New, Exciting and Unfortunate Things

I’m trying to remember what kept me from even saying “Hi!” here on my blabbering world for quite a while and I realized it’s because a lot has happened to me, to the kids and around me that I could no longer catch up.

So while I was “away” trying to figure out what’s going on, this happened.

No, that's not a seahorse! That's my hair! :)

No, that’s not a seahorse! That was my hair! 🙂

And the owner of that unruly wavy hair had the guts to take a selfie to show her new look! 😀

new hair1

Guess how many shots I took to make a successful selfie attempt? I’m always a newbie! 😀

Apart from my new short hair, I’m also braces-free now! Yipee! 🙂 I’m on retainers stage for I don’t know how long.

Okay, enough of vanity. 😀

All the playfulness aside, I personally went through some, let’s say, introspection and reflection I wish I could find the words to put together to tell about. I’ll try to find the words when I find the time. Haha! But for now, I decided to announce my come-back from “unintentional” blogging hiatus with some updates about my adorable sweeties. 🙂 It wouldn’t be about me, fortunately. 😀

If you have, by any chance, visited this blog in the past and out of boredom or curiosity tried to take peek into it again, you may have noticed that I blurred the photos of my kids. I went through the tedious process of checking all my posts one by one and replacing all of my children’s photos with Gausian-blurred ones. Why?

For security reasons. One of the keyword searches that drove traffic to this blog for a couple of days even weeks is mommy8. It was a puzzle in my head:  why would a file name of a photo that I included in one of my posts appear in my keyword search? So out of curiosity, I googled it and got shocked and annoyed at the same time when I found out that it has something to do with XXX! My goodness!

You know, I’m trying to maintain a wholesome blog here and all of a sudden I would get visits from people who have carnal intentions. Scary. My thought wandered. Then I panicked! My kids! They’d get to see my kids! What if they do something sick with my kids’ photos?!  Then some more paranoiac thoughts followed. What if they stalk my kids and kidnap them?!  God forbid please.

So I spent night after night editing photos of my 2 innocent yet spirited children that I have already posted to save them from potential harm from the internet. I know I should’ve done that before. I should’ve trusted my guts to not post any picture of them but I was thinking then, “no one gets to read this blog anyway.” What was in my mind, huh? It’s the world wide web for Pete’s sake and I didn’t even set my blog into private so somewhere, somehow, someone would stumble upon this online dumpsite of my thoughts and experiences. Pffft. Anyhow, at least I’ve done some preventive action. 😀

Moving on to happy thoughts now. 🙂

The Big Boy has been back to school as a Kindergartener for more than 3 weeks now and so far he’s doing good. He has adjusted to going to school and seeing new teachers and classmates except…waking up early in the morning. 😀

He mutters in droopy eyes that refuse to open, “Antok ako”  (or if he’s in English mode, “I’m sleepy”) and covers his face with a pillow. He’s like this 50% of the time so he comes to school late most of the time.

Other than his tantrums obviously due to his interrupted sleep, he’s excited to go to school.  And what makes him excited?  He gets to drag his Lighting McQueen “suitcase bag” (trolley bag) with his matching McQueen lunchbox inside. 😀

schoolbag

He really likes pulling his “suitcase bag” 😀

And he gets home enthusiastic with what they did in school.

ME: What did you do in school?

BIG BOY: I ate my snacks!

I knew it! That’s his favorite part of schooling! Hahaha! Who doesn’t like snacktime? 😀 At least he eats the baon I prepare. Hehe! Don’t worry, there’s normally a follow-up answer.

BIG BOY:  Then I color[ed] the butterfly and paste[d] it on the board. 

Or whatever activity they did for the day. 🙂 But snacktime is usually the highlight. 😀

Of course, days before his back-to-school, I spent a few late nights labeling and covering his school supplies, notebooks and books. The duties of a mom with a school kid, and this will double once the Little Princess has become a school kid, too. 😀  Anyhow, my life was made easier by the Time Saver plastic cover cut into book size that I discovered in National Bookstore and by recycling the Big Boy’s school labels last year which I designed myself and printed on sticker paper.

schoolstuff

But before his school started, we brought the Big Boy to our dentist  Doc M to get dental fillings for his molars. His molars have already developed cavities and whenever he sees his tooth decays in the mirror, the Big Boy always tells me to visit Doc M and have his teeth fixed. “Mommy, sira na teeth ko. Let’s go to the dentist.”

According to Doc M, molar teeth regenerate at age 13 or 14 so it would be better to have his 4 molar teeth filled to avoid toothaches. So we decided to proceed with the procedure.

