Saturday, December 15, 2012

On The Sandy Hook Shooting

A horrendous incident such that of the mass killing at Sandy Hook Elementary shook the nation and the world in wide scale proportion.  How can it not when it bereaved the basic core of our society which is the family. People testified how the outpouring of emotions were similar to that of 9/11's. This week has been laden with death done in the most heinous ways and worse it claimed the lives of innocent children.  Three days before the Sandy Hook shooting, Portland, Oregon had their own blow of a mall shooting that claimed three lives. 

As a parent, this is more than a wake up call.  This is so life changing that it moves us to reinforce and fortify our family structure and dynamics even in the stand point of a bystander or for most of us as television viewers witnessing all these unfold. The places deemed enriching for our children are now target points for people brooding evil intent.  The word safe and child-friendly takes on a different meaning now. It somehow puts us on a stand still that is physically and emotionally exhausting.  

A week ago, I received a call from my eldest son's school that they were in lockdown under code yellow.  The hardest part to it of course is one's inability to provide help on the most troubling time especially if the ones involved are your loved ones.  On that experience I have drawn out the most crucial levels of responses which my children can be involved in.

1.  The school's crisis response and intervention procedures.  It was all worth the time to know from my son and from the school what procedures were in place to protect the kids when a threat of this kind occurs.  Where there drills done to familiarize children? How were the kids handled? Are the teachers trained to effectively respond and lead the students? How does the school and our local police work together on such emergencies?  As to this experience, my son's school and all the other local law enforcing groups have commendably done their duties for the safety and interest of students, their families, and school personnel.  The chain of communication to parents was established so as to keep us informed of what's transpiring and are yet to be done.  

2.  Our children's preparedness on these incidents.  Our homes must not cease in becoming a place to educate our kids.  It is not enough that we ask them how their day was but every member in the family must be educated and involved on the affairs and safety issues we may encounter.  We do not hold our academic institutions solely responsible for the training of our kids.  They must learn "self-preservation" primarily in our own household with the parents constantly helping the children to process the events that will keep them uphold their values and safety. Show them the path they 
                                                                                   must not depart from (Prov. 22:6)

3. Our children's dependence on God.  I was comforted and moved by my pastor's blog about the need to hold family devotions. We get tangled with all of life's struggles and diversions that we fail to unite our families through intimate spiritual efforts.  Most if not all of us will say that we pray for our kids but should it end there?  Let us teach them to pray and to build their faith in God who may be unseen but is our unfaltering help in time of need. Pray for them and with them (1 Thes. 5:17)

Every new morning gives us another perspective to see our children lovingly.  Yes, hold our kids tight but ensure all measures to educate, be involved, and pray.  

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

A Burlap Christmas

As a kid, I remember falling in love with crafting specially when the materials to be used  give one a natural or organic feel. It just appeals to me that in its simplest form, I find the endless ways of transforming it into something rustic yet elegant. 

Burlap tree topiaries
A few months ago, I found this interesting utility fabric called "burlap" under DIY projects in Pinterest. Made from the jute, flax, or hemp plant, it is a fibrous and sturdy woven material that has reached its versatility from being a potato or apple bag to a decorative favorite made into curtains, table runners and other home or event accents. I tried finding them at my local JoAnn store with the consolation that it is priced cheap.  Though some may not like its rough texture and smell, burlap is gold to a shabby chic Momx4. It's modest beginnings have now been catapulted to sophistication by artisans whose creativity harmonized cost efficiency with art.  Since burlap gives me that childhood excitement, I tried doing this year's Christmas decors using the material.

I made a bubble textured wreath to accentuate the front door, topiaries seated on our dining area's mantle, and using the leftovers to wrap around a vase as table centerpiece .

Added some glittery Christmas balls and plaid bow.  
scrap burlap material wrapped around a vase

 Create or venture into something that will get you renewed and excited about life. Do it with all your imprints lavished on it. Give yourself some slack by ignoring criticisms because those people who throw such on you were not privileged enough  to be given the enthusiasm, time, and contentment which you have now.

"Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the grave, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom." (Ecclesiastes 9:10 NIV84)

bubble textured wreath

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Everyday Is Thanksgiving

It's been almost a month since I last had my entry.  It didn't feel that long because until now I'm still feeling feverish from the hustle and bustle of Thanksgiving.  

