Thursday, March 31, 2011

Please help this little girl heal her heart

Twitter's an amazing tool to finding out about what's happening in the world, whether it's the mega-quake that shook Japan or one of many human heartbreaks that can be just as earth-shattering.

Today, I found this little girl, Anika, the girl with the broken heart, and she needs a lot of help for her heart to be fixed. I am haunted by her eyes and the dark circles underneath them. I keep seeing my Vito's eyes and how I never ever want him to be sick. So it breaks my own heart to see this little girl bravely soldiering on with her life, one precious heartbeat at a time, something we all take for granted.

Look at that little bunny! I meant Anika, not the toy =)
I have no idea who this little girl is. All I know is she's beautiful and loved and if that ever happened to my Vito... Oh, I can't bear it. Just the thought squeezes my insides painfully. So I want to help Anika by spreading her story to the world and maybe we can make a difference in her life, even if that means one extra day for hugs and kisses.

I've donated my March PayU2Blog earnings to Anika. I pledge to donate all my PayU2Blog earnings this April, too. That'll be my birthday gift to her since she's turning 4 years old this month. She was born the day before I got married. That month was one of the happiest days in my life, as I'm sure it was too for Anika's parents.

Well, the joy need not stop and we can make that happen! Just click here to read her story. You can buy items or donate. Or pray. That's the most powerful of all!

Happy birthday, Anika! May you have many many many more birthdays!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Vito goes furniture shopping!

Look who we caught shopping for furniture!

Vince and I brought Vito to his Auntie Anj's chair boutique, About A Chair. He had been fussing at the lunch table, mostly because 2pm is when he starts his nap time so we figured we'll just do a quick stop at the shop then leave. Well, as soon as Vito saw the miniature versions of these designer chairs, he came alive!
Arne Jacobsen's Ant Chair
Verner Panton's Panton Chair
Eero Aarnio's Ball Chair

Let me repeat: They're mini versions! So adorable. Vito happily climbed over them, tested them, and gurgled over them. I think he liked the Ball Chair best. The cushion's very soft and it feels like a cocoon.

Are we buying? Well, first Vince and I have to buy that sofa we wanted at BoConcept! And then we'll buy Vito his own chair when we move to a bigger apartment or to a house house, which isn't for a good long while. Sigh!

But if you're looking for fantabulous accent/designer chairs for your home, I highly recommend About A Chair!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The new Next9 Cloth Diapers!

Since it's Earth Hour tonight, I remembered to write about this product. Now you all know Vito loves cloth diapers. He uses Next9's Tushy Wushy cloth diapers. Now, it's even better! Introducing the new and improved (and renamed) Next9 Cloth Diapers!

This improved version is ADJUSTABLE! So it grows with your baby! I had bought the original version and now that Vito's 7 months old, he can't fit into them anymore. Since a set of three diapers costs P1,000, I was a bit hesitant to buy new sets in medium, then again new sets in large when the time comes. But with this adjustable version, I am relieved and happy!

A lot of mommies have asked me this all important question: How is this cloth diaper better than the ordinary lampin?

Well, here's how it works:
The diaper is shaped to hug your kid's body. Plus, the edges fit snugly around baby's chubby thighs so you can be super sure that there will be no leaks.

The diaper is made of fleece so that it's soft and gentle on your baby's skin. There is a plush absorbent cloth that you insert into the diaper--that's what sucks in all that pee. As for poop, I just scrape it off, pick it up with tissue and flush down the toilet!

Kwento: Vito had diaper rash the first two weeks he was on solid food. That sometimes happens because the urine and poop have changed and can irritate skin. Plus, because his poop's smelly and icky na, I used disposables. But when the rash appeared, back to cloth diapers he went. His rash disappeared in two days!

So I am a firm believer in cloth diapers. I do use disposables but we use them only at night so that Vito can sleep comfortably and when we go out so I won't lose my mind!

For more questions or to buy a set, click here.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Good mom, bad friend?

