying about it though, I realized that it is my repsonsibility, and I have to own up to it. It is my role, first, as a wife, to take care of him, before our children. Yes, babies are demanding of time and attention, but it is a good training for them to learn how to wait and understand the right order of priorities. It is a really good thing so that they do not grow up feeling entitled. It is also a wake-up call for me, because I have depended so much on our househelp in doing these things for us. I would just usually instruct and observe. Now, I am able to do so much more for Joey compared to how it was when I just delegated the chores to our househelp.

On my part though, adjustments had to me made before it came to that. I am now waking up earlier that usual, around 6 to 6:30am to prepare Joey’s packed food and our own breakfast at home, which is usually whatever leftover food we have the day before. And then I go on preparing ingredients for our lunch and dinner. After which, I load the laundry in the washer and come back for it when I have spare time. We eat breakfast, keep Matilda preoccupied with activities while I cook, and then breastfeed and wash soiled cloth diapers in between. I wash the dishes when I can, too! And then we take a bath, have lunch and put the kids to sleep for an afternoon nap. This is the time I get to rest and read my Bible. When they are deep asleep already, this is when I clean the house, wash the remaining dishes, refill water bottles, fold clean clothes and get the clothes from the washer. Whew! Talking about it makes me catch my breath! It is tiring physically, really, most of the time, but relfecting on how I am sustained by God day by day is the most rewarding feeling of all. Seeing that I get to personally take care of my family too, all by myself, is a true gift from God, and for this, I am blessed! 

And because Joey saw how well I am coping with the situation, we have decided to stop looking for a househelp. We just have a stay-out help, who comes in once or twice a week, to handwash delicate clothes, including the kids’ clothes, and to iron them as well. If for whatever reason she would decide to stop coming, we will still manage. 

This is a lot better for all of us. Matilda has become even more independent, and she has learned to be more considerate. She is now more careful with her toys and does not make a mess anymore. She even helps me take care of her little sister. 

Joey on the other hand takes care of the dishes when he is around. He cooks too, when he has the time. And for myself, I have mastered the art of multitasking and time-management at its finest! It is indeed humbling and we are grateful for this change in our household. For what I used to call motherhood was redefined, ultimately for God’s glory alone. 

Colossians 3:17

Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.

Colossioans 3:23-24

Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve. 

These verses are great reminders to me on how I should view my daily tasks. I do not only do it for my family, but I must remember that I do it for God. They will see, especially my kids if what I am doing is from my heart, and if I am serving them with joy and delight. I represent my faith to them that is why it is important that I set a good example of what it means to be a follower of Christ, a wife, and a mother. My goal is to accomplish the purpose God has set before me, as I wait on the Lord. My rewards will not be from the earth, but is found in heaven when I meet my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

So mothers, do not rely on help from anyone. Do what you can, so that if ever they decide to suddenly leave, (well, they usually do!) you won’t have a hard time adjusting. Like many mothers all over the world, with the right amount of prayer, patience commitment, and most of all, grace from God, you can do it too! Let’s be supermoms for our families one day at a time. 


Choosing Your Birth Team

I cannot stress enough how important it is to have a great birth team to make your dream birthing experience a reality. In my own water birth story, I shared the names of the people behind that unforgettable birth, but I wasn’t able to expound the roles they played in each stage of my pregnancy, and birth. I intentionally did that as I believe they deserve to have their own write-up as well.

Your OB-Gyne

There are so many factors you have to consider in choosing your primary health care provider for your pregnancy. In my first pregnancy with Matilda, we were still based in Davao and I didn’t get the chance to actually choose an OB. We just went with who had an open clinic at the time we went to the hospital.

With my second pregnancy, knowing in my heart I wanted a gentle birthing experience this time around, I made an effort to ask people in my circle, on whom they would recommend. At the top of their list was Dra. Menefrida Reyes, and I am just so blessed I decided to go for her.

Here are some of the major considerations before I chose my OB (and Pediatrician too).

1. She/He had to be a follower of God.

2. With clinic schedule on a Saturday – only time Joey can accompany me.

3. Had to be practicing in a reputable hospital that is Mother and Baby-friendly.

4. With good experiences from previous patients.

5. Low rate of recorded CS

6. With a reasonable Professional Fee.

7. Patiently answers questions during check-ups and does not rush the consultation time.

9. Provides mobile number in case of emergency.

10. Conservative in terms of treatments and medical interventions.

11. Respects the birth plan/preferences of the couple.

12. With a positive outlook, in general.

13. Goes to the clinic on-time.

14. Lastly, one who would be open on having Matilda with us during Labor.

These are just what came to mind as of this writing. Dra. Reyes being able to perform water birth was just a big bonus. I actually didn’t know of it and decided to go through it, until I was already under her care. I was originally set on having a Lamaze Birth.

I have fond memories of my prenatal check-ups with Dra. Reyes. Her very warm personality was what drew my family close to her. We felt secure knowing she waa truly concerned about me and the baby, and not just doing her job for profit. She is really very compassionate.

During my labor and delivery, Dra. Reyes patiently attended to my needs. She was very calm and encouraging and I never felt pressured in any way. It was a great deal that every single detail in my birth plan was perfectly honored as well. She also prayed with me, and for me through the difficult parts. And together, we all rejoiced in the blessing of Tulip Mileina’s life through a successful water birth.

I really have nothing but nice words to say about Dra. Reyes, and if you’d still ask if I would recommend her? Of course, it’s a BIG YES!

Your Baby’s Pediatrician

Matilda being born in Davao also had to switch Peditricians when we moved back here in Manila. Her current Pedia is practicing at Cardinal Santos Medical Center and could not cross over to St. Luke’s for the birth of our second child.

I have a really high standard in choosing my child’s doctor. It had to be someone I could completely entrust my child’s well-being. This also means that we have the same views when it comes to child care which includes the most important aspect of all, that is breastfeeding.

