Sunday, December 23, 2012

Simbang Gabi time again ... :)

It is that time of the year again when we give thanks for all the wonderful blessings we have received and pray for strength to face the challenges of the year ahead.  I've written about Simbang Gabi before.  This time around, I'd like to focus on saying thanks for the wonderful blessings our family has received this year.  We have so much to be thankful for, with our pregnancy being on top of the list.  During the Simbang Gabi last year, we prayed that we'll be able to give Ben a sibling.  To be honest, there was a point when I was scared that maybe it wasn't part of God's plan.  Then we got confirmation that we'll be having twins.  I guess He was just telling us to wait a while because He has something different in store for us.  As we enter the final stretch of the novena, I pray that He continues to bless the pregnancy and to give Bry and I the strength (and the energy, hehe) to be loving parents to Ben, B1 and B2.

How about you, what's your Christmas wish?

Friday, December 21, 2012

Ben's Christmas Program at School

Delayed post but still in time for the season .. :)

Sharing some simple photos from Ben's Christmas program at school last week.  The programs were done by class to give the families of the students quality time with each other.  The one for Ben's class was short and quite intimate, just right for their age group.  I'm proud not just of Ben but of the other kids as well.  It's brave of them to stand up in front of a group of adults.  Good job, Teachers Karen, Esther, Tere and Yaya Lalaine.  Yes, it took four adults to prepare a program for six kids, hehe!

The photos are from the MWF batch of Ben's class.  The TTH class did well, too!  It was nice meeting the other parents and sharing stories about how our kids talk about each other outside class at home.

The kids clapped, tapped and danced to the Christmas songs

They took turns playing instruments , too!
All together, now!!

And .. bow!!! Yehey!!!

Hope everyone is having a fun and relaxing holiday break .. :) Ben sends his love to all!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Mommy Reviews: MightyMind Educational Toys

Searching for gift ideas for the kids this Christmas? How about trying MightyMind Educational Toys?   A set of MightyMind contains a set of cards and colorful shapes of different sizes.  The goal is to use the shapes provided to put together the picture showed in the cards.  The cards are ranked according to difficulty.  The cards of easier levels have extra clues as to which shapes to use.  Each set if MigbtyMind has a theme and you can start with simple ones for kids as young as 3 yrs old.  I was glad that when I ordered for Ben, they suggested that I get the magnetic ones.  They come with a tin can container with magnets and a small pouch for the shapes.  It makes handling of the little pieces easier and more convenient for travelling.

Ben enjoys playing with MightyMind with his dad.  It seems that he inherited  Bry's love for puzzles.  During our last parent-teacher conference, the teachers are very happy with Ben's progress in identifying shapes and colors and I think that playing with MightyMind helped.  I can't wait to try out the other themes once he's ready.

For more information on MightyMind, do check out their Facebook page here.

How about you guys?  Any cool gift ideas for the holidays? Please do share :)

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Why we love Shangrila Boracay

"I like it here." said our little master during our first afternoon at Shangrila Resort in Boracay.  We were blessed to have been invited to a wedding there last month and really enjoyed our stay.  I am so thankful Bry decided that we book a room there to make things easier since I am pregnant.  Here are some of the many reasons why we liked it there:

1. Hassle free transfers - we were well taken cared from from the time we arrived at the airport.  The jetty ride to the resort was fast and rather fun.  The staff made sure our luggages were all accounted for.

2. Personalized Service - From the moment we checked in, the staff  addressed us as Mr. and Mrs. Tan.  They did this even during the reception.  Our server was quite observant.  I asked for some ice for my drink only once and she kept on refilling it when needed.  It's not hard to do but I still appreciated it.

3. Fun Playroom - Their kids playroom will impress both kids and kids at heart.  There's a lot of toys, a place to rest and a big slide.  Ben and his cousin Basti had a great time there.

4. Yummy food - I enjoyed our meals, even Ben's kiddie servings.  Adobo is always my comfort food and their version didn't disappont.  Needless to say, the food during the reception was superb.

5. The salon - I liked the efficient service of the salon where I had my hair and make-up done.  I didn't feel rushed but was done within an hour.  Their stylist understood the simple, neat and pretty look I was going for.

6. The afternoon turn down service - Aside from making sure our room is clean in the middle of the day, we got fruits and pastries to fill our tummies. 

7. Wifi availability - a definite plus for techies like Bryant and I.  We're glad wireless internet was available in the rooms.  It makes uploading photos easier .

8. Handling of evrnts - John and Deb, the lovely couple, had a great team helping them style and plan their wedding.  It's a good thing also that the hotel management and staff were able to efficiently help them implement their plans.  This may not be a big deal but among my favorites were the lemon water and cold towels offered during the wedding ceremony.  It's the little things that leave a big impression.

9. Spacious Rooms - we only booked their basic room  but it was already quite big with a balcony to sit on and get some fresh air.  There's a  bathtub, too, which Ben really enjoyed :) The bed was big enough for the three of us considering Ben moves around a lot while sleeping.

10. After check-out service - to be perfectly honest, I might not have written about our experience if not for this one.  The day after we checked out, we realized we might have left something in the resort.  Bry emailed them and the staff immediately called back and said they found it and will send it to our hosts so it can be returned back to us.  I was quite impressed that they got back to our email with an actual phone call. 

