Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Reflections and Prayers After Ondoy

Since last week, I have been trying to write something about Ondoy. I was home alone with the kids during that unforgettable weekend as Hubby volunteered on a medical mission and our helper took the weekend off. The heavy rain brought by Ondoy caused heavy traffic and flood everywhere that Hubby and I both decided it was best for him to spend the evening in Pampanga. Besides, he wouldn't be able to enter our subdivision as the flood had reached chest level and the current was strong. I saw tables and benches being swept away. This was only Saturday afternoon and the rain showed no signs of stopping. The kids and I were clueless of what was happening with the rest of Metro Manila as we had no electricity during most of the afternoon because we had to turn the main switch off. Flood reached our home and when it subsided the following day, I knew we had to do some major clean-up as mud and garbage were everywhere.

When I finally learned about what other people went through because of Ondoy, I realized how small my concerns were and how thankful I should be that we are all safe and we still have our home. The following week, I heard, saw and read about the many stories of survival, heroism and loss because of typhoon Ondoy.

Here are some thoughts and prayers after typhoon Ondoy...

My family is the most precious blessing I have received from God. The safety of my Hubby and kids matters most to me. I saw that this is also true for victims of Ondoy who remained thankful and considered themselves blessed because even though they lost their homes and most of their belongings, their loved ones were safe.

During emergencies and other urgent situations, one will find that sudden surge of strength you never knew you had. Home alone with my kids, I knew that no matter what, I will never give up looking for ways to keep us all safe. The stories of survival have been told and I admire the people who remained strong and determined to fight for their lives and survive Ondoy. I also salute the heroes of Ondoy who selflessly and courageously helped rescue friends, neighbors and even strangers. You have reminded me that at the end of the day, we are all brothers and sisters in this world.

Blessings are meant to be shared. I was touched by the downpour of donations from people from various walks of life and to me, it is not how big the amount but how sincere the heart is that really matters. God will bless each and every one who helped the victims in their own special way.

Truly, material possessions will not stay with us forever. In one fleeting moment, they can all disappear. I pray that we will all learn to value those that really matter in life – our family and friends. Thanks to a good friend, I have also been reminded to always make the most of the time I am able to spend with my loved ones and to always let them know how important they are to me and how much love I have for them. I think most of us are living a renewed life after realizing how quick life on earth can be. I promised myself I will be a better mother, wife, daughter, sister, friend, colleague, etc. from now on. I promised myself I will stop sweating over small stuff. Misunderstandings should be settled. The friendship/relationship is far more important than winning the fight/argument.

When the rain was pouring heavily as if never wanting to stop, the wind was blowing hard and flood was rising, I shivered at the thought that we are helpless when nature strikes back. Nature can be our best friend and our worst enemy. I pray that all of us will be more mindful of the things we do that affect the environment and do our share in preserving nature.

I agree with Hubby when he said that Ondoy and its aftermath can bring the best and the worst in each of us. I was saddened by news about people taking advantage of the many relief operations and fund-raising activities being conducted for the victims of Ondoy. At this time of need, I pray that these people will set aside personal interests and think about the many people who are starving, homeless and suffering from illnesses after Ondoy.

I pray that each and everyone of us will learn from what happened and will try to be better persons. I pray… because prayers will always be heard by The One who created us all.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

When I Became a Mom

When I became a Mom…

  1. I forgot what sleeping through the night meant as I had to wake up every three hours or so to feed the baby.
  2. I stopped needing an alarm clock to make sure I didn’t oversleep in the morning. My baby’s cry was more than enough to jumpstart my day.
  3. I began to wonder where my waistline went. It left without saying goodbye.
  4. I recorded everything that went in and out of my baby’s system (read as how many ounces of milk he consumed and how frequent he pooped) just to make sure everything was okay. I never did that for myself.
  5. My sense of hearing became my superpower. I hear every sound my baby makes, even if I am in the other room.
  6. I began frowning upon forms that asked me to indicate my weight.
  7. Social life meant email and sms exchanges as well as phone conversations with friends.
  8. I became a worrywart.
  9. To assess whether an item is expensive or reasonable, I began converting it in terms of diaper and milk denomination.
  10. I stopped wearing white.

