Pregnant in the Pandemic

Was a very unexpected but pleasant surprise! 💖 This is for you our dear baby #2.

At the beginning of 2020, I remember praying in our bible study group that we wanted to get pregnant again. Back in Feb 2020 the pandemic was not so serious so hoping to expand our family was but natural – Grey was turning 2. Considering it takes us a while, it may take us some time again. That was how it operated in our limited minds. But God does not work that way.

March lockdown happened. With months in… and hope of getting the normal life back couldn’t even be seen anymore, it seemed that it would just be us three. Adding another to our family seemed too ambitious and too impractical with the economy slipping. That’s how I rationalized back then.

In the 2nd half of 2020, with the stress of a problematic tenant and so much uncertainties, Jason got shingles, his immune system crashed.

Eventually he got healed and by God’s grace the tenant situation got resolved. In the midst of pivoting and reviving the business, with Jason busier than ever at home packing for the online store, running back home to and from the store, doing quick errands outside and all, a month after and 3 missed days, we received the best news in these dark times. 2 Straight lines.

I cried! How unexpected, how surreal. After 4 years, several operations and alternative treatments to have Grey, what a miracle to be blessed by another one so naturally… so spontaneously despite this pandemic.

Really God’s plan is different from ours, His thoughts and ways so much higher so much wiser, so perfect!

To be honest our dear baby #2… I was flooded with feelings of fear and joy when we learned we were having you. But at the end of the day we surrender to God’s will and remember His goodness, grace and sustenance ever since! How He was so much present then and so much present now.

Though there were some bouts of hesitation and feelings of inadequacy, in God we are confident.

Being pregnant in the pandemic… Is it so different? Is it so difficult during these times?

Yes it is different, 24 weeks in I had only 2 tele-consults with my OB and I haven’t even had physical check ups yet at the clinic. OB gave the option for tele-consult until 7 months in. But strictly by 7 months, I had to go to the clinic to monitor the baby.

I had my Congenital Anomaly Scan on week 24 the earliest (when it used to be week 20).

First ultrasound was scheduled on week 7 and wasn’t that needed weekly except that I had Sub chorionic Hemorrhage again (bleeding) so I had to have ultrasound on weeks 8 and 9. I am very grateful for my ob during these times, my ate’s friend. She was always available despite the busy-ness of medical life.

Mask and Face Shield were basic and essential whenever I went in for ultrasound in a nearby clinic. Before, I remember going to St. Luke’s qc for the scan but now the nearer, the less exposure to a hospital, the better!

In some ways, everything was more efficient. People moved faster in clinics, it was more sanitized. It was all getting down to business. Companions were not allowed in clinics here so it was just pregnant women and you felt relatively safe.

Was it more difficult? Not really!

Riskier? Maybe. But when you’re staying home most of the time what are the chances of contracting the virus? I really don’t know. But I don’t dwell on the virus, its potency or the death it brings, but I focus on God’s sovereignty.

Baby #2 you are part of God’s plan and another answered prayer to us. You are surely a gift of God in these uncertain times. Wanted even before the pandemic, and loved even before we get to hold you. We are excited to meet you when you come out in May! And Greyson who’s been asking for a playmate is so happy to know we’re having you:)

Weaning Grey at 27 months

So… we got pregnant 😹 Thank you Lord for an unexpected blessing in this pandemic. After all the treatments to have Grey… Makes me think could we just have waited?

Leading to finding out we were pregnant, Grey was hesitating to drink breastmilk. He was asking for Cowhead. He said Mommy’s milk tastes bad! But then at night when he wakes he would still comfort feed. He would also tell me that my milk is few.

I would continue to nurse him even if it was getting painful for me and even if he found it few. It was our way to connect. Our shared comfort, a bonding only we would ever have and share. When he would get upset or feel hurt, nursing would make him feel better. When he would get dizzy during our quick joyrides, latching would distract and calm him down.

Then my first ultrasound happened and I had some bleeding called Subchorionic Hemorrhage, I also had some contractions. It was advised that I stop breastfeeding. I was crying for days. I think I had it harder than Grey to be honest.

When I arrived home I told Grey he couldn’t drink my milk anymore which he fondly calls Milkamama, or else mommy’s tummy would be owie and mommy may have lots of blood. He knew we were going to have a baby. And he understood the condition.

Day 1:

That afternoon instead of nursing to sleep, surprisingly he was able to sleep on his own after we read a book. That night he was able to sleep on his own as well after drinking Cowhead and our usual routine, telling stories of his day and then praying. He didn’t look for my milk and I thank God he was able to transition smoothly.

When he woke up to cry in the middle of the night, I couldn’t resist I offered my milk and he latched though very quickly. I was so emotional I was crying and couldn’t sleep!

Day 2:

It was over just like that. My breastfeeding days. I didn’t offer my milk nor did he ask for it. He would sleep independently for his nap and at night.

Day 3 onwards:

Sleeping would sometimes be a struggle. Sometimes he didn’t sleep on schedule 12nn and 8pm. He would get exhausted close to 2pm and close to 9:30pm. He would talk until he falls asleep. He would crawl to his dad since I would fall asleep earlier.

So this isn’t an entry on how to wean. Because it just happened. And I miss Grey and that bonding every moment, every day. This would have dragged on until he was 3 but God knows best and it fell on schedule at 2 years old.

Weaning? one day they will be ready for it. And you will just miss it.

Even sleep training, he just slept on his own sometimes staring into space. And I’m missing those snuggles.

I am thankful for the benefits of our weaning though. He could sleep straight through the night without latching or asking for milk. But we make sure in the morning we offer milk or water. I also got better sleeps and I could move in any position except when he’s lying sideways or taking up our space. 😹

Lately Grey has been having meltdowns! And one night he was dreaming, he hugged my neck and said carry mommy! Since I couldn’t carry him lately. So much adjustments for this little boy but proud of him for being able to cope quickly. I think the meltdowns could be the suppressed feelings of quitting cold turkey. He didn’t throw a tantrum when I told him he couldn’t drink milk anymore.