Too bad we couldn't share many photos, it was a challenge documenting our stay while running after Ben.  Hopefully we'll get a chance to go back there soon.  Thanks J and D for inviting us and for Shangrila Boracay for making our stay relaxing and fun :)

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Confessions of an Insecure Mommy

Ben is almost 3 years old and I must confess that until now I still feel quite insecure about my skills as a mom.  Even if I am with Ben almost all the time, I still find myself affected with even the slightest comments about how he is raised.  My mind tells me to take everything I hear constructively and objectively see what can be done to improve things, but my heart breaks every time I am made to feel that I am not doing a good job.  I wish I'm able to just listen on one ear and let it go on the other, but I can't.  I guess it is part of my personality.  Ever since I was young I'm already easily affected by what people say and do around me.  Over time, I learned to somehow set it aside and be my own person.  However, once you become a parent, a person in charge of someone so precious, you want to be perfect and make as few mistakes as possible.  This drive to become the best mom I can be for Ben can be a good thing, but also renewed my tendencies to be insecure and sensitive.

I try to be fair, pleasant, and choose my words carefully with those around me, hoping they would do the same. I do not expect praises, just a little understanding and compassion when it comes to talking about the most important job in the world to me.  But of course, you cannot control the actions of others, only how you react to them.  I remind myself to be smart, mature, and realize that as long as my child is generally happy and healthy, I am doing an okay job.  It's easier said than done and I am work in progress.  I am far from perfect but I am doing my very best and I'm giving Ben all the love and care I have in my heart.

Drama ba? :) These thoughts have been stressing me for quite some time now and I hope that by sharing, some newbie mom out there who feels the same way would realize that she isn't alone.  More power to all of us mommies and daddies.   May we always be reminded that despite all the craziness, we are doing a fine job!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Ben vs. the cough

It's a bummer when kids get sick, more often than not you wish it was you instead. I am thankful that Ben is generally healthy but his weakness is he is prone to coughing. It's hard because he has asthma and allergies, which require different treatments. I'm so tempted to learn how to use a stethoscope so that I know how to check if his lungs are clear. Usually, if that's the case there's no need for the nebulizer, just antihistamine. If there's something in the lungs, then it could be an asthma attack (if there's no colds involved).

The worst part is when is coughs in his sleep :( Bry and I are light sleepers and it breaks our hearts to hear it. We try to make sure he sleeps on his side so that he's comfortable. It usually works but he tosses and turns while sleeping so it doesn't lasts. It's a good tip to learn, though :)

I know it's not the end of the world but I do hope we can find ways to manage his cough better, and hopefully it will lessen as he grows older. We're hoping the swimming lessons are helping with his asthma. Any other tips? Hmmm...

Here's praying all our little ones stay healthy especially with the holidays just around the corner. :)

Friday, November 16, 2012

my Pink Me Up experience

image courtesy of Pink Me Up Facebook Page

Having my nails done is a treat for me. I don't get to go to nail spas as often as I like ever since I had Ben. I've been wanting to try Pink Me Up Beauty Nail and Dry Bar when I heard about it from a friend, even more so when I found out that it's just nearby our place.  So yesterday I visited the nail spa while Ben was at school.  I had my manicure, pedicure and eyebrows thread in a little over an hour which was quick.  I requested that they do my hands and feet at the same time because I was in a bit of a rush.  Their staff were efficient and accommodating   They confirmed what exactly I want done before starting and asked if I needed anything else afterwards.  I was also glad they offered me a drink while I was there.  I don't know about you guys but I like it when I'm offered drinks at a salon or spa because it is one of the ways I feel I'm getting my money's worth.  I only availed of their nail cleaning service since I was in a rush and I'm not a fan of removing nail polish since I easily chipped them off, but I do hope to come back for a foot spa, or nail polish for a super special occasion  or maybe to have my hair blown-dry.  Sigh, I miss being kikay!  Anyway, hopefully I can bring along a friend in my next visit :)

Thanks Pink Me Up for a pleasant experience :)

Pink Me Up Beauty Nail and Dry Bar is located at the second floor of Lee Garden Condominium along Shaw Blvd, Mandaluyong.  For appointments call 3584212

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Our Weaning Story and a Surprise

I breastfed Ben for about two and a half wonderful years.  We had a rough start but the journey was worth it.  When Bry and I decided to wean him,  we were ready because 1. we reached our two year goal, 2. It was during the summer break so we weren't to stressed about keeping his schedule and 3. we want to give Ben a sibling and because I had a difficult pregnancy with him, we thought it would be best to wean before trying for baby number 2.

I was nervous, scared but determined.  I think that's the first step to successful weaning, you have to be sure you are ready.  I asked for tips from moms who have weaned.  They were very supportive and encouraging. 

