Letting Go

I have been breastfeeding my daughter for 2 years and 3 months now.

My Birthday, 2014

I’ve nursed her day and night, nursed her to sleep, nursed her for comfort and for whatever other reason nursing is good for. I sometimes think I abuse it too much, hehe. Why not? Its the easiest way to calm her when she’s sick, when she’d hurt herself, when she’s cranky, when she’s sleepy..the list goes on. She would even trick me into letting her nurse when she doesn’t want to do something. (e.g. bath time). As I’ve said before, breastfeeding goes way beyond just feeding a hungry child. It’s a very complex process unique to every mother and offspring. Even after 2 years of doing it, the amazement still hasn’t worn off in my part.

So imagine my surprise last night when my daughter fell asleep without nursing. She was just lying there, closed her eyes and fell asleep.

And it happened again tonight. She turned her back on me and was asleep a few seconds after.

In both occasions, I felt a whole slew of emotions.
-Shocked, because I’m used to nursing her to sleep. We’ve been doing it for more than 2 years!
-Sad, because I feel like I’m losing one of our bonding sessions. My baby is really growing up!
-Panicked, how will I calm her now if I remove breastfeeding in the equation??!!
-Happy, more freelance time since I no longer have to wait for her to fall asleep. Don’t get me wrong, I love nursing her, but there are times that I feel enough is enough especially when I have pending tasks
-Relieved, she’s developing just right and I’m not a totally bad mother.
-Sentimental, I can’t help but remember how long we’ve come in our breastfeeding journey – all those ignorant breastfeeding comments that I had to ignore.
Wistful, I do enjoy breastfeeding and I’m not sure if I’m ready to let it go.

Yep, her weaning from night nursing is turning me into one crazy lady.

*Sigh*. I know, I know. Babies grow old and sooner or later they will stop nursing. For those moms who are stressed out that their babies are nursing round the clock, believe me – it won’t last forever. One day, your baby will just be done with it. You might think that when that day comes, all you’ll feel is relief, but look at me now. I’m actually sad, shocked, panicky and more – and that’s just with night weaning.

I wonder how I’ll fare once my daughter is fully weaned. I hope I’ll be more prepared.

Win The Baker

My house help’s MIA again – what’s new. Instead of sulking around and complaining about how I won’t be able to work for the day, I decided to have another baking session with Win. I thought might as well enjoy this “free” day with my daughter, right?

The first baking session we had months back, we made calamansi muffins. I took pictures but just don’t have the energy to look for it right now. hehe. Today I decided to make focaccia bread. Win’s into clay as of the moment so I know she’ll have a good time kneading the bread dough.

Baking with a toddler is MESSY. It’s to be expected. There are a few moments that I had to keep myself from losing it. The mess was just UNBELIEVABLE, but I needed to remind myself to just let her do her thing – yep – even if it means I will be cleaning up tons afterwards. It’s always a delight doing these kind of stuff with my daughter. She didn’t even mind when I made her wear her cupcake head dress so she can dress the part. Haha. Just look at her! So into it:

All in all our second baking session was a success! The focaccia tasted awesome, though I still need to figure out how I can make the bread lighter and airier. Maybe longer dough proofing next time.

Chalking up yet another precious memory in my memory bank! 

Things I Will Tell My 2-Years-Ago Self

Thanks to Facebook, I was reminded of what I was doing exactly a year ago from today: Planning my daughter’s 1st birthday! I can’t believe it’s been a year already. Win has grown so much over that short span of time. I can already see a glimpse of her personality, which unfortunately most of it she inherited from me . Hehe.

Her coming 2nd birthday also means my almost 2 years as a new mom. I guess its true what other moms say that it gets better. There are still a lot of challenges when it comes to taking care of a baby who’s transitioning to toddlerhood, but I think it’s because I know my daughter too well that I can take everything in stride. Somebody told me that taking care of a baby/toddler seems like an easy task based from what they have seen from me. Maybe because they see me with no house helper yet I’m still able to work as a freelancer. A big HAHA! It definitely wasn’t/isn’t! I overcame a lot of challenges along the way. Whenever I think about it I can’t believe I was able to go through them all. If I ever see my old self from two years ago, I’ll give myself a pat in the shoulder and tell myself “You’ll do a great job, don’t worry” – and a bunch of other things as well:

1. Don’t give in to doubt – this is true during the start of my breastfeeding journey. When Win came and it was time to nurse her, I wasn’t really sure if she was getting anything from me, mainly because I don’t see any milk dripping. I was so doubtful that I almost believed those who said: “wala ka naman atang gatas ” and “parang gutom pa anak mo. Good thing I have bought a book about breastfeeding before I gave birth which had saved me from totally giving up. I just don’t want to accept that I can’t do it. I did gave formula for the first two weeks along with my nursing attempts, but on the third week I was able to totally eliminate it. Breastfeeding may be natural, but its not the easiest thing to do -well – at first. I think a lot of moms just need to overcome that initial struggle, a ginormous hump created by self doubt, lack of knowledge and uninformed society. Once a mom defeats that – a harmonious breastfeeding journey begins. Even now I get: “may nakukuha pa ba anak mo sayo” or “bigyan mo na ng nido/anchor etc” comments, but I am so secure of what my body can produce to be bothered with any of those.

2. Don’t give in to fear – As a new mom, being scared and fearful is only natural. But you know what? Some of the fears are baseless and new moms can definitely make do without a lot of those. I used to fear that Win will be too hard to handle when we go out to travel. If I held on to that fear til now, I may have rotted myself inside our condo and never let Win see and try new things. Exposing your child will always be hard at first – and truth be told – most of the hard work needs to come from you, the caregiver. I need to make sure I always have everything at hand, I need to always anticipate what my daughter may need, I need to try multiple ways to try to calm my daughter (because the usual technique may not be as effective) etc. etc etc  – all of that I have to deal with while being in a new environment where I’m not comfortable with. I call it positive stress – it’s good for me and good for my daughter. Babies are  highly resilient, trust me. Sometimes what you think your offspring can’t do simply reflects the fears you have as a mother.

3. Ask for help- but not too much – I barely had a helper ever since I gave birth. My mom used to come to the condo the first week when Win was born to teach me how to give her a bath, etc but after that first week she totally left me on my own. Haha. Now that I think about it I can understand why she did it. You really need to be alone with your child so you can exercise your natural instinct as a mother. I think those who received too much help didn’t get enough opportunity to tap into that instinct and develop enough courage – which may result to a fearful mom. Was it hard being alone with a baby? DEFINITELY YES. Before I can’t even go to the bathroom to pee, poop or take a bath. I would often cry from hunger because I can’t get up to eat or drink since Win was asleep nursing. I can’t think well because the house was just dirty. But you know what? Those challenges pushed me to be resourceful – to think of ways on how I can accomplish those tasks. Again its a learning opportunity. The moment my daughter can held her head up, I slinged her to my body, rode the tricycle and went grocery shopping. When Win was 4-5 months I have relinquished the job of cleaning and cooking from my ever supportive husband and was able to do those house chores myself.

4. Make your husband your ally/partner in crime. Involve him.– I was so blessed to have a husband who truly believed I can do it and was willing to give his 101% to help me realize just that. There are a lot of times that I snapped and shouted at him, but he was always patient with me. Hehe.  I just can’t imagine going through all of that without him, really. My daughter also benefits from having such a responsible and hands-on father. I just know she’ll grow up to be a papa’s girl. Make your husband you teammate – confide in him and tell him what really bothers you. Let him in your worries and hopes. It’s the only way you two can survive after having a baby.

Win’s Summer Escapade 2015

The problem with my motivation is that it comes and goes. Especially now that I’m a mother, I would rather spend my free time playing with my daughter, sleeping,or getting around doing those pending household chores – which is why this blog’s been sitting for almost three months with no new updates. What’s more. my XX- old trusted camera has finally given up on me, after years of faithful service. What’s the point of featuring a new restaurant if I have no photos to show. Pfft. But with my declining memory, narrating my family’s experiences is crucial. I’m just 27 but I swear I’m becoming senile. Haha. I need to write everything down, and I’ll do it now before I start forgetting those sweet little details.

It’s a bit tricky lugging a restless toddler for such a long out of town trip, in our case that day – Batangas. Aside from bringing a bunch of toys and food, we made it a point to make several stops to let Win walk her extra energy off. Trust me, the last thing you want to happen in a long car trip is to try pacifying a cooped-up energetic kid with you.  So here’s Win when we stopped at a gas station before reaching Tagaytay:

When we reached Tagaytay, we decided to stop by at Bag of Beans to grab a bite. We stayed there for a while to tire Win out so we can resume the rest of the drive while she took her daily midmorning nap.

We reached Matabungkay still pretty early,  around 11am, and have to wait since the hotel’s check-in policy is at 2pm.  While waiting, we roamed around the vicinity and ate lunch at their restaurant. The food prices were a bit steep, as to be expected with resort food, but at least they have huge servings. An order of food which usually costs about 300-400 can already feed 2-3 person. Fair enough. Food’s delicious too so I’m not complaining.