The Big Boy readily sat on the dental chair and followed Doc M’s instructions. The drilling began and our pretty dentist was amazed at how behaved the Big Boy was. She mentioned she normally does not drill young children’s teeth because kids tend to move a lot or get impatient but the Big Boy did it! 🙂 Right after his procedure, the Big Boy ran to the dentist’s box of toy treats for her kid patients and got an airplane toy. He already knows the drill! 😀

dentistbb

I’m happy that the Big Boy gets to appreciate the importance of dental visits at a young age and he gets comfortable going to the dentist. Because we still need to go back for the other 2 molars! 😀

Now, while exciting things take place for the Big Boy, our Little Princess went through some ordeal!

One fine Friday afternoon about two weeks ago, the Little Princess was playing at the playground with her Daddy (who was on leave from work) and Kuya. She was climbing the stairs to the slide when she slipped and her nose bridge hit the edge of the wood! My poor Little Princess! 😦 I was at the office when I received a call from hubby telling me, in a broken voice, what happened and that he was going to bring her cutie lady to the hospital to be checked because her nose bridge swelled up. He assured that the Little Princess was no longer crying but he wanted to have her checked by the doctor to be sure because it was a delicate part of her body that was hit.

I left work and followed them quickly to the hospital. Thankfully, the Little Princess was her usual lively self when I saw them at the ER. And barefoot. 😀 People at home probably forgot to pick up her shoes out of panic.

The Little Princess was examined by the pediatrician, her wound cleaned and iced (slightly because she didn’t like being pressed with an icepack on her face) then she cried and an x-ray test was performed on her facial area (where she cried again) to ensure she had no fracture as the pedia confirmed that the nasal area is a very sensitive part of our body. An EENT doctor assessed her (where she again cried) after the x-ray results were out and thank God, no fracture was seen. We were just given some instructions and medications for the Little Princess and after like forever, we were discharged. And the crying stopped except when we she didn’t get what she wanted like playing with the hospital stuff.

She was happy when the doctor announced she had no fracture. :D

She was happy when the doctor announced she had no fracture! 😀 (Apparently, the bruise on her nose also got blurred 😀 )

Just a side story: while we were waiting in the ER, the Little Princess of course became hungry and had to nurse from me. I realized it was already dinner time so she latched and latched and latched. Another pediatrician noticed her breastfeeding while we were waiting for them to discharge us and gave this encouraging remark, “Very good, Mommy. Keep it up”. It made me smile giddily. 😀 Because for the first time in 2 years  that we have been breastfeeding, I received a positive feedback about our breastfeeding from a stranger. I normally get a quiet gaze, sometimes with laughter, whenever we breastfeed in public.

Another untoward though funny incident happened on Father’s Day. We went out and brought the kids to a play place at the mall then had a Japanese dinner after. Come dessert time, I ordered a green tea ice cream which the Little Princess liked a lot. She noshed on a spoonful of ice cream then some more, one after another. After getting satisfaction from the green tea ice cream, she walked back and forth the aisle until I noticed a brown thingy on her legs and socks. The green tea turned brown and leaked from her cloth diaper, some even spilled on the floor! Sorry, TMI. Haha! 😀

So I rushed the Little Princess to the washroom and cleaned her up. Thanks to the restaurant crew who was kind enough to offer me lots of bathroom tissue. And for wetbags too, where all her stained cloth diaper, skirt and socks went sealed.

I bet you prefer to see this rather than a photo of what happened on Father's Day. :D This figurine was our gift for Daddy J together with some other stuff :)

I bet you would rather see this than what happened to the Little Princess on Father’s Day. 😀 Btw, this figurine was our gift for Daddy J together with some other stuff 🙂

That’s not the end of it all. Five days after, the Little Princess caught fever which prompted me, as usual, to take that day off from work to monitor her for weakness, loss of appetite, rashes, etc. I don’t want to rely on the yaya when any of my kids is sick. The Little Princess’ fever went to us high as 39 degrees Celsius and lasted only for one day.

The following day though, rashes sprouted at the Little Princess’ arms, hands, legs and feet. I dismissed that it’s Roseola because she has already acquired it in the past so off we went to her pediatrician for check up. The diagnosis — Hand Foot and Mouth Disease (HFMD). It’s a viral infection common among young children that produces sores in the mouth and rashes in the skin specifically the hands and the feet. It made more sense to me why the Little Princess breastfed almost all day while she was sick.

The onset of rashes on the Little Princess' arms. It spread to her body, back, thighs and even her nape. Poor little girl! :(

The onset of rashes on the Little Princess’ arms. It spread to her body, back, thighs and even her nape. Poor little girl! 😦

I’m familiar with HMFD (not because I’ve read about it online 😀 ) because the Big Boy caught this virus on his 1st birthday party and I also acquired it after sharing a frozen yogurt with him. Though I’m obviously no longer a child, the doctor explained that I probably didn’t get the virus when I was younger that’s why it was transmitted to me now that I’m an adult. I’m telling you, it was terrible to get an HMFD because of the sores and rashes which makes it difficult to eat and walk.