Nearing my expected date of delivery, I still haven’t chosen a Pediatrician. Ideally, you’d want to meet him/her at least once before you give birth. This is to discuss your preferences on how your baby will be taken care of after the birth. Some of which include Unang Yakap, Delayed Cord Clamping, Breastfeeding, Immunizations, Newborn Screening, and all other tests.

Upon meeting Dra. Reyes on my 38th week, I asked her recommendation for a Pediatrician. She only gave me one name, it was Dra. Maria Luisa Manlapaz. I haven’t heard of her before, but Dra. Reyes said she is good. Because I trust Dra. Reyes, I scheduled a meeting with her. Her clinic schedule for that week was already full so I settled to have it on my 39th week instead.

On the day I was supposed to meet her for the first time, my labor has finally started. I was thinking of just informing her secretary about it but Dra. Reyes gave me her personal number so I can contact her directly. Without thinking twice, I sent her a message informing her of my current situation and that I would really appreicate if she can be present for the birth of my child. I wasn’t expecting a reply at all but I was so surprised, she immediately answered back with a, “Yes, of course, I will be there”. I was so happy and I felt relieved knowing that we’ll have her present during the birth of Mileina.

While on the tub, I think I was around 8cm at that time, I met Dra. Manlapaz for the first time. Like Dra. Reyes, she too had a very warm personality and a follower of God as well. She stayed with us through that very difficult part of labor and personally took care of my baby after she came out of the water. She was the one making sure that baby is dry and warm enough to be with me while we wait for the cord to stop pulsating.

After cutting the cord, she borrowed our baby and checked on her in the room, while I deliver the placenta and clean myself up. It was just 5-10 minutes when she came back to remind us we had to move quickly as baby is already rooting, a cue that she already wanted to breastfeed. This made me really happy that she was very concerned about a good start in breastfeeding. Kudos to Dra. Manlapaz!

She gave me a go signal to go home the next day as long as baby is okay. She also allowed all vaccines to be given 12hrs after the birth, as it was my personal request to delay everything concerning tests and vaccines, if possible. She, too, was very happy about us using cloth diapers and told me this is a great way to monitor the baby’s urine output. Isn’t she the BEST?? I just love her! We are really aligned with everything! I am very thankful that Dra. Reyes recommended her to us.

Your Doula

If it’s your first time to hear the word Doula, let me give you a brief explanation about her.

The word “doula” comes from the ancient Greek meaning “a woman who serves” and is now used to refer to a trained and experienced professional who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to the mother before, during and just after birth; or who provides emotional and practical support during the postpartum period. – DONA International

There are so many reasons why every mother should get a doula. I would like to share with you my own personal reasons, for you to have an idea.

1. I wanted to have a Lamaze Birth the first time, but I failed due to so many external factors. I needed more evidence-based information, and a one on one prenatal session with a doula can provide me with that.

2. My birth plan wasn’t followed because I had no strength physically and emotionally to fight for it. A doula will act as your voice, your protector, who will try her best to ensure that your birth wishes, as long as it is safe, will be honored.

3. A strong physical and emotional support is vital to achieve a natural birth. Though Joey was with me, I needed someone else who understood and knew how to cope with the pain. A doula is the perfect person to encourage you and guide you through it.

4. Admittedly, I have a very low tolerance for pain. With the help of a doula, she can coach you how to use that pain to your advantage, to bring about a better (and quicker!) birthing experience.

5. To have a natural childbirth wasn’t an option for me, but a necessity. Having a doula around would remind me of this, during times I feel like giving up.

6. I find comfort in knowledge but, good birthing books are expensive and hard to find. If you are bookworm like me, your doula would normally give you free access to her library, as part of her services.

Ms. Velvet Roxas, is someone I admire and respect in a whole other level. She was the person who opened my eyes to the reality of infant and child-care, specifically, breastfeeding. I learned so much as I had my training, and it changed our perspective and whole lives, as a family ever since. Like her, I have taken breastfeeding as an advocacy, which I also share frequently here in my blog.

Because I know her personally, her beliefs and stand on many areas involving mother and child, it was so easy for me to decide on getting her as my doula. In fact, I informed her of my desire to get her services even before I had my first prenatal check-up! That is proof enough on how badly I wanted a natural birth right from the start.

There are very few doulas here in the Philippines, and Ms. Velvet, who I jokingly call “Madam V”, (others call her “Diva Velvet”) who has a very bubbly, BUT strict personality, is the only one who is DONA Certified. She is also the very first mother who have given birth in the water at Asian Hospital, 8 years ago. (Asian Hospital has no waterbirth facility anymore). It’s not because of her great credentials that I got her as my doula. It was mainly because I know she has a big heart and that her life revolves around mothering other mothers. I understand her and I believe we get along really well that’s why it wasn’t a difficult decision to have her on my side. I actually needed her (very) “strict” side to guide me through those difficult moments, because she can actually scare me at times! Side note and trivia: On my 5th month, we attended a seminar and there were so much food at the venue. She was checking on me if I was eating sweets!! She was my food police! (Madam V, please don’t get mad at me for this! I love you! Haha!) Which I truly appreciate as I know she only wants what is best for me.

I owe Ms. Velvet a big part on the success of my water birth because she armed me with so much information, and she was with me the entire time. She also patiently answered all my questions and checked up on me once in a while. During my actual labor, she stood beside me, fed me, took care of me, bathe me, and literally carried me throughout the toughest times. God used her mightily as an extension of His blessing.

Your Birth Photographer

I love taking photos in general, and the birth, for me, is a celebration of life that needs to be captured in the lenses of a camera. Originally, I had planned to get professional services from trained birth photographers/videographers, however, I found their rates quite too high and we just could not afford it. It was a blessing that Dra. Raissa Paje-Bayawa, a new Pediatrician friend through Ms. Velvet, who just actually wanted to be there to observe the birth, offered to capture the photos. And the result? Well, just like a PRO! Thanks again Dra. Raissa!

