Friday, November 14, 2014

Happy Birthday, Shoti!!! :)

My earliest memories with my brother were playing "school" with him. I was the teacher and he was the student.  Oh, along with that were the instances we pretended to be characters of the show Bioman with the other kids of our compound.  He waa Blue 3 and I was Yellow 4.  Fun times!

We do have our own fights and disagreements growing up, but as papa would always say "dalawa nalang nga kayo, kailangan magmahalan kayong dalawa", so as we matured, we have learned the value of sticking together and being each other's ally.

My brother is a big part of who I have become.  Even if I'm the older one. I am learning a lot from him.  He's loyal, trustworthy, responsible and has a good sense of humor.  He is also one of the people who would remind me to love and take care of myself even if I am so stressed taking care of the kids.

My relationship with my shoti is one of the reasons why I wanted Ben to have a sibling.  A sibling relates to you in a way that no one else can, from inside jokes, to your moods, to what it's like being raised by your parents, there are some things that only a brother and sister can fully understand. I pray that Ben and the twins would have a good relationship with each other just as I have with JP and Bry with his siblings.

Happy Birthday, Shoti! I wish you good health, happiness and most of all, prosperity (which I know you will share with your nephew and nieces, hehe!) Love you! 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

My mommy time-out list :)

When you deal with young kids, you are faced with someone dealing with several kinds of emotions all throughout the day.  At Ben's age, he has been taught to try to regulate his emotions and use his words.   I'm not expecting him to be very good at it yet.  After all, even I myself have days when I want to just explode.  I admit, between Bryant and I, it is me that needs more work in keeping calm and not let my emotional breakdowns get the best of me.  I'm motivated to try harder not just for me but most especially for my kids.  After all, I can't expect them to behave if I can't.  

In my attempt to be more level headed and not add fuel to the fire by having my own tantrums when the kids are being challeging, here are some quick things I've been trying

1. Sing a calming song - my favorite (weird as it may seems) is Anima Cristi and You are my Sunshine - I do this when the twins are giving me a hard time at

2. Take a quick cool shower - sometimes, you feel better when you physically cool down 

3. Pray - I pray the rosary - it's repetitive, like meditating, or directly talk to God and ask for more patience

4. Swim, Jog or Dance to some feel good music - release that frustration!

5, Schedule a mommy date - sometimes what you need is to look forward to some adult conversation with someone who understands what you are going through.

6. Read a short feel good story - I'd suggest a book but maybe a chapter perhaps if there's not enough time

7. Watch an episode of your favorite sitcom - the distraction could calm you down

8.  Write about what you're feeling - doesn't have to be long.  Or color or paint - these calming tasks work for both kids and adults 

9,  Take deep breaths and think about 3 things you are grateful for

10.  Look at old videos or photos of the kids - and realize how much they've grown 

I am a work in progress.  Sometimes I forget (or I'm too proud) to pass the kids to someone more calmer and get back to them when I'm feeling better.  I hope that this list is a start of me trying to improve myself as a mom, and perhaps it can help others, too.

Anything else you'd like to suggests parents do in their "time-out"? :)

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Thank You, Doc Miguel...

This is the last text message that I received from my kids' pedia pulmo.  It was the last text message he sent from his phone.  Dr. Miguel Javier passed away yesterday.  He had a heart attack as he was about to make a house call to us.  His wife called me this evening with the sad news.  

I am heartbroken.  Dr. Javier and his wife would visit us almost every other week because the kids have asthma and allergic rhinitis.  He has seen me in my worst days as I panic whenever the kids are sick. He patiently listens to my worries and answers my questions about the different types of medicines.  Over time, he has become not just a doctor but a friend as well.  He'd remember the kids' birthdays and would give them birthday and Christmas gifts.  He would call me to check on the kids a few days after he prescribes medicines to see if their response to them were ok.  He'd also check on the helpers and yayas when they're sick.   The whole household will surely miss him.

I remember how we first met.  I was scouting for a pedia-pulmonogist in the internet and his name came up.  I set an appointment for Ben but almost didn't make it but the secretary told me to still come over even if we were late.  I never would have thought he would be such an important part of our lives.  I am thankful to God that He sent Dr. Javier to take care of our kids even if it's
just during these early years.

My heart goes out to his family.  I've met
his wife and kids and could only imagine the pain they are going through.  I pray that God would bless his soul and comfort his family.  