So where did the Little Princess get the virus? We’re quite sure it was at the play place we visited on Father’s Day because the place was full of potential carriers aka kids. Well, that’s part of being a kid. 😉 They have to go out and get exposed to their surroundings (and viruses as well 😀 ) every once in a while. We cannot just leave them trapped at home like Rapunzel. Thank God, at least her fever wasn’t dengue. 🙂

Thankfully, the Little Princess is doing well now — no more rashes and back to her energetic state (though it seemed that her sickness didn’t even affect her energy level 😀 ). But we’re not bringing her out yet because she might transmit the virus to other people or get a new virus this time. It’s already sickness season.

There. I guess this pretty sums up what “has been” recently or at least the past three weeks. Another three weeks for my next post? Nope. It’s hard to catch up! Haha! 🙂

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Tips on Pumping Milk While Traveling

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After a year of lying low from out-of-town work purposely because of my breastfeeding daughter, I was back on the road like rock star and the airways a la flight attendant in a series of business travels and fieldwork since March this year. BUT it didn’t mean I have already stopped breastfeeding and expressing milk for my Little Princess. In fact, I still do and have been doing for 25 months now.

As a breastfeeding mom who is committed to provide the best milk for my daughter for as long as I can and for as long as my child wants, I still continue to express milk for my supply not to dry up. Also, there are times when I still experience a little engorgement when I fail to pump for long hours and I don’t want this to lead once again to plugged ducts and milk blisters.  But at 25 months of breastfeeding, I only get to express 4-6oz a day but this amount goes a long way in strengthening the immune system of my Little Princess and protecting her from diseases so I’m not yet putting a dot on this beautiful journey of breastfeeding of ours.

However, I’m not going to talk about and bore you with my ride to extended breastfeeding. Instead, I want to share some tips about pumping or expressing milk while on travel, whether for business or for leisure, that I learned from my past business trips. The keyword is strategy. Because I had to be away from my daughter for a couple of days, I needed to think of ways on how I would be able to pump and store my milk in order to maintain my supply.

And here are some strategies in preparing for out-of-town trips for breastfeeding/breastpumping moms, working or non-working, who will be away from their precious little ones for quite a while:

1. Prepare all the essential things that you will need and make sure they are complete. Make a checklist if needed.

So what needs to be in your bag or luggage? Essentially:

a. Breastpump (of course, if you don’t hand express). Tip: Better to put your flanges and breastkit parts in a Lock & Lock or any tight container not only to keep your breastkit clean and contact-free from bacteria but also to have a container that will serve as a “basin” in sterilizing your flanges, pump parts and bottles.


b. Cooler bag large enough to accommodate your expressed milk for the duration of your travel. I use this Igloo cooler bag which I got from SM Homeworld.

coolerbag

c. 5-6 pieces of ice packs or 1-2 sheets of Techni Ice Dry Ice. I’ve been using Nano Silver Ice Packs from Babymama.ph (for only P50/pc) everyday at work and it can sustain coolness up to 8 hours in my small Babymama cooler pouch. I also bought Techni Ice Dry Ice which can effectively contain coldness for longer hours. I ordered it online at the Techni Ice website.

d. Dishwashing liquid and sponge for washing your pump and bottles. Tips: Put the dishwashing liquid in a small bottle (like the shampoo bottles in hotels) to save space in your luggage and baggage allowance which you will need more of when bringing home your expressed breastmilk. Use a sponge cut into half (or about 2 inches in height) for easier washing of your bottles instead of bringing a bottle brush.

spongeandsoap1

e. Clean small towel to serve as your “tray” and “drying pan” for your washed breastpump and bottles. Unless you are staying in a suite, your hotel room mostly likely does not have a kitchen sink and the most efficient and hassle-free option for cleaning up pumping paraphernalia is through the bathroom lavatory. In which case, you wouldn’t want your clean pump and bottles to touch anything in the bathroom. Tip: When packing your things, keep the towel in a Ziplock bag to avoid having contact with any other “less clean” stuff.

towel

f. Ziplock bags.  Ziplocks are dual purpose:  for storing your pumped milk especially when you don’t have ref in your room and you will just request the front desk to put it in their ref, and as a space-saving container for breastpump parts and flanges and other stuff like clean towel.  Tip:  Prepare large ziplock bags for towels and bigger stuff and medium/small sized ones for storing expressed milk. 

