Happiest Birthday Ever!

“Life is too short to be lived counting the years. Just enjoy the ride and make awesome memories. “

First of all, I would to thank my family and friends for their heartfelt greetings on my natal day. I felt loved through by your Facebook messages or personal greetings. It means a lot to me. 
As usual, we did not have an extravagant celebration at home. I filed a one day leave from work. We chose to stay at home.  I prepared penne pasta and fruit salad. Hearing remarks from the husband and kids that the food was delicious made my birthday extra special.  They never fail to appreciate my cooking skills, hehe. 
I went to the market to buy the ingredients for my simple handa at 10 in the morning. Before going home, I dropped by at my favorite beauty salon and had a haircut – a very simple version of “me-time”. 
5  Things that Made my Birthday the Happiest One

  1. Celebrated my birthday as a complete family. I am grateful that my husband decided to take a break from working abroad and enjoying his job here. 
  2. My husband and I are blessed with sweet, loving and understanding children.  They continue to inspire us to work hard to give them a comfortable life and a bright future. 
  3. Being part of a biggest Gospel Choir in World (as conferred by Guinness Book of World Records). My husband and I performed in the choir on the Iglesia Ni Cristo’s Worldwide Intensive Propagation of God’s Words last May 22 at the Philippine Arena, Cuidad de Victoria, Bulacan, Philippines. 
  4. The positive development in the case we filed against the criminal who killed my brother is the biggest birthday gift I received this year.  
  5. My folks has finally transferred to the “cute” house we built after Typhoon Nona. Though the house is not 100% finished, they can already sleep comfortably there.

It’s my Birth Month and Here’s my Wishlist

April was not a good month for me. 
I want this dreadful loneliness to stop. I want to sleep comfortably at night.  I am pretty sure that this will happen soon when my family achieve justice for the death of my brother. We want the murderer to rot in prison. Ahhh, I’m getting emotional again…
I am turning a year older this month. Number 1 in my wishlist is that justice may prevail for the killing of my dear brother.  
These simple things will also make my birthday a happiest one:

  • intimate dinner with my husband and kids 
  • shop for the kids’ stuffs for the incoming school year (uniforms, school supplies, and the like)
  • help my Mama and my sister financially to finish the house construction
  • shop for new plants and re-arrange my mini-garden

And most of all, I pray to God for more blessings and good health for me and my loved ones. 


On Loving Our Family and Keeping Communication Lines Open

Howdy! Hope everyone’s having a blast.  Let’s remain calm even in the midst of stressful situation and extremely hot weather here in our side of the Earth.  
I just ended a one-hour phone call with my folks back home.  I talked to my sister, then my niece and 2 nephews, and then Mama. After putting down the phone, my niece told me via text message that Lola is beaming with joy.  That comment made me realize that I should talk to mom as often as possible.  That’s one of her simple joys – hearing good news from us, her children and grandchildren even though we’re miles apart. They live in my hometown in Sorsogon while me and my eldest sister live here Manila. 
With my Manoy Onel’s untimely death, we, as a family decided to remain united and keep the communication lines open.  Despite being busy caring for our own families, we should never forget to (at least) say hello to each other every now and then. There’s mobile phone and social media, anyway. It’s easier to communicate. Sa siyam na magkakapatid, anim na lang kami natira, di pa ba kami mag-dadamayan. At higit sa lahat, we want to more spend quality time with Mama. 

We are looking forward being together again come July 4th to celebrate Mama’s birthday. We are planning for a simple yet meaningful celebration for the Sotto matriarch. That’s 2 month prep time. 
Mother’s Day is just around the corner, if I’m not mistaken it’ll be on Sunday, May 8. This is my message to my Mama Ester. I Love You, Ma! 

My One Word for 2016 is Simplify

We’re already in the middle of January but it’s not too late to lay down our plans for the next 365 days of our lives.  How do you plan? Do you schedule sort of a meeting with your spouse, family? Or you prefer listing your plans / goals in a journal?

Personally, I’ve done both.  My husband and I talked about our plans for this year and set our priorities.  I also utilized the power of journal writing – in my small notebook where I jot down my daily activities as well as short-term and long term goals.

