Chasing Summer

School just started and summer is officially over for us here in Manila.  Oh, how I wish it could’ve lasted a little bit longer!  So this post is a round-up of our summer (if only to hold on to it a little bit more).

Right after school ended, we flew to Bangkok for S‘s gymnastics competition.  This was her first international tournament so she was excited and nervous at the same time.  As for me, it was my first time to be away from baby for such a long time so I experienced a major separation anxiety attack!  It was a good thing that my mom (Laly to my kids) agreed to stay at our house for the duration of our trip.  This eased my mind and calmed my heart a little over leaving the baby in the care of just the nanny and our helper.  Don’t get me wrong.  Our nanny is trust-worthy and reliable; and she takes good care of but having Laly around to oversee things helped me a lot.

The tournament turned out to be a great experience for .  She won 1 Gold (vault) and 3 Silvers (beam, bars and floor) on her first try.  We were beaming with pride as we cheered our little princess!

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We were also able to explore a little bit of Thailand during our 4-day stay.  We have a good friend who is now living in Bangkok with his family and they were kind enough to take us around that weekend.

We first went to Bang Pa-in where we roamed around the royal family’s summer palace.  All that walking prepared us for our next stop at the Gong Kong Market where we sampled authentic Thai cuisine.

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Freshly cooked Pad Thai at the market

After that, we explored the Ayutthaya Ruins and checked out the Elephant Palace.  We were hoping to see elephants play football but it wasn’t in that part of the city so F & S just fed the big guys with turnips and carrots and experienced an elephant ride.

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A view of Ayutthaya ruins

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Food was something we truly enjoyed during this trip! F found new favorites as we devoured those Thai delicacies.  Of course, we ordered the classics like tom yum goong, pad thai and mango sticky rice.  But we also loved new discoveries like prawns in coconut, beef curry, deep fried soft-shelled crabs and Thai chicken rice.  We would love to go back to Bangkok if only to go on another food trip! 😋

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After this trip, the kids’ summer was mostly spent in the gym or the pitch.  S had gymnastics training thrice a week while F had football seasions almost daily.  His club joined two big summer leagues – Rizal Football Association (RIFA) and United Football League (UFL) Youth – so they had their fair share of games every week.  The team shows quite a potential as they finished second and third runner-up in the tournaments respectively, considering that they were relatively new than other youth clubs who joined.

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U13 JP Voltes-Malaya Team

It was already at the tail-end of summer when we realized that we haven’t even gone swimming yet! The kids were a little disappointed that we had no planned trip to the beach.  With just a few weeks before classes, the nearby beaches that are nice are usually fully-booked on weekends.  I guess luck was on our side as N was able to book a quick getaway for us in Hamilo Coast, Pico de Loro on short notice.  We were only too happy to pack our swimsuits and head out for some sun and sand for the weekend!

This out-of-town trip was a first for J.  It was also his first swimming experience so we were all excited to see how he would react to the water.  Well, it looks like we have a natural swimmer in our midst!  He loved the pool…he loved the beach as well!  He played happily with his brother and sister and if only for that, it was a weekend well-spent.

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Beach time, fun time!

So, that was the summer that was.  True, it was not as eventful as some other summer vacations we had in the past but we had our moments and that is enough to bring us smiles in the meantime.

For now, we bid summer good-bye as we gear up for a new adventure back in school! 😊

I would love to hear your summer stories, too! Hit the comment button and share, would you?

Cheers! 🎉

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Finding Balance

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Life is a constant balancing act.  With so many things required of us, we need to always manage our time and choose our priorities all the time.

My life is no different.  As a working mom, I am used to juggling office issues with homework and grocery lists.  My daily routine would include ensuring an updated menu for the house as well as keeping up with the emails I receive in my Blackberry (yup…still on BB! 😛).

I guess we’re always looking for the right proportions of work and home life, business and pleasure.  It’s about setting aside some kids’ time, getting some couple time and finding some “me” time. I know, I know — easier said than done!

In my case, N & I hardly ever get any quality couple time these days.  It was particularly difficult when we had no driver and (for a while) no yaya.  We had to arrange everyone’s schedule on a daily basis and shuttle from office to school to trainings in between that by the time the week is over, all we really want to do is rest at home…which of course, hardly ever happened because weekends seem more jampacked than weekdays! 😧 IF we were lucky to have extra time, we opted to stay in and sleep.

