Irma's Planner Picks for 2015

There's no denying it, I love planners. Even in this smartphone era, I still use planners. In fact, I don't only have one but three or four in a year for different purposes. 

For 2015, I picked out these planners or calendars or journals. 

Three planners for 2015

I finally graduated from years of using Starbucks planners. I used the Philippine Starbucks planner this year as my prayer journal. But it was so distracting with all the literature on coffee. And it is not easy to customize with washi tapes because of its design. 

I decided then to find simpler and plain ones for next year. I have too many washi tapes and I would like put them in use. 

My first pick is the kikki.K Weekly Planner to serve as my main planner for 2015 to keep track of schedules, to-dos, important dates, etc. 

I love this brand which I learned from Fat Mum Slim's post. Yes, I had to order it from Australia. But it's just perfect as I want a weekly VERTICAL planner to organize my daily schedule. There are not many weekly vertical planners in Bangkok thus the need to source abroad. 

A big mistake though is the size. Lesson learned: Do not simply click on A5 thinking it is smaller than A4. I was surprised to see this large planner. It won't be easy to bring everywhere so the planner stays at home. 

My kikki.K weekly planner

My second pick is the Muji planner which will be my prayer journal. 

I love how basic it looks. And I like how the days are all on one side. That leaves with one page free for whatever I want to write. I'm thinking I'll put down my weekly verses here and list of prayer requests. 

Our family calendar

A dear friend gave me this kikki.K family calendar. When she saw it in the store, she knew I was meant to have it.

We are a family of four and our schedules are becoming crazy. Our eldest son's activities are just coming up one by one. Pretty soon our little Caleb will have schedules of his own. It is nice to see a large enough calendar with all our activities so we can sort our schedules out.  Love the stickers and the dinner planner. The menu planner is so me as I only cook one dish a day which is for dinner. 

And there you have it, my attempt at organizing our family life. Take note that I wrote down "organize" instead of plan. 

My biggest lesson this year is that I am not in control but God is. It's not about what I want for my life but what He wants. So whatever it is that He thinks is right for my family, I will write them down on these planners/calendars. 

How do you organize your year? What planners do you use if you ever use one?

My November 2014

I am back! Did not complete photos for September and was not inspired in October. 

But my favorite month is here so it is a good time to go back to FMS Photo-A-Day challenge. 

It is a better month. Started off difficult but it ended with all the good things. 

Happy to share my November with all of you --

1. Something blue (Back at this familiar restaurant, ordered my usual cappuccino and tried the cinnamon bun.)
2. I saw this! (My two loves sharing a moment together.)
3. Weather (It was a beautiful sunny morning in Bangkok. I need the ray of sunshine the sun brings.)
4. Can’t live without (I am usually exhausted by the end of the day taking care of these two boys. But when I am away from them, I miss them like crazy.)
5. 8 o’clock (The little one's bath time. And his OOTD awaits him. The Beatles shirt is for my mother who celebrates her birthday today.)
6. Made me smile today (Thailand celebrates Loy Krathong festival today. My preschooler brought home this "krathong" which he decorated.)
7. On the floor (It's my little explorer! Everywhere I turn now, I have to clean up Caleb's mess.)
8. A place (We ❤️ Kidzania.) 
9. Heck yes! (It's not even 8PM and we are ready for bed. It has been a very long day. Actually a very long two weeks.)
10. I do this every day (I read to my boys at night - even if they are asleep.)
11. A set (My Hello Kitty Momijis) 
12. Normal (My introvert personality has never been afraid to dine on my own. In fact, I look forward to times like this from time to time. It recharges me.)
13. Letters (Was at H&M earlier. Checked out the Alexander Wang collection and didn't see something I like.)
14. For me (One of the most thoughtful friend sent my family these. She knows me too well and sent me a family calendar and eyeshadow palette. Yay!)
15. Hot + Cold (Soft baked chocolate chip cookie topped with chocolate sauce & Hokkaido soft cream from Muteki by Mugendai. Yummy and sinful.) 
16. After (How we ended a really good Chinese meal.) 
17. Cooking (I hid these spinach in a pasta dish so my 5 year old can eat his vegetables.)
18. I love this (I swear by this product. What a time saver. I can be reading or writing and my nail polish comes without much effort. No more cotton balls. I just dip a finger and voila!) 
19. Whole (What we are juicing. Especially for Jed.)
20. Bright (My movie date with a Christmas tree we saw before watching Mockingjay.)
21. Shoes (Took a break from wearing Crocs/walking shoes and put on sandals. Met with mommy friends and had a great afternoon out.)
22. A favorite thing (Aaack! Bath & Body Works is opening in Siam Center soon. Just right above Sephora. Oh my poor budget.)
23. I made this (I love pancit. Since I cannot easily buy it here in Bangkok, I learned how to cook it. It's my toned down version of pancit sotanghon.)
24. I need to do this! (I am a planning freak. The year is about to end so time to plan for the next year. But the biggest thing I learned in 2014 is I am definitely not in control but God is.)
25. Time (Time is quickly passing by and I don't feel it. I have no sense of time lately. This is the clock at the BTS Siam Central station.)
26. Wall (Ooh, they put up frames on this wall of my neighborhood Starbucks store. This area used to be blank.)
27. I’m thankful for this… (It's my husband first week back at work after a couple of months of extensive treatment. The journey has been tough but his recovery is remarkable. We only have God to thank for that. We continue to pray for more good news.) 
28. Black (Swatching my black eyeliners. I realized these are the only black I have. I should get more then. But very happy with these two brands.)
29. So, this happened (After a couple of months, the four of us can go out again and enjoy our weekend.)
30. I bought this! (I buy produce and dairy items weekly. It has become a chore I'd rather not do. Dreaming one day all supermarkets in Bangkok would offer online grocery shopping.)