Thank you, Doc Miguel for all you have done.  I'm missing you already.  Please watch over me, Bry and the kids.  Please pray for us and ask God to help heal us whenever we get sick.  We love you.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Falling in Love again with Swimming

One of the things I am grateful for is that my parents took me to swimming classes at a young age.  Until now, it's the only sport I actually know and enjoy.  I'm no expert but I can do my own laps.  I'm also grateful that I'm able to share with Ben my love of swimming.  I am happy that he is more confident in the water.  He's been practicing his freestyle and backstroke regularly and is now learning the butterfly.  Recently, he has been able to swim the whole 25 meters by himself.  (super proud mom, here!) I'm glad that he has made friends with his other classmates and has developed a good relationship with his coaches. 

Several weeks ago, I've been looking for a way to have some "me" time and "destress".  The lack of sleep and the energy I spend on taking care of the kids the whole day has taken a toll on me.  I was grouchy most of the time.  Thankfully, Ben's coaches encouraged me to do some laps while he's taking his lessons.  At first I admit I was unsure if I had what it takes to exercise because I might be too tired, but I found out that  after doing some exercise, I feel much better and have an extra boost of energy.
This is one of may fave swimsuits.  It has been with me for more than 15 years, no kidding!  I remember because my parents bought this for me after I recovered from a surgery that left a big scar on my back.  This i the only swimsuit that covers it.

Swimming with Ben gives me the mommy break I need.  I'm thankful that even if I am in the pool with Ben, I have the opportunity to get some exercise on my own.  The silence and focus that is required when I do my laps is quite refreshing.  Also,  I get to have adult conversations with other parents and coaches.  One of my dreams is to one day be able to teach other kids how to swim. I'm not sure if I'll eventually have the confidence and skill to do it, but in Go's time maybe I'll get to do that in the future.

So what do you do to get some mommy-daddy break? Do share! :)

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Waiting, Waiting and Waiting

It is a time for waiting for the Team Tan.  Each one of us, the twins included, is waiting for something – an update, a package to be delivered, a milestone, etc.  Personally, it is a challenge for me to wait for something.  But I have come to understand that learning how to wait graciously is a grace in itself.

When one is in a stage of waiting, one can appreciate and be thankful for what he/she has at that very moment.  As I wait for the kids to reach another milestone, I am thankful to God for giving them to me and Bry to nurture.  I admit there are days when I wish they’re now more independent, but I do appreciate that maturity is a process.  The twins are the best reminder to me that each child grows differently and that I have to recognize their individuality. 

Whenever I am called to wait, I am reminded that I can only control so much.  Sometimes, no matter how hard you work for something to arrive quickly, circumstances change which put things on pause.  You end up not being able to do anything to make things faster.  You can, however, control your attitude towards waiting.  Recently, Ben and I were stuck in traffic for an hour (in what should have been a 20 minute trip).  I was so stressed and it was actually Ben who helped me calmed down.  He kept on asking questions about how taxi meters work, noticed that there are still some construction workers in the nearby job site despite the heavy rain, and at one point even asked me about why Jesus died and if He is now a ghost ( the answer is sort of complicated, right?) 

There are at times when we don’t know how long we have to wait, but we do have a choice on how we spend our time waiting.  I usually try to keep myself productive, busy and “distract” myself so that I don’t become grouchy and impatient.  I admit, however, that it is wiser to use the waiting time to take a step back, pray, and reflect on the thing you're waiting for, how important it is to you, and pray that in God's time it will come to you.

Friday, September 26, 2014

What I learned from the Tamang Kain seminar

the twins' first taste of solids at six months

Feeding a baby or a toddler is not easy, much more trying to feed twins.  To be honest, I get nervous every meal time because I’m crossing my fingers that the twins will be in a good mood to eat.  It’s hard, because you try to tell yourself to be flexible because each child has his/her own style when it comes to eating but at the same time, eating is a learned skill and discipline.

with fellows moms learning from Velvet.  It's nice to have mommy discussions in small groups, there's more room for questions and sharing of ideas

I’ve always wanted to attend the Tamang Kain Seminar of Velvet Escario-Roxas of Arugaan.  Arugaan is an infant creche that helps moms take care of their infants and toddlers, particularly when it comes to breastfeeding and proper complimentary feeding.  I was fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to listen to Velvet talk last month and I highly encourage other moms to do the same.  Here are just a few points that I’ve learned.

1.  Exclusive Breastfeeding until 6 months 
T   This allows the baby’s gut to mature and become ready for solids.  Also, breastfeeding provide your baby with the proper nutrition she/he needs as well as boosts his / her immune system.

2.   Serve indigenous foods that are in season 
      Our country is blessed with different fruits and vegetables all year round.  The wonderful thing about it is the fruits and vegetables that are in season are exactly the ones we need at that moment.  For example, produce that are rich in vitamin C are abundant during the rainy season when we need it the most to boost our immune system.