Of all the places we’ve stayed in, our room at Coral Beach Club is probably my favorite. It was huge, very clean, got lots of seating area,  lots of power outlets (yey!), lots of pillows and towels (- by default, you don’t have to request for extra!). They say food is not allowed but they are not strict about it at all, we were even able to bring in my husband’s mountaineering cookset so we were able to cook a decent breakfast the morning after. Our room also has an awesome view of the beach. If only it has a huge flat screen tv and decent cable, it would have been perfect.

I wasn’t a big fan of the beach itself since the shore has a few garbage floating around. We weren’t able to spend a lot of time by the beach too because Win wasn’t too fond of the sand’s texture. Actually she hates anything that feels weird on the feet like dirt, fuzzy carpet and grass. I think its the tickling sensation that she doesn’t like. Haha. I’ll just wait until she grows out of it. Good thing the resort we stayed in has a pool and jacuzzi. Win loves pools.

The next day, we scheduled a boat ride to take us fish feeding. Win was so amazed when she saw the fishes scurrying around to take the bread from our hands. She even took a piece of bread and hurled it into the sea.

After that activity, I started to pack our stuff up while my husband and daughter stayed by the pool. Packing light is virtually impossible with a toddler in tow, so I guess I’ll be spending lots more time packing and unpacking from now on. Hehe. 
Before going back to Manila we stopped by Tagaytay again to have a Bulalo lunch.

Before I used to think that trips like these are super corny. I never understood why many parents dig cliche activities like going to a nearby beach, park, zoo, timezone etc. Now that I have a toddler I find myself wanting to do such things. You have no idea how exciting these simple things are for a kid. I love seeing Win’s face lit up whenever she sees a pool, a carousel or even those car coin rides you see at the mall. Haha. Call me corny now, but I just love seeing my daughter amazed and excited with the world around her.

Straight from the heart

My husband always asks why I don’t blog about him. Haha.

It’s not that I don’t have anything to say about my husband. On the contrary, it’s the enormity of how much he means to me that hinders me. I’m not sure if I can bring justice to it all, to write something that will even begin to explain how much I love him.

But since Valentines has passed and I wasn’t able to get him any gift (haha), I’ll give it a try.

Wilbert came into my life a few years ago. I knew he liked me then, hahahahaah, but I wasn’t matured enough to accept that kind of love. I was still caught up with a lot of things and I know now that if we ever played out that early, I wouldn’t have been able to handle it. It was the time of my life that I was practically in the dark, very foolish and careless. Thinking about it now, I don’t regret that we didn’t happen early on. It gave me enough time to mature and get my act together. I know for sure that when Wilbert and I finally came together, I was ready. I was ready for him, and when our daughter came, I was ready for her too.

I can describe my husband as a steady love. I’ve never had that before. With him, I learned that love doesn’t always have to be complicated, volatile and full of drama. There is a love that can be found in calmness and tranquility, and that is exactly what Wilbert’s love is. He accepted me for who I was, accepts me for who I am now, and for sure he will embrace me for whoever I will become. I know I can be crazy at times (maybe all the time, heheh), but he never made me feel stupid. I admit I make wrong decisions, but he never made me feel like a failure. He is always there to support me and even fix some (ok, maybe a lot) of my problems. hehe.  He keeps me calm and puts me back in the right state of mind. He is my logic and common sense, God knew I needed that. hahaha. He is more than my partner – he is my rock.

I hope our daughter will choose a partner who is exactly like her father. If that happens, I can say I raised her well, and I can die happy.

Hot Star Katipunan

Here’s to random midweek dates with the family!

My husband has been eyeing the recently opened Hot Star resto here in Katipunan for quite some time now. I think we attempted to dine there twice, but as usual, parking was always a problem.  Yesterday, we made sure to not miss out anymore by riding the tricycle instead. Hehe.

Hot Star already has a couple of branches around the Metro. The waitress told us they’ll be adding Greenhills and Eastwood to the list soon. I predict that this one will not go down the fad-drain like Project Pie and the likes, mainly because of their low prices. A complete meal (drinks,rice, chicken) only costs P110-P125, and trust me, you will not be disappointed with the size of the chicken.

We ordered the crispy and the original. They weren’t kidding with the size. I’ve read somewhere that it is about 30cm long, see the picture above with the fork? The best part of the deal was it comes with unlimited gravy. We actually took half of our meal home. It was just too big.