I believe that all these people were divinely appointed by God, so that I could experience the birth He has planned and designed perfectly for me. Truly, by His grace, He gave me the chance to meet them all so that together, we can glorify Him alone. Indeed, this birth was orchestrated beautifully, not for my personal benefit, but for Him! All Glory and Praises to our King!

My Birth Team


Left to right: Myself an hour after the birth, Dra. Maria Luisa Manlapaz, Ms. Velvet Roxas, Dra. Menefrida Reyes, and Dra. Raissa Paje-Bayawa.

Tulip Mileina’s Water Birth

There was a part of me that was in denial upon finally confirming we are having another baby. Well, we agreed to try for another one when Matilda turns 2, so, it shouldn’t have been a surprise to find out we are expecting again. However, because it happened so fast, (in just over a month of trying we already conceived) the trauma from my first birth held me back from rejoicing in the blessing of another child.

You see, with Matilda’s birth, I thought was already well prepared. We even attended a birthing class. With a good birth plan, I honestly thought we would manage. On the contrary, almost nothing was followed in that plan. Initially, we wanted to have a Lamaze Birth with no medications. My former OB agreed to it, even signed it, but things just weren’t under our control at that time. I was immediately given an IV, got hooked to a fetal monitor the entire time, and food and water were restricted. Because of too much exhaustion, I gave up at 7cm and asked for an epidural. It led to more complications as I developed a fever, my blood sugar went up the charts, and the numbness hindered me from feeling any contractions at all. This eventually resulted to longer labor and almost caused me a C-section. Matilda came out healthy and normal, but the trauma from all the interventions created a deep wound in my heart. Nevertheless, we still praise God despite all that. He is good for He allowed me to have a normal and safe delivery.

This time around, I wanted a redeeming birth for my second child. I prayed to have an OB who will not just agree to my wishes, but someone who has a great record at following through as well. Because I was friends with Ms. Velvet Roxas, who happens to be a Doula, (I met her through a Breastfeeding Counselor Training) I asked for her help in choosing the right OB for me. She immediately suggested I get Dra. Menefrida Reyes from St. Lukes Q.C. knowing she is a very good OB, and follower of Christ like me. And because I really wanted to have the Lamaze Birth I have been dreaming of, I also got Ms. Velvet as my doula.

Two months passed and preparations had to be made. First, I had to decide what kind of birth I wanted. Either a lamaze or a water birth. I chose to have a water birth, only if God would allow it. Ms.Velvet then asked me to start reading Birthing books, do prenatal exercises and eat a healthy diet. I also watched videos of different types of births and I also joined the group Gentle Birth in the Philippines, to learn from other mothers. I followed the advices that I believed would help and made sure I was not just preparing physically, but psychologically and most of all, spiritually as well.

I think, with every pregnant woman, it’s normal to be anxious, it’s normal to be scared. After all, childbirth is really painful as described in this verse:

John 16:21, “Whenever a woman is in labor she has pain, because her hour has come; but when she gives birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish because of the joy that a child has been born into the world.” ‭‭

What helped me get through is the faith I have knowing God would not give me anything I wouldn’t be able to handle. He is my source of strength and in everything we do, we must exalt and glorify Him.

As my estimated delivery date came near, I became excited to experience childbirth in a very different perspective. We waited patiently until October 28, 1am, 39 weeks and 4 days gestation, I started feeling mild contractions. The pain was close to having a dysmenorrhea, only it would begin and end in a short while, and it radiates through your lower back. It was then I started timing the contractions and they were 10-15 minutes apart, with a duration of 40-50 seconds. I tried to relax and sleep as much as I can, but the anxiousness of the upcoming delivery started kicking in.

At around 3am, I got up and packed some food to bring to the hospital. I started thawing my fresh buko juice that I froze a few days ago. It would be my replacement for an IV line. The electrolytes in buko juice helps to restore energy which I will need during active labor. I also gathered last-minute items that we will be needing like some snacks for Joey and my daughter, Matilda.

After making sure everything is ready, I started heating up some aromatherapy oil. I used the Rose essential oil as it is good for circulation and is also a natural analgesic. I also sent a message to my doula and OB to let them know that true labor has finally began. This was only the point where I woke Joey up to let him know that I am already in labor. I didn’t wake him up earlier knowing it’s going to be a long day ahead and he needs to rest as well. Before I settled down to sleep, I dedicated a prayer to the Lord as I surrendered to Him everything He has planned in advance for this birth.

I woke up around 6am, updated my doula to let her know the intervals. Contractions are now around 8-10mins apart with a duration of 50-55secs. She advised that Joey and I have contact to speed up labor as semen helps to open up the cervix. I woke Joey up around 8:30 and we followed her advise. Around 9am, I shed a bit of mucus plug. After which, I prepared breakfast and ate with Joey and Matilda. I had the urge to relieve myself after which was good as I didn’t want to poop while delivering the baby! I also then decided it was time to have a nice warm bath and settled that it was time to leave in a little while.

Awaiting the reply of my OB, I considered sleeping some more. I was trying, but I couldn’t. I was feeling anxious thinking if she could make it on time. I just prayed again hoping everything will fall into place. At around 11am, I sent her another message informing her of the progress of my contractions. Joey also felt that something was still holding me back into going to the hospital. He suggested we just have lunch at home first before we leave. I agreed, and at around 12 noon, we started eating but I have no more appetite for food. I still managed to eat a bit and I excused myself as I just wanted to lie down and rest. I was able to take a short nap and when I woke up, Joey and Matilda were both sleeping beside me. It was already 2pm and I just couldn’t take it any longer and decided to ask Dr. Reyes’ secretary whether there is any problem as to why Dra. Reyes is not answering my messages. She replied immediately and said Dra. Reyes is already there waiting since 11am! For some reason, upon reading her message, a strong contraction came. I started timing again and there it was, 4-5 mins apart with 1 full minute of duration. My body has finally surrendered when I found out my OB was already there.

