Monday, May 27, 2013

Reader question: How do you manage nursing Iñigo from the breast alone?

I have readers in Abu Dhabi! A fellow mom—we'll call her Mommy A—emailed me her concern about breastfeeding her infant daughter.

Here's my late reply:

I was able to reply a couple of weeks later, so full was my inbox. I felt bad for replying so late. I was scared she'd given up. Breast milk may be the best milk we can ever give to our babies but breastfeeding is not easy, especially in the first few months. Many moms give up because they don't have support, encouragement or knowledge. It is very important that we help fellow moms!

Mommy A said she emailed lots of moms who breastfeed but no one replied. That makes me very sad but I understand. Moms are the busiest people on earth! That's why when I asked her if I could blog about this, she immediately said yes. She wanted other moms struggling with breastfeeding to know they're not alone. We are all faced with many challenges so the simple act of telling someone, "Chin up. We're mothering together!" will fill many mothers with hope and renewed energy and determination to face another day of loving and serving!

Did you struggle with breastfeeding? Why did you give up? Why did you persevere? Studies have shown that most new mothers want to breastfeed but give up too soon because they found it painful and exhausting, their husbands and mothers/mothers-in-law didn't support them, because they had to go back to work, they didn't think they were producing enough milk, they were told their milk isn't good enough, etc.

I struggled with breastfeeding with both sons, but most especially with Iñigo because he was greedier and because he spurned the bottle. I told Vince that if Iñigo had only taken milk—breast milk or formula!—in a bottle, I'd still be working in an office now. Iñigo really was a huge factor on why I became a WAHM. I just couldn't bring him to the office anymore. It was becoming unprofessional. For example, much as people were very understanding, it was not appropriate to be breastfeeding while in an important business meeting. Or I had to turn down many events at night (so important in the magazine industry) because I had to be home to nurse my baby to sleep.

Obviously, I chose baby before career and I don't regret it one bit or resent Iñigo at all. Of course, the reason could be I have the great fortune to be able to make that choice—to be financially stable enough for both Vince and I to work from home. Many women don't have a choice.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

I'm a woman of many talents but...

Haircutting is not one of them.

My poor Vito! He doesn't mind, though. I guess he must really love me!

Well, we're going out of town for the weekend. I have a sponsored post scheduled to publish tomorrow so you won't even know I'm gone. I'll blog again when we come home. More stories, more photos, more love. Motherhood is so much fun!

P.S. Last hirit before I leave! Please go to the Mom & Me event at Rockwell Tent this Saturday and Sunday. I'll be there on Sunday!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Iñigo's first birthday party: After

Iñigo celebrated his very first birthday party with a very small party at our home. It was fun! I like small parties. I get to talk to everyone and the birthday boy enjoyed himself so much, he let all the adults carry him. That would never happen in a big party!

The boys were so excited, they couldn't wind down. So, at the request of their guest Kuya Alfonso, we played Cars 2.
Alfonso and Vito watched from the crib. They really really liked it there. Meanwhile, our birthday boy planted his sturdy little feet right in front of the TV.

Then we started opening his gifts. Here he is looking at a CD of Bible songs (thanks, Tita Claire and Kuya Alfonso!). After we opened the gifts, Alfonso went home and we were all faced with the task of cleaning up!

It wasn't so bad at all! Vince had prepared a big trash bag by the kitchen and we all just dumped everything there. But not before Vito had his little fun with the table covering...

Vito draws a face on a circle I drew while eating an empanada. Iñigo was seated in his high chair right across his big brother. He ate cake while watching Vito draw faces.

The boys had tons of fun. And tons of cake and ice cream, too! What a lovely birthday party! Happy first year, darling Iñigo! We love you very much!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Iñigo's first birthday party: The party!

Happy first birthday, darling Iñigo!
We are so very much in love with you and your beautiful round eyes and big smile and naughtiness. I hope you liked your first birthday party. It was kinda a riot! Here's what happened...