I am ready for December. It is going to be very busy. Looking forward to ending 2014 on a happy note. How was your November? 

Celebrating My 38th Birthday

This month, I turned 38. I have done it again, I put out my age out there. Why keep it a secret or worse lie about it? I have 38 years to be grateful for. I have the most wonderful and loving husband and am a mother of two sons. 

I almost didn't have a happy birthday. My husband's extensive treatment for nasopharyngeal cancer made him stay in the hospital towards the end. But God never fails, he was home on the evening of my birthday.

And after almost three weeks of being home alone with our sons and shuttling back and forth to the hospital, I had a "me" time. I always do that on my birthday, spend the day alone. 

Mommy.s Day Out

It was pamper and eat whatever time. My biggest achievement that day was a haircut. Sheesh, my last haircut was before I gave birthday to Caleb which was more than a year ago. My hair needed some TLC. 

And for dinner, I had a date with the love of my life. We walked to the office building next to our place and tried this fancy restaurant, The Capital by Water Library. I was so touched he agreed to go out for dinner for me despite that he hardly ate and he felt cold because of the anemia. It was one of the most memorable dinner dates we ever shared. 

The perfect way to end my day

God blessed me with amazing friends who made sure I get to celebrate my birthday.

Friends I have made in Bangkok

People who are close to me know my one wish is - complete healing of my husband from his cancer. I want nothing else. 

So there you have it folks.. God turned my birthday week into something memorable. 

The Red Cups

One of those things I look forward to every year is when Starbucks bring out the red cups. It officially starts Christmas season for me. 

These red cups and my ultimate favorite Toffee Nut Latte set the Christmas mood for me. 

I honestly did not notice Starbucks changes the red cup design yearly. My attention to detail - a big BOO! I really thought it was the same red cup every year. Did you know that the red cups come in real ceramic mugs? 

Red Cup collection of Jackie

My friend has the entire set although this photo only shows until 2012. So it came out as early as 2005.

I decided two years ago I want to collect the 12oz mug not the entire set but only those I can easily get. And I only have three now. I bring them out during the red cup season and use them for my morning coffee. 

2011, 2012 and 2013 Red Cups

The 2011 was donated by this wonderful friend whose Starbucks collection is astounding (read her collection here). A year after I decided collecting, Starbucks decided to make my life challenging. The 12oz version was only sold in Germany. Good thing another friend from collecting sent me last year's red cup. For this year, it will again be sold in Europe and I heard the US. Darn. 

Do you agree that the red cups set the Christmas mood?

Two Birthdays and a Dedication

In a month my family had two birthdays and a dedication.  This family loves the BER months. We celebrate birthdays and anniversary from September to January.

It was a tough time for our family as Jed undergoes treatment. But the boys' birthdays would go on so we celebrated it the simplest way we can.  

September: Caleb's Month

Our baby is now one. Wow.

My mother and siblings flew in the weekend of Caleb's birthday. We had to forego a birthday party and instead went ahead with his dedication and a small party with only our family members.

Caleb's ninang (godmother), my sister, together with my sister-in-law, brought in decorations, cupcakes and cake pops from Manila.  My sister also conceptualized the Minion theme.  I am forever grateful she made sure the little one had his own special party.  She lifted that load off me.

Caleb even had both his grandmothers - maternal and paternal - with him as he turned one.

Caleb's Minion birthday at home

Our church prepared a special dedication for baby Caleb. It was touching having all these people pray over him and speak blessings over his life. We can really count on our spiritual family to make it memorable for us.

Caleb's dedication with only one ninang present

October: Javi's Month

My first born is now 5 years old. Time is flying so fast for my babies.  

He is more aware and had wanted his own birthday party. Well, he had a short celebration in school with his classmates. The big party would have to wait until his dad gets better.  

My 5 year old's Lego birthday

Javi's preferred birthday theme kept on changing. One day, he wanted Spider-Man, and then The Lego Movie, and when I finally ordered his cake, he wanted Iron Man. I had a cake and cupcakes made with The Lego Movie theme. And he loved it. I found this gem of a baker in Sukhumvit 49.

I wish our situation made it easier to celebrate the boys' birthdays. Thank you Lord for letting me think of little ways which made the boys feel extra special on their special days. And thank you for blessing Jed and me with two happy boys who are our source of joy right now.  

May we have many more years to celebrate birthdays with our sons. 

A Wife's Appeal

Seventeen years ago, I was a daughter whose father was diagnosed with nasopharyngeal cancer (NPC). He passed away three years later due to complications from chemotherapy. 

A month ago, I am a wife whose husband was diagnosed with NPC. 

Did I ask "Why?" Of course I did. I buried all memories of NPC when we buried our father. I said to myself, "Not again..."

