Tag Archives: parenting

Naming my children: celebrity and Christianity

I believe that it is our obligation as parents to give our babies beautiful and Christian names. Many parents nowadays get caught up in naming their children after celebrities, with no reference anymore to their Christian faith.

My own daughters are nicknamed after celebrities—Reese after Reese Witherspoon, and Cate after Cate Blanchett. But Reese’s real name is Therese after St. Therese of Lisieux. When I was pregnant with her, I used to pray frequently to Our Lady of La Leche whose image was right beside St. Therese’s at our parish. Once Jack and I had decided on the name “Therese”, we’d pray before both their images.

Reese and Cate
Reese and Cate

Cate’s Christian name is Catherine. She is named after St. Catherine of Sienna, a woman of great strength and courage. When I was pregnant with Cate, I was working on a book on teaching values and addressing common issues that teens have. During this time, I prayed to St. Catherine of Sienna—that I might effect change in the lives of the students for whom I was writing the book.

If I have another girl, I’m thinking of naming her Elizabeth. Then, she’d be nicknamed Elle. If I have a boy, we’re thinking of naming him Andrew. But I have yet to find him a celebrity nickname. Maybe Andy after Andy Garcia, whose character I absolutely loved in the movie When A Man Loves A Woman

This post was written by Meg Murrf Trinidad.




Will your child pass the marshmallow test?

You all know about the Marshmallow Test done on children years ago to test their E.Q. If the test were done on my two girls today, they would fail instantly. Cate who eats everything but… sweets, and Reese with her love of.. marshmallows!

Seriously, I believe the best way to up children’s Emotional Quotient is to teach them to sacrifice in little things, everyday. Raise them to be tough from as early as they can remember. I do not keep a military-like home (no offense meant!), but neither do I give my little girls everything that they want. They do get their treats, but these are never stocked in the cupboard. I buy their treats once in a while. And they have to have eaten their meals first before they can dig into their favorite bag of strawberry mallows or bread.

When either child throws a tantrum, I adamantly refuse to give them what they want. I don’t care if they’re making a scene in the mall. Either I explain to them why what they’re demanding for is not good for them, or I ask them to calm down and ask me properly.

A few years ago, I attended a talk on E.Q. given by Dr. Esther Esteban. One of the things she addressed was teaching our children the virtues of temperance and chastity. And she explained something I never forgot. It went something along the lines of, “If you want to teach your adolescents the virtue of chastity, start them young by disciplining them in their love of food.” In short, we should teach our little ones to temper the pleasure they find in food (i.e. they don’t have to eat the whole bar of their favorite chocolate!) as preparation for teaching them later on to control themselves in more important matters.

I love my daughters dearly, and so I don’t want them to turn out to be soft marshmallows. By not giving them all the comforts of life and by teaching them to delay their gratification in the little things, I have great hopes that they will pass the big Marshmallow Tests of life.

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.