3.   For kids who are challenging to feed, the key is to have small frequent meals.  
     Force feeding will only traumatize the child.  Feeding your child few spoons full of food each hour may be less stressful than trying to feed a big portion in one sitting.

4.   For toddlers and older (one year and up), follow-on milk is not necessary.  Treat milk as a beverage and not as a meal replacement.  
  -  Milk companies advertise how their milk can help kids become smarter, stronger and meet the nutritional requirements of a child.  The truth is all nutritional needs of a child can be met without milk and giving formula that’s high in calories will only cause the child to have less appetite for solid food.  There are natural sources of DHA and RHA like fish and non-dairy source of calcium like malunggay (which contains 4x the calcium in milk)

5   Make mealtime a bonding activity for the family
     Make eating a fun and interactive activity for the family.  Share stories, allow the kids to feed themselves so they feel empowered.  Kids will eat more if their mealtimes are enjoyable and see that the adults are eating well, too.  Getting a child involved in preparing the meal may help him / her become more interested in eating.

6.  Read labels; Avoid food coloring, preservatives, and too much sugar 
     This is easier said than done but eating as healthy and as natural as possible has it’s long term benefits

7   Expose children to different textures of food 
     This will not only make them adventurous when it comes to eating but they become open to other new experiences as well

These are just a few guidelines that I have learned.  If you get an opportunity to attend this seminar, please take time to do so.  Focusing your energy in getting our children to eat properly takes a lot of time and effort, but it’s worth it.  The discipline a child learns when it comes to eating is not only applicable to food but to the other aspects of his/ her life as well. 

PS. I still have a long way to go in applying what I learned to the kids, but it's nice to have a target, right? Hope this post help :)

Monday, September 8, 2014

Co-sleeping with the kids

When I was pregnant with Bree and Bea, one of the concerns I had was the sleeping arrangement.  I wanted to sleep with the kids and give the yayas a break during the night, but I don't know if I can actually handle two babies on my own.  I was also concerned that if the girls sleep with Ben that they'd wake him up.  So for the first couple of nights, I tried sleeping with the girls in another room with a yaya.  That arrangement didn't last long.  The yaya complained that she didn't get to rest.  This was even if she was just a back-up during the night since I was directly breastfeeding the twins at night.  Ben was also looking for me at night.  So being in a different room made me sad and frustrated.

  Eventually, Bry encouraged me to try having all of us in one room at night.  It took some adjustment but we eventually got the hang of it.  I learned how to tandem feed the girls on my own when they wake up at night and Ben adjusted to the girls waking up in the middle of the night. This has been our arrangement ever since.

It may seem crazy, having all 3 kids in the room at night.  The boys share one big cushion at the floor.  The girls sleep on another one (also on the floor).  As for me, I transfer from one bed to another depending on which of the kids need me.  I also get to sleep on the main bed if I'm lucky.  It's tough but I survive because of two reasons (1) I breastfeed the girls direct which allow me to feed and soothe them right away and at the same time if needed.  This keeps the boys from being awaken at night and (2) Bry is a hands on dad who is willing to help soothe the kids when they wake up at night.

Our system is not perfect and definitely not easy.  There are nights when I really really miss having uninterrupted sleep.  There are nights when one child cries just as I am about to rest my head on the pillow.  What keeps me going is that as tiring as it may be, there will come a time when the kids will be more independent so I have to make most of this time that they need my their side (almost 24/7).

Co-sleeping is not easy, especially with more than one kid involved.  But it has its advantages.  At the start, it's a way to breastfeed long term because you get to direct feed at night which is convenient and good for maintaining supply.  For me, it helps you get to know your child better.  I'm the first one to notice if a child is not feeling well because she/he changes his/her sleeping pattern.  I get to listen to Ben sleeptalk about what happened at school.  It's also a way for us to bond because we are the last people we see before going to sleep and the first ones we see when we wake up in the morning. 

I know there will come a time when the kids will sleep in their own room. I look forward to those days.  But for now, I'll try my best to treasure these moments.

What's your current sleeping arrangement with your kids and why does it work for you?

Friday, August 22, 2014

Thank you, Dr. Jack for Showing How Breastfeeding is a Win-Win :)

"Welcome to the Milk Mama Diaries Carnival (August). For this month, we write about the World Breastfeeding Week 2014 - Breastfeeding: A Winning Goal for Life and share how breastfeeding can help the Philippines achieve the 8 Millennium Development Goals developed by the government and the United Nations. 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."