A week before that my table was already brimming with the kids' Thanksgiving artwork from school.  From turkeys painted out of hand prints to their stories about how the first Thanksgiving of 1621 was celebrated by the pilgrims of Plymouth, Massachusetts for a bountiful harvest.  Times, people, and legislation have all played their influence on this celebration that made it America's great family tradition.  

Thanksgiving was wonderful! This was our first in our new home and the family celebrated the festivity with our friends in church. Both physical and spiritual appetites were fed in abundance.   With the help of my ever supportive and overly critical children, I made turkey for the first time.  I remember my dad preparing this most celebrated bird during New Year's Eve back in the Philippines.  I have never seen the relevance of the bird for another country or culture, if my dad hadn't made it on another similarly celebrated family gathering in the Philippines. All this nostalgia told me I can brave doing one because someone from this brown race of mine did it. The apprehensions slowly ebbed as the aroma of my country's very own lemon grass  diffused in harmony with Rosemary and lemons. Four hours are agonizingly long as you wait while smelling this. 

 We all have an endless list of things to be grateful for. As we continue to go on with life, the items in that list evolve and metamorphose depending on circumstances that we could control and those that could only be orchestrated by someone greater than us.  We have experienced that no matter how man strives to be the "master of his fate and the captain of his soul", tomorrow will be shrouded.  With this uncertainty, we need a balance point, a walking stick to aid us trek unfamiliar grounds.  In the book of Hebrews 11:1 it says, 

"Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see." (I Thes. 11:1)

This confidence called "faith" makes our thanksgiving a constant way of life regardless of bounty, success, loss, and suffering.  Apostle Paul saw it in this light,

"...give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus."
(1 Thes. 5:18)

Yes, give thanks in all things!  Not just during Thanksgiving but even on those days when the feasting ceases and all the noise and laughter of the festivities have faded. Though the future is unseen, thank God for the things that are yet to come and couple it with faith in His promises.  Thank God for a family who in it's imperfections are constantly in pursuit of building and growing things that are good and loving for each other's sake.  

Thank God for grateful kids who in their naive understanding of the world develop an eye for appreciation of what they have and the people who make an important role in their lives.  Nice turkey artwork, Marcus! 

Saturday, November 10, 2012


As early as 7:30 am, cars begin to fill the cul-de-sac adjacent to our house two Saturdays ago.  Good thing that during this year's second community sale, my husband's not using the car for work and my church friend's driving us (Because I brought along with me my four kids.  I got excess baggage as always but they're pretty fun to be with that time!).  Time and convenience is on my side then.

Just the idea of community, garage, and estate sales excite me!  If you are a bargain hunter and curious George as I am, these events are the perfect haven for all things old and new.  The thrill is not just about how "cheap" you can get stuff but it is in the haggling skills you develop and the opportunity to discover how to repurpose things.  With the things people dispose or sell, you also get to have a glimpse on what families patronize or consume similar to yours.

Going on community sales takes planning.  You don't just storm through it without knowing what you really need.  Remember, these trips should save you money not make you spend on things that will eventually turn to dust collectors on your shelves and storage areas.

Mom x 4 has learned the following ways to make sure you go home with savings not useless spendings.

1.  Be informed about upcoming community, garage, or estate sales.  You could see a calendar of these from your Sunday ads, city and community websites, and Craigslist.  

2.  Go through your house.  Make a list of the things you need to buy. This would give you the considerable "purchasing perimeter" you need so as not to overspend. 

3.  Set a budget.  Since you know what to buy, an estimation of how much to spend can be drawn from there. 

4.  Make sure you bring cash and enough change to avoid any hassles as you pay.

5.  Though not all listings will guarantee you  specifics on what items are on sale, a number of them do include a list.  Go first to those places where you can buy the things on your list to make more use of your time rather than stopping on each house you pass by.

Duck Bathroom Coordinates (11 pcs)
6.  Early-bird-catches-early-worm principle applies!  Aside from the bargain enthusiasts, there are also those whom I call "wholesalers".  These people have their own thrift stores or join flea markets who can buy a truckload of the seller's items by "bundling".  If you take too much time enjoying window shopping mood, you could end up eating their dust and the only things left for you are their trail marks.  Make a quick scan of things you need and do your purchase promptly.  Of course, this takes practice and skill but you will definitely learn it.