Yes, things have changed since the babies came but to all three of them I say, these little sacrifices are nothing compared to the joy that they have given me.

To my Miko, Maki and Mako…

  1. I don’t mind waking up every three hours or so to feed you because it is during those quiet times when our bond as mother and child becomes stronger. The unique gift of being able to provide your nourishment makes me feel significant in this world.
  2. Every morning, I am reminded of how blessed I am because of the gift of “you.” I learned how to give unconditional love because you have given me the same.
  3. I realized how much I have changed. Beyond the physical changes, you brought direction to my life, made me stronger and more responsible. You also brought me closer to God.
  4. I realized that the seed of selflessness is one characteristic that is present in everyone and becoming a mother (a parent, for that matter) awakens that part of us.
  5. Neither space nor distance can weaken that special connection we have, having been inside of me for quite some time.
  6. Weight has become only a number… one which (I admit) I still try to reduce but if given the chance to choose, I would still choose to have you even it meant a heavier, rounder me.
  7. I am happiest when I am with you and so I look forward to spending every minute of my life with you.
  8. I love you and want all that is best for you… and so I want to be there to personally attend to your every need. Yes, honey, Mommy will always be here for you.
  9. I hope to be able to provide your every need as well and give you a comfortable life… because you deserve only the best.
  10. Playtime is funtime for Mommy, too. I want you to have happy childhood memories to bring with you when you grow up. I will also cherish them and reminisce every now and then when I am already old.

So see, I have no regret at all that I had you. You are God’s greatest gift to me and every night, as I watch you sleep, I will always be thankful for the wonderful experience of being a Mom. I love you with all my heart.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Another must-try from Estrel's!

I recently found out that Estrel's also makes really cute character cakes. Check out my baby's birthday cake... it's a 12 x 16 caramel cake with caramel filling and butter icing. They customized the letters in the blocks to spell out my baby's nickname, MAKO. Sweet. Oh, the blocks are edible, too!

We only added PhP450 for the Sesame Street motiff. The 12x16 caramel cake with filling costs PhP 1,580. I ordered the cake a day before my baby's birthday and was happy to be accommodated given that they strongly suggest placing orders at least two days in advance. Cakes for Christmas, New Year, Valentine's Day and other occasions must be arranged way before to better your chances of booking an order.
One nice thing about Estrel's is that they also inform you when your cake is already available for pickup. Moms, this really is a must-try! =)

Monday, September 7, 2009

Family Matters

Every morning, as I see my kids prepare for school, I pray that they be kept safe and the world be nice to them. However, I know that there will always be good and bad days for everyone and as much as I would like to shield my children from the not-so-good days, I know that I can't and that they have to go through their own share of problems to build character. For this, I pray harder that Hubby and I have equipped them with the right values to help them survive difficulties that may come their way.

Responsibility and discipline are two things that I, as a mom, would like my kids to have. Knowing that I cannot always be there to check on them, I try to teach them the value of being responsible and disciplined. For us, being responsible means knowing your share and doing it to help achieve a common goal. Discipline for us means being able to distinguish the right from wrong and always choosing to do what is right. It also means knowing that there is time for everything.

And so, in our effort to teach them about responsibility and discipline, family meetings are conducted once in a while after dinner, before we all go to bed. Hubby and I try to make them understand that the family is a team and that each of us can do our share towards keeping the family happy and strong. With this, we try to let the kids think about what they can do for the family. Surprisingly, the kids were very eager to list down the things they can and are willing to do for the family. I think this is a good exercise because it makes them feel that we (Hubby and I) trust them and respect their ideas.

I am happy to share with you some guidelines in the family (proposed and approved by all of us, including the kids). Of course, what works for us may not work for every family so you can always customize as you see fit.

