Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Musical Counting is Fun!

Leji removes and repositions most of the stickers from her counting blocks
I'm grateful my daughter learned how to count up to 20 in English and up to 10 in Mandarin at 18months. We also try counting in Filipino and Spanish but she finds the long words too challenging to pronounce up to now.

Eg. 1= one (1syllable), yi (1 syllable) vs. isa (2 syllables), uno (2syllables);  2= two (1syllable), er (1 syllable) vs. dalawa (3syllables).

I trust she'll get the hang of it eventually; we speak in the vernacular at home anyway. No pressure.

We count everything whenever wherever as long as she feels like it: stair steps, birds, crayons, paper, flower petals, storybook characters, pirate coins on Disney Junior and even her clothes in the laundry basket. We started doing this practice long before she could repeat words/syllables properly which was around the time she learned how to sit and pick up objects.

Apart from physically counting toys and singing the classic "Ten Little Indians" here are some toddler videos on YouTube which helped made our counting sessions more interesting:

1. Sesame Street: Feist sings 1, 2, 3, 4

I didn't know who Leslie Feist was until I saw this (she sounds similar to Colbie Caillat to me).  My daughter thinks she's as cool as Beyonce and Barbie.  There is another Sesame Street pop music video about numbers featuring the a capella group Pentatonix but this really is her favorite with all the chickens and penguins prancing about.

2. Badanamu: Party on the Ocean Floor

Mother-of-3 and personality development coach Karen Agustin-Ostrea got us hooked on Badanamu when we complained that we were tired of watching The Mother Goose Club on Netflix. This lively song is one of Leji's favorites while we eat merienda in the afternoon.  It's amusing to watch her do the dance moves.

3. Fun, Fun Elmo: A Mandarin Chinese Learning Program

The only Mandarin words that my brain managed to retain are the stuff I learned in preschool. Some experts claim that exposing babies to multiple languages activates larger areas of their brain, making more room for knowledge acquisition (for math and science) later on in life. So now I try to expose Leji to as much fun Chinese as possible. With constant repetition & hand signs, I think Elmo's a pretty cool friend :)

4. Little Baby Bum: 5 Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed

No amount of warning could discourage Leji from jumping and acting like a little monkey before bedtime but at least this helped her learn how to count.

5. Ten in the Bed: ABC KidTV

There are many versions of this song featuring various animals, crayon colors, and stuffed toys.  "The little one" is quite cruel to his bedmates but it's a funny alternative to singing "Ten Little Indians" in reverse.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Raising a Musical Toddler

Inconvenient as it may be, we try to expose our toddler to as much musical stimuli as we could.  I've read about how experts attest to how it could help strengthen bonds, boost language skills, and open doors to more exploration and fun. So we try to take her to concerts and make her watch dance videos on YouTube (Badanamu, Beyonce, Barbie Nutcracker, etc.)

When I was pregnant I even considered enrolling in a classical voice class on my third trim to add to the concerts and plays which I inevitably exposed her to as I covered for TV.  She kicked hard in my womb over Mozart, Jed Madela, and Autotelic. She raved over the Game of Thrones musical score and expressed her excitement with the heavy drums of the battle scenes.

But then I gave birth prematurely :/ It was a miracle that she could utter stuff like "guh"= I wanna burp, "mi"= I want milk, and "goo"= poop early on.  Most of our friends who don't have kids wouldn't believe this because we never got to record her early vocabulary on video; they think my husband and I were just hearing things due to lack of sleep. But despite their disbelief, decoding her cries early on helped us A LOT. Thank God. The prenatal musical exposure probably helped in developing her early communication cues.  I hope we'll have the same luck with the next baby :p.

She started humming Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and the Barney Song at three months.  Whenever she gets tired, she would initiate humming Rock a Bye Baby to lull herself to sleep whenever wherever.  Really cute... although when does this during homily and she fusses when I don't allow her to latch when she wants to it isn't so amusing :/.

