My Mommyology

October 19, 2014
by mymommyology

A #BetterMe and A #BetterParent with the Enneagram

Once a week I still aim to share some of the life lessons I’ve learned along the way.  This is a post long overdue too!

I’ve always taken a personal interest in personality tests (yes, even the quizzes in the magazines.  I secretly do the Facebook ones too — heeheehee!).  I used to do it for me.  And then eventually it was used to understand my husband-then-boyfriend, better.  Now I do it because I want to understand my kids, and how I can be a better parent to them.

Of all the “tests” that I’ve had to answer or use — from Myers-Briggs, to StrengthsFinder, and even the Love Language test, I keep coming back to the Enneagram most of all.

Here it is!

Source:  The Enneagram Institute

I first learned about the Enneagram from my spiritual mentor Ester.  She had a whole document, and when I read it I was overwhelmed.  So I attended some seminars on it at Don Bosco many moons ago.  The thing about that is, you’re discovering yourself and others of your type in a room full of strangers.  So while some of it was educational, a lot of it was still intimidating.  And at the end of it all, I still didn’t fully grasp the 9 different personality types.  In fact I re-took the test at different points in my life, and I got even more confused because it would shift between two or three numbers.

Fortunately, I found out that my good friend Jake is an Enneagram guru.  In fact he teaches it in his leadership classes at the Ateneo Graduate School.  Jake, Kris’ other half, is a triathlete and the producer behind shows like Green Living TV and Gameplan (which is now back and getting bigger and better!).

GameplanTV, a nominee for best Fitness Blog from the most recent Tatt Awards!

Jake is left most with the rest of the GamePlanTV hosts and co-producer Paolo Abrera.

Jake teaches it because he believes that a person who knows himself better and is more self-aware can be a better leader.  And wouldn’t the world benefit if there were better leaders out there? (Go Jake!)

Photo credit:  Conci (Blairbitchbunny)

Photo credit: Conci of The Blairbitchbunny

Ever since then Jake has been my Enneagram guru and go-to person.  And he was happy to hold an intimate #BetterMe session with the other SoMoms on it.  As pre-work, he had us all take the free online test  to get a baseline of our numbers and personality types.

Photo credit:  Jen of Next9 / Attached at the Hip

Photo credit: Jen of Next9 / Attached at the Hip

As I mentioned before, the Enneagram is a test that “divides” the way we type or classify people into 9 different personality types.  It was started by Don Riso and Russ Hudson who eventually founded the Enneagram Institute.  I don’t know much more apart from the fact that the Enneagram also shows the relationships between the types, and the underlying motivations for specific actions.  Like any other tool, the Enneagram is key to better self-knowledge and self-awareness, and is the most comprehensive that I’ve found so far.  It’s fascinating!  There’s always much to learn.

Source:  Enneagram Institute's FAQs

Source: Enneagram Institute’s FAQs

The trick is not to get overwhelmed by the lines and arrows.  And maybe think of assessing yourself (and your number/s) in 3 buckets.

Find Your Center.  Focus on the highest number first, which will be your “center”, or your default.  The test will help you determine your highest number.  If you hit two or more, read through the descriptions and see which ones resonate most with you, particularly the motivations.  One other way, Jake says is to also check physical manifestations and symptoms.  Normally head people (types 5, 6 and 7) often get migraines or bad headaches.  The ONE types on the other hand look very put together, very prim and proper.

Study the WingsFrom that which is your center, check the two numbers on its right and left.  As a “2” for instance, my wings are 1 and 3.  Meaning, I’d have to consider the good and bad traits of the 1 and the 3 as how they blend in with the personality type of the 2.  With Jake’s help, I understand now that this was where my initial confusion stemmed from.  As a younger form of myself, I related more to the 3, the Achiever.  When I became a parent, my 1 wing stood out more.  But Jake was the first one to point out that my motivation and behavior was that of a 2.  So  it’s possible that life stages and situations will make you exhibit the traits of another type, but in the end you still go back to your center.

Learn the Integration and Disintegration.  And now for the arrows.  If you look at this Enneagram diagram, you’ll see that each number has an arrow which “points” to another number in the circle.

