Friday, December 22, 2017

Silent Night

It's a miracle. Tonight, I'm blessed with a silent night. They all managed to sleep earlier than usual and my dear hubby got to catch on some badly needed zzz, thank God.  Thank you to those who prayed for us and our sanity...especially to my best friend Rachelle who spent time with Leji this evening before doing the last of her Christmas shopping :p At least we all get to rest before the grand Christmas weekend.

The other day, my toddler went for potty hourly and had her last batch of Denille's awesome crinkles and milk at 3am.  She told her dad he's more handsome than Santa and managed to convince him to come eat with her downstairs.  They woke up again at 7 to have Milo Balls; I usually mix it with milk and Chia Seeds to make it healthier.  I failed to make her tandem latch with her brother that morning though; I felt drained.  I told her we can try after lunch after I get to drink more fluids; but she wasn't able to take advantage of this as she slept from 11am-2pm.

Now I'm just happy she managed to sleep at 10:30pm.  

On not so silent nights, we use Baby Banz Hearing Protection Ear Muffs for her baby brother.  We saw it on Prince George at the Royal International Air Tattoo last year and tried to get the kids' version for Leji. But she refused to put it on as she hates head gear.  :/ 

I've read they recently developed a model in Australia with bluetooth connectivity so your baby could listen to his fave lullaby anytime anywhere.  But it costs twice as much and you have to wait for delivery.

We're happy with the one we got from the Parenting Emporium--the basic type designed for babies 0-2+ years old which cancels out loud noise.  It says on the box that it's proven safe by pediatricians only for babies 3months and up but I guess newborns can still use it as long as you support their neck or they lie on their backs.  It's cute, colorful, and functional--it's smaller than my palm and could fit in my evening bag. It has soft adjustable ear pads and band; he seems comfortable wearing it.

Anyway, we tested it in several parties--a wedding, a videoke party, and a kiddie birthday.  Leon managed to have uninterrupted sleep in all three! And he looked adorable in our photos :)

I'm happy we can watch the fireworks this year without worrying about my baby's ears.  We're ready for you, 2018!

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Leji's Holiday Party T-shirt

It's the ultimate party week! Despite suffering from mild dehydration the other day (oh it's so tricky to drink 4L of water in traffic while tandem feeding :/) and an engorged left boob (I cut short my toddler's feeding time the other night because she was too rowdy in bed :/), I begged my hubby to brave the traffic and allow me to attend at least some of my friends' events.

We attended my niece Zyra's Jollibee birthday at the Triangle in the Fort--their famous 1000th store.  It was a Hello Kitty Party so I wanted Leji to wear a pink dress.  But Leji had other ideas and insisted on wearing her fave UP shirt and jeans.  

My cousin Ana gave her a fabulous red dress and tried to convince her to change her clothes--but all in vain. Haaay. We tried.  My daughter won't even allow herself to be bribed into it.  She ate the cake & had icing all over but still wouldn't change her outfit.

After napping & attending a vtr, we decided to window shop in Greenbelt as we bide time for my other get together in the same area.  Again, I tried my luck in convincing my dear daughter to change into a more suitable attire.  But instead, she threw into a desperate crying fit which drove my hubby nuts. 

I was utterly annoyed but I reminded myself that she's just two and she wants to see all her beautiful Titas in a comfortable attire.  I gave in to her request and allowed her not to change her shirt for the day.

As soon as we got out of the car, her mood shifted like magic!  She hugged and kissed her favorite Titas Tintin & Glennifer. Ugh, I knew she was mock crying :/

There were a lot of prizes up for grabs but I knew we couldn't stay long (I wasn't able to pump milk for my newborn :/) so I joined the first 2 games! We managed to bring home consolation prizes. haha.  All in the spirit of fun and camaraderie this Christmas.  
Leji examines our prize with Glennifer

Glam Pinoy Henyo- Loren Burgos guesses it right!

Leji adores Ganiel Krishna

Fun times with the reigning Ms Dog Universe, Shamcey

with Shamcey's proud mom, Kuya Eton!

We had so much fun even if I failed to claim my raffle prize (I heard it's a luxurious lounge chair haha) because Leji tearfully insisted on going back to her baby brother.  Can't wait for Mutya's 50th anniversary party next year; hopefully I could convince Leji to wear a dress by then.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Of Tandem Feeding and Babyshark Hunting

Whew. Tandem feeding without a yaya at home is quite tasking. I usually doze off while I'm at it except when my toddler engages in shallow latch or in a weird position & the pain makes me jump back to wakefulness. I barely have time to do anything else these days but I see this as an emotional investment for them in the future.