Oh Grey. I feel sad having to share myself eventually to a new baby. Share my time, my feelings. This bonding will always be so special to me. How I wish I could nurse you longer but this is what’s best for us now. You will always be my first baby and I won’t forget this bonding, I hope you won’t too. 🙂

Potty Training time at 27 months

Writing this so I won’t forget! It has been almost 2 weeks of hits and misses and a whole lot of exhaustion!

Some say wait until they’re ready / show signs of readiness. Some say it will come. Some say when the parent is ready, they will be ready. Montessori studies show sensitivity to potty training at 15-18 months.

I was all for getting ready at 2 years old but also waiting it out until Greyson probably reaches 3. But by the time he reaches that age, we may be busier by then so I was committed to train him ASAP.

By the time he reached 2, I started buying undies and we started wearing them over diapers though not consistently. I also bought a book on using the potty which we read a lot until he didn’t want to read it anymore. 😹

Last week I asked Grey if he wanted diapers/briefs, he said briefs! Yay was this a sign? 😂

Then came a lot of “accidents!” After a week of experimenting 😆 I sought the help of mommy friends for tips and encouragement from my sister and read up.

Why do I always troubleshoot and learn through experience 🤦🏼‍♀️

Based on articles, you can potty train in 3 days. You just have to be diligent in observing your child and look for cues. Also call it a “miss” when they pee / do the other on the floor as they just missed the potty. It’s not their responsibility but ours as parents.

Some tips that worked for us are

1. Offer liquids often.

2. After 20 minutes, invite them to the potty and wait for them to pee. (I do ssh shh sounds to initiate 😂)

3. When todder looks like he’s about to poop (mine is being quiet and still / hiding) invite calmly to the toilet. (We use a toddler toilet seat to place on top of the regular one)

4. I usually urge him 😂 and do some sounds. Grey didn’t like sitting on the toilet and whenever I go out he would call me. I thought that he preferred pooping on his own but he wanted someone to be in the bathroom with him. 🤷‍♀️ I waited around 10-12 minutes and got him off the toilet. When he starts again, I put him on again and wait.

Some moms suggest reading a book / posting animal pictures / fun pictures on the walls to keep them entertained inside while waiting.

5. Repeat #1-4 until they get it. 😂

We are 2 days in and so far successful with Grey overcoming his “ilang” while sitting on the toilet and doing #2 there.

For peeing there are times of “missing” but I know he is getting the concept and the feeling of wet-ness. During nap times though and at night we still use diapers – this is going to be a different training or next level which I’m not ready for my sanity yet of cleaning a wet bed. 😹

In the first week I experienced lots of misses and had to wash soiled undies 🥴🥵 Sometimes I got upset while cleaning and was muttering under my breath. When I calmed down I apologized to Grey and told him it’s normal to have misses. It’s my fault I wasn’t watching. Took a lot of reframing and praying to be patient as we went through the day but here we are. Not quite there yet 😂 But moving forward with small wins!

In the 2nd week, fueled by encouragement and tips, cues were spotted and anticipated and also with Daddy J on board. This really takes dedication 😆 It seems so easy but training takes time and a lot of effort. How I wish I could say I’m enjoying this stage – this is probably my least favorite.

But whenever there’s a moment I can hear myself think, I search within how this season will pass so quickly. I remember how he looks down at the floor saying “weewee”. How he gets a mat and helps wipe his miss / the mess. His calling me when I slip out of the bathroom. His needing me to sit down with him by the potty. It will soon be past. Our baby who’s no longer a baby but will soon be a little boy.

The golden opportunity with the golden calf

Last night, Greyson wanted me to read the Bible to him. We’ve read it to him a few times but it was just last night we lingered in the story of Moses. He pointed to the golden calf and said “What’s that?” I said “it’s a golden calf”. Then silence… his pointer finger tapping on the image of the golden calf… (Ganito talaga siya parang professor nag-aantay ng sagot habang pinapawisan ka ng malupit!)

I was thinking… how do I explain it to him? Is it an animal? Thing? What does it stand for? What’s the context of the story?

I was groping for words.. Pano ba i-explain sa 26 month old?? He just turned 2.

Me: ah…..it’s an idol. (but Greyson does not know an idol)

Try again: Ummm it’s an object that you worship (but Grey does not know what “worship” means yet)!!

I felt it was a golden opportunity to share what it was because he was so curious! I praise God because an idea popped in my mind. I praise God that He made it simple and clear to me that moment that Greyson can understand and relate to.

Calmly I said, the golden calf is like your toy… It does not have feelings, it cannot do anything. It is something that you love more than God.

In that story, Moses went up the mountain to talk to God (this is the story of the 10 commandments) but when he came down the people forgot about God. They made an object, a thing, a golden calf! After all that God did for them.. (we backtracked to the previous page)

God rescued them from the bad guys. God gave them food. God gave them water.

Greyson added: God give mountain

Me: Yes

Greyson: God give leaf

Me: Uh yes..

Greyson: God give trees

Me: Yes! And they forgot about God and loved the golden calf. That is called sin. When you love something like your toy more than God.

Do you understand?

Greyson said Yes.

I wonder if he really did but I believe that he did! Before he slept during our cuddle time I asked him who does Greyson love? He said Greyson love Mommy.

And then in between nursing, what he said next jolted me awake…

Greyson love golden calf.

Me: the golden calf??

Greyson shook his head while nursing and then he unlatched and said “Greyson love Jesus”.

Ahh baka “don’t love”. Greyson still does not know how to use “don’t.”

I tried again, “Greyson does not love the golden calf.” He nodded yes and he said again “Greyson love Jesus”.