If you have researched about breastfeeding, chances are you have heard of Dr. Jack Newman.  Dr. Jack is a world-renowned pediatrician who has helped over 40,000 moms and babies breastfeed.  In his more than 30 years of experience as a doctor, he has seen how breastfeeding saves lives and has continuously pushed for it to become the norm all over the world.

I had the pleasure of spending time with him during his recent stay in Manila.  During one of our meals, fellow LATCHer, Charmaine, asked him " Do you ever get tired talking about breastfeeding? " Without any hesitation, he answered "no" and smiled.  If this man can tirelessly talk about breastfeeding for decades, it must be important, right?

Dr. Jack has seen firsthand how breastfeeding has made the world a better place.  He has seen the good that breastfeeding does for the families all over the world, and hopes that by visiting our country he can help make breastfeeding become the norm in the Philippines.

By encouraging mothers to breastfed, families will not be spending money on artificial milk, which is not only expensive but also risky for the child's health.  Breastfed families are able to save money because they don't need to buy milk and the children get sick less often.  The money they save can be used for other necessities, put up a small business and even pay for tuition fees so they can have a brighter future.  Also, the reality is that some families can't afford the P120,000 a year that they will have to spend on formula milk.  Some families have to borrow money just so they can buy artificial milk for their babies and to quote Dr. Jack "that's ridiculous!"

When a country promotes breastfeeding, it’s  child mortality rate declines.  Why? Because breastfeeding lowers the risk of infants dying of SIDS.  Breastfeeding also lowers the risk of a child getting cancer which are caused by viral infections.   One of my favorite benefits of breastmilk is it has an ingredient called a-lactalbumin, that kills tumor cells.   On a personal note, my twins were born a bit premature at 35 and a half weeks.  During the time that they were in the NICU, their blood pressure and pulse rate were constantly monitored.  I noticed that as I feed them, not only am I giving them milk, but the skin to skin contact that breastfeeding provides helps ensure that their vital signs are stable.    

Breastfeeding does not only save the lives of children but of mothers as well.  A new mom who breastfeeds recovers quicker from the blood loss she incurs during birth.  The calories she burns help lower the risk of her becoming obese and diabetic.   A breastfeeding mom lowers her risk of having breast, uterine and ovarian cancer.  She also lowers her risk being diagnosed with osteoporosis.  This is because even if a mom transfers calcium into milk while she’s breastfeeding, her bone mass increases upon weaning.  I remember taking a bone density test when I was younger and my pediatrician was concerned because it was below average for my age.  I’m glad that there’s something I can do about it.   

With all the benefits, it is clear that promoting breastfeeding and supporting nursing mothers is a win-win situation that should become the norm.  I’m glad to hear that most hospitals here in our country have policies that help moms get a good start in breastfeeding.  I’m also happy that there are laws protecting breastfeeding mothers.  We still have a long way to go.   But like Dr. Jack, by providing the proper support and information, we can make a difference one family at a time. 

Thanks again, Dr. J!  The Philippines misses you! Thanks for sharing your knowledge with us!

Here are many thoughts and reasons why we should all advocate for mothers to breastfeed for the first 1,000 days of life #BF1st1000days Jenny shares experiencing the One Asia Breastfeeding Forum
Mec insists to do the Math and breastfeed!
Ams, The Passionate Mom says Breastfeed for a Better Future
Pat says breastfeeding saves money and the planet
Cheryl, the Multi-Tasking Mama, tackles maternal health as addressed by breastfeeding
2011 CNN Hero Ibu Robin highlights gentle births and breasfeeding, even in disaster zones
Felyn stresses that Healthy Moms = Healthy Babies
Monique reminds us that there are second chances in breastfeeding
Normi relates how breastfeeding gave her strength and purpose
Nats thanks Dr. Jack Newman for showing how breastfeeding can be a win-win situation
Em believes breastfeeding is a solution to societal problems
Marge shares what breastfeeding has taught them
Kaity was empowered financially and as a woman through breastfeeding
Madel relates her breastfeeding saga
Jen of Next9 reminds us to do our research and share what we know
Celerhina Aubrey vows to work on one mother at a time
Grace wants to put an end to stories of toasted coffee and similar stuff over breast milk
Diane shares how she prevailed when things did not go according to plan
Hazel appreciates mommy support groups
Roan combines two passions, breastfeeding and architecture
Queenie tackled breastfeeding as the best choice for the environment as well and breastfeeding myths and poverty
Rosa shares how the picture she thought of was realized
Sally believes breastfeeding benefits mankind and our planet Earth
Floraine reminds us that breastfeeding helps combat diseases
Crislyn was happy to realize that she improved her own health by breastfeeding
Armi reminds us how breastfeeding during emergencies is crucial
Arvi tells us how breastfeeding made her look at her body a different way
Clarice elaborates on how breastfeeding saves lives and the planet
Giane reminds us that women empowerment can begin by seeing breastfeeding as more than a feeding issue
Liza thought she was only breastfeeding for her child