Even a trip to the grocery or a brief meeting is such a production number.  In the car, my toddler usually unfastens her seatbelt and demands for breastmilk when she's in distress. It's quite a problem nowadays; we still haven't discovered the ideal tandem feeding position in the car.  Even the pillows aren't of much help when the road is bumpy or when hubby needs to step on the brakes during traffic.  I sometimes just ignore her wailing when I'm too tired and she won't accept cow's milk or cookies or toys as a substitute for comfort. She developed a high-pitched shrill cry recently (which is really effective in agitating hubby but thankfully not her newborn brother) and pray to the saints that this too shall pass and will not traumatize her in the long run.

I tried to catch my milk with Hakaa and Medela Bra cups in an attempt to make her drink it; but my highly opinionated toddler said it looks gross.  I tried mixing it with cow's milk and even flavored milk but she still wouldn't drink it.  I guess she really craves the comfort she gets from direct latching; I don't think she gets much milk from me these days.

I make her stop latching and give her my phone to watch Babyshark videos when her strong sucking triggers too much milkflow in my other boob.  My newborn often coughs whenever this happens.  To make sure he wouldn't aspirate, I distract her first and focus on raising him up in a position that straightens the esophagus so he could breathe/burp.

But the nice thing about tandem feeding is I feel like I have the power to make them nap/fall asleep together.  I just pop a malunggay supplement (Natalac for now) with two glasses of water and voila! I am Supermom! Get ready for the milk waterfall! Lol.

I don't mind washing extra shirts these days as I have to change my shirt each time milk overflows when the timing for tandem feeding isn't right. Most of the time, the baby latches first before the toddler.  Also, he often drools all over & even multiple burpcloths aren't effective in keeping me clean.  I have no choice but throw everything in the laundry basket so as not to aggravate his baby acne.  Thank God He was able to inspire man to invent the automatic washing machine.  Thank you, Lord!!!

Anyway, you've probably read enough ranting.  Haha..the babies would soon rouse; I turned off all the lights to prolong their nap.  It is such a luxury to get to write these days.

Some people asked how we celebrated my birthday last month while I was heavily pregnant.  Hence my late post :)

We went babyshark hunting at Manila Ocean Park!  But I didn't avail of the birthday discount because I can't go on a longer tour with three full paying adults.  We just availed of promo tickets for Manila residents.  They don't offer student/toddler/senior citizen discounts on top of that though.

This was my toddler's second time to explore the park.  Last year, she was fascinated with the jellies display.  This time around, she got to enjoy the creepy crawlies (she loves the Itsy Bitsy Spider haha. LSS)...

the fish...(she even attempted to touch several in the magic aquarium!)

and the penguins!!! (she loves the Badanamu Pengie Dance haha)

She also chased eagles at the sanctuary.  It was quite exhilirating; I didn't know they have this in the park.  All the while we thought it was just a souvenir shop on the side of the entrance.

We'll definitely come back next time with her baby brother :)  But first, we have to catch the Babyshark Mall Tour one of these days.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

An Afternoon at Santa's Workshop

It has been a while since my last post.  I spent the last remaining weeks before giving birth doing  a series of mini field trips with our eldest. I thank God, my husband, our parents and our relatives (some even from abroad!) who made our extended babymoon extra memorable for her.  I printed out colorful photobooks so she'll forever remember this stage in our lives, just in time for her baby brother's arrival.

These days, I spend much of my time entertaining my eldest while recovering from childbirth.  Special thanks to my mother-in-law who holds fun slumber parties with my daughter in her room every now and then just to make her feel a tad more special.  

It's a bit challenging to have alone time with my daughter these days as the new baby feeds on demand.  So this weekend I urged my dear hubby to bring out the newborn stroller and stay for a while in a quiet restaurant nearby with the baby as my toddler and I enjoyed a couple of hours at Santa's Workshop at Ogalala in Shangrila Mall.  

Leji is actually scared of Santa with his heavy belly and bushy white beard. I'm actually grateful Santa just stayed in the lobby outside for photo ops while listening to children whisper their Christmas wishes. My daughter excused herself from the line of hopefuls saying out loud: "Ayoko (kay) Santa. Mas pogi Daddy kay Santa." 

She had more fun at the workshop itself, mingling with older kids at the table.
Twinning with my toddler: Matchy matchy Elle bow bands!
She felt so proud of herself when one of the moms said that the shoes she designed with paint and colored pens were lovely.  She got quite excited and dipped her fingers in different colors then smudged off the hearts on the right shoe :/ "Rainbow paint, Mommy!!!" she squealed with glee.