1. The truth will always set you free. Little by little, the kids have learned that being honest and open to Mom and Dad is the better choice especially when they have done something wrong like failing to submit a homework or school project. We will always appreciate honesty and we think that to be brave and honest in admitting you have done something wrong is a good sign that you realized what you have done and that you have learned from it. Hubby and I also try to understand what may have caused the behavior so we can talk to them about what they can do should they find themselves in the same situation again in the future.

2. While Mom and Dad work hard to earn a living, the kids study hard to maintain good grades in school. This is their responsibility not only to the family but, more importantly, to themselves. Hubby and I always remind them that the long hours of studying is a process that will build character and discipline and that the fruits they will reap from studying is endless.

3. Hubby and I believe that learning does not only take place within the confines of the classroom so we encourage the kids to pursue other interests be it sports, dancing, etc. We agree that these will help them grow to be well-rounded individuals. These activities also teach them time management as they have to learn how to strike a balance between extracurricular activities and academics.

4. Think "abundance." There is always room for everybody. There will always be enough for everyone. The value of "sharing" and being happy for other people's achievements are some things we also try to instill to the kids.

I must admit that everything is still a work in progress. The Kuyas, from time to time, will go off track but they are still kids and learning is a continuous process not only for them but also for Hubby and me. Bottomline is, we will learn together and will always be there for each other.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Breastfeeding in Public

Here are some products that helped me breastfeed discreetly yet comfortably in public places:

1. Nursing brassiere - The removable cup flaps provide easy access.
2. Nursing wraps/bibs - They keep you covered while breastfeeding and keep your baby away from distractions while nursing.
3. Tube top - If you aren't comfortable with nursing wraps, a simple tube top can help keep you covered when nursing. Wear one under a shirt and just below your nursing bra. This way, when you pull up your shirt to nurse, your tummy area remains covered.
4. Nursing blouses - These blouses have hidden slits and panels for easy access. I got mine from Blissful Babes and Mommy Matters.

I also suggest that you practice at home by breastfeeding in front of a mirror so you'll get a good view of yourself and know how little of yourself is actually exposed. Be confident about breastfeeding in public. When people see that you are comfortable with what you're doing, they won't feel awkward as well. Lastly, remind yourself that breastfeeding is nature's way so there's really nothing to be ashamed of.


When I was halfway through my maternity leave, I began thinking (and worrying) about how I will be able to continue breastfeeding after I go back to work. Although I already found plenty of materials in the internet about my concern, I felt somewhat alone. I wanted to meet other breastfeeding moms. I wanted to hear what they have to say about breastfeeding while working.

Like an answered prayer, a TV ad caught my attention. It showed testimonies of breastfeeding moms and mentioned an organization that offers support to breastfeeding moms... Latch. I visited the website, sent an email about my interest in learning more about the group and its activities and asked for tips on how to continue breastfeeding even after I return to work. Within the day, I received a reply and became friends with one of their breastfeeding counsellors (Jen) who was very nice and patient in answering all of my questions.

I strongly recommend Latch (http://www.theperfectlatch.com) to moms and moms-to-be. It is a support group that conducts breastfeeding workshops and other services that will help moms know more about breastfeeding.

I guess this is my chance to thank Latch (and Jen) for all the support given to me. Up to now, my baby and I are still enjoying the amazing benefits of breastfeeding! Thanks, guys! You rock!

Friday, September 4, 2009

More Pointers on Breastfeeding (Part 2)

Yes, breastfeeding while working can work! Yes, it's possible and yes, many working moms have been successful in continuing to breastfeed even after they have returned to work. Again, the key is commitment and when you start to falter, remind yourself that this is the best choice for you and your baby.

