parenting

Halloweening and Why The Tamago Sushi is the Best Costume Ever

This year, the Bear trick or treated three times at three separate Halloween themed events – from the office related one to a weekender at the local mini-mall and finally at a Star Wars themed  Halloween event at a hotel.

As for her Halloween look, it was fairly simple and surprisingly easy to put together… and not spooky at all! Meet little miss sushi!


For the following reasons, the tamago sushi costume is the best and most useful Halloween costume ever.

Continue reading “Halloweening and Why The Tamago Sushi is the Best Costume Ever”

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parenting

Growing Strong at 1: The Birthday Party is Coming

This is the Part Where You Think You’re Going to Be Different From Everyone Else But You End up Throwing a Party Anyway

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“No fancy and expensive first birthday party that she won’t even remember,” I declared to my husband before the Bear was born, “let’s use the money instead for a trip to Japan, which she won’t remember either but will be a unique experience for a first birthday.”

We had it all planned out. We would not fall prey to the first birthday trap of going all out for a party the celebrator would not even remember. No pre-birthday studio pics. No stressful nights party planning and looking for a clown.

 

Now, in theory, it all sounded good. We would go against the norm, we would be rebels in our own way. We, a husband and wife team of introverts who prefer small groups of friends to big parties. But …

We realized soon enough that the Bear loves people. She draws her energy from interacting with big groupsShe loves parties. If you can imagine a pair of semi-introverts with the life of the party in tow, socializing the heck out of fastfood restaurants and parties, you’ll have an idea of how amazed we are at how easily she navigates social situations. When she eats, she has to be surrounded by a LOT of people, preferably clapping and cheering her on. We hear strangers react in amazement when she smiles and/or waves at them. Nowadays, she hardly stays at home – she hangs out with her cousins next door and only goes home to take a shower and nap.

She can’t stay cooped up at home for long – she will in no uncertain terms make her displeasure known and will throw a fit if you don’t take her someplace new. In fact, on our solo Sundays together, we have to bring her to densely populated places like fastfood restaurants and malls because she MUST see a lot of people, otherwise we will end up with a very grumpy and bored Bear.

So while her father and I are not really into big social gatherings, we ended up throwing a party for the one person who loves it the most.

Continue reading “Growing Strong at 1: The Birthday Party is Coming”

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10 First Time Breastfeeding Life Hacks

Dear First Time Breastfeeding Mom, meet me your cheerleader who survived her first month of breastfeeding til it became more than a year of it … and beyond 🙂 I had tons of questions myself and some of them I couldn’t find answers to, even with Google. Some of these life hacks are not new but having gone through them myself I can at least swear that they worked for me.

First things first, know this – YOU CAN DO IT! You must go into breastfeeding with a quiet, steely determination to weather the first month or so. This is the hardest part because you just went through a life changing delivery and you badly need and want to rest.

  1. If you gave birth via c-section, side lying position is your friend. Baby’s tummy should be facing you, with a small pillow behind him/her. Have a pillow between your legs and against your back. This totally changed everything for me when I figured it out!
  2. When in doubt, offer the breast FIRST when baby is crying. Crying but not hungry? Crying but diaper is fine? Crying but just nursed half an hour ago?  If that does not work, then try other options –check the diaper for poop and pee, or maybe baby wants to be carried, etc.
  3. The best way to increase your milk supply is still through direct latch. To check if your latch is okay, listen to your baby while s/he is nursing. There should be a steady, rhythmic sound. The soreness and tenderness will go away eventually (I swear!), but not today. So keep latching and soldier on. When in doubt, however, go to a lactation consultant near you.
  4. It’s also super important to stay healthy by eating heartily and staying hydrated. There is some wisdom to hot soup and lots of liquids. The voodoo behind lactation cookies has not been proven yet but I will gladly eat a delicious milk boosting treat if need be.
  5. Maintain a tummy to tummy position when breastfeeding using side-lying position. Baby’s head (which should be supported properly at all times) should NOT be turned away from you.
  6. Watch out for growth spurts! It’s hard to tell but it’s usually when baby is crankier than usual and wants milk all the time! The growth spurt resolves itself after a few days. Don’t give in to fears that maybe baby is not getting enough – check if anything is indeed unusual. Fear leads to stress and stress leads to reduced milk output. If baby is peeing and pooping like clockwork – just keep nursing and soldier on. When in doubt, check your latch.
  7. Express and spread a little breast milk on sore or chapped nipples and air dry (go topless) to heal them. I never needed lanolin because of this all natural tip.
  8. If for some reason you cannot directly latch, or have decided to supplement with formula in the meantime, remember that if you want to continue breastfeeding, you need to maintain your milk supply through direct latch. So don’t give up – offer to nurse before supplementing, and try to lessen your dependence on the bottle if you would like to breastfeed. Continue nursing. Lucky for me, just as I was about to give up for good, my baby did not want formula milk – forcing me to breastfeed her continuously. This is how I reduced formula milk dependence within the first few weeks of giving birth.
  9. Continuously stimulate milk production through hand express especially up to the first month. Don’t be discouraged if your ‘output’ seems low or barely 1 oz – it is in no way an indication of how much milk your baby drinks from you directly 🙂
  10. To deal with clogged ducts, you can make a nice warm compress out of a sock filled with uncooked rice. Just warm it up in the microwave and apply to the sore areas. Also, let baby use his/her hands to press on areas that need to be unclogged – off with the mitts while breastfeeding, I was told by a lactation expert 🙂

Your baby does not magically latch knowing how. And your breasts will not magically accommodate a hungry, screaming baby with ease. Later on, in a few months, you will find that breastfeeding is indeed easy and natural after all. But that day is not today. It will take time before your breasts get used their new role in your baby’s life.