7.  There may be items for sale which are not on your list but are such good deals.  Haggle the prices by "bundling" the items then make your offer.  For example, my son saw this gaming chair while a rubber duck bathroom coordinate priced individually caught my attention.  We bought everything for $17 and saved us $5 when bundled, not priced per item.  
Gaming Chair

Paid a two-drawer steel cabinet and pull up bar for $10 and saved me another $5.  Even a quarter dollar savings is good because it could buy you a nice book for your kid already.  The joy of saving!!!!
Filing Cabinet

8.  Allow and trust "gut feel".  The first house I went to, sold the two-drawer filing cabinet for $25.  Told myself to shop around before purchasing it and true enough I bought mine from another seller for $5. Remember though, time is still the element and don't window shop aimlessly.  Canny "frugalistas" swarm the place.

9.  Haggle down prices but do not throw unreasonable offers. There are lots of elbow room on events like these.

10.   If your community or another holds periodic sales, take note of the type of items a seller (which in case are homeowners) sell.  A family with kids would usually have anything from furnitures, books, toys, and clothing.  While others who are hobbyists or activity oriented people have personal collections, exercise equipments, baking and cooking gadgets, and DVDs.  Retirees or elderly couples can surprise you with their vintage or antique collections from  fine china to cuckoo clocks. 

Take note of these trends and patterns by jotting house numbers so that on the next sale, you know which places to go first.
Pull Up Bars

11.  Community sales have specific time durations and a lot of sellers will give you greater markdowns when a sale is about to end.  

So how was it going with the kids? Though it is a challenge to bring them during these events, a sale can be a priceless learning experience. We do want the best for them and living a life of thoughtful restraint specially with how we use our resources is a kind of life we could impart to them.  

A day before the community sale, the kids and I were in Barnes and Noble to find some books.  We didn't find any good deals like the Buy 2 get 1 free they used to have so I told them it's just a few hours more 'til the sale starts so we could exercise our patience a little.  True enough, I got the early reader books for Marcus and Rheese at $.25 each.  We went home with 13 books but the smile we had on our faces was priceless.
Kids' books

My eldest son Sebastian asked us for a gaming chair for months.  When he found a $10 one during the sale he held on to it like Nicholas Cage when he got the declaration of independence in National Treasure. In Walmart, a similar gaming chair is almost $30.

We are frugal not just because we have 4 kids.  Though that is one motivation, wise spending comes from a realization that there is a future worth preparing for and this future is for the 6 of us. The bible encourages us to be wise in our affairs and be the stewards God calls us to be. If we live otherwise, how can we be entrusted with heavenly wealth? These words hold dear:

"So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches?"  Luke 16:11

Every opportunity to save is a reward in itself. Enjoy being simple, live with a content heart. If you have an upcoming community sale to go to, tell me...Tell THRIF(T)fany.

Sunday, October 21, 2012


I was ensnared by my own words.  Trying to "power talk" a close friend to pursue what she loved doing most, she agrees with me on one condition - I must do the same by pursuing my writing flair. This could mean:

    A. "Blackmail?"

    B. "Where into this together. If the boat sinks, you go with me."

  C.  "Instead of rotting over Facebook, smell like your sauteed dish,              or earn a PhD on diaper dynamics...better write!
               D. "Let's do something for the human race.
            E.  Stay alive!

She wouldn't be my friend of 24 years if there were missing choices from the above.
As far as I remember, I stopped writing during that period when I had my first child.  Being a parent is overwhelming no matter how much you prepare for it.  When I attempted to live the life ahead of me, I  lost that "expressive" part of me. I identify myself now with those missing people you see on the "HAVE YOU SEEN ME" ads on milk cartons.  Lucky for those who were found but for those who remain missing and lost, it is a struggle for the hopeful.
I miss writing. Although at this point, having 4 kids to attend to day after day, expressing myself again through written words would fall last on the list. If there was anything I've exercised for all these stay-at-home mom years, it's my mouth! The idea of  pen and paper, and even a laptop keyboard's clicking made me feel alive again.  I should do this.  Let me do it again.  Maybe I can do this. It's like relearning to ride your bike; you take balance, make the first push on the pedal, second foot follows through, and then you take on a wobbly ride.   
A mom will speak her views in the most natural way she can through these blogs.  Her everyday musings, triumphs and stories may be mundane but it is an effort to appreciate life and glorify her Creator. She is blessed for the gift given her and this time it is not to be kept but shared.   
My missing self has been found thanks to a friend who still holds clear memories of who I am and where I am good at.   Ecclesiastes 4:10 says:
"If one falls down, his friend can help him up.  But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!" 
         A friend found me.