Whew.. mabuti nang malinaw 😂 looks like he got the story.. Praise God. But I am not worried, I am confident God will give another opportunity in case he did not get it. God is reaching out to everyone every single moment, even as young as Grey.

While teaching this to him, pati ako nacoconvict. I also remember how God has been good, and is good. How he provided, loves and cares for us. He does not forget us or our needs but how easy it is for us to forget Him and His goodness to us.

How we love other things more than Him. How we prioritize other things – our work, our family, even ourselves, over Him who deserves all our love, attention and praise.

Thank you Lord for giving us Greyson to remind us of of our sinfulness and how we need Jesus. Thank you Jesus for nailing our past, present and future sins on the cross so that we can talk to God. How powerful you are Lord and how awesome you are that you can walk on the water, speak to the sea and stand in the fire beside us.

Praying that Greyson would learn to love God and follow Jesus when he grows up.

Quarantine FavorEats

Since ECQ last March, home bakers and new cooks were born! Filipinos are very resilient and however hard life can be, we cry a bit and then a little bit more and then stand back up again. It’s okay not to be okay! 😬 Anyway this is a different topic altogether but sharing with you the top quarantine eats we were able to have a bite of during the lockdown. While some came from well-loved restaurants, some have just discovered their passion in cooking or baking and a possible lifelong career!

1. Ube Cheese Pandesal

Who hasn’t heard of the famous Ube Cheese Pan de Sal?? From Philippines to USA, the recipe has been going around and been shared so many times! We were able to taste this thanks to my sister who sponsored us this treat 😂 All the way from USA she ordered this from In the Mood for Baking . Mas updated pa siya sa amin! 😂 Our foodie baby, Greyson was able to try this and he was so excited to pinch and pull out the cheese. He loves cheese and though there was a generous amount inside, he wanted another pan de sal. Save some for us! 😂

Another treat we were able to try from In the Mood for Baking was their Queso de Bola Ensaymada. I enjoyed this the most! It was almost covered in Queso de Bola cheese and it was really soft.

Prices:

Ube Cheese Pan de Sal – P320 / 16pcs

Queso de Bola Ensaymada – P510 / 6pcs, P950 1 dozen

*photos grabbed from In the Mood for Baking

2. Make your own kits! Paella Making Kit from Barcino

For our anniversary since we couldn’t have paella outside, we brought it inside! It was even better since we were in the comfort of our homes. We had their Paella Chorizo Y Pollo.

I felt like an expert! 😂 Secret of moms who want to serve the best restaurant-like dishes – get a make your own kit! This was good for 4 so it pretty much lasted us until dinner. Tipid! Also, it was very flavorful a little on the salty side but yummy nonetheless. Grey learned the word “paella” and his palate got exposed to how paella tastes like. Just a note that when you order this via Grab, it falls under GrabMart and it has to be transported via car.

3. Basque Burnt Cheesecake

In fairness ang updated ni hubby for someone who doesn’t open his social media unless it’s for work! He got to this before I did. Basque Burnt Cheesecake with a twist since it has brownies for the bottom layer. Masarap siya! It’s not too sweet and the cheese in the cheesecake was not overpowering! The brownie cake added texture to the cheesecake and the burnt top added flavor. It was the perfect balance.

Bea’s Cookies PH in Marikina

4. Belgian Cookies and Oatmeal cookies

From Bea’s Cookies Ph too! Thank you to my sister-in-law Ate Christie for introducing this to us. Suki na kami! This is baked / managed by a homeschooler. Galing diba? That’s what I like about homeschool even if we haven’t started yet! A twist to this is it had caramel bits too. In this pandemic sometimes we just need that classic choco chip cookie to feel a little better!

A new player in the sweets business is Cain’s! We had the chance to taste these healthy oatmeal cookies thanks to my MIL. It was chewy, not too sweet so there was no guilt when I reached in for another cookie. 😂 Oh this is best paired with coffee! Thank you Camille!

5. Baked Sushi

From Phbakedgoodies! By now it has evolved to having scallops, unagi, salmon, taco bake and then came caviar pie! It was our first time to try this top quarantine craze and it did not disappoint. Oh how sushi has evolved! This was so good and worth trying out!

Phbakedgoodies in IG

8×8 = 800

9×12 = 1375

6. Milky Cheese Donuts

Just look at that cheese oozing out! This is a winner! I couldn’t get my hands off this. Sweet, salty and powdery! Another one from Bea’s cookies ph.

7. Vikings for celebrations

*Photo grabbed from Vikings Luxury Buffet

This is pretty much how it looked like! Their 600/head was worth it because it didn’t lose its celebratory appeal plus it lasted us for 3 meals. Minimum order is 3,000 good for 5 pax! The next best thing if you miss celebrating your birthdays in Vikings, you still get to enjoy them at home and this time pwede na leftovers and takeout! For reheating later 🙂

What quarantine eats are your favorites? 🙂

What to do in Osaka, Japan with a toddler

Japan is one of the places that we enjoyed because of the culture and the people. So when Cebu Pacific had a promo for November we decided to visit again with Greyson! Last time we went here, we visited the tourist sites in Kyoto, Nara and they were mostly temples. This time around we explored kid-friendly places and there was still so much to see and so much to do!

Traveling with a toddler has its perks – it’s still free if your child sits on your lap, he’s still relatively manageable, plus it’s a great experience to teach new words what with his absorbent mind until 3 years. Of course we needed to brace ourselves for possible scenarios like how will he respond with the pressure in the plane, how will we entertain him during the flight, hopefully he wouldn’t catch a stomach bug, hopefully he wouldn’t get sick or us too that we would be unable to take care of him.

Grateful to God that the trip was really smooth and Greyson was such a trooper! He was easy to travel with as he didn’t make a fuss yay! He got bored on the plane but he didn’t cry. He entertained himself by playing with the magazines in front of us.