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Happy Breastfeeding Month ;)

Hello, August ;)

Happy Breastfeeding Month :)

If someone told me when Ben was a newborn that I'll be enjoying breastfeeding and actually help others moms do the same, I'll probably would not believe it.  I lacked in sleep and Ben wanted to feed round the clock making me question if he was able to get any milk from me at all.  But I somehow survived my gelai and was encouraged by other moms to stick with it.  I remember Chronicles of Nursing Mom's Jenny Ong replying to my long list of questions over email.  (I was super starstruck then!) I remember watching Dr. Jack Newman videos and comparing the latches I saw with Ben's.  I remember Lita Nery teaching me how to do laid back and side lying nursing.  I remember talking to my ICA Batchmate Germaine asking her how she did it with her firstborn ,Sean.  It took a lot of people sharing their experiences and knowledge for me to finally be comfortable and confident.  

So when the opportunity came to learn how to help other moms breastfeed their babies, I was glad to be given a chance to pay it forward. I am thankful to be part of LATCH and be surrounded by like-minded moms.  To be honest, at first I did it so that I can properly counsel family and friends.  But I find myself also enjoying talking about breastfeeding in our classes, being a cheer leader to counselees, some who I have not even met face to face.  

I'm still fairly new to the advocacy, but the most important thing I have learned so far is that BREASTFEEDING SAVES LIVES! When a country promotes breastfeeding and implements proper protocols to support it, it's infant mortality rate goes down.  We all want that do happen right? 

I recently had a chat with a beautician while she was doing my make-up for an event. Last time we spoke, her daughter was pregnant and she (her daughter) mentioned that she wanted to breastfeed especially since she was breastfed, too.  Her daughter and grandson have been doing well and they're now talking about how to express milk when her daughter goes back to work.  She was pleasantly surprised to learn that there are laws protecting breastfeeding moms, making sure they have a proper place and time to express milk.  

After chatting with her, she said "'maam, buti nalang at nakilala kita" (I'm glad to have met you).  I got teary-eyed.  This is why the breastfeeding advocacy is close to my heart.   I am thankful for the opportunity to empower families who choose to give babies the best start in life.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

What to expect in BUMP 2014 ?

Breastfeeding expert Dr. Jack Newman is coming to Manila, Cebu and Davao.  He has been studying and observing breastfeeding moms and babies for a lot of years and what is great about him is since he is a doctor, he can talk about breastfeeding not just to moms but also authoritatively to nurses and doctors. 

Here are the topics for this talk in Manila on August 9 at St. Luke's Global City
Breastfeeding and Baby's Weight Gain - What to do when the baby is not gaining weight.  

What to do when Baby Refuses to Latch On - Prevention and what to do when this happens

Observation of different nursing sessions through video clips to be able to identify what is the correct latch and how to troubleshoot.  

Since Dr. Newman has a vast experience with a lot of moms and babies, he can share numerous case studies and what he learned from them.  This is important because especially for doctors and nurses who want to support their patient's breastfeeding journey.

Interested? please check out Asya's Cradle and Mayumi & Me who are hosting group buys for the event.

For more information, please see below:

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Stock Market Basics for the Busy Mom

logo taken from

My brother and I are "stock market babies".  Our parents met by being office-mates in a stock broker firm.  We grew up listening to stock market updates on the radio, and eventually watching live updates on cable TV.  Our 94 year old gwama still updates herself with the stock market until now.  It's no surprise that it is one of the topics during family gatherings on my mom's side of the family.

I admit, I'm not as active in trading stocks as my parents and brother, but I do feel fortunate that I was exposed to it at an early stage.  Recently (specifically in the middle of the night when I find it hard to go back to sleep after being awaken by the kids, hehe) I have been thinking about ways to invest.  Then I realize I haven't written much about the stock market here.  Anyway, I'm no expert but I do hope that these simple tips will help fellow moms who are thinking of investing.

1. Know the Basics
Investing in the stock market involves choosing a company where you want to invest in and how much you are willing to buy and sell its shares.  The bid or buying price is the amount investors are willing to spend per share of the company.  The ask or selling price is the amount shareholders of the company are willing to let go of their shares.  An investor places a buy or sell order of shares of a certain company.  The stock market, through the brokers, matches your order with the asking or bidding price of another investor.  There are certain instances when it take some time for the orders to be matched, depending on how actively traded the stock is.  You can find that out by checking the volume of shares transacted during the trading day.