When a fellow mommy blogger Pehpot shared her one word for 2016, I was inspired to come up with my own “one word”

The word SIMPLIFY has a different meaning to every person. It could mean focusing more on the needs and less on wants and whims.  It could mean getting rid of clutter either at home or workplace.  For other person, it could mean staying away from negative persons and spending more time with the people he or she loves.  It could also mean simplifying our daily routine, dropping things or activities that cause stress and chaos.

This year, I will SIMPLIFY my life by…

evaluating my commitments.  I’d like to focus on the most important things to me and my family. The cue word here is to Prioritize!   

simplifying home and work tasks.  Finding the balance between a hands-on homemaker and a full-time career woman may be difficult. However, by focusing first on the most important task can make my life easier.  Not only that, there are a bunch of ways to lessen stress at home and at work such as automation (computers and software are useful tools), delegation (assign tasks to household helper and train the children to do household chores early on), eliminate (unnecessary things, like too much time on TV, Internet, etc.)

complaining less.  I will try my best to avoid complaining about price hike on basic necessities, nega-vibes people around, traffic, etc.  Instead, I will count my blessings every day and praise God for His overflowing grace and guidance.

learning to say no.  This is quite hard but doing this will help me live a simple, uncomplicated life.  Learn to say no to gimmicks, well,  hindi rin naman ako gimikera.  Learn to say no to persons who have tendencies to abuse my being kind-hearted.   Learn to say no to whims and wants of my playful kiddos, pero paminsan-minsan, i-grant din naman ang wishes nila.  Thus, finding the balance and setting priorities straight are the key phrases here.

getting rid of clutter.  I’ve been reading good reviews about the Konmari method of de-cluttering.  I’m implementing this slowly at home.  In fact, last Sunday, I started organizing our wardrobe cabinets. 

spending more time with my loved ones.  Celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, celebrate life.  I want them simple yet meaningful.  One of the biggest event I am looking forward this year is my Mama’s 80th birthday. We will go home (to Bicol) for a family reunion.  My brother who is currently based in Dubai will go home, too. I want to spend more time with my Mama. I remember one quote which says “Love your parents. We are busy growing up that we tend to forget they’re growing old”  I wish her good health long life because kahit may edad na siya ang dami pa nyang pangarap, dami nya pang plano

That’s my one word for 2016. How about you? Head on to comment section and share  the best word that will inspire, motivate you this year. 

Latest Family Photos

With our previous setup as an OFW family, having family photos was quite difficult.  It is because my husband is often absent during special occasions.  Now that we decided to stay together, we make it a point to have our photos taken l just like what happened last New Years Day.
These are our photos, serious shots and wacky ones hehehe.

Taken during our reunion, with Nanay (hubby’s mom) plus a super kulit photobomber hahaha

What can you say about our photos? 

My Gratitude List for 2015

2015 is an eventful year for me and my family, a year filled with joys and happy memories.  There are some challenges but with God’s powerful guidance, we are able to surpass them all.

These are the things I am thankful for:

1. Spent New Year’s Day with my mom and siblings in my hometown.  After more than a decade, I was able to celebrate new year with my loved ones back home. It was one of my most memorable experiences this year.  Despite the bad weather condition at that time, I was able to bond with my family during our week-long vacation. 
2. OFW Family No More! We are really grateful for this wonderful blessing from up above.  My husband finally settled here after several years  of working abroad.  
3. Meaningful Birthday Celebrations.  Thea celebrated her 9th birthday with her friends.  The kids as well as  the grown-ups had fun during the cupcake decorating session hosted by moi and the birthday girl.  Yohan turned 5 last month. It was his happiest one because Papa who missed his 4 birthdays, is already here! 
4.  10th Wedding Anniversary. Hubby and I celebrated our 10th year as married couple last August 20.  We had a simple celebration together with the kids. 
5. More out-of-town trips. Whether work-related or personal, I enjoyed conquering new places. We discovered the beauty of Tanay, Rizal last summer.  I experienced my first ever air travel when we had a planning workshop in Puerto Princesa, Palawan.  I also attended various seminars in Tagaytay and Pampanga. 
6. Able to blog again.  I temporarily stopped blogging due to some personal reasons.  I also revamped this blog and finally got my own domain, too. 
7. Realized the value of genuine friendship. A mix of professional and personal issues at work caused so much stress to me and my friends.  Thankfully, we are able to handle it with all humility and control.  I am grateful to those individuals (in case you’re reading this, you know who you are) who remained as my friends despite my topak and all. 
8.  Good health for me and my family.  I am thankful because no one in the family got serious illness this year.  Yohan was spared from a surgery last May when the pediatric surgeon confirmed that the lump previously seen in the ultrasound is not related to hernia but only swollen tissue which eventually disappeared after medication.  Hopefully, Papa’s blood sugar level will  become normal with the help of proper medication and exercise. Actually, I still have to encourage him to engage in regular exercise…. 
9.  Continuously perform in the choir despite some challenges.  I am a choir member in our Church.  Due to erratic schedule at work which include series of out-of-town seminars last September to October, I temporarily took a leave in the choir.  I am grateful for the blessings and opportunity given to me to continuously serve the Lord by performing my duties despite all the challenges.  
10.  Blessed with  a simple and happy life with my family.  I could not ask for more…. 
Perhaps I missed a thing or two in the list but counting my blessings everyday may help me enjoy a happy and contented life…
love y’all! 

First Plane Ride Experience

…of a 30-something mom. I am not ashamed to admit to my colleagues, and to you, guys that I just experience my first ever plane ride last month. When our department head asked how’s our batch’s travel on the way to the venue of the seminar, I raised my hand. I told them that I got a little bit dizzy because it’s my first time. The group burst into laughter and even offered to give me a token for being a first-timer, lolz. 
I was lucky experience nature in the beautiful island of Palawan last September 30 – October 2. I was with the officials and co-employees in the agency for a strategic planning workshop to assist in the documentation of workshop proceedings, being part of the Secretariat Team. We stayed at the Princesa Garden Island Resort and Spa. I’ll post some photos later.
It was a tiring yet rewarding experience. 
I want to go back to Puerto Princesa, not for work, but for leisure with my family. 

Just Write, Never Get Tired

“Writing is the only way I have to explain my own life to myself.” 
                                                                                                ― Pat Conroy, My Reading Life

Writing is my hobby, writing is part of my job, too.  I’ve been writing essays since my childhood days. I pursued an IT degree in college but I got higher grades in English and Business Communication than in Programming and other major subjects. After college graduation, I landed a job (which is my job until today) that requires extra efforts in research and technical writing. When blogging was introduced, I joined the bandwagon and created my very first blog site. 

Writing requires extra ounce of motivation and inspiration. However, there will be instances that our creative juices run dry. As a blogger, I have my own share of this.  In fact I can not count how many times that I lost my interest in keeping this blog updated. Why? maybe because I’m busy, I’m upset, or affected by the negative news and write-ups involving bloggers. 

My friends recently told me to continue to write. They reminded me to never get tired of expressing myself. Just write, write, write. Never lose interest in the things I am passionate about. Thanks to my friends for waking me up, for inspiring me to write again. I am lucky to be surrounded by optimistic, like-minded people. So, here I am, trying to regain my mojo because writing is the only I can explain my own life to myself. 

P.S. Watch out, new blog coming soon! 🙂 

I’m Back…

It has been a month since my last blog update. As usual, I have been busy offline. In fact, I have so many stories to share, just don’t know where to start. The main reason of my temporary hibernation is that I’ve encountered so much challenges, professionally and personally speaking.
Now, my blogging mojo is back and I am happy to announce that things are slowly falling into place. I have learned many lessons from the things that happened during the past few months. I realized that we should never invest too much emotion in one thing because we will end up hurting ourselves. That’s so typical of me in the past. Likewise, I learned a lot about genuine friendship, about choosing the right person to be with and tell our stories. 
Blessings are continuously pouring in and I am constantly praying that He will be always at my side in every step of the way.
Let me end this short blog entry by sharing this motivational quote from Helen Keller. 
Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.
                                                                                                     – Helen Keller