I've been feeling a bit down recently. Aside from the tragedy in Japan that really affected me, I've been struggling with the thought that I've been a bad friend. A few weeks ago, a very dear friend revealed a big personal event. She assured me she's fine now, that after struggling with this challenge for nearly two years (!!!), she finally made a decision about that major aspect of her life and she's now moving on.

I was shocked to not have been aware of her struggles. Looking back, I realized, "So that explains this and that." But hey, I was just too caught up in my marriage, pregnancy and motherhood to care. Every time she visited or we met up, I just talked and talked about me me me. "My marriage is great! My baby is so cute! Motherhood is so hard but rewarding! Juggling career and family is crazy! My father is driving me insane!" Yada yada. I seldom asked her about her. Whenever I did ask and she hesitated or gave a vague answer, I just took that as a signal to continue talking about me.

I don't know if any of you ever read this column by Carolyn Hax. She addresses a reader who is upset that her mommy friend doesn't have time for her anymore. Carolyn sets her straight:

I agree with Carolyn that motherhood just takes up so much time and consumes so much energy and that it is such a joy. But, hey, we all know that already. I guess what the Tacoma person wanted to know was why does being a devoted mom mean being a negligent friend? A question that Carolyn actually doesn't answer. She only explains why moms are so busy, not why they became bad friends.

Well, I'm beginning to think that a lot of us just use motherhood or marriage as an excuse to be awful people. Ever had those friends who got married and then promptly forgot you existed? Ever had those married friends who tried to fix you up on a date because they think single people are lonely and unhappy? Or parent friends who nag and nag you to have kids so that your life will stop being meaningless and empty? Or a mommy friend who just thinks her life is so fascinating, she never even stops talking about it and look at you, just you, and ask, "Hey, how are you?" and mean it?

Dear X, thanks for celebrating my joys and being there for my sorrows. I'm so sorry I wasn't there for yours. I'm going to be a better friend from now on. I mean it. I really do.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Vito's so strong!

Someone's in a hurry to grow up. Here's Vito last Sunday, March 13. That's when he turned 7 months old. Vince and I took him to the playground and, well, there's no stopping our little whirlwind.

He can climb up steps!

He can slide down the slide by himself! (On his tummy, though. He's scared to do it on his butt!)

He can walk up the slide!

After a while, he shook me off and wanted to climb up the slide all by himself.

His pedia, Dr. Cricket Chen, says that Vito is developmentally advanced by 2 months. Apparently, he's not supposed to be doing all these things yet. I'm actually not surprised at this—my mother told me I started walking when I was 7 months old. My Lolo Manong told me I used to climb out of my crib so he tied me to the crib bars with diapers. Hmm, that used to be funny. Anyway! So Vito took after me then.

As a mommy, I'm very proud of course. And yet I don't want him to grow up too fast. He's so active now, I get exhausted just looking at him. Plus, he gets bumps and bruises. Good thing I bought him a Thudguard. It's really helped in the head-bump prevention. The only problem is when Vito falls on his face—good thing he's got fat cheeks!

Oh darling baby boy, please don't be in too much of a hurry! Mama and Papa want you to stay a baby just a wee bit longer!

Speaking of Thudguards, Gen of Thudguard Asia very kindly assured me that I did get Vito's Thudguard for a good price since I bought directly from their online site. Here are the URLs for you, mommies: 
multiply: http://thudguardasia.multiply.com/
website : http://www.thudguard-asia.com
facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ThudguardAsia

If you don't like shopping online and would rather see and feel the product first, you can go to Momtrepreneur and Rustan's Dept Stores.



Saturday, March 19, 2011

Vito's first encounter with the mango

We bought nice, ripe, fragrant, juicy, fleshy mangoes from the palengke for Vito's first mango experience. We chose the very best mangoes! And this was Vito's reaction:

Never fails to make me laugh! Hope you  have a fruit-ful weekend!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Breastfeeding and my self-image

"Welcome to the first Milk Mama Diaries Carnival (March). To celebrate National Women's Month, our participants share how breastfeeding has changed them as a woman. Please scroll down to the end of this post and check out the other carnival participants."