"But Lord, I will trust you..."

This was sent to me by our friend Tammy and I just loved it.

This is a test of faith and so much more. Imagine how the enemy is using my greatest fear to shake my core. The difference now is I have a personal relationship with Christ. And it is all I need. 

As a wife, I am appealing for prayers for my husband's recovery and complete healing. Please cover our family with your prayers. 

It's amazing how the Lord has calmed me down. He assures me even in the small things that He is taking care of us. God has also revealed himself in so many ways. It has never been more clear what God wants me to do.

God speaks to me through different channels. A couple of days ago, he spoke to me through Rick Warren's Daily Devotional "Don't Waste Your Pain."

"Your greatest ministry will flow out of your pain — not out of your strengths or your talents but out of the painful experiences of your life. It is your weaknesses that help other people in their need, not your strengths."
"God can use the thing you hate the most in your life, that you’re most disappointed by, and that you wish had never happened. God says, “You can’t change what happened to you. But I can use it for your benefit and for my purposes. When you’re willing to share your brokenness, I can use it to help other people.”"
And I was bawling my eyes out after.

It will be a challenging couple of months of treatment and recovery. We are holding on to God's promises. We will fight this one.  

We claim healing. My husband will be healed. In Jesus' name. 

As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man who had been blind from birth. “Rabbi,” his disciples asked him, “why was this man born blind? Was it because of his own sins or his parents’ sins?” “It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins,” Jesus answered. “This happened so the power of God could be seen in him. (John 9:1-3 NLT)

My August 2014

Here we go again, it's the end of another month. I say goodbye to August, such a happy and sad month. 

My August went like this --

1. Landscape (I catch sunrises wherever I go. So happy to be back in Cebu.)
2. Lunch (We're on vacation. We eat Filipino breakfast for lunch.)
3. S is for... Sister. (Happy we get to spend my sister's birthday with her.)
4. In the middle (Met two of my dearest friends for dinner. Tried this new restaurant, Blackbird. The crab cakes are delicious.)
5. Pile (My Philippine trip is never complete without having this Concorde cake from Sugarhouse.)
6. Grateful for... (This two weeks spent with family and friends. And my siblings and I finally have a pic of only the three of us.)
7. Spot (This iconic sun at the ceiling of the lobby of The Pen. Goodbye for now Philippines.)
8. Pet peeve (I cannot grow my nails long even if they look nicer. It gets in the way of house chores so I keep my nails short.)
9. Mix (Say hello to the "halo-halo" or in English mix-mix. I had this last Monday and it is so worth the calories.)
10. Art (Sailboat by Javier 😜)
11. Mirror (There's my little baby.)
12. Gather (Banana and strawberries gather for this yummy banana waffle. Brunch for Thailand's Mother's Day.)
13. Inside (Trying out this new express nail polish remover for toes from Sephora. I'm not exactly sure how to put toes inside the star-marked area. It's kinda hard.)
14. Give (The husband is back from Jakarta and brought home boxes of these. One for the office and one for us. It's our first time to try J.Co donuts.) 
15. Clouds (Pretty cloudy in Bangkok lately.)
16. Clean (I would love to graduate from this - sterilizing feeding bottles. But then Caleb won't forever be a baby, I'll just cherish this.)
17. Dinner (It's Sunday night we get pizza for dinner.)
18. Arrow (Super cute arrow magnets)
19. To-do (Yup, gotta settle those bills.)
20. Before bedtime (Sometimes we get to read a story before sleeping.)
21. Decorate (My photo wall needs alignment. And I have to add that LOVE sign.)
22. Words (Only one word for me. The only word I am hanging on to right now.)
23. Style (I love the interiors of this Starbucks store closest to our place. I needed a breather and enjoyed this view for 5 precious minutes. Then we had to leave as my kids are disturbing the other customers.)
24. Fragrant (This skin oil - almond - from L'Occitane smells amazing.)
25. Mail (We have none today. Not even junk mail.)
26. Breakfast (A cup of coffee and God's words to begin my day. And that was a bowl of oatmeal.)
27. Dull (Amidst the white coffee cup, envelope and paper, my gold card finally arrived. Yay!)
28. Travel (Hello again Suvarnabhumi Airport. Not traveling this time but picking up my mother-in-law.)
29. Dessert (Not mine. Found this in our trash bin. My family is avoiding sugar like the plague.)
30. Nearby (I love our neighborhood. I can get so much done. We are near banks, restaurants, grocery store and the train station.)
31. 10am (Had to wake up my cutie pie to give him a bath so we can go out.)

Hello September, give me good news okay?

My July 2014

It's school break for my first born. Oh dear.. Now I am one of those who dread this time of the year having to think about how to keep my pre school busy. 

July is pretty as we get to visit our home country. And it's my baby's first trip there. 

We are still in the Philippines. Half of our vacation is over. 