2. Being online makes transacting easier
Having internet access is helpful when monitoring your investment.  Citiseconline is an online stock broker that makes investing convenient.  You can register with them and place the amount you are willing to invest in your account.  Then you can place orders and view your portfolio online anytime.  If you like to add more funds to your account, you can do it online by transferring funds from your bank.  Then if you decide to withdraw, you can fill out a form so they can deposit the funds to your bank.  All stock brokers provide this service.  If you want a more personalized approach, you can contact other stock brokers through phone.  The advantage of transacting through phone is you can chat with your agent and maybe get tips :)

3. Invest money that you do not urgently need
Investments take time to bear fruit, and even blue chip stocks have their "down" stays.  Invest funds that you do not see yourself spending in the near future so you won't panic when the market is not doing well.  Also, in doing so, you can afford to be patient while waiting for your target price.

4. Read, research and update yourself with what's happening in the business world.  
The performance of the Philippine market is somewhat affected by the way the international market performs, particularly, in the US.  A stock of a certain company might rise or fall depending on a recent development or disclosure by the company.  For example, a company's shares is likely to go up if it acquires a new big client or go down if it's facing a public relations crisis.  Also, if you can, try listen to business analysts and read on their technical / fundamental recommendations on how certain stocks are performing.

5. Take profits when you have earned them
It's not considered an actual profit until you sell your shares.  As my aunts would say, a peso earned is still an earning, which is better than a loss.  Try setting a target price for the stock you own, then sell if you reach your goal.  Otherwise, you risk the price of the stock going down and you miss your chance to earn.  The same goes with cutting your losses.  If the market price becomes lower that the amount you bought your shares, consider selling and switching to a better stock. 

Hope these tips will encourage you to think about investing in stocks.  As a full-time mom, it's a challenge to find the time and resources to contribute to the kids bank accounts.  Investing in stocks may not be easy and risk-free, but it is worth it when done wisely.

Any stock market traders out there? Care to share some tips? :)

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Latch-A-Babe is having a sale!

Hello, Fellow Nursing Moms :)

The lovely ladies of Latch-a-Babe Nursing Wear are having a Mother's Day sale from May 11 to 18, 2014 :) Get discounts on their favorite designs as well as take advantage of the intro prices of their new line.  For more info check out their Facebook page here

Happy Shopping and Hope you had a wonderful mother's day :)

wearing one of my fave LAB dresses (Dharma) during the Dr. Newman testimonial dinner

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The Tans' Sumilon Escapade

Last Holy Week, we had our first official family vacation with the twins at Sumilon Island in Oslob, Cebu.  I was quite nervous at first but we had a good time.  Here are some tidbits :)

Since Oslob is at the southern part of Cebu, the fastest way to get there is through a flight to Dumaguete.  It's an hour long flight, then a short car ride from the airport to the pier then an hour long boat ride to the island.  The kids were alright during the trip, thanks to snacks, toys, and of course patient grandparents and uncles to keep them busy.

Bluewater Resort is well managed.  Their staff was quite accommodating and they have complete amenities.  Although as a mom, it would be nice if they can make some improvements so their resort will be more kid-friendly.  The resort only has two high chairs and there were other toddlers just like the twins in the resort.  An indoor area for the kids would be nice.  There's a small playground but if you have a lot of kids staying in the resort, the space may not be enough.  I'm happy with the buffet spread.  I personally appreciated that there were many choices of seafood dishes during Good Friday.  The cost is about P800/pax for lunch and P900/pax for dinner.  They even had a pasta station during one of the dinners.

As for the beach, the island basically has two main areas for you to enjoy.  They were both clean and one area has a small sandbar during low tide. I was glad the twins enjoyed their first experience of the beach although we've been to places where the sand is finer which is better for the girls who are just learning how to walk. If you are the more adventurous type, you can try clamping (sleeping inside a tent) by the sea shore. 

The highlight of our trip was the whaleshark watch and the visit to Tumalog falls.  We had to do them on Black Saturday because the people in charge of the butanding watch were on a break during Good Friday. 
We booked these activities through the resort which was a good thing because when we got to the island where the whale sharks were, there were already a lot of people waiting for their turn.   We tried to find out if it was always like this.  According to some of the caretakers it's not always the case.  Usually by 6-7 am
there are already around 9 whalesharks swimming in the area but when we arrived that morning, there were only two, probably because the one day break from their routine.  Pretty soon, more whalesharks swam in the area and we had our turn.  Kudos to my brother JP for following up for us and for keeping us posted while waiting.