I enrolled in a one-on-one musical theater training class after her basic vaccines.  It was just a short two-month course which exposed her to basic chord progression once or twice a week.  I took advantage of my K'tan baby carrier while I vocalized and sang popular hits from broadway.  I found it easier to sing while I carried her weight. My teacher was happy to note that as early as six months, she could identify the major from the minor chord!  She happily carries the tune when it's a major chord and gets fussy when it's not haha!

More recently, we attended a Battig Scholars' Concert at St. Scholastica Manila and the nuns who sat with us were delighted that Leji knew when to clap as part of the audience.  I just had to remind her to tone her voice down as she excitedly identified the instruments she recognized from Grolier's Talking English.

"Mommy! Violin!!! violin!!! Big Violin! Daddy Violin! Cello! Mommy, Mommy, laki Cello! Ooooohhh daming guitar! Mommy ang daming guitar! Bakit dami guitar Mommy? hahaha...DRUMS!!! Diba drums yan?"

Hubby was a bit embarrassed by how noisy she was as she pretended to have her own violin (she opened a bottle of hand sanitizer and pretended the tube was her bow) which she conveniently turned into a percussion instrument for Act2. She pranced and danced afterwards and imitated some sopranos by the time they played the AVP before the finale. We really had to take her out and let her sing in the washroom. May the rest of the audience body forgive us.  But it was truly a wonderful learning experience for her; thank you Sister Mary Placid for inviting us over.

A few days after, we're blessed to get to attend another musical event. Kuya Ed Manguiat graciously allowed us to watch the UP Singing Ambassadors' anniversary concert with her. Leji excitedly picked her fluffiest dress when she found out that we were watching another "stage party."

It was a trickier event for my two year old because it had longer acts; I had to apologize repeatedly to our seatmates whenever she felt an urge to dance, breastfeed, or go to the washroom during the performances. Part of me wished we could hide forever amidst the curtains near the exit. But I am truly grateful that I get to expose her to such intimate musical functions as these contribute to her self confidence and general appreciation of the world.  Hopefully it's all worth it :)

Leji enjoys the UP Abelardo Hall stage and lights 

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Co-sleeping our way to Tandem Feeding

Leji plays with her cup after drinking milk
Everyone talks about how happy they are when they breastfeed; I guess this is society's way of coping with the undue stress and pressure that comes with it. We have to encourage each other to trudge on so our children can enjoy the benefits.

Making room for our second child, we purchased a single bed from Mandaue Foam's anniversary sale last month instead of buying a standard crib or playpen for his nursery.  Our toddler is getting taller anyway and she's kicking for more space in the bed during the wee hours of the morning (she sleeps horizontally most of the time :p) We added a memory foam lining to make our current bed as high as the Flex Foam Mattress bed we chose.  We'll add a modern Moses basket on top as soon as the baby comes as a SIDS precaution as it seems better than a rocker that forces the baby in a semi upright position. We purchased a Swaddle Me By Your Side basket with see-through side panels and a firm neutral coloured sleeping surface.

Early on during my pregnancy, we tried to see if our toddler could be persuaded to sleep in her room in our new home. She selected the space herself (we asked her which room she liked best even before buying the property) and we decorated it with her favorite toys, furnished with easy access cabinets and a Mickey Mouse toddler bed.  We even had a music box to soothe her and nice night lamp. But it was all in vain.  She understood that there is a new baby coming.

During the daytime, it isn't a problem when I leave her there. But at night, it's a whole different story. We don't need a baby monitor to hear her cries of protest; she's a natural in voice projection. You could hear her cry for hours in all three floors of our house (God bless our new neighbors).  In less than a month, she learned how to tiptoe and unhinge the door.  She also climbs over fences and foams when necessary.

My mom suggested I should go for traditional forms of punishment (e.g. spanking, food/milk deprivation, etc.) to discipline my toddler.  However, I've attended positive parenting conferences and they encourage to treat children with utmost respect no matter how unruly they get so they can learn how to grow into better individuals thru their parents' example.  It is tiring and unnerving to control my temper when she seems to delight in copying PJ Mask stunts on TV at home when it's already her bedtime (especially now that I'm pregnant and emotional most of the time) but I'm blessed to have a supportive husband who allows me to stay home at this point in our lives and volunteers as my reliever when I really can't handle my emotions anymore.

