Dental Care is So Expensive in America!

In the Philippines, most families don’t really pay for health insurance and dental insurance. But in America, it’s very difficult if you don’t have one. The cost of healthcare without any insurance could be so high that you may end up paying thousands of dollars!

Our 4-year old son started complaining about his teeth. So we went to a dentist for a consultation. His dentist recommended that they put a crown on 6 molars – 2 on each side on the lower set of his teeth; and 2 on the upper right molars.

The next step was to ask for estimates from the dentist and our dental insurance plan how much it would cost. You see, even if you pay for a dental insurance, it would still cost a lot to avail dental services.

So we waited for a little bit. Then a letter came in the mail. To do a Pulpotomy and crown two of his lower left molars, it would cost a total of $831! I know I’ve said I should not convert from dollars to pesos, but man, that’s more than PhP41,000! I could have replaced all of my teeth and more!

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5 Things I Learned about Fatherhood after 5 years of being a father

My son turned 5 earlier this year. They grew up so fast. He is also pretty tall for his age. He probably got the tall genes from my wife’s side. Her brothers are 6 feet tall and even her sisters are pretty tall. She is the shortest one in their family.

Kids grow fast! You blink and they grow taller, they start saying weird, cool, unintentionally profound words that take you aback. I can’t believe that 5 years ago, my son weighed just over 6 pounds. Now, he’s close to 50 pounds! Carrying him can feel like a serious workout. I remember throwing him up to the air, then spinning with him round and round our living room. I can’t do that anymore. He’s too big and heavy now!

Here are 5 things I learned about fatherhood.

You will feel inadequate and if you had any daddy issue growing up, they will show up and scare you.

I was 30 when my son was born. I am probably late to the fatherhood game compared to some of my high school friends. But I still felt inadequate when I first held him in my arms. So many insecurities, fear, and worry raced through my head.

Growing up, my own father was disciplinarian and enforced an old-school, spanking discipline strategy. At some point, I felt so far away from him because of that. My relationship with my father improved over time as I matured. But I had this real fear about discipline. What if I end becoming a strict, spank-em disciplinarian, too? Will my son hate me when he grows up? Will I ruin his childhood? So many questions. Will I be able to provide for his needs and some of his wants?

After 5 years, I still have some of those fears. Maybe, they never really go away and as fathers, we try to deal with these emotions as best as we could. I’m not an expert. Maybe no one ever really is. But I understand fatherhood a little bit more.

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13 Bible Verses on Fatherhood

The Bible contains a lot of wise words to help us live our lives. I know that some sections of the Bible require closer reading than others. But I have found the following verses helpful in understanding my role as a father.

A lot of these verses came from Proverbs, and most of those have to deal, one way or another, about discipline.

Children are blessings to a father. Having children is a gift from God. It is a big responsibility, I know. But it is also full of joy and fulfillment.

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Pregnant Pinoy in America: We are Expecting!

When Cha and I got married, we talked about the number of kids we wanted to have. Both of us didn’t want to have a huge family (thankfully!) although she has 5 siblings. I only have 2 siblings. I wanted to have 3 kids, but she wanted 2.

I am not the one who will carry the baby for 9 months then risk my life to deliver them. In the end, we agreed to have 2 kids, with 3 or 4 years between them. In 2013, our son Coco was born and he changed our lives for the better. He brought so much joy and happiness in our lives.

Postponing our next Baby Project

We planned to have another baby when he was 3 years old. But our plans had to change because we ended up moving to the USA in mid-2015. We thought we were going to postpone having a baby for a year. After all, moving from the one country to another is a BIG move.

But our waiting season turned out longer than we planned. In 2017, we felt that it was time to try and have another baby. So we prayed and tried. We had to wait some more.

Since we have a family prayer time together before bed, Coco got to pray for a baby brother or a sister. After almost a year of praying, he just couldn’t seem to wait anymore.

Coco (to me and Cha): “Where is my baby sister, we pray and pray but she’s not yet here.”

Me (trying to stifle laughter): “Anak, we need to be patient and wait.”