When it was finally our turn, we rode a bangka to the viewing area.  The fee is different if you just want to view the whale sharks from the boat and if you want to swim and watch them underwater.  I'm so proud of Ben for being brave enough to swim and actually see the butanding from his goggles.  He still talks about  the experience once in a while.  Oh, if you don't have an underwater camera, you can rent one, have the boatmen take your photos and have it burned on a CD.

The trip to Tumalog falls was interesting.  We took a short car ride to the viewing area then we had a choice of walking or riding a motorcycle to the falls.  I highly recommend taking the motorcycle to save time and energy because there is some walking involved once you reach the falls.  It can get very muddy and wet so be prepared.  Ben enjoyed spending time at the falls.  It was the first time he saw one and even wanted to go swimming.  We didn't get to spend a lot of time there but some groups who planned to stay for lunch and brought food with them.

All in all it was a lovely experience.  I was quite anxious at the start with how the twins will adjust during the trip but they did well and I'm glad they love the water.  I hope I'd get the chance to bring them back to Oslob in the future, perhaps when they know how to snorkel

Friday, May 9, 2014

Have you tried the Explore Sandbox?:)

Thinking about what activities to do with the kids is not that easy.  To be honest, when we are at home, I'm tempted to just let the kids hang out in the playroom and do whatever they want.  However, I am always on the lookout for learning opportunities for the kids, especially Ben, which is why I'm so happy to find about Explore Sandbox.  Explore Sandbox is a box of arts and crafts activities that you can do with your kids.  You can purchase a box or subscribe to receiving them monthly.  

For the month of May, the theme is "keeping cool" so the activities involve ice, ice cream, and sunvisors :) Next month, the theme for the activities will be about the weather.  The instructions that come with the materials are easy to understand, with some teaching notes along with them.  They really make learning both simple and fun :) Seeing how interested Ben is with the activities in the first box makes me look forward to the future boxes even more.  As a plus, he is also excited to do the activities with Bry - another bonding activity for them, yehey!

For more information on the Explore Sandbox, go to their website or contact   +63 917 534 6955.  It's a great gift idea, too.

PS.  I am also impressed that they asked for the kids names so they can have the box personalized.  

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Thankful for "kid-friendly" stores :)

I went shopping with Ben at Shangrila yesterday.  I was thinking of buying a new pair of shoes for the weddings we will be attending in the coming weeks.  This is not easy when I have an active pre-schooler along with me.  I was about to go inside one of the first stores I saw when the guard of that store signaled that we couldn't bring along the food that Ben was eating. I respected the store's rule and walked further along. We came across another store where I saw a pair of shoes that I was interested in. The store was playing Rihanna's Diamonds which was a song familiar to Ben so he went inside.  The clerk was quite accomodating.  He didn't mind that Ben was eating.  He even gave in to Ben's request to play Diamonds again (for about 4 times) so that he can sing along with the song.  That way, I was able to shop properly for a few minutes.  Thankfully, the pair of shoes that I liked had my size and was able to buy them.

What made me happy giving that store a sale was the way the clerk handled Ben.  They didn't sell items for kids but I appreciated the way he was patient with him.  It was the mommy break I needed during an overwhelming day.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Behind the scenes of the twins birthday party :)

It has been almost a month since the twins turned one and looking at the photos from that day still makes me smile.  It's really nice seeing the happy faces of family and friends who took time out of their busy schedule to celebrate with us.  Here are some highlights that I'd like to share with everyone

Party Perks did a great job in organizing the event.  They took care of booking the entertainers who were flexible with our schedule.  They also helped us figure out a theme for the event.  I wanted something "girly" but not too feminine.  We came up with shabby chic which was quite lovely.  The decorations were very nice and detailed, from the floating plastic floral balls, to the fresh flowers and napkins in the center pieces.  And it seems that the guests like them too because they were all wiped out by the end of the party, hehe! I love the photo frames with the twins' photos. 

Speaking of photos, what made the party extra special was having a wonderful photographer.  Our photographer was Stanley Ong.  He already took our family photos in the past (like the ones we had in the centerpieces) so he already knows what strategies to use to make our kids smile.  I love the candid photos of the kids having fun at the party.  Bry and I were quite busy moving around that it was through the photos that we saw what was going on behind the scenes.

Of course, the party would not be complete without the Infinity by Memory Charms photo booth.  Thank you, a-ku JP and Ninong Bin for making the booth extra special for the twins.  It was nice seeing the guests upload their photos from the booth when they reach home.  I should have assigned a hashtag for the event!