The arrows point to a number is its Disintegration.  The arrow coming from a number is the Integration.  Capisce?!

The arrows point to a number is its Disintegration. The arrow coming from a number is the Integration. Capisce?!

In my case 2 for instance, a Healthy version of myself will integrate with the positive qualities of a 4.  As a Helper, I “automatically” give of myself and have a hard time saying no, sometimes to a fault.  I can learn from the 4 (the Artist), to sometimes put myself first.   The opposite is also true and an unhealthy 2 will disintegrate and exhibit the negative traits of an 8.  I rarely get mad but when I do, I explode — just like an 8 would.

It’s all a lot to take in, but definitely worth the time to understand.  And it’s one of those things you can keep going back to (as self-understanding takes time!).  What’s nice about learning it with an intimate group of friends, is that now you all have the same language.  In fact some of our conversations have statements like, “It’s because she’s a 6,” as the only explanation.  Or, “That is the 1 in you talking.”  It helps keep you self-aware when other people can help you using tools you understand.

Now as for the parenting part of it… the Enneagram Institute says that it’s difficult to use the testing and typing for children under the age of 14.  That’s because they’re not fully aware of who they are yet, or why they do things.  But as a parent, Liz Hill (from the Enneagram Administrative Support) says, ” the most important thing is to begin to understand how you fit with whatever type your child is — that’s where the work is for you!”  They have a whole section on parenting in their website if you’d like to check it out.

There is no perfect number or better number.  You can’t change the number that you are.  To quote the wise professor Jake:  “You learn these things so that you can be the best version of your number as you can be; for yourself and for those around you.”

Thank you “Sir Jake” as always.

See Jake and the Gameplan team’s work on  Follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

October 16, 2014
by mymommyology

Status Update: Two Months and Counting

Over the last 60+ days, I’ve repeatedly gotten this question: So how are you adjusting to life back in the US?

I will say, it's important to get quality movers.  Absolutely important.

I will say, it’s important to get quality movers. Absolutely important.

Let me tell you what our last 8 weeks have been like:  we’ve somehow put the apartment together, gotten the kids to school and to each of their extra curricular activities.  We’ve been to Disneyland about 8 or 9 times (I think this deserves a post all on its own).  We’ve also been busy making new friends and re-connecting with some old ones (If I’ve not been able to call yet, I’m so sorry!).

The girls making friends over rainbow looms.

The girls making friends over rainbow looms.

We’ve been to play dates, hosted a few, and have just randomly stumbled on others.  We’ve had our first set of visitors and gotten through a 3-week school break for Sam (which actually meant I had ZERO downtime, as peacocks never really want downtime!).  Somewhere in there I’ve managed to finish up some projects for work back home am currently helping push the Two Tots Christmas Catalogue and holiday orders

Now here comes the shameless plug:  if you haven’t ordered yet, please go ahead and do so!  We’ll get it to you, no matter where you are in the world! ;)

Go to Facebook: Two Tots Home Accessories Inc today! :)

Go to Facebook: Two Tots Home Accessories Inc — and view the album today! :)

But back to our regular programming.  Like any big move, it is a roller coaster ride all on its own.  The little things of getting the affairs in order and unpacking… it takes time, especially with kids.  But I will say that moving back here from Manila (versus moving from Chapel Hill to Manila), I felt (feel) was easier… and for several reasons:

I begun my parenting journey here.  The practices, the way of life of a parent with young kids here — I learned it all in NC once upon a time.  It’s just the way I knew how to parent.  I comfortable coming back to it.  The place was different, the state was different, and there are other nuances too but essentially it’s of the same philosophy.  Also, there are no yaya-woes which as I’ve experienced, is quite a big deal in Manila.   Don’t ask me about babysitters yet!  I haven’t gotten that far. ;)

There’s no traffic.  Well, there is.  But somehow again, travel time has become predictable.  And everything that we need or that we do can be found within a 5-7 mile radius, which is approximately a 10-minute drive.  I know exactly which parts and which times of the day where more cars are on the road and I can create a routine around it.  My MindPrint confirms that I thrive on predictability and structure and routine.  It’s no wonder the Manila traffic drove me crazy!

