Category Archives: Relationships and Family

When the game itself starts playing you

Couple crossing the street holding handsI’m exactly not a pro when it comes to dating. Even at my age, I still consider myself a novice when it comes to this topic. I guess I’m used to going out, having fun and not really consider it as “dating” per se. Besides, what is dating anyway? Flowers, chocolates, fancy restaurants, classical music, the whole shebang?

I have friends who are serial daters. They like to go out with their date/s almost every week. It’s funny that when I ask them if they enjoy their dates, they would mention everything from the food to the ambience to the service, except for one thing: what really happened during the date. It’s not that they’d like to keep it a secret, but, to be honest, they don’t really pay much attention to the “date” itself.

I was talking to my cousin a few days ago about courtship and dating. She said she still prefers traditional courtship. I asked her what she thinks traditional courtship is, and she said she wants the guy to visit her at home, get to know her parents and maybe go out once in awhile, preferably just the two of them so that they could get to know each other more.

What if the game of dating turns the tables and starts playing us? The game’s so old that most people take it for granted. They assume that since dating is a way to meet someone, they become accustom to the whole process, and it becomes mechanical.

I see hearts getting crushed because they thought that they were having a good run, but it turns out that they were being outrun. People get tired of all the mind games when it’s just supposed to be easy. Why has dating become so complicated?

I know, I don’t have much experience when it comes to dating and therefore I can’t make any expert opinion on it. But what I do know is that when you like someone, things shouldn’t be difficult. Even during dating stage, you shouldn’t need to pretend to be someone else. Like, if you can’t eat what you want during your date because you’re afraid of what your date might think, then probably it’s not worth going out on that date altogether. There are things in life that should happen naturally. Sometimes, the more you make things complicated, the more they’ll worsen.

And a chef’s advice to people who are beginning to enjoy dating: when it comes to choosing the restaurant, make sure the place is comfortable for the both of you. When it comes to the food you’ll eat, go for those that are easy to eat and digest. You’ll probably want to avoid “logistical” difficulties 😉 But don’t limit yourself the usual pasta and or salad! There’s no harm in ordering a yummy steak or fish. And don’t worry if you’re lipstick ends up on one of your teeth; just make sure to lick your teeth once in awhile. If you’re a clumsy eater, avoid ordering shellfish, and anything with red sauce. And while I don’t suggest kissing on first dates, maybe you should refrain from eating anything with too much garlic or onion to be safe. But you can always bring your breath freshener.

Kidding aside, dating should be fun. Because you get to go out with the person you want to be with. Don’t use it as an excuse to play around, remember, sometimes when you think you’re playing them they’ll end up better players than you are.

This post was written by Rita Salonga.

Continuing the dating game

Many couples tend to relegate their “couple status” to the back burner once the kids start coming. Jack and I will be celebrating our fifth wedding anniversary this year, and I have found that we have had to very deliberate about our couplehood, so that it stayed on top-of-mind for the two of us.

It’s not that married couples don’t want to spend time together anymore. It actually has more to do with the demands of parenthood. One child gets sick, another one is having a tantrum… First child gets well, the other child catches the virus. The yayas nowadays come and go at lightning speed. Husband and wife are often just trying to keep pace with the daily mishaps that crop up. Before they realize it, the month has passed, and they have not managed to go out on even one true-blue date.

What can we wives do to get back into the “dating game”? (And I speak to the wives because I believe the women carry the tone of the relationship… or at least, women read up more on relationships!)

  1. Don’t always expect to be surprised by your husband. Before life takes over, sync your calendar with your husband’s, and set your dates.
  2. Pencil in your dates, but don’t break your heart if plans change. Be flexible, especially if your husband has to deal with urgent matters at work. But, make sure to reschedule that canceled date.
  3. While on your date, DO NOT TALK ABOUT YOUR KIDS! I learned this from a book I read to prepare me for the birth of my second child. The author devoted a short section to “protecting the marital thread” (as having another child always turns a couple’s world upside down). She specifically gave this tip. Couples should make the deliberate effort to focus on each other. Talk about things that you learned at work, new interests you want to pursue, challenges that you have in the office. Anything about YOU!
  4. Last, but not least, don’t give in when your kids cry as they see you leave for your date. They will be thankful later on when they see their parents continue to be happily married to each other. When they shriek and beg you to stay home—or worse, beg to join you!—be firm. State what time you’ll be home and why you’re heading out. “Friday night is time for Mom and Dad to spend time together.”