ziplockbags

g. Small cooler bag or lunch bag with 2 frozen ice packs where you can put the breastmilk  you will express during your flight. This is actually optional especially if you will handcarry your large cooler bag but since I normally pack my large cooler bag inside my luggage and handcarry only my pump bag, I needed a small cooler bag. My pumping bag is what I bring everyday at work, minus the heavy pump which I already leave in the office. (READ:  What’s Inside My Koala Bag (aka Pump Bag)?)

h. Resealable breastmilk storage bags.  Bringing all your bottles can consume so much luggage space so it’s better to use breastmilk bags. One of the cheapest I found online is Jaco milk bags from LiquidGold Ph. I think I bought mine at P1000 for 125 pieces if I remember it right. The Jaco milk bags also have sturdy base that makes it less prone to spilling when transported. The number of milk bags to bring will depend on your output (amount per pumping session), number of times you will pump, and the number of days you will be away. When I travelled for 3 1/2 days, I was able to pump 4-6oz per session, 7-8 times per day so I brought around 30 pieces of milk bags though I wasn’t able to use everything as I used storage bottles during the last 1 1/2 days to save on the milk bags. Still, it’s better to bring more than less than what you will need. You wouldn’t want to end up “pumping and dumping”.

Left photo via Babymama.ph 

i. Nursing cover, poncho or scarf.  Your saving grace when pumping on the plane or during engorged, I-need-to-pump-right-here-right-now moments. I love the multi-way breastfeeding ponchos of IndigoBaby, Smartmum Online and Autumnz from Mamabella Nursing and Maternity Wear.

Sneaking a quick pump time while on break at our department Strategic Planning :) Action wonderfully captured by my office friend Raissa. ;)

Using my Smart Mum Online multi-way breastfeeding poncho. It has become my favorite because the fabric is soft and it provides enough coverage.

j. Marker and adhesive tape for labeling your breastmilk’s date and time of expression. Bring at least a marker but if you will also use storage bottles, make sure you also have a tape unless you want to affix permanent marking on your bottles. 😀  Tips: Bring a tape in a small portable dispenser so you can cut the tape anywhere. I use the 3M Scotch Donut dispenser — functional and cute! 🙂 In case you forget to bring a marker and a tape, like what happened to me in one of my business trips, use your eyeliner for labeling. It doesn’t easily wear off by itself but it can be easily wiped off with a tissue. 🙂

tapeandmarker

k. Alcohol. You are likely to pump or express milk anywhere (airport? plane? restaurant?) so this should come in handy. Bring the travel size (smallest one) to lessen your baggage weight.

l. A pack or roll of tissue. It’s a mortal sin for women not to bring tissue when on travel, for breastpumping moms too! Unless you want to use your own clothes or nursing cover to wipe off milk spillage, make sure you have tissue in your bag. Travel packs are more space saving than the rolled ones. But you can flatten a tissue roll by removing the rim. 🙂

2. Check if the hotel room you will be staying in has a refrigerator to store your pumped milk and freeze your ice packs.

Call or email your hotel customer service and find out if the room that you booked has a refrigerator. If none, you can take any of these options: 1.) depending on your hotel, request if you can have one in your room (more likely for a fee but this will be nothing compared to the convenience an accessible ref can give you! 🙂 ) or 2.) request the front desk to have your expressed milk stored in the hotel’s refrigerator as well as your ice packs in the freezer.

I, together with my officemates, extended our Boracay business trip last year and apparently, the room we transferred the last night of our trip did not have ref. So I asked the receptionist if they have a refrigerator and offered me to put one in our room for P200. Not bad for the convenience it gave me. :)

I, together with my officemates, extended our Boracay business trip last year and apparently, the room we transferred the last night of our trip did not have ref. So I asked the receptionist if they have a refrigerator and offered me to put one in our room for P200. Not bad for the convenience it gave me. 🙂

Tips: In the absence of an accessible ref in your room for nightime pumping, make sure you have at least 2 frozen ice packs with you to keep the expressed milk cold. Or you can also use the room aircon as your make-do ref by turning it a bit cold (around 20 degrees Celsius or colder) and putting your expressed milk where it can be directly hit by the cool air.

Milk storage tips:  if traveling for 7 days or less, you may just store your pumped milk in the refrigerator as breastmilk in ref temperature is good for 7 days. Just freeze them when you get back home if not yet for baby’s immediate consumption. For travel beyond 7 days, pumped milk may be stored in the ref for 7 days but make sure to transfer them to the freezer after or better yet, put them directly inside the freezer after pumping.

Apart from storing milk, the refrigerator can also be used to store used pump flanges and parts for the next pumping session (see Tip No. 5).

3. Plan your pumping schedule and stick to it as much as possible.

To avoid breast engorgement and to keep your milk supply up, you need to pump or express every 3-4 hours. This is easier if you are traveling for leisure as you can take control of your time. But if you are away for work with a tight schedule, it requires a bit of strategy and speed.