 

Today may not be that day yet but know and believe that you can do it with a lot of patience and perseverance. 🙂

Expert breastfeeding moms, feel free to add your own life tips!

parenting

What We Don’t Talk About (But Should) When We Talk About Breastfeeding

In time for Breastfeeding month, I’m going to talk about the things we don’t talk about breastfeeding, and why we should talk some more.

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My law school blockmate, Rep. Em Aglipay on her experiences breastfeeding in public. She also talks about the widespread prejudice against breastmilk in a separate graphic.

I come from both sides of the fence, so to speak. I am an exclusively breastfeeding mom but I also gave my baby formula several times while I was building my supply during the first two weeks post-partum.  Before giving birth, I naively thought breastfeeding was going to be an easy, natural thing to do and I went as far as post articles I read online about breastfed kids being smarter, happier and healthier than formula fed kids… not a very sensitive thing to do, I realized later on, which brings me to my first point.

Breastfeeding is framed as a public health issue, a food security matter, and so much more. However, talking about breastfeeding or formula as a matter of choice by a parent is such a sensitive and highly contentious topic even though it has public health dimensions. How you feed your child touches a raw nerve 99% of the time. It divides mothers, grandmothers, friends, workmates, one judging the other, when it should not be the case.

First of all, nobody talks about the private pain a mother goes through when people around her – family included, judge her choice to breastfeed.  Breastfeeding moms endure a lot of well-intentioned but hurtful comments and suggestions, ranging from their milk not being good enough to their babies not being fat enough – or that their babies look sickly compared to fatter formula fed babies. Moms who want to breastfeed but are not able to also endure hurtful comments about their ability to provide for their babies, sadly even from other moms, too.

Nobody really talks about how friggin’ hard it is, especially in the first few weeks, hence setting up a clueless mom for heartache and disappointment. The first thing I tell my friends who want to breastfeed is this – be prepared for a difficult and arduous rollercoaster ride. It’s better to be brutally honest about how hard it is at first rather than paint a rosy picture that is far from reality.

Continue reading “What We Don’t Talk About (But Should) When We Talk About Breastfeeding”

parenting

On Crib Safety: How to Fortify with Style

We have a very playful and active 9 month old Bear. Even when she was a wee newborn, she already exhibited excellent head control and seems to have hit some milestones relatively early.

The playpen we bought for her a few months ago is too high for her to reach, straining her arms. On the other hand, we were loaned a big ol’ metal crib with a lot of family history behind it but with a very active Bear, the likelihood of hitting her head on the metal bars is high.

So Pimp Our Crib (And Make it Safe!) was born. Here’s a quick glimpse of the finished product:

Here’s the Bear looking like a boss.

 

 

 

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Except for the storebought teething rail and crib beddings, pillows, the individual bars and foam cushion were custom-made.

We were at first inspired by the aluminum insulated foam my husband installed to protect my head from hitting the super high bed posts of our former 6 ft high bed. Daddy then bought lots of foam and we proceeded to wrap the foam around individual metal bars of the crib. Then realized the whole thing looked fugly and that the Bear would probably spend most of her time trying to pry off the packaging tape and stuff the foam in her mouth (oral fixation stage!).

Taking our cue from drool pads we came up with the idea of crib slipcovers. So we trudged to our neighborhood tailor and asked him to make a special batch of crib slipcovers for us, tailored to our specifications.

To be honest, we didn’t have that much selection in terms of fabric but this one was the nicest one that was soft but firm enough to hold its shape well (Japanese or China cotton, we were told).

This is what an individual crib bar cover looks like. The other side is secured by velcro and here’s the top fastened to the railing and secured by a button. It’s literally hook and loop. 🙂 The hook and loop makes it possible to secure the crib slip cover and keep it stable from eager little hands that will try to pry it off.

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Cat in the corner not included LOL

The crib bar cover reinforces the inner foam tube we made and makes it prettier and less attractive for the bear to chew on.

It took us a bit longer to decide on the proper protection for the other sides of the crib. While there are narrow metal bars on the other side, covering them up individually was going to be more difficult with the narrower space between the metal bars.

4-inch foam cushion to protect the Bear from bumps and bruises.
4-inch foam cushion to protect the Bear from bumps and bruises.

We were also worried that the Bear might hit her head so we decided to reinforce the sides. We secured the services of an experienced upholstery guy who created the crib cushion for us. We chose blue, the closest shade that would match the crib bar slip covers.

The cushion is 4 inches thick and attaches to the crib through small velcro snaps at the back.