During our first night, I braced myself for a lot of crying.  I read somewhere about using band-aids to explain to the child that mom's "mum-mum" has "ouchie" so he can't nurse.  That's what I did with Ben.  Thankfully, he understood.  Of course, there were tears along the way.  During the first couple of nights, he'd asked to nurse but would remind himself about my "ouchie" and stop.  It was heartbreaking, I tried to give him more hugs and told him I was proud of him.  It was tiring, too because I had to find other ways to soothe him when he'd wake up in the middle of the night, often times carrying him.  Bry was a big help.  At first, Ben would resist when it was his dad comforting him at night, but my boys eventually found their own style.  We even tried having myself sleep in another room so they would not have any choice. (You would think that would give me a good night's rest but I kept on waking up wondering how the boys are doing)  Anyway, we knew we made progress when Ben would sometimes call for papa in the middle of the night as oppose to always looking for mama.  I also give Bry credit for encouraging Ben to sleep on his own without having someone to carry, rock or tap him.  Bry would just lie down in Ben and they'd talk until they both fall asleep. 

Nowadays, we just lie down beside Ben until he sleeps on his own.  On some nights he'd ask for a story so that he can hear our voices until he falls asleep.  He always wants me to face him though.  He'd ask me to turn whenever I roll on the other aside.  On a good night, he can sleep soundly for 8 hours straight without waking us.  Of course there are still nights when we had to cuddle him when he wakes up in the middle of the  night, but no more feedings.  We make sure he finishes a glass of fresh milk before going to bed so he doesn't get hungry in the middle of the night. 
Does he still remember being breastfed?  I think he does.  There have been rare occasions when he'd pretend he's a baby and ask to "pretend nurse" for a minute or two.  (I'm fully covered but he'd want to be cradled)  I don't make a big deal about it because I know he's just playing pretend.

I miss breastfeeding, but I am glad that we weaned Ben when he seemed ready.  It has been a wonderful journey for our family, and it seems that we won't have to wait very long to start on it again ... yup, after two false alarms and a lot of prayers, we're pregnant :) Now, when we were praying for a sibling for Ben, our plan was to have another little one then that's it.  But God seems to have plans of his own because he's giving us twins!  We're 16 weeks now, happy but anxious, always hungry yet always nauseous, sleepy and tired all the time but can't relax because worried of the work ahead.  We hope that you pray with our family for a smooth pregnancy, safe birth and that we may be able to successfully breastfeed these little ones.  We'll need all the support we can get. :) 

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Ben's Trick or Treat at school

This post is delayed but I wanted to share some pics from Ben's trick or treat at school. Our little master wanted to be Thor for a day. It was fun seeing the kids in costumes and we're very fortunate that Bry was around to take pictures. It was also nice that even the teachers took the time to put on costumes, too!

I think Ben enjoyed the simple program the school prepared for them. He patiently waited until we reached home to explore his loot bag. There's supposed to be another program during the last day before sem-break started but classes got suspended because of the weather =( They're rescheduling it once classes resume. I hope the kids will still enjoy it even if it was delayed.

Now that the long weekend is over, Ben and I will miss having daddy Bry around the whole day. At least we have school and swimming classes to keep us busy.

Wishing everyone a great month ahead :)

Monday, October 29, 2012

It's more fun when papa is around :)

Ben loves spending time with Bry.  There are Saturdays when we'd go to the office just so the boys can spend more time together.  Whether it's a busy or a laid back day, it is always better when papa is here.  Bry doesn't just play with Ben but would help out with Ben's bath and his naps.  Plus, it's always better to have a tag team partner when you have an active and inquisitive little boy.  Last week, we were lucky that Bry got to swim with Ben and also took him to school for his trick or treat..  We (Ben and I) now have the Monday blues but will surely look forward to spending time with Bry during the holidays by the end of this week.  We don't have anything special planned, just some good old quality time together.

How about you guys? Any plans for the long weekend?

Monday, October 22, 2012

Goodbye Little Gym?

This semester is Ben's last one as a Little Gym superbeast, and after thinking about it, Bry and I are leaning towards not enrolling Ben for the next term.  The main reason being the schedule.  The classes for Ben's age next year are in conflict with our family lunches and his nap time.  I feel sad because I know he enjoys it there, and it will finally be a student-teacher class instead of a parent-child one, but I guess it would be good for us for get some rest during the weekends.

We've been happy with Little Gym and will surely miss it once we move on.  I love seeing Ben do his forward roll and hang on the bars swinging all by himself.  We still have until December (yehey)  if we will push through with our plan.

I wonder what will be our next adventure... :)  Any suggestions? :)

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

On Sensory Integration: Raising focused kids

About two weeks ago, Bry and I were fortunate enough to attend another parenting seminar by Ben's school. The topic was about Sensory Integration particularly for young children. Our speaker was Lady Suarez, an occupational therapist who tackled how children have different ways in processing sensory stimuli. The goal is for the child to be able to identify which ones are relevant and react accordingly.

Without getting too serious about it, the main point of the talk was to be conscious of the kind of sensory stimulation that you expose your child to and be aware of his / her tolerance level. It is best that children do not become overstimulated so that they can focus on a specific experience. For example, it's hard to read a book while the television is on, etc. Also, the speaker stressed the importance of outdoor play and movement. Most children can actually sit still if you just let them move around and attend to their need for exercise first. Another thing that was discussed was giving children opportunities to practice their imagination and problem solving skills. It is beneficial for them to have activities that challenge them and as much as we can, we should let them figure things out by themselves.