I think this was really the best time for us to travel as a family since we were finally recovered from the tiredness of last year =)) Also Greyson at 1 year 5 months by then was already showing his interests (like animals and tasting different foods – he is adventurous with his tastebuds and he’s starting to acquire a taste for spicy food) and it was easier for us to decide on the places to visit.

We stayed in Osaka for 5 days with 1.5 days allotted for transit. Here’s our itinerary in our 5 Day Trip.

Day 1 – Travel

Day 2 – Namba Walk, Osaka Aquarium, Passed by Tempozan Ferris Wheel along the way

Day 3 – Nara Deer Park, Yoshikien Garden, Kofukuji Temple (just because it’s on our way to the train station), Dotonbori at night

Day 4 – Tennoji Zoo, Shinsekai, Dotonbori

Day 5 – Nambanaka Park, Kuromon Market (mostly for us :)) to go on a date), Travel to Manila

Here’s a short review of the places we visited with our 1 year old.

  1. Osaka Aquarium – We visited on a weekday and there were lots of tourists and families and it’s not that crowded! I thought it would just be for kids, but we enjoyed this as well! It’s a place both parents and children will enjoy. The main attractions were the penguins (for us), dolphins, the shark, whale shark, and the last stop wherein you could touch the the shark and stingray. Please be mindful of course to wash your hands before touching them so any chemicals can be washed off. Some dolphins weren’t camera shy and they would get close to the glass of the aquarium. It was nice to see them cohabiting as animals that lived on land and in the water below were in the same aquarium. It was so awesome to see so many species in the sea. We wondered if we were really swimming with them instead of us looking in, it would be so scary to swim beside these giants and yet we would also be awestruck with them! There were a lot of species you wouldn’t see in Manila Ocean Park so it’s good to visit this place.

Some tips: For those carrying strollers, they don’t allow strollers in the escalators so you have an option to deposit it on the 3rd floor. Elevators were not that accessible so in order to use the escalator, you would need to fold your stroller. Eat snacks before going in since food and drinks are not allowed inside!

Direction from Namba subway: Take Midosuji line (red) to Hommachi Station. Take Chuo line (green) to Osakako station. Go down Osakako station and walk to the Aquarium. You will pass by Tempozan ferris wheel going there

Cost: 2,300 Yen for adults around 1K in PHP. toddlers are free (aged 3 and under)

Aquarium

2. Nara Deer Park – Deers in their natural state are here! They would be roaming the park some ready for photo op while some are quite shy. Last time we were here it was already dark so it was nice to see them in daylight. I wanted Grey to see the deers since he likes animals and I thought he would enjoy it here. Well initially he did, until I started feeding the deers some deer biscuits which you could buy in the stand for around 200 yen. When they started biting my pants and they were becoming aggressive I kind of panicked and turned around too fast. Grey who was leaning by my leg accidentally fell down and he started to cry. We were encircled by the deers and it was really overwhelming even for me! :)) Grey was okay but he got a little scared with what seemed initially like harmless creatures. :p They are actually until you feed them the biscuits.

Some tips: If you plan to hang around the area, you can buy some snacks as there are benches here you can sit on. Watch your tots run and play in this vast park. Kofukuji temple is nearby – you won’t miss the pagoda structure!

Eat where: Across Nara park, you will see a commercial space where Starbucks is. Try Gyu-Katsu (Deep Fried Breaded beef cutlet) more on this in another entry. There is also a convenience store for packed food and coffee shop here.

Direction from Namba subway: Ride kintetsu-nara line (yellow orange) going to Kintetsu-Nara station. Walk to Nara Deer Park

Cost: Free!

Nara

3. Yoshikien Garden in Nara – I don’t know about you but we wanted to visit the parks in Japan as there seem to be a few back at home. We decided to visit Yoshikien garden a few meters away from Nara Deer Park. Here you can see the traditional parks in Japan where there are lots of trees and with a stream flowing. It was a relatively small area and it was so peaceful. You can just really be one with nature here. I suppose if you visit when the leaves change, it would be so glorious to see!

Some tips: Free of charge for foreigners if you show your passport! Food and drinks are not allowed so be sure to fill up before!

Cost: Free! but if no passport it would cost around 200 YEN

Park

4. Dotonbori – Must visit if you’re going to Osaka! You wouldn’t leave Osaka without putting this in your itinerary. Greyson enjoyed the huge 3D displays of Kani Duraku, Octopus, Blowfish restaurant and what we call the Angry Man. :)) We went at night so the lights were especially bright and his eyes grew wide in amusement! We bought a Tako soft toy as a souvenir and Greyson liked it so much he would kiss it since it also had a puckered mouth :))

Some tips: This is a very popular tourist destination so if you plan to eat at the stalls, it’s going to burn a hole in your wallet! But what’s going to Osaka without going on a food trip? 🙂 We had some street food but we weren’t that filled so we ended up eating Takoyaki along the Dotonbori river and loaded on Taco Bell right after :))

Cost: Free!

Glico

5. Tennoji Zoo – This is going to get a lot bigger since when we went there, there was a part that was under construction and they are going to add more animals! Things that were new to us were the Chinese Gray wolf (Chinese Grey :)) ), the antelopes, rhinoceros and the hippo. There was a petting area wherein the kids can pet the sheep! Greyson was delighted to be able to see the sheep go Baa Baa as in like Baa baa black sheep! What I like about the design of the zoo was they were really trying to recreate their natural habitat. The giraffe and antelopes were sharing the same space as if they were in the wild. It may seem small to us adults but for a 1 year old, it was already huge. Greyson’s last animal to see was the flamingo then he drifted off. We weren’t able to see the reptile corner. This is a great place for our toddler to get acquainted with the many different animals! They also had penguins here so whether in hot or cold climate, our toddler can have exposure to various species in varying weathers.