I woke Joey up and said it’s time to go. Around 2:45, we were already en route to St. Lukes Global. Contractions are a lot stronger now and I am starting to moan my way through each of it. We arrived at the ER past 3PM and after taking my vitals and information, they brought me to the High Risk Pregnancy Unit, a separate part of the Labor Room to attach me to the fetal monitor and to perform an IE. A resident OB came in, did the IE and was so surprised to find out I was already 7cm dilated. She then asked the nurse to process my papers and ID tag right away so that they can bring me up to the Birthing Suite. 

Around 4:30, we were finally brought up to the suite and Dra. Reyes was the one who welcomed me. They were already filling the tub with water and I started to change into my sports bra and hospital gown. It was also that time when Ms. Velvet had arrived and immediately commanded me to stand up and walk. She caught me sitting on the edge of the bed and said labor will progress faster if I get up.

With every contraction I felt my body become heavier. My knees were shaking a bit and I had to lean on something for support, or else I’d fall down and lose my balance. I guess I’m around 8cm dilated at this point already. Ms. Velvet offered to hug me as I let go of all my weight with each wave of contraction. I was already moaning louder as the pain intensified. Dra. Reyes then decided it’s time I go into the tub as she noticed I’m very uncomfortable already.

Time check was around 5pm already. Joey held my hand as he assisted me in going inside the tub. The temperature of the water was at 37 degrees celsius. It felt warmer than that maybe because I was feeling cold. The warm water immediately gave some sort of relief from the pain. Ms Velvet was there beside me continuously offering me buko juice to drink and some honey sticks for energy.

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At this point, I am beginning to feel really uncomfortable. I was moaning, grunting, crying with each wave of contraction. I would hold on to Joey and my face would just wince every single time. I was given my first IE in the water and I was already 9cm dilated. There was still a “lip” of cervix left and after around 25 minutes in the water, Ms Velvet asked me to stand and sway my hips to position the baby better. I stood up with my legs shaking and held onto her the whole time. My own body weight was just too heavy at this point and I just wanted to sit down.

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After around 10 minutes of standing, my bag of water broke. It felt really weird to have something sort of pop from nowhere as water gushed over my legs. After this, I started feeling the urge to push. That 15 minutes of standing felt like an hour at that time. I was just too tired and I begged to be seated. I was given the go and I sat down on the water for another IE. This time, I was already fully dilated and all we had to do was wait for baby to descend.

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There, it started to sting. I feel like there is something slowly burning from within. It was indeed as if you want to poop something out but it’s just WAY TOO BIG to come through. It was painful on another level this time around. The pain from the contractions was beginning to be masked by the thing they call the “ring of fire”.

I began to push. It was close to 6pm then and all I wanted was for all of it to be over. I was tired and very much in pain, but never did it cross my mind to ask for some pain relief. I didn’t want to be numb. I just wanted to get through it and have my baby in my arms.

I was so distracted already. The pain is over my head as I anticipate every contraction that was about to come. No position seemed to alleviate the discomfort I was feeling. I could hear my birth team coaching me on how I should push, not by shouting and grunting, but by blowing. Blowing as if you are blowing a candle. It wasn’t easy and this was where Joey took over. While Ms. Velvet and Dra. Reyes encouraged me as they kept on reminding me I am doing a good job, Joey on the other hand knew me better. He had to get my full attention so I can focus. He was calling my name and kept asking me to listen to him and follow him. He was blowing and breathing in 10 counts and it was where I started to make better progress as baby’s head started to crown. The blowing helped to get baby to descend and we can already see her hair waving in the water.

I was on the verge of giving up. In my head I was thinking, “What have I gotten myself into?! Why is this taking soooo long??” But then, there’s no turning back. The head is already there! I just have to push! Ms. Velvet then asked Joey to pray. Joey prayed for guidance and safety in delivering the baby and that in all this, may it bring God all the Glory. That this birth is not about us, but about Him. Dra. Reyes was also praying on the side which really made me respect her even more. 

Two big contractions came while we were praying and finally, at 6:21pm, October 28th, Tulip Mileina was born. A water birth baby with one nuchal cord coil.

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At the sight of my baby, the pain immediately went away. We had our Unang Yakap as initiated personally by our Pedia, and waited for the cord to stop pulsating before cutting the cord. That was a good 10 minutes of extra blood, rich in Iron, that was transferred to my little girl. We had our first family picture together with her Ate Matilda who was very excited to see the newest addition to our family. After Joey cut the cord, Mileina was taken by our Neonat-Pedia, Dra. Maria Luisa Manlapaz, into the room to check on her and to keep her warm. She had her skin-to-skin contact with her Papa while we were waiting for the placenta to be delivered.

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I was given a shot of oxytocin to stimulate contractions and deliver the placenta quickly. That was around 15 minutes after Mileina was born. Right after the shot, I delivered the placenta in one push. That was the easiest part. And then the pool was suddenly stained with blood. Dra. Reyes had to make sure all clots would come with the placenta so she gave me an IE. Water in the tub was already being drained at that moment and my loving doula and OB helped in giving me a bath to clean me up from all the blood.

There was stinging from the tear I got and it had to be stitched, but I felt fine. I actually never felt more alive than I was before that redeeming birth. While I was being prepped for stitching, my baby girl had her first breastfeeding session. She was wide awake and was very hungry. She had to be assisted as she was clipping her lips, but other than that, she suckled like a pro. This was something new to me as Matilda was a groggy baby who didn’t want to be fed when she was born. I’m so thankful we had a good start this time around!

When all was settled, we were finally able to have dinner. I was so hungry and finished one bowl of arroz caldo, as my doula fed me. I was already able to stand and walk by 9pm when I had the urge to pee. It was a bit painful, but nothing like delivering baby.

That night, I was able to reflect about the difference of my 2 birthing experiences. If ever we conceive again, I’d choose this birth over my first one. Even though I didn’t experience the pain in the first delivery, this was so much better because right after the baby was born, the pain went away already. Unlike with my first where the pain came afterwards and I had difficulty in breastfeeding as well due to the epidural anesthesia that was given to me.