In line with the topic, Bry and I decided to wean Ben from the television while eating. This was hard for us and yaya but we're giving it a shot. We also try not to help him right away when he's frustrated about something. We hope this little steps will help him become more conscious and sensitive of this surroundings and be attentive when given a task.

Any thoughts on how to help your child stay focused? Do share ... :)

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Congrats to our Medela giveaway winner !!!!

Hi mommy Friends!

Sorry for the delayed post.  Lets bring some cheer into this rainy day by announcing the winner of our Medela Quick Clean Microwave Bags giveaway. :) The lucky mommy is ... 

Congratulations Mommy Mon! I'll be sending your bags to you soon.  Hope you can keep give us your thoughts on the product once you get to use it.  Thanks again to super moms Maricel and Beng for sponsoring our giveaway!  and my thanks also to those who joined.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Happy Mooncake Festival!

I am proud to be Filipino-Chinese.  One of the reasons being the traditions Filipino-Chinese families share.  While some (like the ge-lai for moms who just gave birth) are a challenge to follow through, most are fun and interesting.  One of my favorite Chinese traditions is eating misua during birthdays and the mooncake festival game.

Little Master eating misua with chopsticks! His dad is very proud :)

It seems like out little master is a fan of misua and the mooncake game too.  We usually play the mooncke dice game twice a year, one with each side of our families.  It's also wonderful that we get to celebrate the birthday of Ben's great grandfather on the same night we played with the Tans.

Anyway, since we are planning another round of the mooncake game with friends, I thought I'd refresh my memory on how it all started.  Thank you Wikipedia!

image taken from

The Mooncake Festival is celebrated every 15th of the 8th month of the Chinese Calendar.  This year, its exact date is today, Sept 30.  It is said to be the time of year when the moon is at it's fullest and brightest.  It's legend features the story of an immortal named Houyi and his wife Chang'e who were banished from the heavens to live here on Earth.  The other immortals were jealous of Houyi so they told lies about him to the Jade Emperor who believed and punished them.  Houyi became a skilled and famous archer here on Earth.  His skills were recognized by the Chinese Emperor Yao who asked Houyi to shoot down 9 of the 10 suns to keep the Earth from burning.  The Chinese Emperor rewarded Houyi with a pill that will grant him eternal life but advised him to fast and pray for a year before swallowing it.  Houyi hid the pill but his wife Chang'e found the pill, became curious and ate it.  Chang'e soon realized that the pill gave her an ability to fly and the strong winds carried her as far as the moon.  Some legends say Chang'e is alone there making another pill so she can come back to Earth while other say that a rabbit is helping her which is why the black spots of the moon are shaped as such.  Meanwhile, Houyi built himself a palace in the sun to be close to her.  This was said to be how the concept of Yin and Yang came about.  Once a year, on the night of the Lunar festival, Houyi visits his wife.  This is way the moon is exceptionally beautiful during this time.

Folk Tales also say that the mooncake festival also celebrates the rebellion of the Chinese against the Mongol rule under the Yuan Dynasty.  The Chinese were banned from meeting in groups and since they knew that the Mongols do not eat mooncake, they used them to spread the word among the rebels to attack on the 15th day of the 8th month.  The end of the Mongol rule became the start of the Ming Dynasty and the festival being celebrated throughout China.

As for the dice game itself, they were started 1500 years ago by imperial scholars wishing for luck in the upcoming exams.  Scholar ranks were given as titles depending on the prize you receive.  The highest winner is believe to receive good luck for one whole year.  Koxinga officers then adapted the game to entertain soldiers while Qing Dynasty records show that game became popular even to the Taiwanese folks.  Nowadays, you'll find the game being enjoyed not only by those of Taiwanese and Southern Fujian background, but all among overseas Chinese with origins from the Xiamen area.  The prizes have beloved from mooncake / flourcakes to more practical items such as toiletries and kitchen utensils.

The rules of the game are quite simple.  Aside from the prizes, all you need is  big bowl and 6 dice. The following are the rankings:

All 6 of the dices show 4 red dots - traditionally the person who throws this gets all of the prices, including the ones that have been won by others but in the recent games, most players opt to hand over only the first prize

For first prize, you have to throw:
a) five of a kind with the remaining die as the kicker (having 5 red four dots is the highest, the rest are rank according to numerical value)
b) four dice with 4 red dots with the remaining 2 dice as kicker

For the second prize (2 pcs)
a) straight dice - the six dice showing one of each number
b)  two set of trios - 2 sets of three dice of the same kind (expect with four dots)

For the third price (4pcs)
four of the same kind of die except the one with four dots

For the fourth price (8pcs)
three pcs of dice with four dots

For the fifth price (16pcs)
2 pcs of dice with four dots

For the sixth price (32pcs)
1 pc of die with 4 dots

Since this game is played annually as a tradition, an agreement must be set among players with regard to each person's contribution to the game.  In my side of the family, the winner gets to buy all of the prizes for next year's game.  In Bry's side of the family, the winner gets to sponsor the winning prize next year while every one chips in for the remaining prizes.  With our friends, our plan is to divide the costs of all the prizees equally among ourselves.

Happy Mooncake Festival, everyone!

My Milk Sharing Story :)

"Welcome to the Milk Mama Diaries Carnival (September). For this month, we will tackle milk sharing and how it can nurture the community, and how this spirit of giving can be sustained. Participants will share their thoughts, experiences, hopes and suggestions on the topic.
Please scroll down to the end of the post to see the list of carnival entries."