Unlike Vito, you don't have friends in the playground. Until recently, that is, when you started playing with Tita Cathee's Ivan, who is just 2 months younger than you. So we figured Ivan will be your best friend. Then since Kuya Vito has his posse, they had to be there, too, so Kuya Alfonso and Ate Sophia were there, plus Ivan's biggest sister, Masha. Four guests for you, Iñigo! I seriously thought it would be a quiet, simple party but nooooo. How wrong I was! In a good way!

This is us, just as the party started. It hasn't actually started and already you pulled off the Tigger's head!  What about our pictures, sweetheart??

Since you were 7 months old, you've already started eating whatever's served at the table. No baby food for you! Nothing mashed or pureed. Which was really strange since you didn't have teeth! So it's no surprise that on your birthday, you ate and ate and ate spaghetti and cake. And ate and ate and ate!

Kuya Vito was very busy playing and fighting with his friends. But he regularly checked on you and asked to eat from your plate. Growing boys!

This is Papa helping you open Ivan's gift. You loved the colors and shapes!

That's Kuya Alfonso trying to kiss you and you pushing him away. Oh, baby boy, has it begun? The pushing away of affection??

A family photo with your birthday cake! Hooray!

You couldn't quite understand what it was. The cake and the candle and the fire and why everyone was so fascinated by it. It's for you, Chubs! All for you!

Mama wished for you! Long, healthy, happy life!

Then, as with our kiddie parties tradition, everyone got to blow out the candle. So we all sang the birthday song and Vito blew it out...

Then Alfonso...

Then Masha and Ivan...

Then Sophia! The cake was covered by saliva at this point. Yum!

And here we all are, Iñigo: Tita Earl, Tito Judah, Sophia, Papa, Mama, Vito, Alfonso, Masha, Tita Cathee with Ivan, and Tita Claire. We all love you and wish you a happy birthday! We're so happy you're in our lives!

Next: What happened after the party!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Iñigo's first birthday party: Getting ready

A blog reader told me, "You're famous for your tiny but tasteful kiddie birthday parties." Awww. Really? That was never my intention (to be famous haha) but yes, I'm a fan of small birthday parties because I have a firm belief that a big party overwhelms children and so they don't really enjoy themselves. Actually, that's me we're talking about. When I was a child, I absolutely loathed parties—for me and for anyone else. Vince said he felt the same. So we figured we'd spare our kids the pain. Brooke Shields influenced me, too. She once said that the child's age determines the number of guests. So if the child is 4 years old, she invites four guests! Well, I'm not that strict but I see her point.

A lot of people told me that kiddie birthday parties are really for the adults. The reasons being, and I quote:
1. "Mommy has been cooped up in the house for a year. I need an excuse to drink dammit!"
2. "The grandparents wanted it. They paid for it. We just went along with this whole craziness."
3. "Big parties mean big gifts! We get about P80,000 per big birthday party!"

I love my friends! They're as brutally honest as I am! So no one is allowed to criticize what they just said haha. Well, I always am amazed at kids' parties these days and, believe me, I was tempted to throw a bash for Iñigo but... It was Mother's Day weekend plus the elections so everyone either already made plans with their families or they went home to wherever they vote. So we had no choice but to have a super small birthday party!

But even the tiniest parties need a lot of love. Here's what we did for our baby birthday boy:
First, we strung up the colorful pennants that Ria Salonga especially made for me. Ria is the one who made the names of my kids in felt letters (see here). Last Christmas, she wrote me and said that she has sooo many orders now ever since I blogged about her crafty skills. So she made these pennants as her gift and included two quilted toy bins that she made herself. I am so grateful! Thanks so much, Ria! The pennants really added something special to my family's celebrations!
Speaking of celebrations, here are paper flowers and paper lanters from Celebrations Party Central. They are so bright and colorful and instantly make a place look party-ready! They come in many colors and patterns. Mine were a gift from them (thanks, CPC!) but you can order from their Facebook page or check out their new shop in Power Plant. It's right beside Toys R Us.

For our theme, well, we couldn't decide on a theme until Vince saw these cute Pooh napkins at Rustan's Supermarket. And that decided it. Yes, paper napkins decided our theme! The napkins are so colorful, hence we went all out colorful! That's why I ordered party things from Paper Chic Studio. I love everything they have but I wanted to stick to oranges and greens. These cute party basics cost me around P890. Pretty cheap!