Here are some tips that made breastfeeding while working work for me:
1. Find time to talk to your boss and your teammates about your decision to breastfeed. You need to express milk every three hours so it will help if they are aware of these adjustments in your schedule. Let them know about the advantages of breastfeeding so they will know where you are coming from. Remember, studies show that breastfed babies are usually healthier than formula fed babies. This means less number of days of having to take a leave from work to take care of a sick baby.
2. Now is the best time to test your time management skills. Plan your day. List down the things that you have to do and fix your schedule so that you will have the time to express your milk. In my case, I come to work early so I will have the chance to pump milk before office hours start. Morning and afternoon coffee breaks eventually became pumping sessions for me. I also express milk before I have lunch. As a result, I manage to squeeze in four pumping sessions during the day without affecting my usual work schedule. I'm confident you will also figure out a schedule that will work for you. The idea is to be able to express milk every 3-4 hours to maintain your milk supply.
3. You may want to invest on a double electric pump that is efficient in expressing breastmilk. Of course, you can always express milk manually. It's really a matter of choice. In my case, I decided to invest on a Medela Pump In Style unit. The product never failed me. It made pumping sessions convenient for me because it is very efficient in expressing milk. I am able to simultaneously empty both breasts in a matter of 10-15 minutes. The pump is also of good quality. I bought it when I had my second child and was still able to use the pump when I had my third baby.
4. If you have a refrigerator in the office, you may store the milk there during the day and transfer them into a handy cooler before you leave the office. Keep in mind though that your officemates may not be comfortable seeing breastmilk-filled bottles so you may want to put the bottles inside a paper bag so they'll go unnoticed.
5. Label every milk container with the time and the date you have expressed the milk so you will know when to discard them if unconsumed.
6. Nursing your baby should, ideally, be the last thing to do before leaving for work and the first thing to do when you arrive home. Inform the person looking after your baby if you are on your way home. You may want to have the last bottle skipped so that your baby will be ready to nurse the moment you arrive. Your baby is far more efficient in emptying your breasts than any other breast pump so nurse as much as you can.
7. You and your baby should be inseparable during the weekend. Breastfeed your baby during the weekend. This will help you maintain and even boost your milk supply.
8. During pumping sessions, try bringing with you a picture of your baby to help you relax. The let-down reflex is easier achieved when you're relaxed.
9. Make sure you have extra bottles or milk storage bags with you in case you need to stay late in the office.
10. Finally, maintain a positive attitude about the whole thing. Remind yourself that this is one thing only mommies can do so cherish the experience.

Again, I am happy that you have chosen to breastfeed. I hope that more and more moms will make the same decision. =)

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Some Pointers on Breastfeeding (Part 1)

There are so many things that can be written about breastfeeding and while I am trying to put together the things I have gathered through personal research, I will share the ones I have learned through experience.

During pregnancy and the first few weeks after giving birth:
1. Read. Read. Read. Knowledge is power. You will know how to address your breastfeeding concerns when you educate yourself (as much as you can) about breastfeeding.
2. Equip yourself well. Like pregnancy, you will also go through many phases when breastfeeding so I suggest getting a book solely about breastfeeding to guide you along the way. Now you don't have to spend so much. That's what book sales are for! I found a copy of "The Nursing Mother's Companion" in one book sale store for only PhP70. It became my breastfeeding bible...quick reference to questions I had and quick fix for every discomfort as well (like sore nipples, plugged milk ducts, etc).
3. Having a partner who also believes in breastfeeding is also a great help. He will help you resist the temptation of resorting to formula.
4. Surround yourself with supportive friends and relatives. Learn from the experience of friends who have been there.
5. Be open to your OB-Gyne about your decision to breastfeed your baby so that necessary arrangements may be done with your hospital of choice.
6. After giving birth, you may think about having formula milk in the house, just in case. I had the same idea in mind during the first day. Up to now, I thank my hubby for reminding me about the things I have read about breastfeeding and for assuring me that my milk will come and our baby will be okay. And he was right. Having a can of formula in the house will only lure you to bottlefeed your baby and during the first few weeks when you are still adjusting to the routine (spelled out as engorged breasts and sore nipples), I tell you, that can of formula milk in the house will be a very tempting option. So make it easy on yourself... ban the can of formula in the house and give yourself a full chance to provide nourishment to your baby.
7. Nursing brassiere that fits well will also make breastfeeding easier for you because it has removable cup flaps providing easy access especially when breastfeeding in public.
8. Nursing pads will save you from milk stains on your blouse due to leaks. There are washable and disposable ones available in the market. Whichever you may choose to use, the bottomline is to make sure they're clean and changed often to avoid infection. I use Pigeon's disposable nursing pads. A box containing 36 individually wrapped nursing pads costs PhP300-400.
9. During the first few days, as milk comes in, your breasts will suddenly become engorged. The better choice is to nurse, nurse, nurse. You may also gently massage your breast while the baby is nursing to help relieve the discomfort.
10. Breastfeeding may be painful during the first few tries. Check if your baby is latched on properly. Like you, your baby is also getting used to breastfeeding so the important thing is to try and try until both of you have mastered the correct position and latch. For sore nipples, air drying them after feeding worked for me.