During my first few weeks with Ben, I was very concerned with my milk supply.  Even if I fed Ben directly most of the time, I'd still express milk to build up my supply and so that I have some to store in case of emergencies.  Every drop was precious!  I never thought that I'd eventually come to a point that I was satisfied with my supply but by Ben's third month, I had a good milk stash in our freezer.  That was the first time I thought about donating my milk.  I've donated to the nearby hospital and to mommy friends who were still building up their supply or were under short-term medication.  I even posted at the Human Milk for Human Babies Manila page in Facebook and was able to help out a stranger who needed breast-milk for her daughter.

The most memorable experience I had with donating milk was being featured in ABS-CBN's show "Ako ang Simula".  They needed to interview a mom who donated milk for the victims of Ondoy.  I was nervous but decided to go ahead for the love of the advocacy.  The funny thing is that they wanted footage of me expressing milk on the spot and I just fed Ben.  It was a good thing Medela Mom's Maricel was there for support and encouragement!  Anyway, I was shy so I didn't spread the word when the show was aired but some family and friends happened to catch it and told me how they appreciated what I did.  It was a good feeling to be able to help spread the word how important breast-milk donations are especially during natural disasters.  It is really wonderful how many moms would respond to calls for breast-milk donations.  Their contribution to the health of the young ones cannot be compared to any other type of contribution, be it monetary or in kind.

Donating and receiving breast-milk might still be a tricky issue for some parents, but if done responsibly, milk sharing is a very beautiful thing.  It is one of the best proofs that breast milk is the best thing you can offer a baby, especially premature ones.  I hope more moms will be open to it.

Brenda has notes on breast milk givers and takers
Mafeth wrote about being a milk donee
Cris donated her liquid gold
Pat had a happy problem donating solved
Jenny wrote about wet nursing from a relative's experience
Rachel discussed how she felt about receiving donated milk and nursing an adoptee's baby
Mec insists it takes two to Milk Share Tango
Cai received milk from her sister

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Scrapbook Tips for the Non- Artsy Mommy

One of the things I like about Ben's school is its strong home-school connection program. As part of this, the teachers and parents would work together to make a personalized scrapbook for each child. I am not very artistic, but good thing Ben's lovely teachers shared with us some tips on how to make the scrapbook pages. Hopefully, they'll help you, too:)

Nothing makes a scrapbook more personal than photos of you and your little one.  You can make the picture the center of your scrapbook page and work around it.  Thank goodness for colored printers!

Consider plastic covers (like in a clear-book  to protect your pages.  You can also try using silver ring binders to put the pages together so it is easier to add new ones.

I always imagined scrapbooks to have script personal handwriting.  Why not write your own descriptions and messages to make your collection of memories more intimate?

Keep receipts, tickets, invitations and other trinkets that remind you of special events.  I wished I kept Ben's hospital bracelet when he was a newborn.

Ben's teachers last year scanned some of his artworks so that they can become part of his scrapbook.  I thought it was a very cool idea

Ben's teachers would suggest a lot of themes for us to work on.  From family, favorite food, and even things that make him happy vs. sad..  A scrapbook is not just a great way of treasuring precious moments but also for getting to know your little one better

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Disney Live in Manila!

We took Ben to his first concert last weekend. We got tickets to the Disney Live : Mickey's Rockin' Road Show last Friday . I found out about it because they were giving 20% discount to citibank card holders. I was the first one to actually buy tickeys from the SM megamall business center. I was sure because the ticket agent in charge was not yet given an official memo to apply the discount and I had to call Ticketnet so they can coordinate with SM. I was about 5 minutes late in fetching Ben that day but it was worth it.

Anyway, I can't remember the last time I was in Araneta so the first thing that I noticed was the carpark building they built right beside the venue. This was a good move since I remember how much Bry and I dreaded parking the last time we were there.

Now on to the show proper, I thought it was really good. The performers were very engaging and they really encourage the kids to participate. The length was just about right and they had quite a variety of characters (wish there were more, though :) ) Ben especially loved watching Woody, Buzz and the soldiers. At first I thought that having the actual mascots of the Toy Story Characters would have better but then again they wouldn't be able to do the stunts the actors did. And where were Daisy, Pluto, Chip and Dale?  All in all, the performers were quite talented and the visual effects adequately stimulating for the kids. I think Ben had a great time and we'll definitely do it again next time.

I am glad Ben is now at a stage when we can take him to live shows like this. I miss watching concerts and stage plays which Bry and I used to do a lot before we had Ben. Who knows, he might be ready for a live band concert next time Maroon 5 performs here in Manila, hehe

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Breastfeeding Month and Birthday giveaway: Medela Quick Clean Microwave Bags

Hi Everyone!