She became clingier as my milk supply dwindled; I didn't expect that it would be this challenging to bring into this world her constant buddy/playmate. They detected a subchorionic hemorrhage in my uterus on my second month of pregnancy and I was instructed to be on full bed rest at home (no more shoots for a while!).  We really tried to make her stop latching; it was too painful for my uterus when she latches but heart wrenching when I hear her cry.  There was a time I couldn't carry her and my poor hubby had to stay up late just to console and cup feed her.

Now on my final leg of pregnancy, I'm allowed more freedom to play with her as the hematoma regressed. We decided to call her room "the playroom" instead of her bedroom and added several blue and yellow panels to her play yard to accommodate her new playmate.  I now make her abstain from afternoon latching to encourage longer sleep at night.  She also learned how to be friendlier when she talks to her baby brother in my tummy now that she is a "big girl."

I haven't been successful in weaning her off breastmilk completely though; she insists on latching even after I give her cups of fresh milk.  It seems harder to teach how to self soothe when you co-sleep.  Now I'm brushing up on tandem feeding and praying for a good milk supply when the new baby comes to accommodate them both.

It seems we don't have local material available for tandem feeding; even our doctors and our parents are wary about it.  They say the older child would get jealous more and the younger baby would suffer.

Contrary to traditional beliefs, books and articles on the subject claim it is safe and beneficial to the entire family. They say we should trust our bodies more so that it could provide what is necessary for both children.

"... there is no one 'best' approach to the challenges of breastfeeding during pregnancy and tandem nursing; each mother must follow her own inner voice as she balances her needs and her children's needs. Trust yourself." -- Hilary Flower in Adventures in Tandem Nursing: Breastfeeding During Pregnancy and Beyond, p. xix

I just go with what I feel is natural; with God's grace I hope I can successfully tandem feed.  If not, hopefully my toddler wouldn't feel so bad about having more fresh milk in her cup.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Transitioning into Toddlerhood

My little sweetheart has officially transitioned into toddlerhood.  Bursting with tons of energy and curiosity, she now skips her afternoon naps and even protests when we put her to bed at night.  With food, she's a little pickier than she used to-- now she voices out her preferred brand of fresh milk and yoghurt (she knows her letters and colors) and prefers sugar-free peanut butter over other spreads.  

We noticed that when she doesn't get her fair share of physical activities during daytime, she finds it harder to sleep continuously at night.  Thus, I take in as much food and vitamins as I can to stay alert and keep up with her activeness. For a non-athletic 7-month pregnant mom, it's quite challenging not to panic whenever she shows interest in tumbling and climbing.  The absence of a playpen highly encouraged her exploration capabilities early on; she started climbing boxes on our headboard to to reach for the airconditioner overhead at 8months :/ 

Here are the top 5 activities we enjoy at home apart from eating & sleeping :p:

1.  Karaoke

I was quite aware of my daughter's musicality even while she was still in my womb. Her taste is quite expansive; she enjoyed Jed Madela, Mozart, Autotelic and even the Game of Thrones soundtrack. She rhythmically kicked me inside like an experienced gymnast while I covered events for CNN Philippines. The cool part? She now hums in tune most of the stuff she got exposed to before she was born!  She even shrieks "Madmen!" when she hears the series' intro on Netflix and knows most of the intro of the Disney Junior shows and Bada Namu songs.

2. Baby Ballet

My mom enrolled me in ballet when I was 5 because I wanted to be like Ms. Piggy from Muppet Babies.  But early on I discovered I was no Lisa Macuja; I couldn't even do a proper plie or a simple split!  Blame it on genetics but it did help improve my walking and posture.

It seems my little one has a better chance in being a dancer as she adores Beyonce and Nutcracker Barbie.  It may be too early for me to enrol her in a formal class so for now we just copy steps from YouTube!