During my 3 1/2 day trip last year for a conference (and leisure on the side 🙂 ), the pumping schedule that I set was 6am, 9am, 12nn, 3pm, 6pm, 9pm, 12am, 3am. I wasn’t able to follow this strictly because I needed to adjust based on the programme schedule of the conference but what I did was too quickly rush to my hotel room to express milk during the 15-20 minute breaks. Good thing our hotel was also the conference’s venue. Since I only use single pump (to save on washing my pump parts and because I’ve gotten used to that. READ: My Pumping-at-Work Strategies), and it takes 30 minutes for me to pump both my breasts, I hand expressed my other breast while pumping the other one. Voila! Done in 15 minutes. 🙂 You can also pump discreetly while the talks or discussions are ongoing by covering with a scarf or breastfeeding poncho. In fact, the easiest way to do this is via hand expression. 🙂

4. Learn how to hand express your breastmilk.

Hand expression makes the life of a breastpumping momma, moreso, a traveling breastpumping momma, a looooot easier. Imagine rushing to your hotel room to pump because you only have a 15-minute break from your conference or workshop. Or grumbling at the thought of assembling your pump and washing them after use. I know how hassle these scenarios could be but learning how to hand express will enable you to skip all these inconvenience completely or at some instances, at least. Like on the plane. Or during talks in conferences. Or while having your meal. Anywhere. Instead of assembling your pump, you can just scoot your breastfeeding cover and start expressing milk. Plus it won’t look to obvious that you are actually doing your thing. 🙂

expressingattheairport

On hindsight, I think I look better on this one. 😀 (Emma Watson’s photo borrowed from Sheva.com)

5. Store your used breastpump in a ziplock bag inside the refrigerator for use in your next pumping session.

This will save you a lot of time in cleaning your pump parts as you won’t need to wash and sterilize your pump every session. The cold ref temperature will prevent the milk on the pump from getting spoiled. If you want to maximize your time during your trip, you better do this because cleaning your pump and bottles can be very time-consuming. In fact, I also do this when I pump in the office. 🙂

6. Ensure you have accessible hot water for “sterilizing” your pump and bottles.

While you can store your used pump in the ref to save on sterilizing session, you still have to clean your pump on a daily basis. To do this, you will need of course, hot water. Some hotels, especially the more upscale ones, have everything ready in their rooms including an electric kettle. This is the ideal scenario but in case there is none available, you may request your hotel front desk to provide you hot water everytime you need it. You may also use the hot water in the bathroom especially if you are staying in a nice and clean hotel. I remember doing it in Singapore where water, even bathroom water, is potable. 🙂 Use your tight container or Lock & Lock as your sterilizer. 🙂

7. Wake up at least once in the middle of the night to pump to keep your milk supply up.

I know this can be very hard especially when you are extremely exhausted but for the love of your baby, do it. 🙂 It’s just like waking up in the middle of your deep sleep to pee, though may take a little longer. Or changing your little one’s nappies for the leadtime to be more realistic. 😉 Besides you can take a power nap while waiting for your pumping session to finish. Afterwhich you can just slide your flanges inside a ziplock bag and put inside the ref then go back to sleep. 🙂

8. Enjoy pumping and look at it as something that you love doing instead of a tiring, daunting task that you need to squeeze in your tight schedule.

It’s a bit of a challenge to pump round the clock while you are away from your baby but if you have a positive view about breastfeeding and expressing milk, you won’t realize you’re already filling in bags and bags of the most precious and golden pasalubong for your little one. This principle actually also applies on your everyday pumping routine at work and personally, it has helped me continue breastfeeding my baby girl for 25 months now. 🙂

Hope these tips help you, traveling breastfeeding moms! 🙂 Enjoy your trip and the pumping! 🙂

The Breastfeeding Club Breastfeeding 202 Class

My breastfeeding journey with both my kids taught me this important thing:  being properly informed about breastfeeding is very important to breastfeeding success. With the availability of infant formula in the market, it can be so easy for a mother who is not well-informed about the benefits of and expectations about breastfeeding to just open a can of formula, prepare a bottle and pop it to her crying baby.

That’s why breastfeeding seminars are initiated by different breastfeeding advocate groups to get the parents to breastfeed their children and not resort to formula feeding.  The Breastfeeding Club has organized one, the Breastfeeding 202 Class.

So, soon-to-be-parents, this is for you!  Be properly informed about breastfeeding through this Breastfeeding Class happening tomorrow, June 6, 2015 from 9am-11am. 🙂

Breastfeeding

I’m Back!