To culmimate breastfeeding month (and celebrate my birthday, hehe) , Medela Moms ( Supermoms Beng Feliciano and Maricel  Cua) are sponsoring our blog giveaway :)

We're giving away Medela Quick Clean Microwave Bags, yipee! These bags can be used to sterilize your pump parts and bottles in just around 3 minutes. They're small and easy to store which is great for travelling and office use. Simply rinse the pump parts, place them inside the bag with about 2oz of water then pop it in the microwave. Make sure you read the instructions inside before using it :)

Here's how you can join, add a comment under this blog entry or facebook link
1. happy birthday mommy Nats!
2. your name and email address
3. at least one of the many reasons why breastfeeding is best

Good Luck!  Entries on or before Sept 30 will be accepted , spread the word!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Ben's Favorite Ipad Apps

Ben loves the Ipad, yes I know we shouldn't let him play with it all the time.  We try to limit his Ipad time but as long as he's using it, might as well make it the experience both fun and educational.  Presenting our favorite Ipad applications:

Alphabet Tracing By Oncilla Technologies Inc - as suggested by our good friend, doc and preschool teacher Miel, we tried to look for an app that would help Ben practice tracing letters and numbers.  It's not the same as good old fashioned pen and paper but use a stylus with it and you get the next best thing :)

Dr. Seuss Apps by Oceanhouse Media- Dr. Seuss books are fun to read and having online versions of them are the coolest.  I like how the app displays and voices out the names of the objects as you point towards them.

Duck Duck Moose Apps - Duck Duck Moose offer several interactive appications for toddlers that uses familiar children's songs.  Brn's favorite is the Itsy Bitsy Spider :) You can even record your own voice singing the songs for a more personalized touch.  Among other choices are Wheel's on the Bus , Old MacDonald and Ba Ba Black Sheep.  They also have a Fish School math app that makes counting fun.

Sandra Boynton Books By Loud Crow Interactive Inc. - Ben loves Sandra Boynton Books.  They're cute and very easy to read.  We have a collection of her small board books here at home so when Bry discovered that some of them have interactive versions, he couldn't resist downloading them.  Going to Bed book was the first one, Ben's favorite page is the one with the animals in the bath tub.  The other books (Blue Hat, Green Hat   , Moo Baa La la la, and Barnyard Dance_ are just as adorable.

Monster at the end of this Book by Sesame Street - It took us a while to purchase this app because as much as we are Sesame Street fans, it's  little expensive.  However, I now understand why this has high ratings.  The plot and interactivity is simple enough for Ben's age yet at the same time, I can imagine him still enjoying it even after a few years.  It's quite a "long book" so it can keep your little one busy for a while.  Check out the sequel "Another Monster at the end of this Book" where Elmo joins the fun.

Alien Buddies –

By Artgig Studio - I honestly think this app helped Ben become familiar
with colors and shapes.  It has a lot of activities in it like  connecting the dots, puzzles, plotting 
stickers and matching.  The matching activity seems simple but you can really learn a lot if you consistently play with it.                                       

Toca Boca Games - Ben loves playing pretend so this series of apps is definitely  in our list.   His favorites are Toca Doctor, Toca Robot  and Toca House.  There are games like the Toca Store and Tea Party that are fun to play with a friend.  You obviously can't compare it to the real thing but it can keep you and your little one occupied while waiting for your turn at the pediatrician's clinic.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Toddler-Proofing our Home

Ever since Ben started being mobile, we've been trying to set-up our home, most especially our room, to be safe for him.  Here are the (not so) latest additions :)  Apologies for the blurry photos :)

RUBBER MATS IN THE BATHROOM - With Ben running around all the time, they serve as extra protection  especially  when I have to give him a bath all by myself.  We bought these at Ace Hardware. They can be hard to maintain, though, especially in the shower area.  Make sure they are cleaned regularly.

LIFT AND LOCK SWING GATE BY THE STAIRS - Ben knows how to go up and down the stars by himself and this helps us with making sure he waits for an adult.  Find one that's sturdy and easy to install.  Having a design that goes well with the rest of the house is  plus, too.  Actually, I got this idea from my mom who told that when I was a little girl, I fell from the stairs once while chasing an ice cream cart, ooops!

BED RAIL - Actually, we usually sleep with Ben at a mattress by the floor during nighttime.  The bed we have doesn't seem to be big enough for the three of us to sleep through the night anymore.  But this bed rail is helping for us during nap time and at nights when he wants to sleep at the big bed.

Hope these ideas help :) :) :)

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

My PTC (Parent Teacher Conference) Adventures

I grew up fearful of parent-teacher conferences. When I was still studying, if your parents are called for PTC, it usually means the teachers have concerns on your behavior or grades. So my mindset was no-PTC = good and kept a low profile. I guess this is why I get nervous whenever it is time to have one at Ben's school. We have 3 PTCs over the course of the school year, one is for goal setting, one in the mid-year, and another by the end of the school year that lets us evaluate if he is ready to move up to the next level.

Anyway, I just had my first PTC for this school year. As usual, I was both anxious and curious about how Ben is doing inside the classroom and I am glad (and relieved, haha!) that the teachers are quite happy with him. His teachers said that having Ben is like having an extra adult in the classroom because he knows the routine and encourages the rest of his classmates to participate as well. He's now more open to cooperative play and is quite independent in doing his tasks. He is also the class entertainer. He enjoys singing and dancing in front of the mirror and his classmates. He even has a classmate that enjoys watching him so much that he would look for Ben whenever he's late so much so that the teachers are saying that the class doesn't really start until he arrives because he's the life the party. A performer like his papa? :)

He's also very open to the new materials the teachers would bring in front of him and to my surprise has a GOOD attention span. Wait, are we still talking about the same boy here? I couldn't even get him to sit still to finish a glass of milk at home!