3.  Cookie making

Leji loves cookies.  We occasionally bake choco-chip or peanut butter oatmeal cookies but most of the time, we just mold colored clay and pretend they're cookies!

4. Book reading

We only get to finish half of the story each sitting though :/ Leji gets too restless in between even if we try it with songs and actions. 

5. Counting

We try to count everything (in English and even in Chinese hehe). Our favorite? The steps on the stairs! :)

Monday, August 28, 2017

Tetra Taste Test Macao Edition

Whenever I travel, I always find myself looking for the city's version of 711.  I'm such a snacker and being a nightowl, I often have limited budget-friendly options.  Leji has been a fan of straw drinking even before she could eat solids (she has always preferred the straw over the baby bottle); and now she drinks milk and juice straight from cartons whenever we're out. 

Here are the top5 drinks we enjoyed at a convenience store:

1. Dutch Lady

This reconstituted milk from Malaysia is a top pick.  It's creamy and delicious; for us it tastes better than milk from Kowloon Dairy (although some would argue that milk from the latter is fresher).  But we prefer the low sugar variant of Kowloon Dairy Dark Choco over Dutch Lady Choco.  I dunno, probably it feels comforting that it has less sugar.

the little menace having her fill of Macao's famous egg tarts with Dutch Lady before bedtime while lounging on Sheraton's silk sheets

2. Deli Fresh

Ooh we love this brand! I had to keep it chilled because it doesn't contain any preservatives but I could easily finish a bottle in one sitting.  It's naturally sweet and inevitably addicting. If I didn't have to worry about my heavy belly at the time we were at the HK port, I would have bought more.  Mixed berry and Pink guava (with yummy pear) are my top picks.   

Deli Fresh helped me forget about leg fatigue for a while
 3. Kagome Vegetable Fruit Juice Drink

More tart than sweet, this mix from Japan helped my potty training toddler poop in the hotel room after a day of not being able to do so (because she's not used to not having her cushioned potty before bedtime).  She only took this in small gulps; probably the fiber from the veggies helped.

4. Vita Apple Jasmine Tea

Jasmine tea has less caffeine compared to black tea.  This apple jasmine combo did a great job in perking me up after exploring Parisian Macao with a sleepy toddler who didn't like her stroller.  It's not too sweet nor too floral; I think it's great to have this when you're bored with water and wary about energy/sports drinks.

5. Vita Hongkong Style Milk Tea

No bubbles or crystals in it, but this blend is exciting just the way it is! Some say it's Hongkong's iconic drink.  I had to remind myself to limit my intake to just one carton though :/

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Product Review: UV Care Family Toothbrush Sterilizer

It's Project Mommyger's blogversary and I'm so happy to be one of her UV Care raffle winners :) 

Hassle-free delivery! A welcome addition to our new home

We've been using UV Care Family Toothbrush Sterilizer for a week now and I must agree that sanitizing our toothbrushes has never been easier. It can sanitize all our toothbrushes in one go; sometimes I even pop my plastic night guard in! 

Here are the Top 5 things I love about the UV Care Toothbrush Sterilizer:

1. It has been tested to kill harmful bacteria and germs circulating in the bathroom air/water that may get into your toothbrush.  My toddler who's obsessed with toothbrushing still can't spit properly so she gets to ingest some of the toothpaste/water on her brush.  Now I don't have to dip her brush in hot water anymore and wait for it to cool before brushing.

2. It has UVC lamps that will last up 8000 hours and comes with a 6-month warranty. The germicidal ultraviolet light promises to significantly reduce up to 99.9% of the germs it comes in contact with on toothbrushes and I was surprised you don't have to keep it lit the entire day.  

3. Our toothbrushes smell nice and clean when they come out of the sterilizer :)) Somehow my gum bleeding has been reduced after using it. Swollen gums, which may be sore and more susceptible to bleeding, are common during pregnancy. According to the American Pregnancy Association, this type of gingivitis is caused by the hormonal changes that increase the blood flow to the gum tissue, making it more sensitive, irritable, and swollen.