Admittedly, attending to the kids takes most of my free time. Football practice, tournaments, gymnastics training, competitions, play dates, doctor’s appointments…I could go on and on with the list!  Still, there are times when I feel that I am neglecting the two older ones in favor of the baby.  I guess it’s understandable on most cases, but those instances when S would come up to me and tell me she misses spending time with me, my heart would hurt and wish that I could have three sets to arms to hug them all at the same time!

“ME” time has taken a back seat for sooooo long, I don’t even remember when was the last time I really enjoyed some quiet, relaxing time with myself.  I know that everyone needs a breather once in a while, more probably so for working moms…but really, when does one find the time?!! Oh, the irony!

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So as I mull about this, I realized that time is really a scarce resource.  And if I am to find that balance, I have to be intentional and purposeful on how I spend my precious time.  If I simply “go with the flow”, it’s easy to get lost and drowned in the sea of endless tasks and activities.  Sharing with you also some realizations I had:

1.  Simplify.  Minimize. >> We all get our share of invitations, both for work and socials.  It can be difficult to turn down these invites but truly, it’s impossible to go to every single one of them.  The same is true for children’s parties and play dates and kiddie activities.  Choose those which really give joy and those where your presence would really matter.

2.  Breathe. >> When it gets overwhelming (and it inevitably does, remember to breathe.  Take a step back and re-assess the situation.  When I do this, I almost always find a better perspective and I am able to move forward.

3.  Choose relationships.  >> When it comes down to it, always choose to strengthen and nurture relationships that matter.  Date your spouse.  Date your kids— individually, not as a team.  Date your best friend. Date your mom.  Date yourself.  Make time with those that matter.

Finding balance is always a work in progress.  It is a choice that we make every day.  Make yours count.

Cheers!

*photos taken from web

Back to (Baby) Basics

It’s been four months since we welcomed our Baby J.  Those four months seemed to have flown by before my eyes!  A decade has passed since N and I experienced baby parenting so everything feels very new again.  There are even times when I feel like a first time mom as I grapple with things I’m supposed to do.

Truth be told, this has been the most exhausting time for me as a mom.  For one, this is the only time I’ve given exclusive breastfeeding a fair chance.  I also breastfed and when they were babies, but in hindsight, I think I gave up too easily and mixed-fed too early.  With J, I told myself that I will try as much as I can to feed him with breastmilk only.

It wasn’t a walk in the park, I can tell you.  First of all, the milk didn’t come instantaneously.  I think it was on the 3rd (or maybe 4th?) day when the milk flowed.  The lactation nurses in the hospital would visit and encourage me to still nurse often and be patient.  Sadly, the lack of milk in the first few left me and Baby  J frustrated.  He would cry and I would cry with him.  I would feel upset not being able to nourish him 😢.  Patience, they said, patience.  True enough, the milk did come!  But by this time, I’ve already got sore and cracked nipples.  Every feeding time was an ordeal!  I truly wanted to give up already because it was very painful.  But I endured…one feeding at a time.  And then slowly, it became more tolerable until one day, the pain was gone and we were  happily breastfeeding from then on.

It is still not easy.  It requires a little bit more from me —like watching what I eat to make sure I don’t consume allergenic foods like shrimp paste or eggs; or withholding my glass of wine for a little bit longer just to be sure ☺.  Then, there is also the round-the-clock feeding or pumping to make sure that the milk supply remains adequate.  Sleep has been (and still is) a luxury that I terribly miss.

True, exclusive breastfeeding is demanding and draining that it sometimes it leaves me feeling exhausted.  Despite this, I choose to do this until J is at least 6 months old.  Difficult as it may be, I cannot express the fulfillment that it gives me.  It may be one of the most rewarding feeling I’ve experienced as a mom.

 Baby J and I have been inseparable during his first weeks of life.  We didn’t have a yaya until he was about 2 months old already so it was mostly him and me for most times.  A baby can be a handful but thankfully, J was not very hard to take care of.  He is generally a happy baby and easy to deal with.  It also pays that N is very hands-on as a dad and the two older kids love taking care of the little one too.