There's room for improvement, of course. We still have to encourage him when it comes to arts and writing, and as much as he likes playing with others he still needs to be reminded to share once in a while. The good thing about PTCs on this level is that the parents and teachers can make sure they are on the same page when it comes to disciplining the kids and share tips on how to deal with their personaliies. Like with Ben, I found out that he likes it when his artworks are posted on the wall so I'm going to try to do it at home. Whew, so far we're doing ok, now only if I can get him out of the "bang-bang" (play gun) phase before the rest of his classmates catch on, hehe =)

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Happy Breastfeeding Month :)

Happy Breastfeeding Month, fellow parents!

It's 2.5 years since I gave birth to Ben. I never thought I'd be an advocate. It took me 3 months to actually be comfortable and eventually enjoy breastfeeding, and another year to be given the opportunity to be properly trained to help other moms. I am glad that I still feel strongly about this advoacy even if Ben is about to become a preschooler. I am even more happy that I am somehow able to share my knowledge and experiences to moms who want to breastfeed. I must admit, I still feel shy whenever someone approaches me and says that they heard I counsel breastfeeding moms and have some questions of their own. After all, there are people who are more experienced and knowledgable than I am. However, it warms my heart to hear success stories of moms who never thought they would breastfeed for as long as they have and are now reaping the benefits. I think it's about having the right information as well as having someone (who has the same experiences) to be a listening ear and ally.

I must admit, sometimes it is hard to balance showing passion for the advocacy and giving moms just the right information that they need, and I do pray that I'll do a better job with each mom.

So speaking of helping out other moms, here are some things I'd like to share to my fellows moms and moms-to-be:

For moms who are able to donate breastmilk, victims of the recent typhoon need your help. Please drop off your milk at the Medela house (#29 1st St. New Manila QC) or directly to PGH.  Your gift will go a long way.  Please be reminded that as a general rule, donating formula milk isn't allowed.

For moms to be, please join LATCH at our upcoming workshops on Aug 18 at St. Lukes QC and on Sept 8 at The Medical City. Both workshops will be in the morning from 9am-12nn. I promise it will be time well spent :)

Monday, July 16, 2012

Ben at Explorations (year 2), What's new?

It has been a month since Ben started his second year at Explorations and I am happy to say that his transition was a smooth one. This is not a surprise since Ben was enrolled in the summer program. I was a bit concerned about how he will adjust to his new teachers and yaya but was pleasantly surprised that within a few days, he already knew their names. I even heard him calling them in his sleep, probably dreaming of what he did at class.

He's more social now but favors a classmate who has been with him since last year. He still took his time warming up to his new classmates and has to be reminded to use his gentle hands and gentle voice most especially since he's one of the oldest boys in class. I think we are making progress since their teachers shared with me that Ben comforted one of his classmates when he saw her crying.

The good news is he's very comfortable with the class routine. I find joy in listening to him sing songs he learned at class. He'd also tell me about what he did inside the classroom and who helped him with his tasks. I am also glad that the teachers are being firm with him to slowly prepare him for a more structured schedule and eventually big school.

Bry and I look forward to observing his progress as we go through the rest of the school year.  Thanks, teacher Karen for these lovely photos of our little master at work.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Things I've learned about Managing my Time as a Mommy

Just wanted to share .. ;)

Being a parent is like a time-management booth camp, and over dinner last night, one of the things Bry and I talked about was how the way we handled our schedule has changed ever since we had Ben.  Here are the things we've learned so far ..

Plan ahead
Our Friday dinner dates are also our "business meetings".  We talk about the schedule for the following week.  Bry is usually more accurate when it comes to estimating travel time so I run by him our usually busy weekend schedule to get his opinion if we can really get everything done.

Be realistic
Having Ben around means things take twice the time to get done.  I remember last Christmas when we attempted to go the parties of both our sides of the family.  I already had a feeling we can only choose one but still wanted to try it out only to get disappointed.  It was then that I realized that we really couldn't do party-hopping anymore with him around, besides, it is better to spend quality time on one event.

Home service saves time
I was fortunate enough to have my best friend refer me to a beautician who does home service, and Bry's mom found a good masseuse.  Having an option of doing these things at home is a real time saver and not necessary more expensive.

Power of multitasking
I have to thank breastfeeding for teaching me the value of multitasking.  I remember the days when Bry would feed me while I was nursing Ben, and one of my favorites, watching a 20 minute TV sit-com while pumping.

Naps are sacred
Ben's naptime = me time, for reading, planning the menu or taking a nap of my own :) 

Location, location, location
I am thankful that Ben's school is nearby.  We can manage to get ready even if he wakes up less than an hour before class.  I am grateful that we are happy with the mall, church, restaurants and grocery in our area.  With traffic nowadays, you cannot underestimate the advantages of being happy with what your neighborhood has to offer.  

5 minute showers and 10 minute lunches
Yup, that's me.  when  Ben was a newborn, that was the only time I have to do them so I had to do things super fast.