* * * * * * *
All the research out now really supports how breastfeeding is best for baby and mommy (see list here), but there's no research that says how breastfeeding helps enhance a woman's self-esteem. But I can tell you with confidence that breastfeeding did one thing that no self-help book, no women's mag empowerment article, or no religious sermon ever did--breastfeeding made me proud of my body!

First of all, I never had to diet or exercise to look good. I was super thin--a size 1 when I was in my early 20s then a 2 in my late 20s then a size 4 in my early 30s. Despite not needing to hit the gym, I still didn't feel confident. I didn't exactly have low self-esteem but my body wasn't particularly anything special. I felt that even more acutely when I became skinny and flabby when I hit 30!

7 months pregnant!
Then I got pregnant. As my body became even more rounded and big, I felt bad whenever people said, "Your body's never going to be the same again," or "You're having a boy? Of course. You look ugly!" Then when I gave birth, the sight of my ravaged body definitely did not help in the self-esteem department.

Then... I started breastfeeding. My body shrunk fast, my breasts filled with milk and my baby boy suckled happily at breasts that were hard, not the lovely soft mounds seen on sexy stars.

But with each breastfeeding minute, my self-esteem blossomed. I felt a happiness and wonder at what my body can do. I was so proud of my body! My body is nourishing my son. My breasts are filled with good nutrition! My bosom and belly make a soft cushiony cradle for my baby boy. My arms and legs--thicker now--are so strong! My body stopped being a source of criticism. It is now my pride and joy.

The funny thing is I looked better before I got pregnant! Sometimes, when I've spent the entire day looking at Hollywood stars (it's my job to do so!), I catch a glimpse of my body and get a bit panick-y. Where did my skinny arms, slender thighs, small chest (I liked my small chest!) go? Will I ever be sexy again? Then I remember that this body is a milk machine that makes it possible for my Vito to be healthy, smart and strong. And that makes my body perfect.

* * * * * * *
Here are the other blog posts of the Milk Mama Diaries Carnival. Enjoy!
Apples & Dumplings: The Breasts and Me!
Changing Nappies in High Heels: Of Nursing and Self-Awareness
Chronicles of a Nursing Mom: Please Think Before You Comment
Imperfectly Created: Feeling Fab at 40
Manila Fashion Observer: My Breastfeeding Story
Mommying in Heels: Loving Jaden, Changing Me
Rainy Days and Momdays: The Adventures of Super Cow
Soprano Mom Writes: Breastfeeding and My Career
The Odyssey of Dina: Nurturing Rafael: Same Old Brand New Me
Truly Rich Mom: Breastfeeding Has Made Me A Better Woman

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Super baby!

This post is brought to you by Nutroplex.

What's on the menu?
This past month has been amazing! When Vito turned 6 months old (he's 7 now), we began feeding him solid food. And since then, Vito’s development has been nothing short of fantastic! Vito learned to sit up, crawl faster, pull himself up to standing position, lower himself to sitting position, stand on his own without support (wobbly, I admit!), and walk a few steps with just me holding one of his hands!

It’s not just the motor skills; Vito’s been exhibiting many new tricks. He covers our mouth with his hands if he doesn’t want us to talk, he “replies” when we ask him a question, he expresses appreciation when I’m all dolled up, he makes cute facial expressions when he wants something (manipulative kid, I tell ya), and he says, “Mama!” and “Papa!” when he wants me and Vince!
I can crawl really fast!
I can stand with minimal support!
We think it’s the solid food that’s causing all this amazing development. Don’t get me wrong—I believe breast milk is king but it can’t be coincidence that with all the fruits and veggies supplementing my milk, Vito’s body and brain got a super boost.

I don't want to be a lactivist

My recent post on breastfeeding prompted a few readers to ask why I don't actively promote breastfeeding. They urged me to further the cause because mommies don't breastfeed enough. One pointed out how Daphne Osena Paez is a UN Ambassador for promoting breastfeeding and that I should follow suit.

Well, Daphne and I had a little chat about that. I laud her efforts truly but I confessed to her that while I am super pro-breastfeeding, I don't want to be seen as super gung-ho about it that I offend mommies who fed/feed their kids formula. Daphne says there's a word for that: lactivist. Well there. I don't want to be a lactivist.