The brilliant purple and pink turned into murky khaki but my daughter seemed to like the effect of what she did, showing off her work to all the photographers (and even to the waiters after the event!).  At least the artist was able to express herself, right? :p

She got to experiment with different coloring materials, creating various effects on her shoes!

My little artist at work

I didn't mind that she smeared some of the paint on her clothes and the table as everything from Crayola is safe and washable.  They have coloring materials created for every age range.  She colored away without distractions.

She couldn't get enough of coloring so we decided to try mess-free colored pens with special paper at home. I was thinking of getting more for travelling as these pens don't damage/ accidentally mark other surfaces (Eg. tables, floors, bed sheets). We'll come back next time to get more colors and hopefully get to participate in more workshops after the holidays.

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.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Cotai Jet vs. Turbo Jet

To sail or not to sail, that is the question.

We had second thoughts about riding the ferry from HK to Macao and back because:
1. I'm pregnant & I might throw up/ experience contractions
2. The toddler might not like it
3. My mom-in-law who volunteered to chaperone us on our quest in making my daughter's 23rd monthsary (& our babymoon) memorable has a history of seasickness
4. We have a huge luggage that my husband had to manage on his own

Yet despite all these, we still pushed on with our ferry ride arguing that it's better to see the Dreamworks Parade and the Eiffel of Asia compared to HK OceanPark at this point in our lives.  I've been to OceanPark before so I don't really mind delaying my second trip to the theme park :p  We thought it might be better to visit OceanPark and the Peak when the kids are much older and when the weather is much cooler.  (August is super warm & humid ugh)

I've tried Turbo Jet before but Cotai Jet had a promo for full paying adults when you purchase tickets in advance via their new app.  The app offered a bigger discount compared to their Mastercard and senior citizen/infant promos so it was more practical to buy 4 adult tickets through the said app.

We were happy with the discounts but my mom-in-law wasn't too pleased with the boat ride :/ She really felt queasy as the ferry was relatively smaller to that of Turbo Jet so you could actually feel the rough waves as you sail.  But lucky for me and my little one, we were able to sleep for most of the trip so we didn't feel much of the seasickness. Chewy ginger candy and chocolate milk also helped distract my little one.

We landed in a neat port in Taipa (where some Macao planes also land) and easily my mom-in-law's dizziness melted away. Leji said byebye cheerfully to the blue jet and we hopped on to our free bus to Cotai Strip.

Going home though, we committed several mistakes:
1. We failed to book in advance through the Cotai Jet app.  We didn't know weekend tickets sellout faster than weekday tickets even on a ghost month. Even Turbo Jet advanced tickets were sold out on Klook (or probably their cutoff was earlier than 12 midnight :/)
2.  We weren't able to avail of the Mastercard promo.  Even if it says on their fliers that you could purchase discounted tickets via the Sheraton ticketing booth/ concierge, on the day itself they refused to honor the said promo (well I checked the flier and I noticed the disclaimer in small print that they could cancel the promo anytime:/).
3. We thought we could avail of the direct ferry route to the HK airport. Good thing hubby was able to read online that that port only had access to PAL and Cathay Pacific flights not Cebu Pacific :(
4. We assumed that there was just one Macao port and we thought we could ride there going to Tsim Sha Tsui port (to visit the HK Science Museum before heading to the airport).  We rode the wrong Cotai bus and landed on the less baby friendly Outer Macao port :/ We availed of the senior & baby discounts (15% off) on the Turbo Jet counter. We found out there were no Cotai Jets for that port. When we got to HK, it was so challenging to find the train with the luggage and a stroller in tow. The taxis wouldn't let us ride to Tsim Sha Tsui because they say they could only service mainland routes.

Turbo Jet was also stricter with the weight of the bags; we had to pay extra for carrying souvenirs in our luggage even if it was just one luggage for the four of us.  Hubby didn't have to worry about it though during the boat ride and my mom-in-law found it more pleasant that the boat was relatively bigger compared to Cotai Jet.

We wasted so much time scurrying for the elevator we didn't have time left to explore the Science Museum. Unlike in Singapore where the elevators are usually in the middle of things, in HK you have to search from end to end to be able to find the right one.

We ended up in the wrong side of Tsim Sha Tsui--HK Peninsula side where they are doing so much repairs it was quite scary to take the baby there:/ We found out that the HK Space Museum only catered to Cantonese speakers that afternoon and ended up buying food in the Food Truck Festival outside near the construction area blocking the Victoria Harbour. We used our luggage as a mini table as the person in the Space Museum concierge would only accept luggage if you avail of their actual tickets; they don't care if you buy souvenirs from their store that could actually cost more than the ticket itself.