Delegate and do tag teams
Bry and I are a tag team with Ben.  When one needs a break, the other one takes over.  It's how we get around to keeping up with Ben's energy

Be respectful of other people's schedule
When you say, you'll make it to an event, be there.  Let the other person know as soon as you realize you'll be late (and really try to catch up).  Plan ahead to avoid disappointing people you agreed to spend time with and apologize if you really can't help it.

Life is too short to do the things you don't want to do, and only you are the best person to judge if you're time is well spent.


Monday, July 2, 2012

Make Your Money Grow seminar by Pesos and Sense

Last Saturday, June 30, Bry and I were fortunate enough to be invited by a good friend to attend the first series of the Pesos and Sense seminars conducted by investment advocate Mr. Aya Laraya.  With more than two decades worth of experience in the financial industry, he now shares his knowledge with fellow Filipinos as to how to start with investing their funds.  Their group started with a TV show at GMA news channel and is now expanding through social media, seminars and the like.   It took a lot of preparation for us to attend since I had to leave Ben behind and Bry had to take a day off from the office but it was time well spent.  We really learned a lot about handling our finances. Here are the highlights
photo with Mr. Aya Laraya: first impression, he's an advocate in the truest sense of the
word.  You can see how sincere he is in helping Filipinos become more knowledgeable about investing

Begin with the end in mind
What is your end goal? A good question would be when do you want to retire and how much should you be saving regularly so that you can enjoy your current lifestyle even when you're not working anymore.  Setting a specific goal helps you gauge properly if you are investing your money correctly.  If not, you'll always find yourself comparing with someone who earns higher or lower than you without really knowing why.

Take inflation into consideration
When thinking about where to place your funds, keep in mind that because of the inflation, your P1000 right now will not allow you to buy the same things a year from now.  So make sure your money is growing at a higher rate to fight inflation.

Research to find the best type of investment for you
There's no kind of investment that best fits everyone.  Some are riskier but can yield better returns.  Aya discussed the advantages and disadvantages of each type of investment and encourages us to do further research so we can decide for ourselves which best fits our lifestyle.

For more information about the series of seminars, please contact .  The next seminar will be on July 21 2-5pm at the Tektite Towers in Ortigas, Pasig.  It will surely be worth your while.  For more information please contact 4302237, email, or visit their Facebook fanpage here .

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Parenting tips from my Papa

Being that we just celebrated Father's Day, let me take some time (away from Ben and my latest craze Snoopy Fair, hehe) to honor the first man in my life :)
Ben and Gwakong (one of their first pics:) )

Like in any relationship, my relationship with my papa has it's ups and downs, especially when I was a teenager, but these challenges we faced only made our bond stronger, and me a better mother.

Here are a few things I've learned from my father that I've come to appreciate now I have a little one of my own :)

My papa is a good friend, his current business partner is his best friend ever since high school and I really admire their business and personal relationship.  Papa can always be someone his friends can count on, which is why even us, his family, has always been loved by the people around us.

Papa is always on the look-out for good ways to invest his funds, be it a new investment opportunity in the bank or a new business.  He encourages me and my brother to try out new business proposals but not without discussing its profitability with him first.  I guess it's the accountant in him :)

My papa finished college while working on a job AND starting his own business.  He was a scholar and worked hard to budget his money for school.

My papa believes in the power of prayer.  People around me know how my papa wouldn't let a Sunday pass without going to mass.  He prays the rosary, and has a devotion to the Black Nazarene and the Mother of Perpetual Help.  I think this trait somewhat spilled over to me, and hopefully a bit to Ben in the future.

When I really want something and feel discouraged after a few tries, Papa would tell me to try and try again. He helps me believe that if I really want something so bad, I shouldn't give up right away and work very hard to get it.

My papa is very patient and forgiving not just to me and JP, but also to his employees.  I still yet have to practice this trait though because even if i know how "unhealthy" carrying a grudge can be, it still takes a while for me to let go.


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Mommy Review: Jean Perry Memory Foam Body Pillow

Look what the gentlemen of Casa La Armonia sent me and Ben  ...:)

a Jean Perry Memory Foam body pillow, wow!!!
 Hmm... I wonder how a body pillow can fit it inside the box

Oh, that's why, the foam is folded,
just shows how durable and flexible it is.

Now for the ultimate test,
soft and long enough for Ben to hug with his arms and legs, check

hmmm ...soothing smell.   .. check!
(Ben loves the Aloe Vera smell, very relaxing..
Lets all chant now "You are getting sleepy")

Knocked out!!! Asleep in less than 30 minutes, check!

These Memory Foam pillows are not your ordinary body pillows.  What makes them special?

(1) The foam contours to the shape of your body.  Not too soft, no too hard, just right.  It helps you maintain good body posture when sleeping you wake up feeling really refreshed. (PS. The size is approximately 18 x 44 inches)

(2) It has aloe vera gel that helps soothe your hair and skin, perfect for busy mom like me who want to feel fresh and pretty but don't have the luxury of time for an elaborate nighttime routine

and GOOD NEWS, there is a deal at Gupo to get this pillow at 40 off. Check out the deal site here.  Hurry !!! the offer is until Saturday June 9, 2012 only!!!

Now, since Ben likes this pillow, I wonder if I should get another one for myself, hmm .. :)