Family and Relationships · Motherhood · Personal

Ella at two

Our beloved baby Ella turned two last week, and I couldn’t be any prouder. We are raising her for two years now- without any major illness, accident, or parenting mishap- thank you and praise you Jesus.

Her birthday celebration this year truly reflected who we are as parents- basic, thrifty simple, focused on love, values, and fun. It is our guiding principle to always choose what matters most, and for Ella’s second birthday, the year she started to fully recognize all members of the family, call them by their names, and enchant them with her silly antics and facial expressions, we decided to spend it with the people who we love and love us the most. And YEAH, we definitely HAD TO spend it with cakes and lots of ice cream, because the little princess craves for it every.single.day.

Birthday cakes #1 & #2 plus Minnie Mouse dress & wall decor
Birthday cake #3 on her birthday

I will always honor Ella’s birthday not just because it’s the day when the good Lord brought her to us, but also because it reminds me of the day I discovered how deep a mother’s love is and how indomitable her spirit must be, and that I, with all my frailness and selfishness, am capable of doing it, and even more. Ella’s birthday reminds me of all the pain I was able to endure, and have to endure further, and how it’s all truly worth it. It reminds me of God’s unconditional love- that He loved me first, so I must also love.

Saying thanks to the Lord by attending the Mass at St. Peter Parish

Ella’s birthday is also a celebration of how we love as a family, that though we may have our different views and opinions about what’s best for her, we’re all doing the best to take care of her and make her happy, because she is the greatest gift God has given us.

I love you Ella. Thank you for being such a healthy, loving, and bright child. Thank you because you are strong, enough to endure our shortcomings as your guardian, and enough to give us strength when it’s tough to be one. Thank you because you are happy, your smiles and laughter overflowing our hearts and lives with radiance and purpose- purpose to work hard and make this world better for you to live in. Thank you because you are so smart, taking in the world fearlessly, discovering and learning things in a rapid pace, and not being afraid to fall down and cry a little bit, reminding us that we don’t own you, but prodding us to see the world with childlike faith, hand-in-hand with you. Thank you for being kind, even when you’re still in Mommy’s tummy you didn’t give me a hard time carrying you, and every day when I see you with other children, I am brimming with pride as I know you don’t hurt them, but young as you are, you already know to set boundaries and avoid those who may hurt you.

Thank you for all that you are, everything you have been, and all that is yet to be. I love you my dearest. Happy, happy birthday!

Married life · Motherhood · Musings · Personal

Of good times and bad

It was the weekend of Mother’s Day and our 3rd wedding anniversary, but it was also Philippines’ mid-term election and Game of Thrones penultimate episode of the series’ final season.

Truly a weekend of good times and bad.

My husband unwittingly told me I am already becoming too negative and cynical. Basing on who will be the future senators of our country, who wouldn’t? I am not a Liberal Party supporter and I didn’t vote for all the Otso Diretso candidates. But Bong Go, Imee Marcos, Bato Dela Rosa, Lito Lapid, and Bong Revilla as senators? πŸ€¦β€β™€οΈ Seriously, Philippines. ☹ What dismays me really is not just the “quality” of the Hugpong’s senatoriables (who are either unqualified or plunderers) but their apparent loyalty not to the country but to Pres. Duterte. The Senate is supposed to be an independent body that must ensure check and balance in the legislative, executive, and judiciary powers of the President. Now that’s the Senate, Congress, and Supreme Court are pro-Duterte by majority, we can only guess what will happen next. πŸ˜₯ #Federalism #DeathPenalty #Divorce #SameSexMarriage #PhilippinesasChinaProperty

(I’m anticipating that there would be no Presidential election come 2022.)

And in the midst of it all, what breaks my heart is seeing my friends and loved ones vote, promote, and defend these kind of politicians. (Even Aljhon is now a “closeted” DDS. Hahahahah πŸ˜…β˜Ή) Before, I was secretly laughing at those people who unfriend and/or unfollow “friends” at facebook, but now, seeing how they react and celebrate the victory of PDP-Laban and Hugpong ng Pagbabago, I actually unfriended and unfollowed people for the first time! I just can’t handle their “reasoning” and how bad it makes me feel. I even unfriended Aljhon because he promoted Bato Dela Rosa!