Since we have no yayas and maids to help clean up, we had to resort to disposables. I got the paper plates and spoons and forks from Pioneer Centre for about P310 (I got a lot, for future parties). The citrusy napkins are made of cloth and are from True Value. I don't remember how much they cost but I think P100 for a set (orange, lemon and lime).

Bulaga! Our cute table decor is a set of Winnie the Pooh toys! They're a hand-me-down from the boys' cousins. I think they were a fast food kiddie meal toy. They made the perfect centerpieces!

Since Vince and I will have to do the cleaning up ourselves, I covered the table in manila paper then drew those random squiggles around the Pooh toys. Happy table! The best part is whenever anything spilled or smeared or dropped, I didn't worry—I knew I'll just roll up the messed-up paper and throw it away!

I super love how Pinoy this cake looks! Actually, it really just read "Happy 1st Birthday Iñigo!" It's elegant that way. But when I saw it, I decided I wanted it to look tacky haha and added the "Love: Papa, Mama & Vito!" Dapat nga "Kuya Vito" but no more space. It's so Pinoy! Love it! This simple cake is from Red Ribbon and it's just P600. Super yummy chocolate cake with generous chocolate frosting!

Since we only had four kids coming over for a little snack, I just bought chicken empanada and taisan pastries from Red Ribbon and that cost about P300. Then I cooked sweet spaghetti. I used the new Del Monte merienda packs. A P40 pack can feed four people so I cooked three packs. Big oops! In the words of Vince, "You don't want to be Mama Mary." Explanation: I don't want to suddenly be faced with the situation of running out of "wine" and having to ask Jesus for more! Well, I thought cooking spaghetti for 12 people was more than enough. Turned out I was wrong—we ran out of spaghetti! I forgot that kids eat a lot!

Yep, even Tigger ate and ate and ate! Here he is drinking juice while waiting for his little guests to arrive. I'll write about the party next! Sooo fun!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Happy Mother's Day from Avon!

Avon sent me a special gift for Mother's Day.

Thanks, Avon! You always think of me! I've been an Avon fan since I was a kid. My very first perfume was Sweet Honesty. My perfume throughout my college years was Imari. I still have bottles of it in my drawer! I've used so many Avon products—shampoo, makeup, deodorant, jewelry, underwear.  So I'm always happy to get stuff from Avon.

Now, I know this Mother's Day package was a gift to me but I'd like to give the gift away to a special mommy with a baby girl. Mostly because the pretty necklace says this:

It's so sweet. I'd have loved to keep it but I'm a mommy of boys. I think a mommy of a little girl would love that necklace! If you agree, then join my giveaway! Here's what to do:
  1. Like my Facebook page!
  2. Post a photo of you and your daughter on my Facebook page and say this: "I love my daughter (name) so much! I'd love to win a special mother-daughter necklace and beauty products from Avon and Topaz Mommy!" 
  3. Kindly tag the photo @Avon Philippines and @Topaz Horizon.
That's it! I'll pick a winner* on Monday night! Good luck!

UPDATE: Winner is Myra Michelle Tiquio! Here she gazes adoringly at her little Akira, who basks in the love of her mommy.

I loved all the photos. Thanks, mommies, for joining! I have other stuff to give away so keep reading this blog!

*winner must reside in the Philippines.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Selfish (happy!) mama

The kids had a looooong afternoon nap. They woke up at 6pm and every mommy knows that's a bad idea. They woke up just after their Papa left for work, work being watching the premiere of Star Trek: Into Darkness. Vince is Movie Nerd, the movie columnist for, in case I haven't told you that.

By the time 9pm rolled along, the mommy in me knew it was time to get the baby boys into bed. Sleepy or not, they have to stick to the schedule. But I took out the iPad for Vito and switched on Baby TV for Iñigo.

We had the most fabulous time playing video games, singing and clapping and dancing to Baby TV, and eating in bed.