Having had the chance to feel all the pain of childbirth as how God designed it, I now have a different kind of respect for mothers who choose to have a gentle and unmedicated birth. It is indeed empowering and a true testimony that, not only God’s design is perfect, but also, that we, women, are capable and strong enough to give birth naturally. With the right information, a respectful and great birth team, plus proper preparation, you can have the birth that you truly want and deserve.

This childbirth experience is not for me to boast about myself, but it is about putting God at the center of it all. We prayed that this will give Him all the glory and with writing this, I give Him all that is due. My faith in Him made it possible to have gone through an unmedicated childbirth. I dedicate this post to my one true God, and His Son, my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!


But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 2 Corinthians 12:9

Meet my Awesome Birth Team!

Doula: Velvet Escario-Roxas

OB-Gyne: Dra. Menefrida Reyes

Neonatologist-Pediatrician: Dra. Maria Luisa Manlapaz

Pediatrician/Official Photographer: Dra. Raissa Paje🙂

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Our KidZania Experience

Yesterday, we were given the privilege of visiting KidZania for their preview. It was through the generosity of the group Homeschoolers of the Philippines that we were able to enjoy the facility at a discounted rate. Today, I will share with you some details about our experience as well some tips to maximize your stay, as you plan your trip to this wonderful play space.

First of all, knowing that this place is designed for play, remember to dress yourselves appropriately. Make sure to wear comfortable garments especially, shoes, as the place is quite big. KidZania’s activity areas are originally designed for children between 4-14 years of age. Younger and older kids are welcome, but they won’t be allowed to enter some establishments and cannot participate in the activities.

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This is Matilda at the check-in counter sponsored by Cebu Pacific. Our personal information such as her name and age, parent’s name and contact number were taken here. We were given our security/ID tags in the form of this bracelet. In Matilda’s case, it was placed on her ankle, so as not to disrupt her from her play. This bracelet is given to all who will enter KidZania, and each one matches with you and your child’s identification to make sure that every child will go out with their original companion. We were also given the map and the city codes as references.

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Matilda holding her boarding pass to KidZania. She personally handed it to the “flight attendant” before we passed through the x-ray machine.

Here’s a look at what you’ll see when you get inside:

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Upon check-in, children classified under 4-14 years of age would receive a total of 50 kidZos to jumpstart their stay in the city. Here are some of the job opportunities designed for ages 4-14 years old:

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By applying for these jobs, children would earn money called the KidZos Currency. This money can be used in different establishments. Each actual job pay differently, so it depends on which job they would choose. Other activities require payment such as the Goldilocks cake decorating as well as the salon. This is where children must learn to earn their money first and then pay for the services they want or spend it on whatever they desire.

Here are the favorites where lines were pretty long:

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This is the hospital sponsored by St. Luke’s Medical Center. It has 3 units, the Baby Care Center by J&J, Emergency Room by Green Cross and an Operating Room, where children are taught the basics of having an organ transplant. All of which have different entry points, but all are beside each other.

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In this hotel sponsored by Holiday Inn, the children have different tasks to fulfill. They can be at the reception, catering or housekeeping.

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The construction and the supermarket were big hits as well.

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This is the Veterinary Clinic where children are taught basic pet care. There are stuffed animals in cages as well to make it look realistic!

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Here at the Urban Garden, they are taught about the basics of gardening.

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It is nice how children can actually work on designing their very own chiffon cake, also known as mamon! Goldilocks, however would need the child to pay for this activity which costs 15 kidZos. 

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This Cebu Pacific plane is really nice, as it looks like a real airplane with all the details. This flight training service requires a child to pay 15 kidZos. I can’t wait for Matilda to be older and get to experience how fun it is inside.🙂

Here are some of the jobs wherein kids get to explore the city and be like real men and women working in the field:

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LBC: Delivering items

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Firemen responding to a fire and on the side are Paramedics attending to a victim.

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Here we have the ambulance with the Paramedics inside, and on your right are the CSI on patrol.

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This is the RightZKeepers’ House designed specifically for ages 1-3 years old. The place is quite small and only one companion is allowed per child. Each child is permitted to stay for a maximum of 20 minutes only.

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This is the Kindergarten ABZ where toddlers can play with some Play Dough and various molding shapes. They can also paint and learn the alphabet using the different items available. This also has a one companion policy and a limit of 20 minutes per play time.

Now, let me share with you some of the food choices inside the facility:

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I was told that they prohibit bringing in of food and drinks. However,  I didn’t know about this policy and we did bring in some food and water, for snacks which were all tucked inside my bag. Guards checked my bag before entry and they did see it, but it didn’t bother them. I guess, if you will be discreet about it and eat at the designated areas, it won’t be a problem. Just don’t bring in too much, as if you are going on a picnic!🙂

Going back, the primary goal of the kids here is to be able to find a job and experience it first hand. Because parents are not allowed to enter these establishments, the children are taught independence, and they learn more by interacting with other people. Just the mere exposure to the different jobs available is already a great opportunity for them, truly educational. I wish we had this when I was younger! I believe it can greatly influence a child’s decision later on when they go into college.

It is just amazing to observe the kids and watch how good they are at following instructions even at a very young age. The kidZos money they earn on the other hand, is a good representation of the hard work they were able to provide in the company. Children will learn the value of earning money before they go on spending.

Having the KidZania passport, valued at 250 pesos, is also a plus because a child gets a stamp and eventually becomes a citizen when they complete all of it. Being a “citizen” they claim give you many benefits and perks. Children are also encouraged to open their very own bank account using their hard-earned kidZos money to instill in them good stewardship, which we really appreciate.

Overall, I believe the facility exceeded our expectations and I highly recommend it for children 4-14 years old.


Lastly, let me show you the one and only job that Matilda was allowed to do where she earned her 8 kidZos.