Writing live from Cebu, here's how my July went -- 

1. Red + white (Before I become a stay-at-home mom, I used to work for the Canadian Embassy in Manila for 11 years promoting Canadian agriculture interests. Canada has a small place in my heart. Happy Canada Day!)
2. Something beginning with K (Kisses chocolate for my son's gift bags for his classmates)
3. Match (What I use to start a fire. I would fail using primitive methods such as stones and sticks.)
4. Stars (My eldest got these stars and other stickers from class. I wonder what he did to earn them.)
5. On the table (Our two sons decided it's an excellent idea to be up at 6AM on weekends when I hoped to sleep in. Badly need coffee to start a busy day. Sandwich made by the husband. A quick breakfast while planning the new week's menu.)
6. View (Amazing view of Bangkok from a birthday party we went to. Caught a bit of the sunset.)
7. First (Ordered groceries online. Hopefully, Tesco Lotus is efficient so I won't ever have to buy my bulk items in the store. Grocery shopping has turned into a chore.)
8. I’ve never… (Drank from these mugs. I have 300 of them.)
9. Alive (A workout gives me so much energy so I do it even if my body doesn't feel like waking up every morning.)
10. Sharp (My 10 year old Swiss knife)
11. Gold (My favorite gold at the moment)
12. Interior (Uh-oh. Sale at H&M.)
13. Look up (It's a rainy Sunday) 
14. Old school (I sometimes get more things done when I write down my to-do list on paper.)
15. Torn (Yup, we get a lot of torn pages at home courtesy of my two boys)
16. Listening to…(the new Hillsong album)
17. Sunshine (My two loves playing as soon as they woke up. Very sunny today.)
18. Admire (Michelle Williams. The LV bag she is holding. The photos on the floor.)
19. Curly (Craved for pad thai with vermicelli instead of the flat noodles)
20. Moment (Writing down my favorite moments in this journal. I'm on my second year. Fun to read my entries last year as I add new ones.)
21. Basic (A bowl of oatmeal for breakfast. Need to start living healthier.)
22. I wore this! (I love baby wearing.)
23. Macro (I add shiitake mushroom to every vegetable stir-fry I make. Yummy!)
24. Water (Water is ❤️.)
25. Home (A get-together in one of the most beautiful homes I've seen.)
26. Fun (We took a family selfie in Jed's alma mater.)
27. Ten (Someone turned 10 months old)
28. Cool (The boys had so much fun when we visited Javi's family in Laguna.)
29. Repeat (The kids need to experience a Jollibee party even if we have to celebrate Javi's 4th birthday again)
30. Lost (I cannot stop eating in Cebu. And the crab is my favorite. I may have finished a whole one.)
31. Rise (It's so good to wake up to this view. Happy to be back in Cebu.)

I'll share more of our Philippine trip on my next post. Watch out for it. 


Planning Made Easy

It's one of my family's busiest time of the year. We go home to the Philippines for what feels like the shortest two weeks. 

I am dreading the trip. And of course, excited. We have an additional member of the family. I can't wait for everyone to meet him. 

To keep us all sane, it's planning season. We want to maximize our two weeks. 

Would you believe that even in this age of the smartphone and tablets, I prefer to plan using pen and paper? Yes, old school. And I found this really cute planner printables and they are free. 

I love colorful planners/calendars!

And I am sharing with you where I got them. Please click on the title to lead you to the site itself.

Weekly overview from Scattered Squirrel

I particularly like this one for the right hand column and I have spaces for notes, etc.
Weekly Planner from Sprout New Media

I may use this one regularly.
There you have them. I hope you find them useful like I did.

Happy weekend!

Minimal Notifications

I love my smartphone. The iPhone is a brilliant invention. But too much of a good thing is bad for us. We are too connected right now.

I felt that. It was overwhelming. I had to deactivate from Facebook. Life is better, more quiet.

For the longest time, I always have my phone in silent mode. Yes, there are cute ringtones. I use them but most of the time I have no use for them. I don't like the sound of the phone when it rings. I wouldn't want to stop what I was doing and attend to that phone call. Since then, I put my phone on silent.

How my phone looks like
The equivalent of a ring tone now is the notifications on every app. It is annoying to me. It's like screaming for my attention. I already have kids who always want my attention. I don't need an app to tell me it needs my attention. I always click no to requests to send me push notification. Not my thing.

There was an article I saw from a tweet of Michael Hyatt about Zero Notifications by Joel Gascoigne. It made a lot of sense to me. When I see a notification on my phone, I would instantly attend to it. While I disabled this feature on most social media apps, it is still on for a handful of messaging apps. It still drove me crazy. 

Inspired by the article, I disabled all notifications on my phone except for WhatsApp (where I communicate with my family), my water tracker and Baby Connect (an app which I use to log my baby's activities.)

I love not seeing those notifications. I only go to each app when I have the time for it. My problem now is I'd forget to check things like the mail. Oops... It's okay, people who matters will know how to reach me and will not email me about emergencies. 

I really appreciate the peace and quiet. I decided I am in charge of the phone; it doesn't take over my life.

How are you with your notifications?

My June 2014

The first half of the year is gone. Went by very fast. It was a super busy month for me with activities in Javi's school and several friends visiting Bangkok. Busy is good. 

Started June keen on living a healthy life by exercising and eating healthy. Well, I ended the month regularly exercising. The healthy eating part was a struggle. I was calorie counting, then stress and PMS came and my EQ was too low to log my calorie intake. 

This is my 27th month joining Fat Mum Slim's Photo-A-Day challenge. I am not tired of it. It's a good mental and photography exercise for me. I get to document my days this way.