More tips on my suceeding posts!

Planning to Breastfeed?

When I started this mommy blog, I promised myself I will write something about breastfeeding. I am a mom of three boys. My first baby was mostly formula fed as I gave up on breastfeeding after the first month. I tried mixed feeding with my second baby. He was breastfed when we were together and was given formula milk when I was away. I was able to do this for nine months. Finally, my third baby was exclusively breastfed during the first six months of his life. Yes, not a single drop of formula milk touched his lips as I was more than determined to solely provide his nourishment. I started mixed feeding him during his 7th month, when he was ready to take solids as well. Simply put, I am a convert when it comes to breastfeeding.
Reality-check: Breastfeeding is not a bed of roses. It is a commitment as it can be challenging for the mom - physically and emotionally. At some point, a breastfeeding mom's social life may have to take a backseat because she is "tied down" to her baby especially during the early months when milk supply is still being established. A working mom, on the other hand, will have to find time to express milk every 3 hours during the day to keep the milk supply up. Breastfeeding in public is also an art that a breastfeeding mom should learn. In between all these, she will have to cope with sore nipples, leaking milk and plugged milk ducts from time to time.
Given all these, why, then, should you breastfeed?
Experience has taught me that to be successful in breastfeeding, one should be fully convinced that breastfeeding provides the best nourishment for a newborn. One should be a believer of the amazing benefits it can give not only to the newborn but to the mother as well so that no amount of discomfort or inconvenience can and will discourage you and make you change your mind about breastfeeding.
To do this, my only advice is: educate yourself about breastfeeding. Read as many materials as you can that talk about breastfeeding and its benefits. It is also equally important that you read about challenges you may face while breastfeeding. Becoming aware will help you learn how to cope with each difficulty that may come in the way. I assure you, everything you will read about breastfeeding will come in handy when you're actually there. I am also confident that breastfeeding your baby is one decision you will never regret.
To get you started, I will try to put together everything that I have learned about breastfeeding in another post and also try to give some breastfeeding tips that have done wonders for me. Meanwhile, hold that thought because you're on the right track in giving your baby only the best.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Love at First Bite

My first taste of Estrel’s caramel cake was during a salu-salo in the office. Its intricate design made the cake look elegant and inviting. The flower icings were amazingly detailed it made me think that it was baked with love… like your mother laboring over your packed lunch. The cake was so soft and its icing was so rich and creamy that after the first bite, it immediately occupied the top spot of my cakes-to-die-for list.

I introduced the cake to my family last May 2008 during Hubby’s birthday. It instantly became a hit. Everybody loved the cake especially my mother in-law who was swept away because the cake was not-overly-sweet yet still yummy. Since then, Estrel’s caramel cake became part of many family celebrations.

Hubby's birthday (2008)

our baby's christening (September 2008)

6th month of our baby (March 2009)

Hubby and Kuya's birthday (May 2009)

10th month of our baby (July 2009)

Estrel's Caramel Cakes
54 Scout Tobias cor Scout Limbaga
Brgy. Laging Handa, Quezon City
Telephone numbers: (02) 372-2965; (02) 371-7938