4. It's portable and lightweight; even my toddler can carry it up to her bathroom if she wants.  For travelling, you have the option to use batteries with it.

5. It's easy to operate.  The lamp will switch off automatically after seven minutes of cleansing.  Or if for some reason you have to leave asap and postpone the sanitation process, you can just press the same button and switch it off.

I'm really impressed... we'll try the multipurpose sterilizer soon for my newborn in November!

Thursday, August 24, 2017

RIP Ms. Amelyn

I'm grateful to God I've had the privilege of working with some of the best in of those is Ms. Amelyn Veloso.  The niece of beautyqueen turned newscaster Cathy Veloso-Santillan, she shared that at a young age she knew she wanted a life in broadcasting too.  It was her calling.

Amelyn & Aya. Amelyn always joked she could pass as one of my sisters.
I first got the chance to work with her in TV5's daily noontime program Balitaang Tapat with Raffy Tulfo.  She always came in early, sometimes even earlier than the makeup artist! I could still recall the clean scent of her shampoo (I couldn't help but smell it when she had her hair blowdried while I retouched my eyeliner) & makeup brush cleansers in the dressing room. She was very particular about neatness and the products that she used.

Despite being a neat-freak, she never complained about the stuff that she had to do on-cam or the sacrifices she had to endure in the process of getting good stories and producing interesting segments. I remember she had a segment before where she had to cook awesome budget-friendly meals in challenging locations.  It was amazing how she could make it seem like a breezy ad for corned beef and noodles even without the aircon and diva lights.

Busy veteran anchors seldom have the time to talk to weather girls but Amelyn often managed to compliment me when I'm wearing something flattering or when she chanced upon one of my early morning segments. Aside from work, she freely gave advice on clothes, colors, feng shui, party planning, dieting, travelling, acupuncture, education.. basically everything under the sun.  I actually miss hanging out in the makeup room with her.

Here are the top5 things I will never forget about Amelyn:

1. MTRCB warnings

We were instructed to be careful about what we wear and how we dance (yes, dance) in some of our segments in the morning.  Our producer would usually issue a warning slip or memo whenever we do/wear something that is bordering on being obscene.  Amelyn joked about it and said: "Bakit ako pag naka plunging neckline hindi binibigyan ng memo? Sasayaw din ako next time sa segment ko parang sa Willing Willie." 

2. F and P

One of my haters online mentioned an imagined speech problem, saying I have a problem with Fs and Ps.  Amelyn thought it was so funny "Fat Pernandez faano pan mo siya?!" and we kept laughing about it.

3. Her roommate from Pampanga

Amelyn often shared snippets of her college life: from how Karen Davila's jeans have always been the object of envy of her peers to how naughty boys from the other wing of their UP dorm tried to catch her gorgeous roommate from Pampanga naked (she's from a prominent business family). Without makeup and in jeans, Amelyn actually looked like a teenager while telling these stories.

4. Banter with Sir Jing on Daybreak

She's quite careful with her image on-cam and there was this instance where she was put on the spot to talk about girls and cars. It was so funny how she hesitated for three beats and blushed after saying something with a double meaning. But everything appeared wholesome when it was Amelyn so no one really noticed.

5. Sweets in the Ref

She bakes gluten-free bread and makes almond milk. When I shifted to evening news, she gave me a cake as a farewell present.

She was really always cheerful. Until one day I noticed her skin was peeling; she sort of avoided me and focused more on work. I asked her why she had to wear a wig and why she had grey circles under her eyes; she said she just felt it was fashionable and the discolouration was just the effect of trying too many beauty products.  She never admitted to me how grave her condition was; she probably knew I would easily get upset and cry over stuff.  Everytime I got colds, she would hand me a mask and advise me to take more fluids and rest.

The last message I ever received from her was a compliment on how great I was in managing my weight & breastfeeding.

She will be sorely missed.  Angels in heaven are lucky they'll get to party with her.