Chicken skin is bad for the health, but some bad things are totally worth it. It comes with a sweet soy glaze that is highly addictive, and with the price of P45 for 3 sticks? It doesn’t get any better than that!

I tried their soft serve ice cream for P15. You can choose from Almond, Black Gulaman or both. I’ve never been a fan of the almond jelly dessert, so this one’s a bit off for me. But kudos for the weird flavors.

And of course, I can’t end this post without putting up a picture of mi daughter. Heehee. Just because. <3.

The Plight of a Work-At-Home Mom

So here’s my dilemma.

I’ve been a work-at-home mom with no helper since my daughter was 3 months old. You would think that I have this task juggling/scheduling down to the nail, but you’re gravely mistaken. One thing I learned when I became a mom was to throw all expectations out the window. Haha. You just can’t expect your infant/toddler to sleep at this exact hour, stay asleep long enough, stay preoccupied – basically to not bother you – long enough to finish your tasks. You really have to be flexible -AS IN BE THAT REALLY TWISTY, BENDY, PLIABLE KIND. To someone who is addicted to schedules and timetables for the longest time, that was one hard skill to learn.

It’s better now since Win can already sleep through the night, but of course there are still those nights when she sleeps late, or she would stir, telling me she needs comfort so she can get back to sleep. I am not ashamed to say that I have always nursed my baby to sleep, for me that’s the easiest way than rocking her (or whatever other ways there are) to sleep. I am not an advocate of using pacifiers (you can just research why its not advisable), so I really have to wait a while before I can free myself. During the day, its really all about house chores and taking care of a curious toddler, no luck there. Lately I’ve been finding myself waking up at wee hours of the night so I can just finish some stuff.

My problem is – I’ve been binge-eating so I can stay awake. Haha. I do it in the morning too since I’ve always had a napping problem and I don’t find it easy to “sleep when your baby sleeps”. Thank God I’m still breastfeeding or else I would balloon out of control with all the food I’ve been eating (Nursing burns 500 calories, hahaah). A solid 8-hour sleep is now a thing of the past for me, I think the last time I was able to sleep that long was way back when I was still in the second trimester.

As I take another bit of this chocobutternut donut, I realize, albeit the lack of sleep – I’m still better off. I am happy I am able to be with my daughter 24/7, take care of her and still able to generate an acceptable income. I know not a lot of moms are given that opportunity in today’s modern time. In a way I still get the best of both worlds.

It’s really all about perspective. Haha. Sleep is for the weak!

Do You Revel In Your Child’s Ordinariness?

Shefali Tsabary’s The Conscious Parent book is a revelation. It offers a different approach to raising your child in this modern age. Actually, this book does not focus on the child, but on the parent: explaining how a parent’s upbringing, attitude and outlook affects his child. This book will force the parent to really look into himself and re-evaluate how he raises his kids. I try to read a chapter a night so I can internalize the information better. I post snippets on my feed too so I can better remember things that struck me.

Being a conscious parent is not an overnight feat, so don’t expect that when I finish the book I’ll miraculously turn into a conscious, better parent. Hehe. Being conscious entails evaluating all your actions and decisions, challenging yourself to look into your own imperfections so you can be a better person for you and your child. The more I delve into the book, the more I realize just how much I need to change for the sake of my daughter. 
One chapter talks about the importance of celebrating your child’s ordinariness. At first you might think why the hell should we enjoy our kid being ordinary. We live in a world wherein we put pressure on ourselves to become excellent. Parents naturally want their kids to excel in something: in academics, sports and any other achievements. The book explains that if we fail to appreciate our kids as they are – sans medals and accolades, we are actually teaching them to be obsessed with what is “bigger” and “better”. They end up believing that only the grand and fabulous should be celebrated and applauded. Pressure also gets to them if ever they fail to reach the high bar we set them. Eventually, they will be unable to appreciate life itself.  They will grow into adults who can’t focus their attention on what’s before them, only to what isn’t. 
This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t expose our children to the best of everything. We must still encourage exploration but not to the extent that their sense of worth is determined on achievement. As parents we must show them to appreciate the ordinary moments and their own simple self. This could mean highlighting to your child to appreciate the togetherness of the family as you sit down to eat. You can just tell your child how happy you are that they’re there. You know, simple things.

I’m writing this post mainly so I can remember to always celebrate who Win is, not who she’s “supposed” to be. I promise to never put pressure on her to become the “best”. Of course, I’ll still encourage her and give her all the tools she’ll need for her to be able to realize her own potential, but I will never impose and force her to anything. She is her own unique person, wonderful in every way, and that is enough for me. 