And here's how my June went:

1. Joy (The smile of a four-year old who just jumped on the bed.)
2. Doing (Play time for my two boys. I love how they really play with each other. Especially when I need to do something like cook our dinner.)
3. Family (My family, in Coke can version.)
4. Ordinary (Today, we rode the train. It's a normal thing here in Bangkok. Traffic can be terrible. Train is very efficient. No rude or impatient taxi drivers.)
5. 11 o'clock (The mall just opened. Caleb and I are off to buy our monthly household supplies. I like running errands when the mall just opened. I can finish my tasks in less than an hour.)
6. Adventure (Every single day is an adventure with this little one and his big brother.) 
7. Pattern (I love polka dots!)
8. T is for... (...the Thai version of the Harry Potter series.)
9. We live here (Reflection of our apartment building on another building.) 
10. Flying (There a number of birds flying around when I took this photo. I didn't want to zoom in as it will ruin a good photo. It was a beautiul morning.) 
11. The beginning (It all begins with zero. Planning to be more active and keeping track of my movement. While I don't have Fitbit, this pedometer should work for me.) 
12. Pastel (We went to IKEA and I went gaga over these colors.)
13. Simply (Thankfully, the plastic flowers in our building lobby are now gone. A real plant is better than fake flowers.)
14. Cross ("At the cross I bow my knees. Where Your blood was shed for me. There's no greater love than this")
15. Lovely (Fresh fruits serve as great table or kitchen counter display.) 
16. In the shadows (My early morning walk to the gym) 
17. Peaceful (At this time - before sunrise - I am the only one awake. It's always a good start to a busy day when I get time alone before the boys wake up.)
18. Quirky (Our souvenir from the Siem Reap trip. Javi is scared of it but Caleb plays with it.) 
19. Habit (As much as possible I start my day with my morning cup of coffee, journal{s} and quiet time.) 
20. Yay! (It's finally the weekend)
21. Here I am (At my favorite xiao long bao place {Din Tai Fung}. Really yummy!
22. Growing (We attended a birthday party of my eldest son's classmate. These kids are growing up so fast.)
23. In this moment (My coffee times are precious. Even if I just sit in a coffee shop and think about nothing.)
24. What June looks like (Lots of early mornings for June) 
25. Sun flare (It was very cloudy the whole of yesterday. There was only a short glimpse of the sun and all I could see was clouds.) 
26. Dreaming (A trip to the Filipino store with a very low EQ resulted to this. Now, I am dreaming I can eat all these without gaining a pound. Aack!)
27. Loving (My latest shopping finds: cute gift bags and something for the nails.) 
28. Bed (It has been a busy and productive week. I look forward to good night's sleep and a relaxing Sunday.)
29. Delight (Seeing them always this close warms this momma's heart.)
30. The end  (We had a staycation of sorts. The husband was working though. Time to head home.)

How was June for you?

Butter London Love

A manicure only lasts me about a week. I usually want to have colorful nails during weekends as we always go out. 

I was introduced to Butter London nail products by a friend just this year. Though I've heard about the brand for a while. Been a loyal user of OPI and Essie products. My go-to nail salon uses OPI products so I never had the chance to explore Butter polishes. 

Why I Like It?

I was so impressed with how fast the polish dries. I usually retouch my polish on a Friday before I sleep. My experience in the past was it would take too long for the polish to dry that I would wake up with scratches or hair lines on my manicure. Butter polish do not have those. As I retouch before sleeping, it means I'd be half asleep when I do my manicure. Butter is very easy to apply that I can do it using the light on my desk lamp. It is effortless. 

I fell in love with nail lacquers of Butter that I keep several bottles now. I'm also happy that the Sephora in Bangkok carries this brand. 

My first try of Butter nail products

Tried the matte finish as top coat

My current nail color, Slapper

My Only "Complain" 

The polish only lasts me three days and my nails would be chipped. OPI lasts me a week. I hope this would change with the release of Butter's Gel Base and Top Coat. I will let how it goes. 

Gel Base and Top Coats
Do you also love Butter London products? What tips do you have for me?

Have a great week!

Run 5K App

For the life of me, I do not and cannot run. It was something I did not think I could do. Not until the then Couch to 5K and now known as Run 5K program. 

I started this program two (or maybe more) years ago. And I was a complete failure. I just couldn't. I felt like I was going to die. A minute jogging felt like an hour to me. I think I stopped at Week 3 and did not move on. Then I got pregnant so I stopped. 

I resumed the program this year. I seriously need to work out. I would say a prayer before I jogged because I wouldn't go on with it. My mindset was, "I cannot do this."

And then last week, 

I finally finished it. I jogged for 30 minutes straight. What a feat for me! 

I was disappointed with the Run 5K app, there should be a "Congratulations!" when I finished. It's all business, move to the next level 10K. That was just me. I needed the pat on the back. 

Now, I alternate jogging with Jillian Michaels' 30 Day Shred program. It is not strictly a 30 day thing for me. I don't want to stop jogging as I admit I am enjoying it now so I want to keep on doing it. In my ideal world, I would love to do both but reality is I can only do one workout a day. Time is a luxury for me.  

Seriously, who would have thought I'd say I want to keep on running in the morning? If someone prophesied at the beginning of the year, I would eventually say that, I would think they were nuts.