Some tips: You can bring food here and have a picnic in shaded areas. Don’t feed the birds! I just saw this when we left. Greyson enjoyed chasing them around.

Cost: 500 Yen for adults, free for toddlers!

Tiger

6. Shinsekai – This is right across Tennoji Zoo so be sure to stop here to see the “old” Dotonbori. It really looked like Dotonbori with all the huge 3D displays and the restaurants were beside each other. If you are not iffy with your toddler eating fried food, you can all try their Kushi-katsu which is deep friend skewered veggies / meat. We also ordered Gyoza of course for Greyson. Shinsekai is famous for their Kushi-katsu so don’t leave this place without trying it here! Most restaurants offer this so it just boils down to your preference in dining – if you’d like a bigger dining place (which I think is best if you have kids).

Directions: Right across Tennoji Zoo exit!

Cost: Free to walk along Shinsekai! But for the food it’s around 1,000 – 1,500 Yen per pax.

Shinsekai2 Shinsekai

7. Nambanaka Park or any park! – Japan has lots of them and if you look in Google maps, you might be lucky to see one near you. We had one near our hotel which was Nambanaka Park. Greyson had the park all to himself! Of course we prefer if there were other kids that he can play with. There were also birds and insects that his daddy taught him about. It was fun to just run around and play. We really prefer that he is outdoors but there is a lack of it back home in the city so we end up in the mall and play areas. Here we got refreshed by nature and it was simply wonderful to enjoy the cool breeze, watch the birds, and stay under the shade of trees. Truly the best things in life are free.

Nambanaka nambanaka2

8. Eat at Namba walk – Most restaurants are kid friendly and would have a high chair. In the restaurant we ate, they automatically provide a bowl and spoon when they saw we had Greyson. Have omu rice and desserts here at Namba walk, there are lots!

Some tips: Pay when you exit near the door and as much as possible have as many cash. Card is rarely used when paying for food. Also it is practice to order one dish per person. Sharing is not practiced here, but for bringing babies and toddler, of course they can share with the adult.

Cost: Around 800-1,000 Yen per pax

Namba walk

9. Buy Fresh Fruits at Kuromon Market – There is a passage in Namba walk going to Kuromon Market, so Namba seems to really be the center as you would also land here from the airport. Anyway, buy seasonal fruits here for your toddler! We bought green melon, strawberries and persimmon for Grey!

Some tips: While you’re at it, try their sea urchin, crab, and sashimi! To be really filled and if you’d like to try lots, you would probably spend around 1,000 Yen – 1,500 Yen per pax. Will post in another entry our food finds in Kuromon Market!

Cost: Around 400-500 Yen for fruits.

There were lots of kid friendly activities in Osaka like a multi level play area but we didn’t go there yet since Greyson is still too small for it and we wouldn’t be able to maximize it. Other attractions that maybe your kids will enjoy are the pet cafes. They had an owl cafe along Dotonbori but we decided to forego it for now. What I like about Osaka was it’s kid-friendly. You can see many young moms in transit and in the trains with a kid or two. It isn’t that busy except of course when you go to Namba subway which seems to be the center of connecting trains. Hoping we would go back (within 5 years because that’s when our visa will expire:)) ) when Greyson gets a little bigger and he would see the angry man, kani duraku and the giant tako again!:)

Post below your other suggestions on where to take your toddler to Osaka! 🙂

First Time Mom Diaries: First year of motherhood

Started writing this when Greyson was 11 months old but got to finish when he’s about to turn 17 months (1 year and 5 months)

11 months in and I’m feeling sad my baby’s going to be a toddler soon but relieved we are over the newborn and getting to know stage. How time flies! He’s getting heavier by the week and it’s getting hard to keep up – both in carrying him and also his activities. As his birthday draws near we look back at the 11 months of his life and being new parents to the biggest, priceless blessing in our married life.

The first 3 months or what they call the FOURTH TRIMESTER: PURE CHAOS, and bliss, AND CHAOS.

It was living in the dark inside my room. Why was it dark? I do not know too! But we were creating an atmosphere for him to sleep longer as if he were in my womb. I couldn’t move much because of my leaking wound so I would often retire in the room and just sit for long hours. I felt Grey’s cry was so loud and hearing him cry inconsolably was stressing me out. I didn’t know if he was sleepy, hungry, or cold, or worse, sick. We were always always in a rush! To feed him. He would eat for an hour and wake up the next to eat. We were hoping to catch some sleep. Every time I would face him I would pray that God would give me more milk to feed him and after praying, I would feel peace. Despite the million things running in my mind, by God’s grace I am able to talk to Grey calmly and urge him that he can do it and that he should keep sucking to draw milk out. I am amazed at how God has created the human body and given us milk to supply to our babies.

The first few months was chaos but it was pure bliss as I remember him sleeping on my chest when I burp him or as Jason burps him. He was so small, so so thin and fragile. It was also so peaceful even as I drift off to sleep. It was the best feeling when both of us would sleep at the same time.

It was so chaotic when we went back to the pedia on his 4th week. I dreaded feeding him in public. My mind was a mess, I had a hard time thinking and even deciding what to bring, what to wear, what to do. My pre-pregnancy clothes don’t fit me yet so all the button downs are out of the question. I just bought 2 breastfeeding wear, I was so unprepared! Thankfully my mom bought a few that could get me by. It seems so trivial now but back then we were as confused and as lost as we could ever be! But thank God despite Grey’s cries his weight was growing steadily. Slowly but surely. I was so concerned that he looked super super thin and frail and I was kept questioning my milk supply. I was here and there! I was so anxious with his weight and would often compare him with other babies. They would say breastfed babies would often be lean but Greyson was soooo thin! It would worry us and we would often discuss if we should give him a top up of milk or just decide to mix feed him.