Yes, I am from my 4-day out-of-town fieldwork and from all my crazy-busyness prior to that. Whew! I missed my blabbering world! But even if my full schedule has loosened up a bit, I’m still getting back on track when it comes to blogging because I’ve got a lot of backlogs I don’t know where to start! 😀

While I’m still processing things, let me just give a quick rundown of my eventful April-May, I dub as #aMAYzingrace (sorry I really have to use this hashtag. haha!):

April: The Little Princess’ 2nd Birthday

My baby girl is now 2! Wait, what?! She’s 2 already?! Where has time gone?! Anyhow, to celebrate my Little Princess’ terrific twos, I prepared a simple Frozen themed party at home amid my super duper busy work schedule thereby sucking the remaining energy left in my body that week. 😀 I posted a photo on my Instagram and as I mentioned in the caption, I still owe a post on this. Long overdue, I know. 😦

May 1-3: Family Out-of-Town Trip at Hundred Islands

We took advantage of the long Labor Day weekend break to have some beach time and get all tanned at Hundred Islands in Alaminos, Pangasinan. The kids enjoyed the beach so much with the proof of the fun they had still evident on their skin until now. 😀 Ebony and ivory combined. 😀

hundredislands2

May 6-8: Fieldwork in Naga City

Three days of out-of-office work going house-to-house observing research interviews and more interestingly, people’s culture and way of life, under the scorching heat of the sun. I kidded my colleague, “Why do we have to go through this all these again?” Hahaha! Also did some office work at night until the wee hours to finish a report. I thought I was back in college. Or my research agency days. Crazy.

And to compensate for that physically and mentally tiring business trip, I got to taste Naga City’s famous Sili Ice Cream from 1st Colonial Grill! 🙂 I didn’t like how the spicyness of the sili gets stuck in my throat though but the other unique flavors were so hmmmmm  delicious and refreshing! 🙂

May 10: Mother’s Day Celebration

I was so looking forward to the weekend of Mother’s Day to relax from all the stress of that week so I hinted my husband to bring me and the kids out on this day. I would have preferred a spa or salon time all by myself but I wanted to spend the day with the kids and hubby so we went to Active Fun at Boni High Street and had early dinner at IHOP. I felt exhausted physically but the joy of being with my family on this special day took away all the tiredness. And for some treat for me, Daddy J bought me 2 bags from Cole Vintage at a booth in BHS. Happiness because they were on sale! 😀

May 15-16: Department Summer Outing

Our “sorority” (because we are an all-ladies department 😀 ) had an overnight summer outing/team building at La Luz Beach Resort in Laiya, Batangas. We had fun being together beyond the walls of our office room and just enjoying the sun, sea and sand. 🙂 Afterwhich we had a sumptuous lunch at a beautiful, very inviting Italian restaurant in Lipa City called Casa Marikit.

laiya

May 18-21: Fieldwork in Cebu and Iloilo 

My #aMAYzingrace ended, so far, with a 4-day fieldwork in Cebu and Iloilo. Again, another tiring, much more tiring, but worthwhile trip because apart from experiencing people’s way of life again, we got to explore Cebu particularly Iloilo on the side  (and no office work to finish at night!). We experienced Cebu’s Zubu Chon, Iloilo’s Jo’s Chicken Inato, Buto’t Balat Restaurant, Breakthrough Restaurant,  Deco’s La Paz Batchoy and Madge Cafe’s Iced Coffee. 🙂


So that was my jam-packed May! I’ll try and I hope to be able to blog about these events separately. I’d like to share lots of photos! 😉

My Super Mom

Her super powers started at a young age of 22. She was working as a public high school English teacher in our hometown when she met and married my dad. Almost a year after tying the knot, they had their first child and her wonderful, amazing, drama-filled adventures as a mom began and became even more exciting with 3 more children. 🙂

Meet my Super Mom. 🙂

mother1

A Hard Working Working Mom

My mom is a natural go-getter. She finished her studies with honors at 19 and started practicing her profession right after passing the board exams. Maybe because their family was not well-off and as the eldest among the 6 children, she knew she had to graduate soon to help my grandparents with their finances. Why she got married young is another story. 😀

This achiever attitude coupled with her passion for teaching motivated my mother to continue working despite having kids. I believe this led to her being the breadwinner of our family and my dad as the house husband. 🙂 I found this set up in our home somewhat weird and deviant as a kid — a dad cooking our meals, washing the dishes, cleaning the house, doing the laundry, attending PTA meetings at school instead of a mom which was the common case among my classmates — but I had gotten used to it eventually. 😉

Anyhow, back to my mom. To further her career, she also took up and finished a master’s degree at a college in our province while being a high school teacher. Though if I remember it correctly, there was a time that she had to take a long leave from work to finish her studies. And at some point in her grad school, she also accepted a teaching stint among college students every Saturdays at the school where she studied her masters. I honestly don’t know how she did all of those things while being a hands on mom! Maybe Super Moms really do exist? 😀

Apart from being a very hard working teacher, my mom was an equally hard working mother to us four of her kids. She made sure she attended to all our needs despite her full schedule. Since we didn’t have a helper or yaya (oh, my dad was! Hehe!) because we were not rich to begin with, my mother was the one who gave us a bath when we were much younger, prepared our baon when we were in preschool, covered our books and notebooks for school, reviewed us our lessons, helped with our school projects. And the list goes on. There may be school activities that she missed but when she was at home, she made us her priority.