I had my inspirations. The biggest influence was my sister who said years ago because we have asthma that we cannot run. Well, she proved that wrong and is now joining marathons.

Everything is possible, my friends.

For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.
- Philippians 4:13 NLT
If I can do it, so can YOU!

Effects of The Daniel Plan Book

My weight loss is a constant struggle. More so now after my 2nd pregnancy I need to lose so much weight. 

I haven't found an effective weight loss plan which will cater to my lifestyle. I cannot exercise like most people as I have two small children to take care of. 

I finally found the time to read and finish The Daniel Plan book. Deactivating my Facebook account is doing me a lot of good. 

And oh boy this is one of those books that opened my eye to a healthy reality. 

The Essentials 
FOOD. This book provided me with facts about the food I eat. I was terrified after finishing the book. I had no idea how bad sugar is to one's body. And all the junk food I eat. No wonder I am this big. Now, I aim to eat healthier. I think twice now before buying a processed item from the supermarket. My plan is to eat healthy during weekdays - no junk food, no rice, no soda, etc. On the weekend, I can indulge a little but not excessive. For snacks, I now stick to apple slices or hard boiled egg. I've learned to log my calorie intake upon the influence of a dear friend. 
FITNESS. My goal is to exercise five (5) times a week. I get up at 5 o'clock in the morning and I head to the gym for cardio exercises. I need to lose weight so I do cardio for now. I am finishing the program, Run 5K. I still have two weeks left. Then I will move on to Jillian Michael's 30-Day Shred. 
FOCUS. My one word for the year which I am applying to my weight loss plan. 
FRIENDS. I have my husband and we encourage each other. But when our EQ are both low, we tend to crave in and eat to our hearts' desires. I found two friends who I can be accountable to. I would not know about the Lose It app, or the Jillian Michael's 30-Day Shred or this Focus T25 workout if it weren't for them. 
FAITH. Getting God involved is the most important component of The Daniel Plan. I say a prayer before I jog every morning because there is no way I can run without feeling like I am going to die. But I'm getting there, I can now jog for 20 minutes straight. I even prayed to God for food to be less desirable. I think it worked as I have self-control now.  Asking God's help is effective. God even has a sense of humor. One time, I was due for my weekly bagel run (I eat bagels for breakfast). I went to the bagel store and to my surprise, they ran out. Thought God was already telling me something right there. But I am stubborn and I went back again the following week, still no bagels! I then found out that the bagel company pulled out and another concessionaire will take over the stand. "Okay God, it's all loud and clear to me now. I will now stick with oatmeal for breakfast."  Now, I mastered cooking oatmeal.

I hope I will eventually lose weight. I really feel good after every workout. It's a refreshing to eat healthier. I have more energy. I no longer feel sluggish. I want to keep doing this. 

Even if I did not follow the 40-Day Daniel Plan, I chose to apply its principles to my own weight management plan. I customized it to fit my situation now. One of the major lesson from the book is it educated me about the food I am consuming and convinced me why I need to eat healthier.

Now, I am keeping my fingers cross or the more appropriate thing to say is I am praying hard for this plan to work.  

Do you have tips or advice to share? Write it down on the Comments section.

My May 2014

It's another end of the month. All I remember about May is Mother's Day, three non-working holidays in Thailand, declaration of Martial Law and the coup d'état. As you can tell, we had a busy month here in Thailand.

My month of May went something like this --

1. Begins with J (J for juice. Today's juice combination is apple + pineapple + guava + lime. I don't know what it does to the body but it sure taste good.)
2. Snack (Wanted to spend a quiet morning in Starbucks with a cookie and coffee. What actually happened was I hurriedly ate everything as Caleb was too cranky disturbing the other customers.)
3. Collection (My accidental collection. Since I receive too many cards when I trade mugs, I decided to put them in a card holder. It's full now so I need to buy a bigger one. I'm not exactly a serious card collector.)
4. Us (The newest frame on our photo wall at home. Photo from our recent trip to Siem Reap.)
5. 4PM (My little boy at a birthday party getting a Batman tattoo.)
6. From down low (Caleb and I were out running errands this morning. We had to go through this walkway.)
7. Taken from above (Thai PM was forced to resign over abuse of power. And the protesters are again back on the streets for possibly their "victory march.") 
8. Blue (Only babies can get away with socks like these.) 
9. Favorite (My coffee time. Today, it was the little one's naptime so I wrote down thoughts for a blog post and read a chapter of a book.)
10. In the garden (We live in a high rise. We don't have our own garden. Would be nice if we have. Snapped this photo while I was out earlier.)
11. Mother (The realities of motherhood. I survived grocery shopping with these two cuties. It's crazy but I wouldn't trade it for anything else.) 
12. Ready (Water is boiling. I can now start cooking the broccoli. Trying to eat healthier by adding more vegetables to our dishes.) 
13. I spy (The little brother wants to watch what the older brother is watching. These two are so cute together.) 
14. Lines (Ray of lights)
15. From where I walk (I walk where there's a shade. It was scorching hot today.)
16. Create (A barista's lair. So what's your poison?)
17. Bag{s} (My most used bags now are eco bags for grocery shopping and running errands. I seldom use my handbags as I keep my cash and cards in a handy phone wallet.)
18. Something I {Javi} drew (We have pieces of paper everywhere in our home with scribbles and doodles from my firstborn.)
19. Alone (I love my early morning gym time. I'm the only one working out. I appreciate the solitude. It's my only alone time throughout the day.)
20. Waiting (Dinner tonight is Veggie Ham and Egg Bake. Fresh out of the oven and waiting for it to cool.)
21. Card{s} (These are the cards I use the most - Starbucks card, supermarket card, building keycard, train pass and of course credit card.)
22. Free (Free promo beverage from Starbucks. Benefit of the reward system.)
23. Black + white (My EQ is pretty low at the moment so I visited a happy place.) 
24. Sunrise (A new morning in Bangkok. It's Day 4 since the coup was announced. We got our international channels back on cable last night. Yay for that!)
25. Neighborhood (And the curfew is on. Very few vehicles on the road.) 
26. Pet (Pets are not allowed where we live. I don't see it a problem as I am terrified of dogs, cats and any animal for that matter.)
27. Meal (Dinner time for the little one.) 
28. Unique (Bank notes have serial numbers. Each one is unique and important.) 
29. Negative space (Nowadays, it is advisable to carry a proof of identification when we go out. I don't have any other valid IDs here except the passport.) 
30. Side view (Postcard from Singapore. The Merlion is best photographed from this angle - side view.)
31. Sunset (Too bad the clouds covered what could have been a beautiful sunset.)