Breast Talk 1

I am a breastfeeding advocate, as people from my Facebook feed may have noticed. It’s very exciting that we are now in an era wherein breastfeeding is starting to get the proper attention it deserves, but I know Philippines still has a long way to go. In my almost 15 months of nursing, you wouldn’t believe the wrong notions some people have towards breastfeeding. Sadly most of them come from the financially-challenged sector wherein breastfeeding could have provided their children stronger immunity and other health benefits for FREE.

 I remember meeting a mom who threw her “first milk” because she was told it was spoiled. I almost had a heart attack! She didn’t know it was colostrum, a very nutrient-dense substance that is created by the mother especially for her newborn. I met another mom who stopped breastfeeding after seeing her child’s first tooth. I asked her why and she told me she doesn’t want to be bitten. What she didn’t know is that if a baby is properly latched, it is impossible for him/her to bite his/her mom’s nipples ( since the baby’s tongue is naturally positioned sticking out when nursing). Or if the baby actively does bite, there are effective ways to stop the habit. Working moms say that they need to go back to work which was why they did not even bother. What they didn’t know is that they can pump their milk at work and bring it home for their babies. They can even freeze it for 1 year. Now that Win is a year old, old people tell me to stop already since my milk is just water. I mean, come on! WHO, Unicef and the American Association of Pediatricians recommend breastfeeding for at least 2 years and for as long as the mother and child wants to. Sometimes I just want to laugh with the stuff I hear, but most of the time it can be very exasperating.

Breastfeeding is more than just feeding a baby. It provides comfort, warmth and reassurance. Nursing has numerous benefits for the mother as well. I just find it very peculiar how modern advancements, instead of reaffirming, had only caused more confusion and doubt to many mothers. Maybe this is because we are being pushed farther away from our basic human instincts that breastfeeding, as natural as it may be, has become so foreign to us.

I still have a lot to say on this topic, but this post is getting too long already. Haha. To be continued.

Beeffalo Marikina

2015’s starting out very well for me. I feel energized and motivated. I’m even even finding time to do stuff I loved doing before, like this one – food blogging.

I’m also excited that I have my own “crew” to join me on my adventures, namely my husband and daughter. LOL. We’ve dined in a lot of restaurants the past year but its only now that I found the energy to actually write about it. So let’s start the ball rolling, shall we?

For Sunday’s lunch my husband suggested Beeffalo in Marikina. Don’t ask me for directions, haha. Ever since I got pregnant my memory’s worse than ever. Marikina has a lot of hole-in-the-wall restaurants that are very challenging to go to, so I suggest following the GPS like what my husband did.

view outside

Bunch of phone pics, sorry. Hehe. I forgot to bring my camera.
We got there past 1pm and it was still jam-packed. They have ample seats outside but it was a scorching hot afternoon so nobody’s bothering to seat there. I think the outside looks awesome at night, maybe we can try it again when my daughter is able stay up late.

There was a cute Vespa inside which kept my daughter entertained, too much that she no longer want to be sitted. Haha.

Cucumber Lemonade (P60/P95)

The lemonade was very refreshing, I’m just not sure if this is homemade or store-bought. I would have loved to see bits and pieces of cucumber and lemon in there though.

Roasted pumpkin soup (P65)

The pumpkin used was definitely roasted, we can tell from the color and the taste. There was a hint of curry there too. This one’s a good starter dish, perfectly mild flavor to cleanse the palate.

Beeffalo Wings with blue cheese dip (P195)

People close to me know that I am a cheese lover, but I admit blue cheese is a bit too much for me. I was pleasantly surprised with the blue cheese dip here, not overpowering. It was creamy, savory and goes very well with the wing sauce. My husband and I are huge fans!

Seafood Pasta (P230)

I went for their pasta with shrimps and squid sauteed in crab fat. A good alternative to those who are not craving for beef like me that day.

T-bone steak (P340)

A 250 gram grilled TBone steak to satisfy my meat-obsessed husband. My husband gives his approval on this one. Haha.

Dulce de Leche cheesecake (P165)

The waitress said this cheesecake was their bestseller dessert. My husband loved it but I found it TOO sweet for my taste.

We’ve dined in a lot of Marikina restaurants already and I can attest that a lot of them serve absolutely good food with ample servings, all at affordable prices. Beeffalo is no exception. Win’s sweet smile says it all: Cheng family loves Beeffalo!