But all worry seemed to stop for a moment as it was pure bliss to see him SMILE for the first time sometime during the 6th week. In my confused state that time, I was honestly convinced he would feed on and on and on till he grows up. Crazy right?? So it was so new to me when around his 6th week he looked up at me, unlatched… and smiled! Then he would coo… Our hearts melted. We would talk to him and pause as if conversing with him. And he would coo. Oh what joy!! <3

By the 2nd month we were having cabin fever and we needed some fresh air – so we went out with Grey for leisure. Just a few minutes on his stroller and he was wailing! His outbursts are so loud it made me panic. We immediately packed up and rode the car so I could feed him privately. I dreaded feeding in public! Was this the way to cross cradle hold? I have no idea! I wondered if all babies cried like him, some moms would say they couldn’t stand the cries of their babies because it was too loud. But when I hear their babies cry it was just so little compared to Grey’s. The moment he cries it was so loud and high! It really made me panic and just want to stay at home until he grows up.

We tried different ways to transport him like the carrier and the stroller.  It was so confusing to use the various carriers lent to us no matter how much I tried watching youtube. I needed an actual demo. The Lillebaby worked best for me but he was still too small for it. Anyway, he would just cry in both carrier and stroller! Little did I know this was the season of letting him get used to it. There were times he would fall asleep in the carrier without me nursing him but then it would change again the next. We really needed a lot of patience and perseverance!

These were the months of teaching him tummy time to strengthen his neck! Tummy time can be done as early as 2 weeks old! He would often cry when we would turn him over. So we would pick him up again. Jason was in charge of the activities and he was so courageous in handling Grey even if he was so unsure about his daddy skills. He taught me how to hold the head properly so I could turn him over for tummy time. I didn’t have the time or energy to play with him because I was so spent just feeding him. My mom was also very helpful during these times as she would give Grey some sunlight in the morning as he had jaundice for almost 3 months! I am also thankful to my mom that it was so instinctive of her to care for Grey. It’s as if she’s been taking care of a newborn all this time! She also taught us that Grey has to have his “ME TIME” as she put him in the play mat / activity mat to look at the animals that dangled. When Grey could open his eyes longer nearing 3 months he would have his “me time”.

Websites like The Baby Sleep Site, WebMD, The Bump, and the app Wonder Weeks helped us to track developmental milestones and what Grey should be hitting every month. We would write this on our mirror. His height and weight and make a checklist if he hit his milestones. I discovered that when he would have longer waking times, he was following a schedule / a pattern. Eat, Wake Time, Sleep or it would often be known as E.A.S.Y. (Eat, Activity, Sleep. You – for me time)

Finally it looks as if we were getting the hang of it. Until the next month when this would all change again. 😛

4 – 6 months : More waking hours and personality coming out 

*More minutes awake and suddenly I do not know what to do during his waking hours! This was the time when I started to realize we do not have toys for his age that would keep him occupied and that we had to buy a few things.

*Tried sleep training for around 5 days, putting him down to sleep at 7PM and let him cry it out in his crib (just beside us) but it was so tiring and draining for us and I figured he still needs the extra feed at night since he looked so thin. We ended up with him sleeping beside me again.

*We heard some babies are already sleeping through the night (meaning 4-5 hours straight) or from 12 midnight-5am. But not with Greyson! I was still breastfeeding him every 2-3 hours but it wasn’t so bad because as soon as he latched, he would fall asleep and I would sleep as well.

*Sleep regression! was real. When we would get used to him sleeping longer now, he would suddenly wake up from 30 mins in his naps and wake up every 45 minutes at night. wahhh! Sleep when will you come to me??

*What we discovered: He was such a smiley baby! He was crying so much during the first 3 months but then by the 4th month he made up for all the crying with smiling and giggles. His personality is starting to show and we were so glad he was smiley it was pleasant taking care of him.

*We were also trying to let him sit with the tripod position wherein his hands would prop him up.

This was also the series of months wherein he was starting to get chubby cheeks and chubby legs and I was getting chubbier too! :)) I took the advice of my friend to eat lots of fatty food like a thick slab of butter on my toast, lots of oatmeal and cocoa with it. She said she lost weight anyway when the baby was 1 year old and somehow assured me I would lose weight by then too by caring for Greyson. Oh how I wish we were the same body type and had the same metabolism!!

This was also the first time Greyson developed a cold on his 4th month. It lasted about a week and a few days. I honestly thought that breastfeeding would prevent him from getting a cold but it’s not the case. It’s not the case too that he would heal faster. It was something all babies had to go through what with all the virus around, they need to be immune from the various strains. I remember it being tough since I had to sleep sitting down yet again while feeding him since his head needs to be elevated. But nevertheless we survived his first cold and his body could only get tougher!

7-9 months – The beginning of fun and messy feeding times. ALSO his waking hours just got real.

I decided to feed him his first solids on his 7th month and his first was squash with breastmilk. In my other blog entry, I recalled how difficult it was for me to collect milk. I could barely pump even if I tried manual and electric. It was normal to collect about 1.5-2 oz after every feed but I had barely since Greyson would often feed on and on. I had to hand express every time I fed him solids and I would collect another measly amount of milk.

He enjoyed his first solids and he seemed to want more! Our pedia advised 1 tsp a day was enough, and then it became 1 tsp per meal and soon we were increasing it to 2 tsps. I remember steaming them along with rice and storing them in little cube containers that resembled an ice cube tray.

These were the months he was becoming more interactive and was already showing his personality. Greyson can get easily frustrated since he would know what he want and he couldn’t communicate it.

On his 9th month, the water crisis struck us and it was such a challenging time since we live on the 3rd floor and water supply was low to none. It was so tiring caring for him, trying to stick to his routine and running the home. But I thank God for sustaining me with super energy to accomplish the things that need to be done! These were the months I started to get back up and cook at home. I started regaining energy to work at home.