To be honest, I was ambivalent to this whole breastfeeding business. You see, I wasn't breastfed. Neither was Vince. We turned out more than all right! I know some people who were breastfed and, well, they aren't so cool. Oops, I'm joking. Sorta.

Then when I was preggy, I started reading all the literature about how breast milk is best for baby. And I decided, "Okay, I'll give it a try. But the minute I feel it's such a hassle, I'm giving up." Well, it was a huge pain, I tell ya, but I didn't give up, which surprised me.

First, I had no milk. At all. It didn't help that Ate Marita told me, "Maliit kasi dede mo kaya wala kang gatas." ("You have small breasts that's why you have no milk.") Great, that made me feel oh so much better. To her credit, Ate M, who is a manghihilot, massaged my back and made me cauldron upon cauldron of malunggay soup. I was leaking milk in no time!

Second, breastfeeding hurt at the start. It was so painful, I saw stars every time he latched. I thought more than a few times that I'd rather give birth again than breastfeed.

Third, and for me this was the worst, breastfeeding suffocated me. There were days I felt like screaming because Vito had to feed every 2 hours. And in the first three months, the bottle is discouraged so there won't be nipple confusion. So even if I had a Medela pump, I couldn't go anywhere anyway because I was tethered to the baby by his need for my milk.

But I soldiered on because, as they say, breast milk is best for baby. I also liked the closeness I felt whenever we cuddled and he suckled and I felt my milk nourishing him.

Then I found this list: Advantages of Breastfeeding. It totally blew my mind away! I was so excited, I exclaimed to Vince: "Imagine that! If every mommy breastfed her baby, we'd have people who are stronger, faster, smarter, healthier. Breastfeeding mommies would be instrumental in creating a super race of humans! Breastfeeding should be mandatory!"

And Vince snapped, "You sound like a Nazi."

And that, my friends, is why I haven't been promoting breastfeeding. I had become a lactivist.

I certainly do not want to think I am superior or my child is better. But without realizing it, I had become someone that I didn't want to be. I was horrified at myself. I'm sure you know women out there who put down formula, tut-tut at formula-fed babies, and sneer at formula-feeding moms. I didn't reach that point, thank goodness (actually, it's thank Vince!). But until I was sure that I won't be judgmental, I just didn't want to talk about breastfeeding.

Now... I think I'm ready. I still believe breastfeeding is a wonderful thing. It's super healthy for both mother and child. It's amazing to see how our bodies can be our child's source of nourishment. And it saves us money and time.

But I also know that each of us have different situations that prevent us from breastfeeding--some women have health or physical conditions that prevent successful breastfeeding, some women have to work full time.

I also know that we mommies do have one thing in common: We love our kids. So we will do our very best to nourish them--whether it's breastfeeding or infant formula. And love is something I can totally understand and respect.

I want to encourage mommies to breastfeed and now I think I can do it with love and grace. I really don't want to come across as some Mrs. Know-It-All because, really, I don't know it all. But I can share what I do know about breastfeeding and I hope to be able to help those mommies who feel discouraged about breastfeeding. So there! Wish me luck!

This little Japanese boy broke my heart

click to enlarge. image source and story here
He's very cute. He's being checked for radiation since he lives near the Fukushima Daini nuclear plant that is currently having a meltdown. My heart is melting because this adorable guy is so small, he's so perplexed at that masked and suited up man with the strange machine, and he's so brave. I pray this darling boy wasn't exposed to the radiation and that he and his family are safe and warm.

I'm feeling very melancholy. It was the tragedy in Japan that caused this. I'm worried about us here in the Philippines, especially Manila, with our buildings and bridges and inept government. I know that the Earth will act up again and we may very well be the next. I've resolved to have emergency bags in the house and in the car. They'll be stuffed with water, blankets, first aid kit, canned food, can opener, flashlight, batteries, etc. I think this will help ease my worry.