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As parents, we felt so proud seeing our 2 year and 8 month old toddler ‘working’ at the laundromat. She was a pro at following instructions and she finished her task with minimal assistance even though she wasn’t actually qualified for this activity yet. KidZania is one great place for play and learning. We will surely come back when Matilda is big enough to try the other activities.🙂

KidZania is set to open for public tomorrow, August 7, 2015. For details such as prices, schedules, rules and regulations, please refer to the details below:

Ticket prices from August 7 to October 7, 2015:

Visitor Type Mondays-Thursdays Fridays – Sundays
(and National Holidays)
Children (4-14 years old) Php 750.00 Php 1,000.00
Toddlers (1-3 years old) Php 420.00 Php 550.00
Babies below 1 year old FREE FREE
Adults Php 420.00 Php 550.00

Ticket prices from October 8, 2015 onwards:

Visitor Type Mondays-Thursdays Fridays – Sundays
(and National Holidays)
Children (4-14 years old) Php 900.00 Php 1,100.00
Toddlers (1-3 years old) Php 500.00 Php 600.00
Babies below 1 year old FREE FREE
Adults Php 500.00 Php 600.00

*Prices are VAT inclusive and subject to change without prior notice.  

Operating Hours:

  • Mondays to Thursdays:  
    • 9AM to 4PM (1 shift)
  • Fridays to Sundays (and National Holidays):
    • 9AM to 2PM
    • 3PM to 8PM

KidZania is also open for class field trips as well as party celebrations. You can send them an email in the following addresses, and, respectively.

Rules and Regulations:

Source: KidZania Manila Website




The Lord is My Healer

I believe it is only fitting that I blog about the recent developments of my pregnancy. By the time I make this post public, I’ll be on my 6th month mark. Oh how time flies! As most of you mommies know, right around this time, your Obstetrician would already request for you take your Oral Glucose Tolerance Test – OGTT test. This is a procedure wherein you will be asked to fast for 6-8 hours, have your blood drawn for it and then you will be asked to take an orange glucose drink, and have another extraction 2 hours thereafter. Normally, it usually takes 4 extractions which includes the fasting, 1st hour, 2nd hour and 3rd hour to have more accurate results, but because I already have a history of Gestational Diabetes in my past pregnancy, this procedure with fewer extractions, was done to me instead.

In my pregnancy with Matilda, it came out as a shock that I got a positive result for this test. Sure, I am fond of sweets, but I have my blood tests done annually to make sure all is well with my health. This is actually one of the things my parents do for their own health and has passed it on to me and my brother, just to know how we are all doing. So, you can just imagine my reaction upon seeing the result of my OGTT test. I was so confused and I felt as if my body has betrayed me.

I was asked by my OB to meet with an Endocrinologist, a specialist in this area, to check on me and help me manage my sugar level. She asked me to get a Glucometer, a small, battery-operated device to check my sugar 2 hours after each meal, and record it in a notebook. She also asked me to meet with a Nutritionist-Dietitian to try having my blood sugar controlled naturally, through exercise and by following a strict calorie count diet, before we decide if I’ll be needing insulin injections or not.

As I was going through this process, pricking my finger 3x a day, eating ZERO sugar and having portion controlled meals, my pregnancy on my 5th month then have become very depressing. I couldn’t enjoy eating whatever I wanted and I felt deprived each time. I was also worried for the health of my baby and just prayed that I’d be able to endure this difficult time.

Apart from that, this condition was also financially challenging as the glucometer strips were very costly and we had to go to 2 different doctors each check-up, plus the fact that we had to revamp our grocery shopping list to much healthier alternatives. This is also because this condition is also linked with Pre-Eclampsia, which is high-blood during the pregnancy, that I had to really watch my food intake and minimize using salt and oil in cooking. How sad is that? No sugar, less salt and almost zero oil in cooking. Just imagine how many times I had to say no to my cravings!

But… With all the difficulty, I am still so blessed that I was able to deliver a healthy, normal and full-term baby. Maybe it was just God’s way of reminding me that He is in control and that through that time, He was trying to bring me closer to Him.

Now on this second pregnancy, I became more aware of my food intake. I tried my best to stay healthy and ate whole food. I switched to red rice, and also increased my vegetable and fruit intake. I also removed the maternity milk, which all the while I thought was necessary-ended up being the trigger for having Gestational Diabetes, because of its high sugar content! So please, never ever take those and just stick to natural and fresh food. Those of which are readily absorbed by the body like indigenous vegetables and fruits. I also continued to breastfeed, which I talked about on my previous post. Breastfeeding helps regulate blood sugar levels, that’s why I made it a point to nurse Matilda up to the time she decided to wean on her own.

During my 1st trimester, we had to check how I was doing, and praise God, my blood sugar was normal. My OB advised that I will be having another test at around 5 and a half months and that too came out normal. Just when I had fully accepted the fact that I most likely have Gestational Diabetes again, all my test results came back negative! God is soooo good! He has healed me! I believe He allowed me to go through that ordeal so that I would fully depend on Him, and not on myself, neither what I can do. This chapter of my life was planned perfectly to make it a testimony of His faithfulness. Thank you, Lord!
And because of that great news, I celebrated by eating some churros with chocolate dip! Finally, I can now eat whatever I want, but of course, still in moderation.🙂

To summarize, the things that I learned from this are:

1. Health is something you cannot, EVER, be in control of. Only God is in control.

2. Despite God being in control, you also have to do your part in being healthy. Your physical body is your responsibility. It is God’s gift to you, and you have to take care of it and not abuse it.

3. Nothing is impossible with God. He will  give you trials to mold you and make you stronger, but He promises that He will be with you through it all.

Psalm 103: 2-5

2 Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits,
3 who forgives all your iniquity,
who heals all your diseases,
4 who redeems your life from the pit,
who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
5 who satisfies you with good
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.


Homeschooling Part 2: Getting Started

As a continuation of my first post, today I will talk about our other activities. It gets quite challenging as a baby grows, to get their focus and to keep their attention. A lot of creativity and patience is needed to make sure your baby will love the idea of learning.