I also remember a story that she recounted showing her Super Mom powers in action, literally. I was I think more than a year old and there was no one to look after me at home because my dad had to run important errands so my mom brought me to school with her. I fell asleep in her arms so she taught in front of her class in heels cradling the sleeping toddler me. My heart melted after hearing that story. Tissue please. 😀

My mother’s hard work paid off when she got promoted until she became an Education Supervisor leaving the confines of a classroom onto a bigger role with wider scope and responsibilities. The career woman in her further pursued PhD and was granted a scholarship at DLSU which meant having to travel 3 hours to Manila every week to attend her classes. That was how determined and hard working she was. She was on her final requirement, a dissertation, when she had to discontinue her studies because of her tight schedule and financial concerns so she was not able to finish her PhP until her retirement last year.

award1

My Super Mom received her Outstanding EPS Award on March 2014. So proud of her! 🙂

She continued working and building her career but she never neglected us even until we have become older.  When we were in college studying here in Manila, my mom and dad would always visit us every week if they could or at least once a month to check on us, bring some food, cook meals for us, do the laundry for us (especially my dad. hehe!) and just spend some time with us their children. Even when we all have started working, they would still pay us a visit once in a while like they did when we were in college.

My mom did not only work hard in establishing her career. More importantly, she worked hard to shape responsible and independent children in us.  Since we didn’t have any househelp, our parents especially my mom taught us how to do household chores — washing the dishes, doing the laundry, pressing our clothes, cleaning the house.  My dad took charge of the kitchen because he likes cooking so I didn’t get to learn much about that. 😀 This equipped us to become independent growing up. I’m personally thankful that my mother taught me all these which I now apply in my married life. I always tell my husband that I’m not at the mercy of our helpers in case they decide to leave because I can take care of our home (except that I would need to quit work 😀 ).

While she and my dad always visited us during our college years, she made sure we know how to handle ourselves given that we were miles away from them. My brothers and I learned how to survive college until we started working, all by ourselves.  Though I lived in the same apartment with my brothers during my college and working days, there was a point when I had to be by myself because of certain career decisions that my brothers had to make. During this time, I wasn’t scared to live far away from my parents and siblings because of the foundation of independence that my mom instilled in me.

A Respectful and Submissive Wife

She had a good career and was the breadwinner of our family. But my mother never forgot her role as a wife. If there is something that I admire the most about my mom, it’s how she treats my dad — full of respect and with submission.

Despite my parents’ switched roles, my mother never made my dad feel he was incapable. She never bossed my father around even if she very well knew she was the one earning for the family.  She never shouted and degraded him nor spoke ill of him in front of other people. Instead, she appreciated all my dad’s efforts to take care of our home and look after us while she was working and gave him the respect that he deserved. She was gentle and kind-hearted towards my dad.  A wife respectful of her husband. That’s the kind of wife she was and is until now.

With my mother’s respect to my dad also comes her submission to him. When I was single, I couldn’t understand why my mom wouldn’t make a decision without the knowledge of my dad when she was the one who provided for the family anyway. In my mind, “She has the right to because she works hard.” But this made sense to me when I became a wife myself and learned about God’s command for wives to submit to their husbands.

Photo by Gerard Aquino

Photo by Gerard Aquino

As a submissive wife, my mom would always seek the opinion and/or approval of my dad in every decision she makes especially if it concerns our family — from the renovation of our home, purchase of an appliance or furniture to giving us permission to go out with friends. During my teen years, whenever I would ask my mom if we can go out with my friends or go somewhere, she would always tell me, “Ask your Daddy.” I knew my chance of being allowed to leave gets slim because my dad was strict. 😀 But the point is, she acknowledges the role of my dad as the head of the family even if she was the one working.

A WOMAN OF PERSEVERANCE

Growing up, I’ve seen how my mother strove hard to provide for our family and at the same time, fulfill her wife and mommy duties. As a mom, I could imagine how difficult it is for her spending more days at work than with her children but she endured being away from us instead of personally taking care of us to be able to provide for our family’s needs. And to take on the role as the provider that is normally fulfilled by the father is no joke. It’s like carrying the whole world on your shoulder because of the bigness and gravity of the responsibility. But my mom persevered to raise our family of six.