And we're almost halfway through 2014. June please be kinder to us. 

How did your May go?

Kuya Kim's Testimony

I personally do not know these people. They are celebrities from my home country, the Philippines. 

I was really touched by this Instagram post how Kim Atienza, or Kuya Kim as he is popularly called, encountered God. 

God will soften the hardest of hearts.

Being "born again" or having a relationship with Christ has a stigma especially with Catholics. I grew up knowing that "born agains" would try to convert every Catholic so better stay away from them. 

God seeks us. And for me, He has a funny way of leading me to Him. He made me fall in love with a born again or Evangelical Christian. And that's how my walk with Christ started. 

All of sudden, I began noticing the lives of my Evangelical friends. Take note, none of them forced me to convert. No one shoved Bible verses down my throat or trick me into attending church service. They were cool like that.

The way one Christian live his life is the only testimony some people need to want to get to know Christ. That did the trick for me. During those times, I saw how joyful and contented my friends were. I became curious, I wanted to have their relationship with Christ. 

God will call us in very different ways. When this happens to you - my family, relatives and friends (even acquaintances and readers of this blog) - and you have no idea what to do next, I will help you. I am far from being an expert but I have a slight idea of what to do. We will sort it out. Together, we can grow in our walk with Christ.   

Have a wonderful weekend!

A Mom of Two

Since Mother's Day was last Sunday, I'd give a little update as to how my life has transitioned to being a mom of two. When I first blogged about having a second child, I was still uncertain and adjusting to my new normal. 

Our firstborn is now 4 1/2 years old and goes to school. The second one is 7 months old. It's a crazy household. I am the hands-on type and my sons never had a nanny - it's all mommy (and daddy). There are times I still can't believe I am raising two boys.

How do I do it? The answer: routines and a little bit of help

Routines make sure everything get done. I believe in schedules, lists and plans. I use several productivity apps. I rely on routines to get me through each day. 

A little bit of help comes in the form of a person who comes in during weekdays to help me with tasks and chores I can delegate. And because of this, I get to focus on my two children. 

Caleb is a pretty easy baby to take care of. He was already sleeping through the night by two months old. Hallelujah! The Babywise Principle works for him. He is a smiling baby. Now he starts to crawl and wants to explore more. He is getting more active. I think, though, I have enough training with his Kuya (older brother) that I can handle him. 

The Kuya, Javi, is pretty much independent and can do most things by himself. Yes, those are the words he would always tell me, "I can do it by myself." Music to a mommy's ears. My first baby is now a little boy. He would still  throw tantrums but he can express himself better now so situations are resolved. He adores school. To think, I was sad when I sent him off on his first day last year. If you ask me now, it is the best thing that ever happened to the two of us. Mommy gets some alone time. He enjoys school. 

My husband and I pretty much worked out a system. We found the time to work out.  Even if my schedule is before sunrise. I enjoy my occasional coffee time. I get time for my grooming rituals (eyebrow grooming, mani/pedi, etc.) every month. We can even bring the whole family to go see a movie when there is a good one we want to see on the big screen. We like dining out with the two kids. We bring them everywhere. We even had a holiday with them. It is not easy. But with careful planning and timing, it is workable. 

I love being a mom. I am not always a joyful mommy. I am still a work in progress. Honestly, I cannot see myself doing any other thing right now except raising my two sons. The years are definitely short. I am grateful for this blessing of being a stay-at-home mom every single day. 

Belated Happy Mother's Day! It's not solely for mothers who gave birth to a child. I think the circle of motherhood is much bigger than what society normally perceive. 

Deactivating Facebook

I finally did it. I deactivated my Facebook account. 

On Easter Sunday, I decided to deactivate my account. An incident triggered the deactivation. I felt like I walked out of Facebook. And my life is so much better - and quieter - without it. 

It's been almost three weeks of no Facebook and I couldn't be happier. I am on my third book. I finished two books from last year's reading list. And here I was complaining I do not have time to read when I actually do. Instead of poring over friends' posts, I was reading a real book where I can learn something. I can blog again!