Coco (with some hand waving and a big pout): “But I can’t wait anymore!”

Nanay: “Let’s keep praying and waiting anak, hopefully she will come soon.”

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How to Save Money on Children’s Toys in the USA

Sometime in 2016, a friend stayed over at our home for an evening. He saw our son’s room and all the toys that he had there. This friend works as a Principal of an elementary school in the Philippines. He said: “Wow, your son’s room and toys look like a full play area for a kindergarten in the Philippines!”

We laughed at his statement at the time. It’s true, our son has a lot of toys. And the good thing is that we did not pay full price for those toys. In most cases, we got those toys at a bargain. If you also have a small child, here are some tips to save money on children’s toys in the USA.

Here are some of the toys we got from different sources and the corresponding price:

Train and Activity table: $40 Craigslist
Hot Wheels Playsets: $20 from Craigslist
Various robots and cars – got it from Goodwill thrift stores

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6 Tips for Parents on Kids’ Use of Smartphones or Tablets

Parents of young kids often wonder how to regulate the screen time of their kids. It’s no longer a matter of whether kids should have access to tablets or smartphones. It’s now a matter of regulating that access.

Kids as early as one are now watching videos so their parents can do their chores or work at home.

Here are some tips for parents on kids’ smartphone use.

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My Father: Pastor, Farmer, Church-Planter

Today is my father’s 62nd birthday. I decided to write some things about him and his life work. 

My earliest memories were set at the seminary where my father studied for his Master of Divinity in Dasmarinas, Cavite. I must have been 3 or 4 years old then. All my life, he had been a pastor and I daresay a good one at that.

He had never been a district superintendent. But I have seen his leadership skills in the churches where he served.

When we moved from Union Theological Seminary from Cavite to Roxas, Isabela to take on his first assignment after seminary, the church building was pretty small. With the growing number of church-goers, they needed a bigger space.

I grew up as a young boy in that church. That is also where I attended my first Christmas Institute and got connected to this life-giving stream of ministry with youth and young adults.

Although Papa did not oversee the renovation of the church until its completion, he left behind a bigger structure that was on the way to being finished.

My father also organized at least two congregations during his time at Roxas United Methodist Church–one at Dannal, Paracelis, Mountain Province. One can only reach that village by riding motorized boats at Simimbaan, right by the Siffu River dam.

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6 Crazy Things I Did as a New Father

Before our son was born, my wife and I watched some movies about babies and parenthood. I particularly remember the movie “What to Expect When You’re Expecting.”

One particular scene cracked me up. It’s when Gary Cooper (played by Ben Falcone) panicked and kept pacing and looking for his car key inside the house. Finally, his wife, Wendy (played by Elizabeth Banks), who was in the throes of labor, threw a magazine or a booklet at him. That helped him get his wits back.

I sympathize with Gary Cooper. When you’re a new father, you face a lot of changes in life, and you may panic for quite a bit.

Here are 6 crazy things I did as a new father. Some of these are pretty silly, some had happened because of accidents and mistakes, but almost all of it was probably because I was clueless and nervous. Or downright afraid of the prospect of taking care of a small human being.

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Thoughts on Kids’ Soccer, Competition, and Sports

It was a really hot Saturday noon with the sun almost directly overhead. I held a big umbrella to provide shade to 2 members of our son’s soccer team sitting on the bench. First game of the Nashville Youth Soccer Association (NYSA) Fall season and the kids had 3 minutes left in the game.

Those two kids didn’t want to play. J, the son of my son’s coach, cried when the opposing team took the ball from him. It just went downhill from there. The other kid, U, refused to play after the first quarter. It is their first season playing kids’ soccer.

Our son did a little better on his first season, too. He played in the Spring 2017 season of the NYSA from February to May. He loved practice time but during the actual games, he just wanted to sit on the bench and cheer his teammates on.

If he ever played, he would kick the ball once then stand around watching everyone else play. But on the last quarter of the last game of the season, he blocked the other team’s attempt to score a goal, then dribbled the ball across the field, and then scored! I was so proud! We waited a whole season for that winning moment!

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