We were too tired and frustrated we didn't have energy left to explore the Arts and Culture building nearby. But we were amused to see so much people with kids outside despite the construction and the heat in that area.  They weren't eating so we figured they might be into Pokemon Go or something.
After our brief meal (in fairness, the burgers were juicy and tasty) we decided to take an Uber to the airport.  We were too flustered for another train ride.

Looking back, I should have just booked a direct flight from Macao to Manila so we could have skipped the ferry going home.. that Cebu Pacific flight on a weekend wasn't worth all the trouble.  I guess it's really better to plan the itinerary ahead before booking.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Chasing Penguins in Macao

After our brief encounter with Disney characters in Hongkong, we decided to take a CotaiJet to Macao to chase after DreamWorks' lovable mascots.  Weekday tickets purchased through their android app were discounted :)) too bad we weren't able to get our weekend tickets going home through that app :/ They do it on a first come first served basis.

Afterwhich, we took the free hotel bus to Cotai Strip.  They have a meet and greet session around lunchtime in Paradise Garden where I got to hug penguins from Madagascar and more :p

Leji was scared of the penguins but I was just beaming with glee. haha!

with Pinoy Vikings!

Leji loved identifying the colors of the flowers in the garden

She recognized some of the characters from the movies we've seen

There's also a dance parade of the characters daily at 4pm inside the mall's premises.  Leji didn't mind being roused from her afternoon nap with all the lively music and excited kids.  The characters all danced with so much energy all throughout the stretch especially Po the Panda and Alex the Lion. They even handed out free balloons; it was pretty amazing.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Leji's 23rd at Hongkong Disneyland

Leji loves Disney Junior.  For her first birthday, we decided to have a Minnie Mouse-themed Boracay escape at Jony's at Station 1.  Seldom do I get to have vacations with my family because of our schedules. The last time I went to Boracay with my mom was 2003 when I passed the UPCAT & it was my sister's birthday; my in-laws on the other hand have never been there. Cancelling all my shoots/events was worth it as we enjoyed our island hopping immensely. Leji rolled in the hotel bed everytime she craved for it as the hotel was conveniently just across the beach!

For her second birthday, we decided to take her to Hongkong Disneyland. We only visited Oceanpark when I joined a leisure tour back in college; and for Ms. International 2008, we were too busy with dinners and shoots for HKTV so we didn't have time for theme parks.  It's also my first time in the most toddler-friendly Disneypark in the world.

My toddler loves trains & she was totally ecstatic that we allowed her to carry her Korean handbag on our way to Disney.  
We chose to have it a month ahead of her second birthday so she could enjoy her free ride via Cebu Pacific (infants younger than 2 ride free!) I'm also approaching my 7th month of pregnancy so I guess it's safer to travel this month than next (my OB mentioned that my 2nd might also be born a preemie just like Leji).

Since it was a really hot summer day with occasional showers, we opted to run to the airconditioned part of the park.  We decided to see "It's a Small World" first & it didn't disappoint.  

It was heartwarming to hear the dolls sing in Filipino in a bahay kubo!

Our favorite Stitch!

A well-lit pastel display for the finale
Leji loved the attraction so much, she requested us to do it again!

Candies from 711 helped keep us going despite the heat and rain.
Next, we joined the Lion Festival in the safari themed theater.  The characters were superb singers & the floats were spectacular; but Leji needed to nap.

The dimly-lit theater was perfect for her to rest.

Jungle animals!
We purchased our meal via Klook where we were able to get discounts & we enjoyed our ice lollies under the banyan tree serenaded by the playful birds.

Choco-coated Vanilla Mickey, Choco-crusted Strawberry Banana Minnie & Blueberry Stitch! Other food items from 711 outside Disneyland.

Dinnertime was magical too after watching Mickey's storybook show, strolling across the enchanted gardens & sailing with Pooh before the afternoon parade.
castle-themed foodcourt with international cuisine!
Leji finished everything on her plate!

We capped off the evening in Tomorrowland where Daddy got to enjoy his Star Wars ride.  Leji loved the orbiting planets and was amused with the red humidifiers.

At 9pm, I was so tired & sat on the pavement; Daddy and Lola were left to chase after hyper Leji. The waiting was all worth it; the fireworks display made me so sentimental I cried. Here's a snippet of it.

We left Disney icky and sweaty but with our hearts full.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Brush Your Teeth!

Leji loves Elmo. She started watching Elmo's World and Furchester Hotel even before she had teeth. And I'm very fortunate they have this music video of the lovable red furry creature brushing his teeth (or should I say black gums?) every day and every night. It's one of Leji's favorite songs.