The weather is more predictable.  This has been very helpful, particularly for Jamie’s eczema.  As I mentioned in a previous post, it’s practically gone.   That’s been the biggest plus of all, since Jamie can go for hours on end without medication and just enjoy the day.  We know way ahead when the weather shifts and we can be more preventive about her condition than reactive.   With the wonderful LA weather, the kids get to enjoy one playground or another every single day.

On our way to a playground.

We’ve become very outdoors-y lately.

We have the DV-R… and Netflix!  These were some of the things I missed when we moved back to Manila.  I’ve so many shows to catch up on I get all excited about them.  My husband laughs when I animatedly talk about what I want to watch when the kids go to bed.  It’s also our version of date night, or my version of “me time” (on the occasions he needs to work late).

The efficiency and the autonomy work in my (our) favor.  Many have said this — but in Manila for things to run smoothly, there is an intrinsic need to be dependent on others and to relinquish a little (or a lot) of control over your parenting.  It is an ecosystem of co-dependency, and there is totally nothing wrong with that. I realized that it was taking me longer to accept it because it’s just not how I’m built, and not how I’m used to doing things.  In fact, I was still adjusting to it when we moved back here.    But coming back here where everything is on you (including the making of your furniture!), and there is an efficiency to the system (even in the medical profession!)… it just fit!

Even Princesses are put to work too. ;)

Even Princesses are put to work too. ;)

And the girls are so much more independent now because of it.  The nature of how things are forces them to do certain things on their own that they would never really do in Manila because of all extra helping hands around.  Jamie for instance, dresses herself.  All her clothes are within her reach, so she can go into her room, pick out what she wants to wear and come back to me fully dressed.  Whether it matches or not is a different story.  That’s not bad for a three-year old, no?  Sam can prepare her own snack and pour her own drink.  She also puts her plate in the sink when she’s done.  The girls are forced to pack away on their own and help each other with certain things when I’m busy doing something else.

Ate taking over the job of helping Jamie with "homework".

Ate taking over the job of helping Jamie with “homework”.

Do I (we) miss Manila?  Yes of course — there are aspects to it that I miss.  The people mostly.  My chiropractor!  Oh man, what I’d give to have him here for a week!  The #BetterMe sessions.  The food.  The girls say school –  they do miss everything about their old schools.  Other cultural nuances.

I’ve come to realize though, as you move from one place to the next, wherever in the world it may be… you never really leave fully.  I’ve always said, Chapel Hill will always be home.  Manila for all that it is —  has been and forever will be that too.  And now we have a third place to call home.

So the adjustment?  It’s been good.  Tiring but fun.  It’s also still ongoing.  I suppose you can say our LA adventures are really just beginning.

September 11, 2014
by mymommyology

My Mommyology Discovers: Kracie Popin

There’s still so much to be done before I can officially say we’re completely “settled in”.  And I think the kids have noticed that I’ve been extra busy during their time at home, they keep asking us to do stuff together.  We’ve done the board games, the Rainbow Loom, and played outside.  They’ve even “helped” with some chores like unpacking the picture frames.  They’re always looking for something new to do.
As I was unpacking I noticed several boxes of “toy-looking” things that we put in last-minute.  My husband’s cousin Pebbles had sent us a going away present on the day that we left and in my mad rush I put them in without really thinking.  It’s a good thing too because as it so happened, Jamie discovered it in the closet during one of our low-key days and got all excited about it.
6 of the 8 boxes Pebbles sent.

6 of the 8 boxes Pebbles sent.

I’d never heard of Kracie Popin before Pebbles’ gift.  She told me it was a do-it-yourself fun activity for kids that parents could get into as well, perfect for parent-child bonding moments.  I’m no DIY expert, but I’m happy to try — especially since it fit our latest criteria:  Doing something new together.
So Jamie picked a pack she wanted to do and we opened it up.  The packaging is entirely Japanese (which is great because anything from Japan is great, but quite hard to understand since I don’t speak Japanese!).  Pebbles sent me instructions in English before but as you know, my computer crashed so it was lost.  Thankfully Kracie Popin is an easy Google search.  You can download the instructions in English, or watch and follow a tutorial on You Tube as well.
Jamie all excited for our DIY project.