Oh, and If you guys are wondering where we got the souvenir instafans, we booked them via booths republic.  They seem to be a hit for both kids and adults :) Look them up in Facebook.  They have other products as well. 

Last but certainly not least, a special thanks to Father Joel Liwanag, SJ for taking the time to baptize the twins.  Father Joel is a recently ordained Jesuit who was a classmate of mine and Bry's during our college days.  We were even groupmates in some of our projects.  It's such a blessing that the girls were baptized by someone who we personally know.  

We thank again everyone who joined us on that special day.  Hope you had fun :)

PS.  Our food was catered by Via Mare and the lechon was by Leonardos.  Bry and I were grateful for the good service and pleasant transaction.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Ben and DASH Chinese Summer Camp

This summer, I enrolled Ben in the DASH Chinese Summer Camp to keep him busy while he waits for the summer program in Explorations to start.  I was both excited and nervous.  I've been wanting him to try DASH out since last year.  I was not sure how he'll deal with being in a new school but my goal this summer was to give him more exposure to the Chinese language so I went ahead with it.

The DASH Chinese Summer Camp program is scheduled in two-week intervals.  It's Mondays-Fridays, 9am-12nn, with a combination of learning Chinese conversations, cultural activities, and arts & crafts / cooking.  The teachers use mandarin as their main mode of instruction.  They call the students by their Chinese names (if they have them) but the yayas who assist the teachers would talk to the kids in Tagalog and English.  I think this set-up is okay.  At first, Ben didn't like me dropping him of to school.  He didn't like the idea that the other students were bigger than him.  (The program is for ages 4-7 so he was one of the youngest.  He would also tell me that he does not understand what the teachers are saying.  However, I find him not wanting to leave the school whenever I pick him up which I take as a good sign.  I think it's good that he gets to interact with older kids and try to adjust to new surroundings since he will be moving on to big school next year.  

I promised Ben that they will learn to make dumplings at class.  That was what got him going to class during the first few days.  Finally, during their second week , they go to cook them,  Yehey!  I like that they have arts and crafts every day and they brought it home with them.  It made me feel that they did something productive during the day.  Also, during one of those days when I was asking myself if Ben actually getting more familiar with the language, he got a blue cup and said "lan se".  It made my day!!!!  

It was (and  still) an effort to bring Ben to school,  Since DASH's main branch is in New Manila (the only one that offers this kind of camp),  we had to adjust his schedule.  I'm glad I decided to enroll him though :)  I'm just a bit sad that some of the friends he made during the past two weeks aren't around for the next two weeks because they had other plans (which means another adjustment for Ben, sigh).  Anyways, I'm now thinking how we can be more consistent in making him familiar with the Chinese language throughout the next school year and most especially at home, wish us luck!.

For more information about DASH Chinese School.  go to their website.

How about you? What are your summer plans? :) 

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Finally Blogging Again!

Hi Everyone :)

It has been a looooong time since I last posted, which probably shows how busy things have been.  Family and friends have been asking me what it has been like raising Ben and the twins.  The twins will be turning one soon and I must say that despite being overwhelmed and tired, I would not have it any other way.  It is a joy seeing Ben adjust to being a big brother.  There are days when I am proud that he seems to have matured, which makes the frustrating days worth it.  It amazes me to watch the twins grow and show how different they are from each other.  Bree seems to be the more talkative and clingy of the two.  Bea is more mobile, serious and independent.  They even prefer different kinds of toys.  I still do not get as much sleep as I'd like but I'm praying we'll eventually get there.  There are tiring nights and quiet nights.  I find myself praying in the middle of the night, thankful for all the support I have received and hopeful that I have the energy to take care of the kids the following day.

Our house is always a "mess", haha!  We have changing stations at each part of the house.  There is always something to be done.  At the end of each day, I'd ask myself if what I did was enough.  I try to hold to what a "fellow-mom" of twins said during a support group meeting last month.  "All the kids want is for us to be happy.  So when we are happy, they're happy. too!"

I appreciate Bry even more now that we have 3 kids.  He takes the challenge of having more mouths to feed with such optimism and grace.  He does his best to help out with the kids  even if it means losing some sleep at night.  He is very supportive in my breastfeeding journey.  Most of all, he's my souding board whenever I  am challenged as to how to juggle 
the three kids.  We still try to spend some time just the two of us and I'm glad he understands that this is not as easy as it was before. 

We would like to say thank you to family and friends for their words of encouragement and for their love and concern for the kids.  As our family of 5 enters its second year, please continue to pray for us.  On my part I promise to try to blog more so that I can share what I have learned.