Elmo: Brush Your Teeth!

Her first tooth erupted quite late at five months with the help of pedia prescribed fluoride water.  She hated tooth wipes & the teethers/pacifiers. Just like the baby bottle, she hates stuff which make her look like a baby. She finds them insulting :/  The song helped her to be comfortable with the idea of us massaging her swollen gums with a baby toothbrush and strawberry-flavored Sans Fluo.

We tried having her sit on a dentist's chair several times but she still wouldn't open her mouth in front of the dentist.  It's fortunate that at 23 months she's still partially breastfed; breastmilk helped keep her teeth healthy despite her love for juice and chocolate cake. I'm also grateful to the composer/artists/musicians behind Elmo's music videos.  I believe You Tube could still be helpful to toddlers when it's used under strict parental supervision.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Shoo Fly Don't Bother Me!

It's has been raining for hours non-stop & I've just finished my mid-wee morning snack of stuffed crust Pizza Hut & Pfanner orange juice (while attempting to dry laundry indoors. tsk. Pesky rain. Thank God for Downy AntiBac).  Aya has a guesting later at Unang Hirit & being the stage sister that I am, not even a storm could dampen my excitement.

It's been more than a year that I'm on full mommy mode yet my body clock still goes for my former morning showgirl timezone.  I'm kinda used to just napping in the evening, waking up at 1 or 3am depending on the calltime (I had to go earlier when they ask me to cover fiestas/events in nearby provinces), and sleeping from 7am-10am then from 4pm-7pm.  It was such good practice; when destiny had it that I should breastfeed a nocturnal infant, my body clock didn't have to adjust so much (& everyone just thought that motherhood suits me haha).

Ugh, it's still raining. It's almost 4:30. I type like a preschooler.

Now that it's always raining, our house is undergoing some minor roof repairs, and the mosquitoes just couldn't resist coming in the house with the repairmen. We have installed screens all over but we still have the pesky visitors wuzzing in and out of the kitchen. They're too fast.

I couldn't spray Baygon because we have a toddler and a fishbowl (I feel it's too risky). I also tried organic insect killers but I only manage to kill tiny bugs and ants with it on contact. Again, the flies are too fast.

To top it all off, I've discovered recently that my sweet-blooded toddler is allergic to insect bites. Just a teeny tiny bite could flare up into a volcanic blur that would get swollen from scratching and end up ashen and ugly after a few days. We're now semi dependent on pedia prescribed Desowen and Band-Aid to prevent scratching & blistering.

 It's sad that my favorite Skinstation Naturepel refreshing insect repellants are phased out. I miss these great smelling products.

Here are my alternatives to prevent/relieve insect bites. We sort of alternate the products that I use to confuse the mosquitoes; I feel they somehow get desensitized over time.

1. Tea Tree Oil

This is effective in calming inflammations on my skin, not so much on baby's. Tiny Bud's anti-itch gel which has this as its active ingredient is also effective on me (even for my occasional facial rash/pimples now that I'm pregnant & I can't undergo full-blown facials) but sadly not on Leji.

I used to buy Giga's Eucalyptus cologne but I stopped using it when they repackaged and removed from the label that it wards off insects.

2. Mosquito Patches

We have always relied on this since we weren't allowed to use lotions or sprays before her 6th month. Nowadays though it's tricker for Leji to keep in on her clothes.  She loves playing with stickers; and with its colorful designs and delightful scent, she's always tempted to reposition it again and again until it gets misplaced.

3. Zen Nutrients Anti-Mosquito Collection

Oh I've tried them all. From the water-based lavender eucalyptus (goes on like cologne but you have to reapply often) to the oil-based citronella (effective yet it gets sticky when it's humid) to the mild insect repelling Spanitizers (they have two variants: ginger & lavender) I think I could say I'm a Zen Nutrients loyalist.  I just have to remind myself to keep on reapplying as Leji and I sweat rather profusely in this heat.

When all else fails, we have the All is Well Balm to soothe our senses.

 4. Insect Repellant Creams

We've tried Off for Kids and Guard insect repellants before.  Now, we're using locally made Bite Block.  "Daily" has a powdery scent while "Kids" has a mild fruity scent.  Again, we just feel like we should alternate the scents to increase its efficacy.

5. Human Nature Natural Nappy Cream

I use Leji's leftover nappy cream to soothe her blisters and lighten her scars.  It's safe and enjoyable for her as she now knows how to apply the cream on some of the ugly spots on her legs.

Hmm. Hope this list helps. Keep safe & dry! Now it's 5am...time to watch Aya!:)