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For the finishing touches, we just bought a cream colored teething rail from SM’s Baby Company. Underneath the teething rail, we used our remaining insulated foam. If we have extra time though, we might have it customized, too, to match the crib bar covers.

 

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Double lawyer of protection – insulated foam under the teething rail

If we had the know how we’d DIY the cushion and covers but we’re glad we outsourced the work since the final product is quite nice.

HOW TO FORTIFY YOUR CRIB  Continue reading “On Crib Safety: How to Fortify with Style”

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Change is Coming: TV Coverage of the Great Cloth Diaper Change Pampanga Leg

Check out the first 5 minutes of this video by ABS CBN Pampanga. It’s in a local language, Kapampangan.

Unfortunately, I don’t speak the language and there are no subtitles for this. But you’ll see the Bear briefly, trying to grab the microphone while her dad is being interviewed. The blow by blow of the event is here.

You’ll find good reasons for considering cloth diapers in my other related posts. 🙂

Thank you also to the Official Great Cloth Diaper Change Facebook page for featuring my post.

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parenting

Change is Coming – One Cloth Diaper … All At the Same Time!

The Great Cloth Diaper Change 2016 happened earlier today at 11:00 am, in designated areas all over the Philippines, in solidarity with the rest of the world.  It’s a worldwide event held every year to promote the use of cloth diapers which benefits the environment and the pocket, too. At a designated time, moms and dads all over the world then proceed to change their baby’s diaper.

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It was our first time to join such an event and we picked the Cloth Diaper Addicts PH Pampanga leg (at Robinsons Starmills, Pampanga) which was nearest to us and the Bear who intensely dislikes long drives (and traffic!).

Picking out the Bear’s ‘outfits’ was the hardest part. I decided early in the morning before leaving for Robinsons. I figured that while waiting for the main event, showing off a frilly tutu would be nice.

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Decked out in her frilly Cluebebe tutu while waiting for the change to start. 
The Bear enjoyed hanging out so much she attempted to invade the changing mat next to her. It wasn’t long before the actual change began, anyway, which meant Outfit #2.

Continue reading “Change is Coming – One Cloth Diaper … All At the Same Time!”

parenting

Change is Coming: Do you still remember the first time?

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Countdown to the GCDC!

Three different packages arrived for me today. All cloth diapers, nearly 10 in all – Cluebebe and a long delayed shipment from QB. Some to be given as gifts, the rest for the Bear.

Ano pong dadalhin natin na diapers bukas?” J, our kasambahay and nanny asked me, referring to the Great Cloth Diaper Change happening tomorrow morning. I told her I will think about it. She took one look at the latest delivery, fluffmail in CD parlance, and added: “Lalabhan ko na ba po itong lahat?” I smiled, mentally counted the stack of cloth diapers in our cabinet and said there was no need, at least not yet.

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First time to try Quigle Bum. Cluebebe (the sheep) in photo as well.

Maybe I have a bit too much already, I told myself, it’s time to slow down or stop. Ah, there was one more coming in the mail. Maybe in a week, maybe more. But before there was one too many, I only had one.

Continue reading “Change is Coming: Do you still remember the first time?”

parenting

Change is Coming: The Great Cloth Diaper Change 2016

 

The Bear loves her Fluffy Pwets

I write this post in time for this year’s GCDC, where I will join legions of moms all over the world who will all change our babies’ diapers simultaneously for the environment and to popularize the use of cloth diapers. (I will also blow a hole in my pocket when I acquire more diapers at the venue)

 

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I’m new to cloth diapers, but cloth diapers per se are not new. Back in the olden days before disposable diapers became affordable, my parents and grandparents used lampin or cloth to mop up my poo and pee, wash and hang them to dry. Rinse and repeat. Then disposable diapers became a lot more affordable and easier to deal with – no need to see that poop explosion again. However, the lampins of old have been given a fresh and attractive new look, and have become an attractive alternative to disposables.

Cloth diapers are beneficial for some key reasons:

Continue reading “Change is Coming: The Great Cloth Diaper Change 2016”

parenting

The Ultimate List (Packing Your Hospital Bag and Stuff for Baby’s First Few Days)

This is a direct answer to a friend who asked me to share my what to pack for the hospital checklist. I know I’m months late and I hope you see this in time!

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Checklist 101 by the bears; circa 2015 before our bear was born

The search for a comprehensive checklist was not an easy one. Most parenting sites are overwhelming and there may be some things that are culturally specific. So I asked friends to send me theirs, and started cramming.

Here’s my advice: don’t procrastinate! My poor husband was left to worry about a shitload of details when I gave birth even with our initial list. Plus, if you are new to this like we were, we didn’t know what a receiving blanket was or why we needed a ton of little square towels.

Everything in those first couple of hours being home alone with baby was bewildering and incomprehensible. Having learned from experience, I will do my best to provide comprehensive and practical advice.

The lists below should be helpful for moms who deliver via c-section, like in my case.

Checklist of hospital and baby things (Or What I should Have Prepared For Before Giving Birth and Maybe the First 72 Hours After.. Really!)

Continue reading “The Ultimate List (Packing Your Hospital Bag and Stuff for Baby’s First Few Days)”