Ironically, switching off the “parent mode” for a few hours every week has helped Jack and me become more effective and happier parents. And the wonders, of course, that dating has done for our marriage. Getting married does not excuse couples from continuing to play the dating game!

This post was written by Meg Murrf Trinidad.

Busy, busy learning at home!

Nowadays, with the girls a bit under the weather and my having only one helper, we’ve been spending a lot of time at home. Naturally, the two chubby children want to be literally stuck to me the whole day! How do I keep them entertained (and out of my hair)?

1. Good old pretend play!

One blessing of living on a lean budget is that we do not have the luxury of buying our daughters any fancy high-tech toy (read: no iPads, iPods, Playstations, computer games, etc.). So, to make up for what they don’t know they’re missing, we rely on our human powers to entertain them! There’s more to low-tech high-dramatic play than meets the eye. Many modern educators have written about the value of old-fashioned pretend play in the development of children. For one, children get to exercise their creativity when you give them the opportunity to get into “live” dramatic play. (Tip: Let them come up with their own props, instead of buying them a doctor set or a grocery set!) My girls like to make a house under our dining table, or a makeshift office out of our chairs. Reese, my three-year-old, opens a storybook and pounds on it saying that it is her “laptop.” A friend keeps her preschoolers entertained by giving them cardboard boxes and crayons, out of which they make their house and car.

2. Read, read, read!

Unplug the TV, and have a reading afternoon. Consider reading to your children as an investment. Imagine them reading on their own someday! Then, you can have your own life back! I, for one, dream of reading my own books again.

3. Cook together.

It can be the most simple of recipes, but your child can learn so much when you cook together. Cooking combines math and literacy lessons in one go. Once I drew pictures for a three-step French toast recipe. Reese read the recipe, and we made French toast together for breakfast. Do set safety guidelines before you start cooking. Ideas of simple recipes? Making fresh orange juice, preparing your own sandwich or…pizza pandesal!

4. Do house chores together.

“Educational” does not only consist of activities that will teach your kids their 123’s and ABCs. My husband and I definitely want our girls to learn to pitch in with “homework.” The other day, I was getting so irritated because Reese wanted to stay with me in the laundry room. She didn’t want to play with her toys. Finally, I gave up and told her she could toss in her dirty clothes into the washing machine. She was so delighted! On hindsight, I’m glad I got her involved. After all, I don’t want her to keep hearing that she can’t help me out when she’s so interested in cleaning, cooking, and other adult humdrum chores. How will I reverse it when she’s old enough to really take on her fair share of house chores? (Jack and I do envision a future with no helpers—as strange as it may sound in our yaya-dependent culture.)

Even with these activities, I still have pockets of time during the day when I’m at a loss as to what to do with my mile-a-minute girls. What to do then? Turn on the DVD, and play Hi-Five!…during which I drink my coffee and breathe before the next round.

This post was written by Meg Murrf Trinidad.

Making Christmas memorable for our children…and for us, parents!

How can we parents remember the true meaning of Christmas and as a consequence, teach our preschoolers to do the same?

Parents, pray about it!

You don’t have to devote a long time to doing so, but it would be good to pray about what Christmas is really all about.  What does Jesus’ birth mean?  What is the Christmas story teaching us?  And most importantly, how can we impart this to our children—whose education in the faith God has entrusted to us?

Bedtime stories can have Christmas as its theme.

There are many beautiful storybooks in book sales about the different characters in the Nativity story (i.e. about the donkey, the star, the littlest angel, etc.).  Serve hot chocolate together with storytime, and this will surely be a Christmas season to remember for you and your precocious tots!

Get a belen your child can play with.

When we decorate our homes for Christmas, for whom are we doing it?  This year, you may want to consider buying a belen that you and your children can happily hold and play with.  Or, put your creative juices to work and build a belen with your preschooler.  Lots of ideas are available on the Internet or in kiddie craft books.  Afterwards, the belen you made together can form part of your nightly storytelling.  Each night, you and your child can pretend to be a different character in the story!

Play good Christmas music.