The thing with Facebook is I have too many friends. I wish it was similar to Twitter or Instagram where people can just follow you and there is no need to follow them back. I did unfollow posts from a number of contacts, but I still have a large number of updates on my News Feed. What's annoying with posts in Facebook now is it brings up posts (even of years ago) with recent likes and comments. Then most of the posts going viral on Facebook are not verified. People are too gullible to believe and share them. It's a time waster. Don't get me started on public posts. It floods my News Feed.. 

I was overwhelmed with every single detail - where they went, what they ate, what movies they saw, what their kids did, how they felt. And there are the  "humblebrags." 

I've had enough and I needed a break. 


My problem now is I am not sure I want to go back to Facebook. I do not miss it. And I learned I can live without it. 

What about the people who wants to keep in touch with me? There are other channels. I am very active on Instagram and Twitter. We can go back to communicating via e-mail again.  Then those who I am close to know my mobile number. 

The only reason why I stayed on Facebook is because of my mom. It's the only one she knows how to use. But now that she's learning iMessage, I can deactivate for a longer period.

Facebook is addicting. My phone was attached to my hand. All I ever did was like and comment on posts. I felt I was obliged to. I am missing out on the real world. 

Watch this video to understand what I meant. 

I am more convinced to spend less time on social media and give time to those that matter.

Deactivating my Facebook is one of the best decisions I've ever done.

Do you guys get overwhelmed by social media, too? Do you agree with the message of the Look Up video?

My April 2014

I published my Siem Reap post a couple of hours before I post this one. My apologies for the lack of posts. 

Thankful for this monthly posts as my blog would be bare without them. 

April is a big month for Thailand. It's Songkran (Thai New Year) time. And elsewhere, it's Easter week. Oh, and it's the school Spring Break. My sister spent time with us. It's great seeing her with my two boys. 

April went like this...

1. Something purple (I change my toothbrush every three months. Every quarter. It's that time again.)
2. In my hand (MAC lipstick in Viva Glam Rihanna. I was convinced to give red lipstick a try again.)
3. Shapes (My sweetie pie was playing with his toy.) 
4. Good together (Went back to regular juicing. Recipe from Mia. Carrots + apples + red beet + celery.)
5. Not mine (Someone snatched the dessert I ordered. Happens most of the time.)
6. A taste of autumn/spring (We don't get spring or autumn where we live. But I saw this pretty card at the local Starbucks.)
7. Where I'd rather be (It's Sakura time and I'd rather be in Japan than anywhere else in the world. Visiting Japan during spring is right up there in my bucket list.)
8. Hobby (A hobby I picked up when we moved to Bangkok is collecting mugs of different color from different cities.)
9. Dark (The only kind of chocolate my four year old won't take from me.)
10. My fave part of day (When I get to this point, it means the two kids are asleep, house chores are done, etc. It's finally my downtime. Sleep is next.) 
11. 3 of a kind (Been wanting to make Smores Cups since last year. Graham cracker is a scarcity in the supermarkets in Bangkok. I found my stash from the Filipino store. So yesterday, I finally made them and they are good.)
12. On my left (I absolutely adore this little one. He brings so much joy to my family of four.)
13. More please! (Of long holidays - Spring break and Songkran.)
14. Dirty (We get a lot of dirty diapers in a day. This is the life with a baby.)
15. I'm reading this (The Five Love Languages. I finally reached the 3rd language. Two more to go. I am so behind in my reading.)
16. My vice (Shopping: To think I went to the store to exchange an item I purchased yesterday, I came home with all these, too. Oops...)
17. Something I learned (This I learned early on in life. Sweet tooth.)
18. Good (Spent time with my sister and the boys at my favorite brunch place. Now this brownie is gooood!)
19. Money (Surprisingly, I have this much cash in my wallet.)
20. Egg (Happy Easter! The tomb is empty. He is risen!) 
21. Close (My two loves. My favorite part of motherhood now is when I see them play together.)
22. Four things (Today's juice combination consists of: pineapple + celery + spinach + orange) 
23. Entrance (The entrance to my favorite Starbucks store because of its proximity to our building. This branch reopened last Monday and I have visited every day.)
24. A pop of color (The red buttonholes in plain shirts. Those were a really nice touch by Ines de la Fressange & Uniqlo.)
25. Remember (Three days from today it'll be my father's birthday. He would have been 82. He passed away 14 years ago but I will forever celebrate his birthday every year. It's nice to reminisce and thank God for giving me (and my siblings) a wonderful father.)
26. Enjoy the little things (When I run errands earlier, the train was not full. There were vacant seats which were unusual but I love. I was early for my second appointment so I had time for a DQ Blizzard with Nutella. Yum.)
27. Under my feet (A striped carpet. In a hotel lobby waiting for a friend we are having dinner with. It's never boring in Bangkok.)
28. Chaotic (My manic Monday began with our bed looking like this. Well, this is a daily occurence. I finished 9 tasks before noon. Today was a particularly busy one.)
29. Contrast (Found my favorite table at the Starbucks I go to and this was my view earlier.) 
30. Something silly (How my four year old learns to dress himself. First, it starts with putting clothes on the wrong way.)

Hope you had a restful month!

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