You know, Vince and I were never afraid to die. We have a very healthy attitude towards death. We've talked about it, the funeral arrangements, we have life insurance. We're pretty prepared. We also want to die young (that's around 60 max) and not suffer the debilitation of old age.

Well, we wanted to die young. Then Vito came. And he changed everything. Now, we are afraid to die, to leave him alone to fend for himself. We want to see him grow up, reach his full potential, fall in love, get married, have children. So now, with all these disasters happening on top of crime, accidents and sickness, there's really nothing I can do but take refuge in prayer. It's almost a chant for me: "Keep us safe. Keep us healthy." Oh, and now I also ask, "Keep us together."

That's all I ask, dear God. Keep us safe. Keep us healthy. Keep us together.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Life flies by in seconds

Vince and I have thousands of photos of the little critter (he's gnawing on everything right now-- the crib has teeth marks!). So this is something we can actually do:



This video made me laugh and cry today. I love the song. But I cried here:
Someday you're gonna want to go
I hope we taught you all you need to know
Vito, darling, don't grow up so fast! I already miss you!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Breastfeeding is beautiful!

Remember when I blogged about this photo of Miranda Kerr breastfeeding her infant son, Flynn?
image source here

Well, for a lot of women, that photo is disgusting.

In the February 28 issue of People magazine, People reports that "readers' opinions were dramatically divided," and that it "outraged" many women. Women! Reader Allie Anderson described the photo as "disrespectful to all those who believe in a woman's right to breastfeed but don't want to see it!" Rose Bird added that the photo "crosses the line and makes mother/child bonding provocative."

Wow. I am reeling from shock. How can fellow women think that a woman who breastfeeds is provocative? Breasts were made for feeding babies! How can fellow women think that breastfeeding is such a forbidden act that to see it is embarrassing and shameful?

Now I understand why a lot of women don't breastfeed--they're ashamed of it! I'm not saying that all moms who didn't/don't breastfeed feel the same. I have friends who couldn't because they had stressful jobs or their milk wasn't enough, and I respect their choice to turn to formula to nourish their babies. But some women have told me that breastfeeding makes them uncomfortable because their breasts "hang out all the time, it's so immodest."

Mommies, there is nothing shameful about nurturing your baby. I am so proud of breastfeeding that I just whip my boob out and pop it in my baby's mouth. No matter where I am! Even when I pump my milk at work, I don't hide in an empty room--I just express the milk right at my desk and everyone's passing by and they don't say a thing.

Of course, I do cover myself with a thin blankie because I have gotten shocked/nervous/disgusted stares--mostly from women. Why?!? Men just glance then look away, accepting that it's a natural thing. Why can't we women support each other in this most beautiful act?

Women are our own worst enemies sometimes. This just makes me so sad! I'm so upset, I'm going to eat leche flan cake.

Vito's date with The Stork Studio

I totally forgot to share with you Vito's first professional photo shoot!

Yes, the baby has his photos taken almost every single day since his birthday (and the hubby's shots are pretty darn good, too!), but last November, when Vito was just 3 months old, Sofia of The Stork Studio very kindly offered to take Vito's first pro photos and here are some of the adorable results:

Sofia, the photos are precious and we love them, especially the ones with his green beanie and the naked shots! Looking at them now, I marvel at how tiny Vito was! Now, at almost 7 months, he's such a big baby, crawling, jumping, "talking", shrieking, laughing, climbing, standing, etc! And these photos just brought me back to those lovely days when he wasn't so... malikot!

To my fellow parents, Stork Studio's studio is in a family home so it's very comfy and quiet there. It really feels like a house (well, it is) and not a cold, sterile place (which studios usually are). Make sure you're on time so baby gets used to the place (we were late because we got lost) and has time to settle down and get happy and comfy and maybe sleepy. Sofia doesn't mind shooting sleeping babies at all.

And if you want to join baby in front of the lens, you can! Here are my boys:

I love these photos. They're love. Thanks, Stork Studio!

Monday, March 7, 2011

To get pregnant or not to get pregnant?