Of course, there were times when I wanted to take a break and go out of the house.  But as soon as I get the chance to do so, I would be raring to go back home to J.  Talk about mommy separation anxiety! Haha 😯  I think it hit me the hardest a few days before my first day back at work.  Just the thought of leaving J made me sad and weepy! How I feel for all working mommas who had to go through the first day back at work after a maternity leave!

I’ve been back at work for over a month now but there are days when I still struggle with separation anxiety.  It is especially difficult to leave in the morning when he is in a playful mood.  I muster every ounce of willpower to go to work when this happens.  We just try to go back home as early as we can so we can have quality bonding moments with the little one.  On weekends, we are either full of kids’ activities or just home, catching up with each other.

Yes, it feels like we’re back at square one with the addition of Baby J to the family.  A lot of adjustments are made and in some ways, we are still finding our way around.  It feels like one big adventure and it’s one that we’re happy to embark on together as a family 😊.  We’d be delighted too if you’d keep us company! 😊

My 2015 in Review

I know. I have been away too long, I know!  It has been crazy for the past weeks…errr…months for me.  But I am here now and I thought that there is no better way to get back on track than to look back at the year that was.

Our 2015 did not start quite as well as I hoped it would.  We were beset with illnesses and loss of dear ones.  We were in grief and sadness with Lolo Manny’s passing and still miss him a lot; but we have come to terms that he is already in a better place.

February was a happier month as we saw family and friends who visited from the States.  This month was filled with a lot of get-togethers and reunions.

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We got the biggest surprise of our lives as March rolled in and found out that I was infanticipating!  The initial shock that got to me was soon replaced by eagerness and excitement for our newest blessing 😊.

We also celebrated a milestone this month as F graduated from grade school, with an award for perfect attendance to boot!  It was indeed a proud mommy moment for me!

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We welcomed summer with F‘s first out of town football tournament.  La Salle decided to field a DLSZ-LSGH contingent to the NOFA Cup and F was one of those chosen to play.  It was our first time in Bacolod so aside from the football, we also made sure to try the delectable food that this province has to offer.

I took my core leave in May so I can spend more bonding time with the kids but our plans were interrupted by a spotting scare.  I had to go on bedrest which meant missing out on our Laiya beach getaway with my mom and siblings 😢.  This month, I also had to deal with domestic concerns with our household staff that added stress to my already challenging state.  But it’s true what they say that character will be tested during difficult times.  Despite the challenges we experienced on the homefront, I am truly grateful that my kids responded well and showed maturity beyond their age.  I feel very fortunate and blessed to have such caring and responsible children.

By June, F & S were raring to go back to school.  We had a new set of helpers and a few changes in our routine so we had to adapt to these changes in our household.  On my end, I am also happy to go back on work mode again.

July greeted us with sad new that our trusted helper (whom we’ve already considered as family) lost her battle with cancer.  It was very difficult to accept, especially for F & S, who have grown very close to Ate Jojie.  We were truly devastated with her passing but we had no choice but to accept it and just pray for her and the family she left behind.

August flew by without me noticing it as I got busy with work demands.  But as September rolled in, I was ordered to go on medical leave by my doctor because I was experiencing premature labor.  Thankfully, I work for a company which allows working from home.  This way, I was able to continue being in touch with my team without getting out of bed.

As I reached the homestretch of my pregnancy, we were already doing weekly visits to my OB-Gyne and regularly monitoring the progress of Baby#3!

October was our most anticipated month!  We celebrated S’s 10th birthday (has it really been a decade?!) with a simple party.  She invited her classmates and gymnastics friends to an afternoon of clay art fun.  It was a small party compared to the ones she had before but it was fun and enjoyable.

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Of course, the highlight of this month… nay, YEAR…was welcoming our newest bundle of joy!  From the moment I laid eyes on him, he has filled my heart with so much happiness!  We are exhausted and somehow, still trying to adjust to our new routines, but nothing compares to the joy that we feel 😊.

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With Baby J in tow, days and nights came and went with me taking very little notice.  I stayed home most of the time taking care of our little one.  Even before giving birth, I made a promise that I will try to do better in breastfeeding J than I did F & S.  It is, by far, the hardest thing I had to do as a mother! But challenging as it was, I am happy to report that J is still 100% breastfed…3 months and counting! Yay! 😊

We celebrated F‘s 12th birthday in November.  It was also J’s first month celebration (and marked the first time I stepped in the mall again after giving birth hehe).