But really, facebook is creating a strain on our relationship (no proper sweet cheesy message for me on Mother’s Day and our anniversary!) kaya okay lang na i-unfriend ko na sya. Hahah minsan kasi siraulo din ako.

But anyway, we celebrated Mother’s Day as a family and that’s what really matters. We served in the Mass, joined Aljhon in his service at Fatima Kalayaan Fiesta, visited Mercado Family (because it was also Ate Heart’s birthday but she wasn’t there), and then had an outing with The Agustins at Ciudad Cristhia 9Waves Resort (on Monday, immediately after voting).

On our Anniversary day, Aljhon, Ella and I went to UP Town Center. We just strolled around and watched Ella be curious with her surroundings.

Good times, yeah. Then I watched GOT 805.

I need not elaborate how disappointing the last season is turning out because it’s all over the internet. It just breaks my heart (again!) to see how great this series was until they run out of material to copy from the books πŸ˜₯ But I’m all #TeamDanyforevs and though torching all of King’s Landing is totally unnecessary, I can understand where all the hatred is coming from. What I don’t understand is how Jaime and Cersei died. πŸ’― lame and non-GOT. But then there’s one last episode left, one last chance to salvage one of the best tv shows ever. *fingers-cross*

What GOT lacks, John Wick: Parabellum suffices. Aljhon seemed to notice my mood so he treated me and we watched the movie together on the first day of screening. And we absolutely got what we paid for.🀘 I’m not an Action film fan (I’m not into movies, tbh) but I really appreciate this particular franchise. The plot is simple but well-thought of and alluring, action sequence is a choreography at its finest, and Keanu Reeves is well, Keanu Reeves (hands-down one of the best).

It was only 4 days, but I got a roller coaster of changing moods and emotions. At first I was happy, but the next moment I was sad. It was both good and bad times. But as I was always saying to my students, these good and bad times always go together. Happiness and sadness are opposites, but partners. One cannot be fully experienced- and appreciated- without the other. So good and bad times it is. And all is well.

P.S. Now please, tell me, am I really negative and cynical?

Motherhood · Musings

Love equals Time

As a working Mom, holidays are luxury for me. And long weekends are the best. Especially now that I have classes even during the weekdays, I can only spend time with Ella during the days with suspended work.

Saturday. And the long weekend officially started. Mommy’s finally home after a whole day work at school last Saturday.

Sunday. We served in the 7am mass at OLFC. Then attended another mass at Salvacion in preparation of the CLP. At 2pm, we served in the Christian Life Program of Couples for Christ. Yang ngiti na yan, yan ang ngiting nangungulit sa CLP. :p

Monday, Quezon City Day. I urged Daddy to eat out. We also brought Ella to an arcade for the first time. Super paranoid ako sa mga hinahawakan nya! Hahah.
Tuesday, Ninoy Aquino Day and Eid’l Adha. It’s Jona’s birthday the next day so we went out and had dinner at Gilligan’s.

One of my fears nowadays is not spending enough time with Ella. I am so afraid that there will come a day when she no longer prefers me. But I am also aware of my responsibilities not just in my work, but as well as in my service to God, that require time and attention. Truly, Time is such a priceless treasure, one should not waste it. We may think that 24 hours in a day is too short or too long, but that just depends on your perspective- how you see it and how you use it. Time is a treasure that you have to manage it. And the best way to manage such valuable? Share it with the people and things you are most passionate about. And it will surely reward you back. Siksik, liglig, at umaapaw.

Motherhood

13 on the 13th

It’s Ella’s 13th month today! πŸ’–

And since Mommy has no work (yey!) and she has the time to have another post, here are 13 facts about our little Princess:

1. Her name was originally planned to be Rafaella Naomi (I love the name Rafaella and we want our kids to be named after Bible characters) way back since Aljhon and I were still bf/gf. However, her due date fell on June 14, the birthday of Aljhon’s favorite Auntie Susan (real name is Jesusa) so we decided to replace Naomi. I think it is also proper because my 2 brothers’ first given names are Jesus and Rafael.

2. Ella has been very kind to Mommy even when she was still inside her tummy. I didn’t have any paglilihi problem, though I would always remember that I started to L.O.V.E. eating when I was still pregnant with her. Biruan nga naming sa buffet pinaglihi si Ella eh dahil andami kong napuntahang buffet nung panahong buntis ako.