Jamie all excited for our DIY project.

Okay call me dense, but I thought it was a just a toy.  Like Play-Doh?  You put water and mix it with the powder into some food shapes and then learn to form it.  At that point I was already quite amused because I thought it was a good way to introduce different foods to kids, and show them how it was all prepared (more or less). 
And then halfway through, I realized they’re actually real candy kids can make and THEN enjoy!  Oh wow!  We’ve never “made” candy before!  Sam was the one who pointed out that it smelled like really good, like candy in fact — and after I re-read all of the instructions I realized she was right!  No wonder it starts with “make sure you wash your hands first!”  And make sure you do it on a clean surface too.
The girls had a lot of fun — for their age they needed a lot of help since the drops of water were very precise and the containers were small.  Plus, I didn’t want them getting any powder on my computer when they looked through the instructions!  Like any jello kind of candy, if you put too much water it won’t form properly.  This was the case with our first sushi pack.  We put too little of the mix for the “rice” and so everything on top kept sliding off.  But in the end it did look like sushi!
Left:  Making the fish roe.  That was pretty cool.  Right:  finished product.  It was our first try!  Don't judge. ;)

Left: Making the fish roe. That was pretty cool. Right: finished product. It was our first try! Don’t judge. ;)

Sam didn’t get in on the sushi pack action until late, and so she asked that we do a second one.  Pebbles gave us so many it was hard to choose!
Finally she decided on the Doughnuts.  She and Jamie helped each other and it worked out nicely too — one wanted the vanilla, and the other the chocolate.
Doughnut making in progress

Doughnut making in progress

After rolling the dough and shaping it up, they each got to make some of the “icing”, and they each designed their own donuts, with sprinkles and all.  It was quite fun.  It’s like learning to bake or cook in bite-sized quantities without really having to get into the kitchen to do it.  And it’s a great activity to do with the kids.  We were quite preoccupied for a good hour, maybe more.
Tah-dah!  Our handiwork for the afternoon (early evening).

Tah-dah! Our handiwork for the afternoon (early evening).  They couldn’t be more proud.

Thank you again Tita Pebbles for our DIY fun!   The girls can’t wait to make the other packs again, I just need to find the time! ;)
Learn more about Kracie Popin by following them on Instagram: @diyfun_ph.
If you’d like to order any (or all!) of their products, please send them a message on text or Viber — 0927.9113743.  Kits start at P250 — not bad! — and can be delivered to you daily via Xend.  These are great Christmas gifts too — stocking fillers!  heehee! ;)

September 8, 2014
by mymommyology

Adventures with Jamie

Three weeks into the time from when we first moved, I happily posted this Facebook status:



Pretty much, it sums up the reason why we moved in the first place, and is the best validation.  Jamie’s allergies are finally, finally, FINALLY… under control.  I hope I’m not jinxing it by saying that out loud to the universe, but it’s been a week since the status (and today is Mama Mary’s birthday — so it’s also great day to be thankful for this!)

At her well-check visit the pediatrician and I talked about her history.  We still went home with a new arsenal of medications and topical creams.  The oil is THE best I tell you.  I don’t know why it was never prescribed in the first place!

Tip: Look for lotions that have CERAMIDES as the main ingredient.

Tip: Look for lotions that have CERAMIDES as the main ingredient.

I’m still in disbelief at how sparingly we use them.  I haven’t even opened the prescribed oral medicines  — to think I got two bottles out of habit.

Sometimes, Jamie’s skin will flare up in specific parts of her body, but it’s isolated and it’s not severe.  My former three-to-four hour daily intervals of medication have now stretched over a period of 3-4 days.  Her skin looks and feels so different.

Even Jamie is different.  It’s like suddenly, without the discomfort or the pain from her condition, she’s bloomed.