My mom’s perseverance is also evident in her marriage. We all know how it takes a lot of hard work to make marriage last because of the individual differences in attitude, values, beliefs and outlook that a couple needs to deal with. My mom and dad’s marriage was no exception. I’ve witnessed them disagree and fight even on petty things, usually stemming from my mom’s  love for shopping/window shopping and my dad’s abomination for it, and many other instances. Their reversed role as home maker and provider also became a source of their dispute at times. But despite all the challenges that they faced, my mom stood by my dad’s side and never gave up even if there were times when one who’s full of pride would think that the only option left is to pack up and leave. Thank God for His grace because my parents have been married for 44 years now.

A Loving Lola

As a teacher, my mom was known for being strict. But this mellows down when it comes to her apos except when they become difficult to handle especially the first 2 who stayed with my parents for a couple of years when their dad left abroad to work. 🙂 Ms. Minchin in Sarah the Little Princess comes out! Haha! She’s old already so her patience has become shorter. 😀

Kidding aside, my mother loves spending time with her grandchildren. Even if she got “stressed” in taking care of my nephews from my eldest brother because she was practically raising kids again, she enjoyed being with them. She helped them with their homework, reviewed them on their exams and attended to their needs even if she was already tired from work. I guess their mere presence gave her joy probably because all of her kids are already old. Plus they had errand runners whom they asked to run to the nearby sari-sari store to buy quick household needs. Hehe! 😀

When a new baby apo, the Big Boy, came after I think 10 years, my mom got delighted and excited once again. Who doesn’t like babies especially if they are your own blood? 🙂 They give a fresh look in life I believe. So whenever my parents are in Manila, my mom would always pester my dad to drive to our place to see the Big Boy and now, the Little Princess as well, even for just a short period of time. It’s the kids who they visit now, not me anymore. Huhu! :p

At the Big Boy's 1st Birthday Party. :)

At the Big Boy’s 1st Birthday Party. 🙂

My mom also has her own way of “spoiling” her apos. She doesn’t give in to what they want but she always buys them clothes and shoes. My mom likes shopping, remember? 😀 And being her only granddaughter (just like how I am her only daughter), the Little Princess served as her Barbie doll buying her clothes and footwear she would find cute or pretty. 😀  So the Little Princess modeled all her outfit from her Lola everyday. Ha! 😀

At the Little Princess' 1st Birthday Party. :)

At the Little Princess’ 1st Birthday Party. 🙂

A fan-girl

Miss Minchin, I mean, my mom, as a strict teacher, is always thought to be serious. Partly true when at work but when she has gone beyond the walls of her class/office room, her amusing side comes out! She likes celebrities and is a solid Vilmanian! 🙂

At home during weekends, you would always see her watching showbiz talkshows catching the latest chismis about celebrities. 😀 In fact, she and my dad fight over basketball and talkshows on television until now. Haha!

If you happen to be a visitor in our home and became interested to browse our photos, you would find an album of her pictures with celebrities she encountered at an event, a seminar, at the airport, anywhere! 😀 Of course she has photos with her favorite Vilma Santos! 😀 And she’s not ashamed to approach a celebrity to say “Hi!” and make a small talk when we are out much to our embarassment. Hahaha! We always tease her that she’d make a good talent manager. LOL! 😀

(Sorry I don’t have any copy of her pictures with celebrities with me now that I can share. :D)

MY PRAYER FOR MY SUPER MOM

After working all her life, my mom has finally decided to retire with the encouragement from my dad primarily because of her health. She has diabetes and hypertension and has suffered from mild stroke twice. Finally, she would be able to enjoy the fruits of all her labor without worrying about us and live life stress and worry-free. She had been working since she was 19!

However last year, a few months after her retirement, the unexpected happened. She had another stroke attack while at the mall with my dad and my brother, much worse than the first two that it paralyzed the left part of her body. This was one of the most difficult times of our family, seeing our very own Super Mom who was very independent and always full of energy, suffer, crippled in bed and incapable of doing things by herself. It was most difficult for her, physically more so, emotionally.

My prayer for my Super Mom is for her to be continuously fueled by the Lord with physical strength and good health given her condition. But more than her physical needs, I pray that she will be filled spiritually — that she may get to know Jesus on a personal level and have a relationship with Him. That she may discover and experience the overflowing joy of being one with Jesus, that even her physical limitations won’t matter anymore. That she will always see God’s beauty and goodness amid her situation. That she will be blessed and be a blessing to others. That she learns, and lives by, that being a Super Mom is not because of our human capacity but because of the strength coming from Jesus.

P.S. This blog post is supposed to be a Mother’s Day entry in honor of my mother but even though it’s more than a week late, I’d like to continue honoring my very own Super Mom on this blog. 🙂