Every month we would research about the developmental milestones and this would be our goal to help him reach this. At the end of his 9th month nearing his 10th, he started to stand up with support! We were thrilled but at the same time, I feel his baby-ness slipping through my fingers.

Around these months he uttered his first word “Mama” and I was floating! I loved hearing it over and over again. I have been waiting for this moment.

This was also the first few months he did his first hand signal which was to wave bye! It was so funny and he has been using it to call things too. He has been doing lots of funny things like wiping the table and sleeping. He learned his first chore probably because he can see us around the house wiping and sweeping.

10-12 months – Eating table food and walking a few steps

On his 10th month, our pedia gave the go signal for Greyson to eat table food! Of course we need to avoid salt at all costs. But when we go out to eat, I just had to choose what seemed safe enough for him. He was so fond of eating and I was so glad he wasn’t a picky eater (just yet!)

*These were also the months we intentionally taught him hand signals so if ever he needed to  communicate something, he could gesture. He wouldn’t gesture back until probably his 12th month, wherein he would gesture “more”. He signaled More because he wanted more rambutan! He is such a foodie!

After he turned 11 months, while I was on the phone and he was leaning towards my legs, he got so bored, he took his first few steps going to his play fence! I almost dropped the call to catch him on video =))

Milestones happen so swiftly!! I am so thankful to God for providing for us and to Jason that he gave me that option to stay at home for the meantime to be a full time mom to Greyson. It was so wonderful to witness his every milestone, to know what all his little sounds and gestures meant and to be able to interpret them. Sure it wasn’t everything and there were times I would feel crazy at home because time seemed to pass so slowly and yet so fast at the same time. It was like watching TV in black and white and everything was in analog. After the busy-ness and excitement of life and work, suddenly it would all be in slow motion. It takes a lot to be intentional and observe Greyson to be able to train him in the way he should go. But God is giving me the grace to endure and be joyful about what seems to be mundane things to me but exciting times for Grey. I thank God for giving me fresh eyes to see from Grey’s perspective – to see things anew, to just be amazed at this tiny little being He has given us for us to love and care for. True that some things can wait and all the things I used to do are put on hold. But seeing the joy in Grey’s face, watching him grow and all his antics, I wouldn’t trade being a mom to Grey for anything. <3

Breastfeeding Basics

When I started to breastfeed it was like learning a whole new language! There were so many “terms” that I needed to study and look up to be able to articulate what I need and what I mean.

What is a let down? What is exclusive pumping? Websites like kellymom.com, instagram account of legendairy milk, and fb group Breastfeeding Pinays helped a lot!

Also I didn’t know there were different types of breastfeeding. I didn’t have a plan because I initially thought breastfeeding was just baby feeding from the breast. But pumping your milk and having baby feed through the bottle of expressed milk is also considered breastfeeding. 😱 Anyway… it was my goal to breastfeed my child not only because of the bonding but also the benefits. I feel that this is the design of our body to be able to nurture our child.

I was not able to prepare for breastfeeding and only learned as I went along with the help of friends and breastfeeding groups. This was what I understood and have read so far and sharing with you the basics should you decide to embark on this beautiful journey.

Please feel free to correct me if I’m wrong:)

As you begin the journey of breastfeeding you have to decide if you will directly breastfeed / bottle feed / cup feed / mix feed.

1. Direct breastfeeding – when baby will latch on to your breast and feed from there

2. Bottle feed – when baby will take your milk from the bottle.

3. Cup feed – when baby will take your milk from a cup.

4. Mix feed – when baby will drink breastmilk and formula milk. It may also mean drinking from the breast and bottle.

Of course when you decide to bottle feed you’d be needing either an electric or manual pump, sterilizer, milk bags (Orange and Peach has breastfeeding essentials like milk storage bags, nipple balm, nipple puller), a freezer to store the milk bags and a bottle / cup. This is usually an option for working moms or even SAHM’s who would want a break from the breast at times / for whatever reason. I couldn’t get the hang of this since my son was hungry all the time and latched all the time that I could barely pump milk. When I did I could only produce 0.5 oz!! Rare are the times I could produce max of 2.5oz. I found it pointless to keep collecting a measly amount and had to keep washing, and sterilizing big and small pump parts that I gave up altogether.

The basic rule: The more you empty / drain your breasts efficiently, the more milk you will produce.

For around 2-3 weeks we mixed fed baby G, then opted to directly breastfeed eventually. It is more convenient.

Some breastfeeding positions we tried:

Got this image from youbabyandi.com

At the hospital they usually teach the football hold and it is so difficult to be honest. It needs a lot of practice! This is recommended for CS moms as it does not put pressure to the abdominal area.

Cross cradle – I use this when outside when baby can’t support his head yet.

Side lying – is the most comfortable and I can also rest while doing this. A friend taught me how to do this and it has saved me a lot from sleepless nights.

Now that baby can stand up with support at 10 months, forget these positions! he nurses in different positions as he pleases 😂

The battle of directly breastfeeding though are common breastfeeding problems

1. Clogged ducts – which happens when baby does not drain milk from your breast. Needs to be drained asap or else may lead to mastitis.

2. Milk blebs – blisters in your nipples caused by poor latching. Has happened to me several times and I wish I could get the hang of how to treat it but it’s different at times. There are times I could handle it myself, but recently I needed the help of a lactation consultant.

3. Sore nipples – usually just happens the first two weeks / when baby is teething

4. Mastitis – the worst possible to have. Thank God this has not happened to me.. and I hope it won’t ever during this journey but it could have if I am not able to release milk from my clogged ducts. An indication of this is usually sore breasts and fever. Ouch!!

When those problems happened, it felt like holding my breath because I didn’t know if it would resolve like the last time. I held my breath for I anticipated another sleepless night as I keep hand expressing and keep urging Grey to latch and suck the clog out – he is usually the solution but it’s challenging for him because they say that the milk tastes different when we have clogged ducts. When all that’s done it was like a big whoosh! and a sigh of relief as the pain would disappear and Grey and I would go back to our breastfeeding symbiosis.