After three years and four months, Jamie FINALLY — sleeps through the night.  For two years she used to wake up to feed, but when that was done, she’d  wake up because she was itchy.  Even I’d lose sleep applying medicine constantly at night (if I wasn’t completely zonked out myself).  Otherwise, she’d wake up with a new wound and blood stains on the bed.  And she’d be very, very cranky.

These days she wakes up in good spirits.  And she knows exactly what she wants to do or where she wants to go.

Her date, her rules.

Her date, her rules.

Her voice isn’t timid and uncertain anymore; there’s a confident undertone to it.  Her personality is growing and she’s significantly more outspoken than she was before.  Jamie has always been very good at knowing and saying what she wants, and it’s been quite the challenge compromising with her when things change.  I do prefer that though over the non-stop tears and “clingy-ness” of the past.

Sam was in school almost immediately after we arrived, so Jamie and I had almost the whole day everyday to ourselves since.  Thinking back now it’s actually the first time we had some quality time since Chapel Hill.  Even back then Jamie was still an infant — napping constantly and learning to crawl and eat.  We spent a lot of our time breastfeeding.  Then in Manila, I had to make the quick adjustment to put her in school 5 days a week, and Sam’s days were still very short so we really didn’t get much time alone.

In the last two and a half weeks, I’ve just watched Jamie transform day after day, it’s made me so happy just to be with her 24/7.  She is jumping, singing, dancing, and SMILING.

The pictures say it all really.

The pictures say it all.

She doesn’t shy away from people she meets anymore, and she’ll openly talk to adults about something that’s on her mind.  She’s gotten good at meeting  new kids too.

Luring in new friends with bubbles.

Luring in new friends with bubbles.

There are still situations when she holds back, but she doesn’t cry about it (or rather, cries a LOT less).  And just in case, she brings Bunny for extra support.

Suddenly she’s happy to explore.  And open to trying new things.  We’ve even made an impromptu trip down to Disneyland for a few hours because she wanted to get on the It’s a Small World ride — twice — meet some characters, and eat Mac-n-cheese.

Left: Millionth Small World Ride.  Right:  Happily engulfed by Goofy.

Left: Millionth Small World Ride. Right:  Happily engulfed by Goofy.

She’s taken quite the interest in Merida and the movie Brave, and has asked for a bow and arrow of her own so she can learn archery.

Little Merida: she's gotten pretty good at it too, if I do say so myself.

Little Merida: she’s gotten pretty good at it too, if I do say so myself.

Maybe it’s also the age?  It could be.  But it is a tremendous help that we don’t have to worry about her eczema as much anymore.  And it’s so obvious — she’s just… HAPPY.

Today is Jamie’s first day of school.  She’s been anticipating this day and was all smiles when I put her in the car, which was a pleasant surprise.  Even if she loved school in Manila, she’d always put up some form of resistance or drama on our way there.  Today, she couldn’t wait to go.  When we said goodbye this morning, there was no lingering tight hug, and there were no tears.  She walked into her classroom and waved to me like any little big girl would.

It’s my first day alone too.  I finally have three full hours of peace.   I was looking forward to today because of all the things on my to do list which haven’t gotten checked off in weeks.  I wanted some time to hear myself think.  As much as it was fun to be attached 24/7, it was also exhausting to be constantly needed.

But right now I find myself missing Jamie-boo, and in the car ride home, I was the one who shed the tears (Oh Momma!).

The roller coaster of motherhood, what can I say.  I’m quite excited for Jamie though.  It’s a good school, and she was so ready for it.  It’s still a new adventure for us both, now in different ways.  I wonder what’s in store for us next.

I miss you this morning Jamie.  You are my happy place. :)

I miss you this morning Jamie. You are my happy place. :)


September 3, 2014
by mymommyology

Find Your Center at the Discover Your Core Weekend

Before I left Manila, I invested in a little me-time for myself and attended The One Core’s Discover Your Core Weekend (DYC).

The Discovery Your Core Banner Ad.

Sign up for the September one today!  Visit The One Core’s Blog to find out how.

It was Coach Pia’s recommendation that I do this.  She was confident it would help me with this big transition we’ve made.  And I have to say, it was a good idea.  No — it was a great idea.