When Vito lost his newborn scent--the most wonderful smell in the world!--I declared, "I want another baby." He lost that smell when he was just a month old so you can imagine my husband's shock. When Vito turned 2 months old and he started having a personality (haha), Vince chimed in. We want another one!

But Vince did research and said, "It's best for both mother and child to have a two-year gap." Those two years allow the mother to recover, to gain strength for the next pregnancy, to lessen the risk of miscarriage, and to let baby enjoy breast milk without having to share with a new sibling.

But! If I wait till Vito's 2, I'll be 36.

So let's list PROs and CONs here.

PRO
1. I'll have kids who are so close in age, they'll be friends!
2. I'll have a new baby while my body's still used to this sleepless regimen.
3. I'll have a new baby! Period.

CON
1. I'll have kids who are so close in age, they might become rivals!
2. I really don't want to get pregnant again. Ya know, the uncertainty, the paranoia, the nausea, the fatigue, the endless trips to the bathroom, the heaviness, the bloat, the weird food cravings, the hormonal mood swings, the "Nothing fits!", the "Am I fat?", the constant guessing game of people ("You're having a boy. You're ugly!").

Yeah, I was such a bitch when I was pregnant. Reading my blog posts when I was preggy, I'd catch the whiny, bratty tone. I was so unpleasant, I tell ya. Vince insists I wasn't--just really weepy and insecure--but I know I was unhappy and ungrateful. I regret that. I was so cavalier with my pregnancy--sleeping late, not taking my prenatal vitamins, working hard, watching gory stuff on TV, eating fatty and sugary stuff. Bad habits a pregnant woman, in her delicate state, shouldn't have. I'm so glad Vito's perfect!

If I do get pregnant again, I'll be a better mommy. But I can't promise to avoid the ice cream and cake!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Vito is loved

Many of Vito's things were given to him. A bunch of those from my blog readers. You! Nappy liners, cloth diapers, toys, clothes... there's a ton of stuff in our house from complete strangers but, because of your love for my baby, you are no longer strangers to me. I've never met you, I've never actually talked with you, but thank you for loving my child. I am beyond moved. Thank you!

Here's Vito wearing the cute fuzzy slippers Duni, who lives in far away Germany, made especially for him:



Duni, God bless you! He looks so adorable in them and they look so adorable on him! He likes to chew on them, though. Like a puppy, tee hee!

Check out Duni's blog, Duni's Studio. It's inspirational--full of creative ideas and everything soft and sweet and good. I love her. I feel like she's part of my soul, though we've never met. Isn't the world such a beautiful place when you find soul sisters from all over the world?

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Vito and his love-hate affair with his Thudguard

After Vito fell off our bed, bumped his head on the crib bars and fell on his face while crawling about, I bought Vito a Thudguard helmet.


He's soooooo cute! Problem is it takes a bit of work to get him to wear it. I'm supposed to put it on his head while he's distracted, like when he's playing or eating mebbe (yep, he's actually eating here and, nope, eating isn't dangerous!), but Vito, he ain't fooled by distraction, ya know. Here he is trying to take it off! Tee hee.
But once it's on for a while, he forgets it's there. Hooray! He's worn it to the playground and around the house. It definitely protects his cute little head from bumps. Soooo happy about that!

Anyway, if you want to get a Thudguard, you can check out the Facebook page. I bought Vito's for P2,250. But my friends recently told me I could've gotten it for much less at Momtrepreneur Shop at Shangri-la Mall. I really feel bad about that! I do like it that Thudguard Philippines sends me safety updates and they're very friendly and nice to moi. So... it's oki, it's oki. Vito's safe and happy. That's all that matters!

Vito's already so big!

He's already half as tall as I am, methinks. And he's just six months old!

In the last two weeks, he's learned how to pull himself up from sitting to standing, crawl all over our floors, climb over pillows, lower himself from the sofa, decide that he likes sayote and hate papaya, say "mamama" and "papapa."

One funny thing he does is he always gets entertained when we show him his photos. If he looks cute in the pics, he'd smile very widely and make cooing sounds! How vain! Just like his mama and papa! Love that boy to bits!