But by 10pm, Iñigo yawned. It was time to sleep.
My boys in the softest Indian and cowboy shirts from Gingersnaps. 

Good night, sweet world!

Monday, May 13, 2013

What Vince gave me this special weekend

What an amazing weekend we had! Iñigo turned one and we celebrated with a mini candle-blowing party. Then it was Mother's Day and Vince cooked and cleaned and took care of the kids while I spent the entire day sleeping, bathing and polishing my nails.

But this was my super duper most favoritest ever Mother's Day gift:

Thanks, Vince! I love the photos, most of which I've already forgotten we had. It was so wonderful to see them again! I got really emotional seeing our baby bunchokoy grow up. Our babies grow up so fast, too fast! I'm so happy we're around to see this miracle unfolding. It's the best gift to ourselves!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

If you have a nanny cam, tell the nanny

I saw a video on Facebook. It's a nanny cam that caught the nanny abusing a baby. I couldn't finish watching it. I can't watch things like that. It makes me feel murderous.

Mommies, if you have a nanny cam, please tell your yayas about it. That way, they know they're being watched and they will try to not do anything to your child. I don't understand why the need to catch them doing bad things to your kids is more important than the safety of your children. Tell them every corner of your house is rigged with hidden cameras, even if it's not true! My neighbor points to the ceiling sprinklers (there's at least two in every room) and tells her yayas that those are the cameras. You betcha the maids are on their best behavior.

We don't have nanny cams. There's no need since we're always at home. I guess that's why when I caught the yaya hitting Vito, it was at the playground. No cameras there.

Right now, we have no yayas still. It's been 6 weeks. We're exhausted but secure and happy. We do need a cleaning lady and a babysitter since we need to earn money. Taking care of the kids, cleaning the house, cooking, doing errands and basically running the household drains our brains. We're writers. By the end of the day, we can't think anymore. All we want to do is sleep, which means that no work is getting done! So Vince and I have been discussing how we can get a babysitter/housekeeper. She'll mind the kids for a few hours or clean the house while Vince locks himself in his office and writes and I run to meetings and events. Our family's been great—we leave the kids at my mom-in-law's house sometimes—but we need a babysitter/housekeeper maybe three times a week who can come over and clean and do a few errands for us. If you know anyone who can be a stay-out yaya, please help us!

As for a full-time yaya, we don't think we can trust a stranger ever again. To our great relief, the last two yayas didn't hurt our babies. They just stole cash and gift certificates from us. Trifles. Maybe we'll wait until the kids are bigger and they can talk and fight back. And if there's one thing Vince and I are good at teaching, it's how to fight. I think we should all teach our kids how to fight fair and fight back. It's not just yayas we have to worry about. It's a bad bad world out there and sadly, we can't be there for our kids all the time.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Iñigo is one!

I can't believe it. I can't believe it's been a year.

I thought I already knew a lot about infants after having Vito but Iñigo taught me a lot of new things, too. Like attachment parenting. Vito was always independent. I liked that; it gave me lots of me time. But Iñigo is my baby kangaroo—he just wants to be stuck to me all day long. At first, this suffocated me. But pretty soon, I learned to let go of my need to be alone. I think that made me a better mommy not just to Iñigo but to Vito, too.

We love how sweet Iñigo is. He's a gentle soul. He's very chill, very quiet, very peaceful. He calms me down. He calms Vince down. Yes, it's the other way around.

He's funny, too. Not flat-out hilarious like his older brother but he knows how to make us laugh with little kisses ("Mwah!") and his penchant for putting his right foot up when he eats. Iñigo's charm is subtle but still deadly. That makes him just like his daddy!

We really truly love this gentle baby. He doesn't cry a lot, he likes to play with Vito, he likes cuddling with his Mama and his Papa, he's very easily pacified, he likes to sleep and eat. Oh, how he likes to eat!

He is our sweetheart! He's so sweet and affectionate and he totally adores us, especially Vito. When someone so adorable thinks you're amazing, life just gets more incredible.

Thank you, Iñigo, for coming to our lives one year ago! Every day has been a gloriously happy day.

Happy first birthday, our dearest darling baby boy!