The Eugenio Lopez Center is a very peaceful place!

The Eugenio Lopez Center is a very peaceful place!

The Discover Your Core Weekend runs every 3rd weekend of the month at the Eugenio Lopez Center in Antipolo.  The package includes food and overnight accommodations, although I chose not to stay overnight.  My husband had already left for LA and I was alone with the girls.  I couldn’t bring myself to also leave them overnight (even if it was just for one night), when they’ve never slept a night of their lives without me before.  Thankfully The One Core was (is) very flexible and they accommodated me as a live-out guest for the weekend.  Admittedly from where I lived, it was a trek, but I understood it to be my choice and I was okay with that.  Again, it was totally worth it.

First I will say that it’s not one of those overly emotional retreats that leave you on a high (only to come crashing down into reality a few weeks later).  I found everything about DYC to be down-to-earth and very realistic.

Coach Pia equips you with tools and a framework when making decisions big or small.  It’s all promptly applied through her examples and through the sharing of the participants.  In my weekend we were only 5 (there’s a max of 10 people per weekend), so we were able to share in-depth.  And I liked everyone’s openness – which is essentially the first step: to be open to the process.

Photo Credit:  The One Core

Photo Credit: The One Core

That’s one thing Coach Pia emphasizes:  we each have our own process.  We must respect that we go at our own pace.  It may take some longer than others to reach a decision that they’re finally comfortable with, but in the end… it’s their process!  And the only way is through.

Coach Pia still started and ended the 1.5 days around her five circles.

The Five "Bubbles" of Life, from the ONE CORE and Coach Pia Nazareno.

The Five “Bubbles” of Life, from the ONE CORE and Coach Pia Nazareno.

You’ve seen this many times in some of my past posts and she keeps going back to that.  The ultimate goal is to make sure that each one is inflated equally.  In DYC, the framework helps you prioritize and focus on inflating one bubble at a time.

My biggest take away from DYC was about staying true to your authentic self.  How do you know that’s it?  Decisions should be made freely, and not  out of pride and/or fear.

Coach Pia’s tip:  Look for a time in your life when you had zero self-doubt.  It’s a memory and a time before the onset of adulthood.  Find yourself in that mind frame before taking on a big decision.

It’s not easy!  In hindsight, I realize some of the “not-so-good” decisions I’ve made were done out of pride or fear.  The yaya situation for instance — no wonder I couldn’t find good help!  But when the decision is made freely, then everything else will flow.

It doesn’t mean though that they’re always going to be decisions you’re comfortable with.  Sometimes they’re also not the most accepted or the most popular decisions.  And this is seen best when you’re married and when you have kids.  As a mom, you do things that are better for them and for the family over those that you want for yourself.  I can’t tell you how many of these I feel I’ve made in the last few years (days!)Disciplining them is one example.  Is there any parent who enjoys being the bad cop?  We do it though because we know it’s best for them, even if it’s tough on us.

I will say that after the DYC, there’s less heaviness and doubt hanging over my head after I make decisions.  I’m clearer about why I make them, and I’m more confident too.  And therefore I feel lighter — and don’t need to apologize for them (Coach Pia did say I apologize too much for who I am and what I do or don’t do — which shouldn’t be the case).  I still need to practice though to make the framework second nature, but isn’t that what life is all about — a constant work-in-progress?

Recently the girls have been addicted to Rise of the Guardians.  And because of the movie, Sam keeps asking us what our “center” is.  It’s a good reminder too – to constantly ground myself in what makes me authentic and true.  After all, being a better self is always the best place to start. :)

Thank you, Coach Pia!  I am truly a better person because of you!

Thank you, Coach Pia! I am truly a better person because of you! Photo credit:  The One Core


Coach Pia is currently helping out couples in the latest Reality TV Series called #IDo.  Catch her and the rest of the I Do cast and crew onSaturdays after MMK – 9:30 pm, and on Sundays after Rated K – 8:45 pm

For more information about The One Core’s programs and seminars, visit their website or their Facebook Page.


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