When you breastfeed you would usually have several let downs (when milk would gush) I was only aware of this on Grey’s third month when I would see long and drawn swallows, then it would be back to his usual short sucks. It would usually make you feel drowsy. 🤪

Breastfeeding must haves for me:

1. Nursing pillow! I used one from Bloom given as a gift. This was essential during the first 3 months as baby could not support his head yet and he would usually drink long and seemingly endlesssssssss hours. 😳

2. Nipple cream – I used one from Medela and Lansinoh. This was so important during the first few weeks to heal my breasts. I also had to bring it out again from my drawer when baby started teething and I developed blisters. I had to keep moisturizing it.

3. Nursing cover – At first the ones that you hung over your head – the apron type worked. But when Grey was getting more mobile I used one that’s like a poncho for more coverage as he would kick and pull down the top part.

4. Nursing bra – You will need around 3 or 4! There are lots in department stores, and for tops that are off shoulder I use Bench’s bandeau. Be careful though not to wear this for long periods as to not restrict the milk flow and to avoid clogged ducts.

5. Breastfeeding friendly tops / dresses – button down or those with cut outs underneath. Try searching in Shoppee, Valiannes Trends, Elin. There are actually a lot of online shops offering these. I prefer to use my old clothes, sadly some don’t fit anymore 🥴. But for those that do, a friend recommended Uniqlo’s airism top that you can wear underneath any dress or top. Just pull up your top, pull down Uniqlo and nurse anywhere! 🙂

6. A support system 😂 I wouldn’t have continued this journey if it weren’t for the moral support of my husband and friends whom I can ask and share my burdens with.

If you decide to pump, there are more things that you need to bring like a cooler, milk bags, bottles, pump etc. Exclusive pumpers are those who just pump and wouldn’t let baby latch. But since I directly breastfeed I would just need a cover and that’s it.

10 months in and it has been a wonderful journey of bonding with my son. I initially planned at least 6 months but I am currently pushing to a year and I thank God for providing me with ample milk for my little one. Not too much and not too little, just enough for his appetite. This is one of the memories I wouldn’t forget and I hope Grey doesn’t too! :,) Seeing him satisfied the first time, his first smile as he paused momentarily from feeding, our little game of nose-nose-mouth as he looks up at me and I would hold his hand and point it to my nose and mouth as he feeds, when he would teeth / have his first cold and he would be comforted by latching, when he would be in a new place and hide under the nursing cover. I hope he would remember our bonding! This journey is just beautiful with its hills and valleys, I hope I don’t have to wean him and he would just wean on his own. For now enjoying this time while it lasts 🙂

Applying for Philippine passport for minor and Renewal for parent

One of the to-do things for us for Grey’s first year is to apply for his passport. It was timely too since my passport was expiring this July 2019 and I could renew my passport while applying for his. We found out that children aged 7 years old and below had a courtesy lane so no need to set an appointment!

On that day, we planned to leave when Grey first wakes around 5AM for a diaper change but he chose to wake up at 7AM! 🤪So we rushed out of the house and were greeted by bad traffic. We took our chances even if we arrived a little past 10AM at DFA Sm Megamall and friends advised to go early since they would just serve the first 100 or so for the priority lane. At 10AM on a Thursday we got #65 (given by the guard at the entrance).

Jason was allowed to accompany us inside and it was convenient for me since I had to photocopy the front page of my passport (i only had 1, but apparently we needed another to be attached to Grey’s documents) and rush around. Plus we were still breastfeeding so the bags and documents were just everywhere. 😳

To apply for a renewal I needed the following:

1. My Birth certificate

2. Front page of my passport – photocopy

3. My original passport

4. Application form filled out

Application Form – Renewal Adult

For a new application for minors we needed the following

1. Grey’s birth certificate – photocopy

2. My marriage contract – photocopy

3. Front page of my passport

4. Application form for minor filled out

New Application Form for Minor

Step 1: Check documents

If you’ve filled out the forms and completed the requirements, you can have it checked immediately at the counter and they will give you a new number for queuing. It could have been faster but I just filled up the application form there.

Step 2: Check documents

As our number was flashed on the screen we went to window 2 for our documents to be checked again. My passport was also disregarded and I am unable to use it already although the visas inside will still be valid.

Step 3: Cashier

Cashier. We paid around 1,200 each for 6 business days.

Step 4: Photo

There will be someone along the hall to hand you a number for queuing again for Passport picture to be taken.

Of all times, this was the time Greyson got sleepy and had to breastfeed. As soon as he went under the cover my number was called! Had to fuss around underneath the cover and in a hurry too. Note to self: get a bigger and more enclosed nursing cover.

Greyson at 9 months had to sit atop a box so he would be leveled with the camera. They were pretty good at catching the attention of kids so he would look at the camera. (They used a laser pointer pointing to the camera, and one guy played Pikachu in Youtube and he was pretty serious doing this it was so funny 😆 )

Just a few reminders: For ladies please don’t wear earrings, hairpins etc. I had to remove this. I totally forgot how it’s done!

And double check all information as they encode it!

Step 5: Pay for courier

I had to pay 150 each for both mine and Greyson’s even if our address is the same. I wonder why?? They said that it is the protocol. Huhu. But it would still save us time, traffic and effort of going back to pick it up.

We were done at about 11:45 and had our lunch. Greyson got tired after that he dozed off soon.

Finally! New passport applied and renewed for Grey and I! 😄 yay we’re ready to fly ✈️ when we can 🤪

Blue Water Maribago in Cebu Review

Gallery

Every year it has been our goal to travel at least once. The vacation we took was a plane ride to Cebu, our final rest and recreation before we become 3 in our family.  Everything was smooth from the airport … Continue reading