December marked my 40th birthday.  Prior to getting pregnant, I had every intention to hold a party with family and friends.  It was a milestone birthday, after all, and it has been quite a while since I threw a party for myself.  But with a breastfeeding baby (and so many sleepless nights since then), I opted for a quiet dinner out with my family instead.  Maybe I’ll throw that birthday bash on my 41st instead…we’ll see 😜.

As expected, I missed most of the Christmas parties and shopping this year but I truly did not mind.  I was happy to spend Christmas (and New Year) and celebrate with those who matters most.

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2015 was indeed a roller coaster of emotions.  For all the happy and sad moments, I am grateful.

This 2016 promises to be a whole new adventure, especially with F, S and Baby J and I look forward to sharing these with you too!

Cheers! 🎉🎉

Almost there…

I am now at 37 weeks and 4 days today.

The hospital bag (make that luggage) is packed.  I believe we have all the necessary baby stuff on hand. The crib is all set and is awaiting the arrival of Baby#3!

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The kids are very excited!  I am excited…and nervous…and anxious…and everything else in between!

We are praying for a smooth and easy delivery.  I am due for a caesarian operation so I truly hope that everything will go as planned and that I will recover fast so I can take care of the baby.

We will be sure to keep you posted on the developments of Baby#3’s arrival so hang in there with us and get ready to pop those confetti very soon!

Baby Showers for Baby #3

These past two weeks, I have been advised by the doctor to get some rest as she senses that I am contracting more than normal.  It’s a good thing that my company allows for work-from-home arrangements so it’s a win-win situation for me as well as my team in the office.

At 34 weeks, I am glad to be relieved of the stress from the commute going to and from the office…well, at least for two weeks.  I stay at home (mostly in bed) for most parts of the week and get some work done with my trusty laptop. ☺

During weekends, my trips are limited to bare necessities such as OB-Gyne check-ups and attending Mass.  I’ve made exceptions though for two events that were arranged especially for Baby#3. 😊

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Last September 12, my sisters-in-law planned a baby shower with S.  We usually have Sunday lunch at my in-laws’ house so that was the best choice for venue.  They went for a Mickey Mouse theme and decorated the house with balloons and banners.  We were joined by my closest girlfriends who willingly joined the games that S and my sisses prepared.  It was a such a fun, albeit short gathering!

Giveaways for guests...but no, not quite ready to pop yet 😛

This Saturday, September 19, we were treated to yet another shower party, this time hosted by my mom and sisters.  It was mostly a family affair of my relatives and cousins but there were a few of my highschool and college friends who joined us for the occasion.

As usual, my sister, Faye took care of the creatives (she opted to go with the “little man” theme executed in green and blue color scheme) while Kat took care of the food and dessert table.

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Of course, a shower wouldn’t be complete without games and our big family is up for anything!  See how competitive they can be  for chocolates as prizes! 😃😃😃.

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I was just a happy spectator with all the commotion going around me.  By the evening, we were all exhausted from all the laughing and shrieking and eating…but we truly had a lot of fun.

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Our baby has not yet been born yet but is already showered with so much love and blessings by our families and friends.  Indeed, we feel so overwhelmed by their love and support and are very grateful for these wonderful people in our lives!

Preggy Update: It’s A Boy!

We are 28 weeks pregnant and we’re happy to share the latest news:

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F is ecstatic, of course (and that is not solely because he is fifty pesos richer from winning a bet with his sister 😉).  He already has plans on what they will do together, a list of things he will teach the baby and ideas on how they will pester their sister together.  S is just as excited about the baby.  She talks to him every day and even wants to start a countdown to Baby#3’s delivery date.

As for me, I started to panic a little after I realized that I can have that date with the stork in 9 weeks or so…and we haven’t got anything set up yet for the baby!  No crib, no stroller, no clothes or feeding bottles —nothing!  We made a quick trip to the mall this weekend to start canvassing items we will need. OMG!  I got so overwhelmed with the choices that are out there, I ended up leaving empty-handed.

The only thing that I was able to do was register for a “Mom Card” which earns me a point for every 100 pesos spent on baby items.  Registration fee is only Php100 and the card is valod for three (3) years so it’s a pretty good deal.  With the registration card also comes a loooong list of baby must-haves that I should really start mulling over.

For now, we’re relishing this bit of news first.  Till next update. ☺