Music always makes the Christmas season so festive.  And our preschoolers enjoy singing popular Christmas songs that they hear in the malls and on the radio.  Let us be proactive and play songs that tell about the birth of the Baby Jesus!  Some examples of such songs are: Away in a Manger, Hark! The Herald Angels Sing, Joy to the World, We Three Kings, The First Noel, and Come All Ye Faithful.  And how about Silent Night for singing right before bedtime?  We can also have friends over and have a Baby Jesus-themed caroling party.

Have Santa Claus occupy his rightful place.

Of course, Christmas would not be complete without Santa Claus!  And I am not here to dash your and your children’s fun to the ground by telling you to say goodbye to Santa Claus.  The Santa Claus tradition is actually about being generous and making others happy with our gifts.  But, let not our focus be only on the giftgiving.  To prepare our children for the coming of Santa Claus, we can tell them the story of Saint Nicholas, the real man on whom the tradition is based.

Also, we can make the Santa Claus gifts but one part of our Christmas Day schedule.  You may want to consider bringing your little ones to Christmas Eve Mass, then opening their Santa Claus gifts on Christmas morning.  Or, attend Christmas Mass in the morning, then open their gifts in the afternoon.

More importantly, preparing our Santa Claus gifts for our preschoolers should not be the center of our attention!  Whatever it is we give our children will surely make them happy.

Personally, I believe the birth of the Baby Jesus is God’s way of clearly showing us that we are His children—no matter how old we may be!  Oftentimes, we parents forget this fact as we take on the many responsibilities of parenthood.  We have to be so “grownup” all the time.  Now that it is Christmas season, let us remember to be little children again before Our Lord.  We can ask the Baby Jesus, Mama Mary and Saint Joseph to guide us in our parenting—an often-demanding and exhausting job!

Also, the Nativity story is about “keeping life simple.”  We parents sometimes like to overthink the future and want everything to be picture-perfect for our children.  We want to give them the best material things, the most wonderful home, the best education.  All of these are good intentions, but we sometimes forget to count on Our Lord’s blessings that He will help us provide for the most essential needs of our little ones.

It is when we parents learn to be little children again before God, and to abandon everything in His hands that I believe we will be able to teach our own children about the true meaning of Christmas.

This post was written by Meg Murrf Trinidad.

First-time Flowergirl

Reese the flower girlYesterday, my three-year-old daughter walked down the aisle as the sole flowergirl of my high school best friend, JoAnne. Three days prior, Reese developed bad colds and a slight fever. I called JoAnne’s sister, “Reese is sick, but don’t tell your sister! I’ll have her up and running by Saturday!” Why do kids like getting sick right before a Big Day? Ugh!

Thankfully, the fever didn’t recur. And the colds were tolerable. Reese prepared for her mini-Big Day by having her makeup trial with her in-house makeup artist (aka Tita Anj!) a few days before the wedding. And we downloaded flowergirl videos from YouTube. After watching the videos, Reese understood what she had to do. “I’m going to sprinkle the flowers on the aisle!”

Then came the practice walks on our sidewalk. Done! The dress was another exciting matter altogether. Since my friend JoAnne was organizing the wedding from abroad, a brouhaha apparently happened with her seamstress here in the Philippines. My brother came to the rescue. Scouring the malls, he brought to life the ballerina flowergirl idea of JoAnne–over-the-top from head to toe. Whew!

The preparations did pay off! Reese walked down the aisle by herself, and guests commented on how comfortable her flowergirl get-up was. During the ceremony, she happily (but quietly, thank God!) wriggled and sauntered up and down the aisle unbeknownst to my friends who were exchanging their vows. Reese spent her time at the reception running around and redecorating the stage with balloons.

Once we boarded the van for going home, my first-time flowergirl whispered, “I want to sleep, Mom!” And I kissed her on the head and said, “Good job, Reese! Mommy’s so proud of you!”

This post was written by Meg Murrf Trinidad.

 

Ladies, don’t settle for anything less (a video message from the good guys)

There still are good guys out there. But where oh where are they? They’re just around, and they appreciate us for all that we’re worth. Don’t believe me? Watch this video and see.

You might want to check out the YouTube comments while you’re at it 🙂

More good stuff at demandyourdignity.com.

Don't Believe the Lies