One must understand that Homeschooling is not limited to the confines of the home, just like learning. Books and materials are all good supplements for learning, but the more the child is exposed to the reality of the world, the better they become at understanding concepts. With Matilda, we make it a point to communicate with her, in every opportunity. We never get tired of explaining the reasons why a certain thing needs to be done, the consequence for each and every action, and the hard, but reality of the truth. No matter how complicated something might be for her to grasp, we never lie to her, we just patiently explain and ask for her respect and obedience. When a child is brought up knowing you have only pure interests at heart and their welfare is all you think about, it wouldn’t be very hard to instruct and teach your child. They will instantly develop love for learning, and this will become your lifestyle.
Whenever we are at home, we always try to make certain activities to be able to spend our time wisely. One of the things we started with, apart from those that I mentioned in Part 1 of this post, is coloring books.

Crayons and Coloring Books/Sketch Pads – this is an activity I personally loved while growing up. Because I have seen Matilda’s interest in writing through copying me by holding my pens, it was then I realized, she is ready. We started to introduce crayons and pencils just a few months after she turned a year old. After I showed her how these were used, I just allowed her to doodle, color however way she wanted, and just observed. There were times I’d sit beside her and color with her. She would watch and copy what I was doing and sometimes would ask for my help, I’d remind her how it is done and she’ll go back to doing it on her own.

I also used crayons to teach her colors by writing the alphabet and numbers on a sketch pad. I would also draw certain objects and would name them one by one. This helped in building her imagination as well as her vocabulary. Indeed, a lot of things can be taught through this activity. You just have to learn to be creative.🙂


Another thing we love to do is build things with play-doh.

Play-Doh – this is a good exercise for fine motor skills. The molding process is a good means for them to gain control and make their own shapes. Also a good way for them to develop in the area of art and crafts. To make it more fun, we sometimes use her toys and include some pretend-play, like a tea-party for her dolls. She enjoys this activity a lot and it pays really, as she gets to be imaginative in her play. Just be careful not to leave your child unattended with this as this is a choking hazard.

Educational Posters – I think this is a must in every home. These posters are what your child will get to see everyday and that is one of the best ways for them to memorize different things such as the alphabet, numbers, shapes, parts of the body, animals, opposites (big and small, short and tall, open and close, long and short etc.) It is really cheap and readily available at any local bookstores.

Another approach for learning is through Montessori-Inspired Materials. Because I came from a Monterssori school, I am familiar with the type of materials used when we were still in CASA (Nursery level). I incorporated these materials in our play-based learning in order to cover certain areas that are quite difficult for a small child to understand.

Ring Stacker – this would teach them colors and the concept of size recognition and differentiation. This is also a good activity for hand and eye coordination as they stack the rings to the rod.


Nesting and Stacking Blocks – this teaches them the importance of balance and it’s relation to various sizes. Also a great activity for building whatever they like.



Spindle Box – this is quite hard to find, if there is any. I made my own by using an illustration board with printed numbers and number words and bought a set of wooden sticks. This is a great material in teaching a child how to count and associate the numbers with actual counting objects, such as the wooden sticks. I would just show her how it is used and she watched me until she was able to get it. She now knows how to properly count because of this.



Basic Skills Toy -this toy is for practical life skills. This will help your child in teaching them independence when it comes to tying their shoe lace, buttoning their shirt, snapping and unsnapping probably their clothes as well, opening and closing zippers, and fastening or buckling belts. You can also make your own and all you will need is an old shirt, a frame (optional-as this is Montessori-inspired ), and add whatever activity you’d like for them to master.


Pizza Party – this toy or any other toy that has a similar concept will be a great tool in teaching them how to count as well as the concept of same and different. The different toppings on the pizza is useful in identifying which go together (alike) and which do not (different). This toy is also a great way to introduce fractions later on. It is a really good investment and even I enjoy playing with it!


Puzzles – this helps in introducing the alphabet sounds or phonics. Getting them acquainted with the pictures and their corresponding names will enable them to identify which letter they begin with. A good activity you can practice to prepare them for reading.


Practical Life Skills – I cannot thank my parents enough for exposing me to household chores at such an early age. They allowed me to play at the laundry area and wash hankies and socks, at the kitchen to wash the dishes (with help of course!), sweep the floor, polish shoes, wipe the tables to remove dust, and a lot more. These helped me in being responsible for my own room as I grew older, and eventually in our own house as a wife. These are activities which your child will surely enjoy as I did when I was younger.

There are really so many ways to make these materials and lot others are available as well. You don’t have to spend much to achieve the same kind of concepts. All you need is a bit of creativity using ordinary art supplies with your own recyclable things at home, and the internet to get ideas, with that, you are good to go. Try searching for toddler or preschool activities at home and you will be surprised at how much information there is on the web. Some examples are lacing beads for fine motor skills, using buttons or same colored objects to teach colors, painting for art, sorting same and different items, and a whole lot more depending on which area your child needs to improve on or develop.

There is something you have to keep in mind though, in whatever instance, do not pressure your child to sit down and do these activities if he/she is not ready. You don’t want a child getting traumatized with the idea of learning just because you are too eager to teach them or just because you think your child is far behind with what he/she knows. Remember that they develop at their own pace. Some kids develop early and some at a later time, and this doesn’t make them any better nor less smarter than others. As kids, they still love to play and are still very curious about other things. They easily get bored too, and you really have to find ways to motivate them to learn something new each day.

One of the things I noticed with Matilda is, words of affirmation gets her going. Whenever she hears me compliment her for something right she has done, or whenever she accomplished an activity, this gives her a boost to continue on. It really pays to know your child and in this case, it would be great to use that certain characteristic to your advantage when it comes to teaching.

Have you got other suggestions? Leave it in the comment box, so we can try them too! Also, would you happen to be interested in what activities we are up to now? These are more advanced and already include textbooks and workbooks. Just let me know so I can share them to you and make a Part 3 of this series.🙂

Homeschooling Part 1: Where do I begin?

When I married Joey, I never imagined myself homeschooling our future child. It has entered my mind though, and I thought it was good, but it never really made an impact until I had Matilda. We realized how much children actually learn through their peers and how they can be easily influenced to do almost anything. Honestly, this scared me having gone through that lifestyle myself. The horror of having some random kid bully my child entered my mind as well, so many times – an experience I had that I never want her to EVER encounter. And above all, we wanted to really be intentional in our parenting which led us to the ultimate decision, which is to homeschool.

Homeschooling is something that needs love, patience and passion. What drives me to stay focused is the idea that Matilda will learn from me, first hand. That whatever she learns will be coming from me and the materials we will be using. That’s quite scary, don’t you agree? Being the one responsible for your child’s knowledge and skill is daunting. But you know what? Something else is much more important that all of that – Character. When you have a child focused on God, and you raise him/her with love and fear in the Lord, everything else will follow. Joey and I agreed on this decision, wholeheartedly, knowing this is what is best for our daughter.

Deuteronomy 11: 18-19 New International Version (NIV)

18 Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 19 Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.

Proverbs 22:6 New International Version (NIV)

 6 Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.

Proverbs 6:20-23 New International Version (NIV)

20 My son, keep your father’s command
    and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.
21 Bind them always on your heart;
    fasten them around your neck.
22 When you walk, they will guide you;
    when you sleep, they will watch over you;
    when you awake, they will speak to you.
23 For this command is a lamp,
    this teaching is a light,
and correction and instruction
    are the way to life

These verses I cannot stress any better. The truth is, we, as parents, are commanded by God to disciple our own children. To disciple them means to teach them about God, to be intentional in the way we raise them, which is the most important thing of all. To be clear, I have nothing against traditional schooling, it’s just that we want to protect the character of our little girl. We believe that our home is the best place to start, to keep her away from bad influences, and also for her to have a more focused form of learning. We always pray that we will be able to instill values that she will hold on to and practice as she grows. The academic aspect is just a plus for us, we will just feel accomplished, that we have successfully done our part as parents, if we are able to raise a child who knows that Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior.

On the other hand, the frustrated teacher in me is very happy to be doing this for our Matilda. Even though she isn’t formally enrolled yet to a homeschool provider, which we will eventually do so with TMA, (The Master’s Academy) we have begun long ago in building this dream, one step at a time.

As a hands on mom to my child, I made it a point to observe her individual traits and qualities. Since Matilda was young, I have seen her interest in music, books and educational toys. These are some of the tools we used, to foster learning. I remember, she was still in my tummy when I started collecting books that I wanted to read for her during the day. We started doing this as soon as she was born even if she doesn’t seem to understand anything yet. Looking back, I’m really glad I started early, because good books, award-winning titles at that, are quite hard to find and they can be very pricey too! Plus, because I introduced books at an early age, Matilda is so fond of them and she would personally request her favorites to be read, sometimes, over and over again! Here are some of Matilda’s favorites you might want to get your hands on: Goodnight Moon, Guess How Much I Love You, Goodnight Gorilla, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?, Runaway Bunny, Mommy Loves, The Going to Bed Book and Counting Kisses, and of course, The Bible.

Another thing I like to do is sing her songs as well. We both love listening to nursery rhymes and children’s worship songs and I try my best to make it fun and interactive by making movements or actions, for her to follow. At around 5-6 months she already began copying some actions, and it felt so rewarding to see how much she was learning. Some of her favorite songs with actions or sounds she can mimic are as follows: Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, Wheel’s on The Bus, Old MacDonald had a Farm, Incy Wincy Spider, Barney’s Mr. Sun Song, If You’re Happy and You Know It, Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes, Father Abraham and Jesus Loves Me.

Constant communication has also given us great benefits. I never underestimated Matilda’s capability to understand. In fact, even when she was a small baby, I’d talk to her like a normal adult. I’d give her instructions, reminders, and affirmation like I would do with an older child. Yes, I cuddle her, show her love and affection like any mother to a child, but it didn’t stop there. I taught her independence as well at a very early age, like in the area of eating, and packing-away her toys. Some simple activities that enhance her self-discipline, and as I have said, independence.

Because we have a no-TV policy at home, this also helped a lot to make sure our time is really well-spent. Joey and I invested in good quality educational toys, mostly made of wood, which Matilda really enjoys until now. The reason why we prefer wooden toys over plastic or battery-operated is that, these toys help a child in using their imagination. A child who is used to playing with battery-operated ones tend to be easily bored, just like those babies who are used to watching TV or videos. Their attention span are shorter and they can’t seem to enjoy quality play-time anymore. We just introduced certain videos, which are also educational, when Matilda turned two years old. Although, people we are close to can actually attest that she would still prefer to play rather than watch videos, as this is what she was accustomed to, since she was a lot younger. We truly praise God for this!

Each child is unique in terms of reaching their development, however, I believe that “play” is the best foundation of learning. Educational Toys will be your best friends when it comes to teaching your child. Some of our favorites when Matilda was around a year old are as follows: Shape Sorters, Wooden Puzzles, Wooden Blocks, Lego Blocks and Musical Instruments. These toys helped me teach her the basics like the Alphabet, Numbers, Colors, Shapes and Animals. I actually never thought she would learn from them until we got to prove it ourselves. Now at 2.5 years old, Matilda has mastered all of them and is already showing signs of readiness to read and write. It is really all by God’s grace. He really amazes me with all of His blessings!

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You may even be surprised upon reading this that you are already doing some sort of informal homeschooling. Congratulations! Isn’t it fun? You get to play and learn at the same time while bonding with your child. Remember, you don’t need to spend much to be able to do all of these. Sometimes, all you need is a little creativity. And don’t forget, that children do not necessarily learn all these things right away. Do not compare as it usually takes some time for others. Just be patient and consistent in doing your daily activities, and again, find it in your heart to enjoy it.🙂

PS: Watch out for Part 2, as I will talk about in detail our activities from when Matilda was around 18 months, until now that she is about to turn 2 and a half years old. I will share the materials we use as well as my personal strategies and tips to make learning fun and easy. Hope you enjoyed Part 1 of this post!