3. She stayed 10 months (40weeks) and 4 days inside my womb.

4. My labor with Ella started at 4:30am when I woke up and noticed my water already broke. We arrived at UST Hospital by 5:30am, and that was when the contractions started to come. I labored until I was taken into delivery room by 8:30am. I gave birth to the most beautiful angel at exactly 10:20am.

5. She weighed 2.9 kgs and was 50 cm long when I gave birth to her.

6. The first time I see her, my first thought was, “kamukha ko siya“. 😒

7. Ella did not cry at first when I delivered her. She also got a low APGAR score so the doctors needed to “warm” her up for a while before giving her to me. We both had fever as well right after the delivery, so we stayed for another 2 hours inside the delivery room. We met Daddy Aljhon by 12:30pm.

8. She also didn’t cry when she got her first ever vaccine. The pedia was amazed that she had to pinch our little baby to make her cry.

9. We went out of the hospital by the 3rd day. At night time, Ella got dehydration fever. I will never forget how fearful I was of that night.

10. Ella never tasted formula milk until after 8 months & 20 days, when I was hospitalized due to gastroenteritis. But we have started to feed her solid foods when she turned 5 months old (we had to because she did not gain weight from 4 to 5 months).

11. Our little baby has always been a big eater. She doesn’t like pureed or mashed food, but enjoys table food (rice + dish variand). She likes vegetables, even until now.

12. Ella has always been strong physically (THANK YOU LORD) because Daddy Aljhon made it a point to have a daily tummy time ever since she came home to us. We also did not use a walker but Ella is now walking on her own (pero hindi pa din naman ganun kastable and balanced).

13. Ella doesn’t enjoy watching videos too much, instead, prefers active games. She always wants a playmate to join her in her every activity.

Happy 13th Month mahal naming Prinsesa πŸ’–
Motherhood

Happy 1stπŸ’•

Happy 1st Birthday Rafaella Jesusa!

Rafaella enjoying her party with the Kids for Christ

You will always be our Princess. Thank you for coming to our life, and giving us more reasons to strive harder. Having you made me a better person- just because you made me a Mom. I may not be beside you 24/7 (because Mommy has to go to work 😒), but every second of my day, I am breathing to work for your future, to protect you, and to love you.

Everything about Ella’s party is DIY. Heheh. We decided to celebrate Ella’s birthday in an assembly of Kids for Christ. Sobrang busy lang sa preparation, but lahat ay kakayanin para kay Ella
DIY Invitation. We sent invites thru facebook and messenger only.

We just bought the largest greeting cake from Goldilocks. Then, individual cupcakes for all the kids
Ella’s first birthday is a celebration of thanksgiving for Aljhon and I, as well. We have survived a year of parenthood kaya! The past one year was both the sweetest and most challenging phase so far, and we are excited for God’s more blessings and provisions for the coming years.
The party was also a hardwork of all the other people who love Ella. At the day of the party, my siblings helped me in handling Ella while I led the kids into games. My friends also helped me in distributing the food. And Aljhon’s family was in charge of cooking and preparing the food. Ella is truly blessed!
Sweet! Ella and her baby guests πŸ’•
Aljhon and I are both stingy, but we decided not to be thrifty with Ella’s party. However, we didn’t focus on the trivial things that others may spend extravagantly on (like clothes, cake, venue). We instead pour all money to the food and loot bags to be given to the kids. We want Ella to do the same- to be generous with what really matters most.
The birthday girl enjoying her gifts. Maraming salamat po! πŸ’–

I love You baby Ella πŸ’– To the world, you may just be one (beautiful) daughter, but for us, you are the universe. Happy birthday! πŸŽ‚πŸŽ‰πŸ˜˜

Mahal na mahal ka namin πŸ’–πŸ’–πŸ’–
Motherhood

Being shaped by the shame

Ala una na ng madaling araw pero gising pa din ako. Inaantok naman ako pero hindi ako makatulog. Biglang humarap sakin si Aljhon at hinawakan ang kamay ko. Parehas pala kami. Nagpe-play pa rin sa utak namin yung mga salita nila Papa..

“Maawa naman kayo sa anak nyo. Ampayat na ni Ella.”

“Huwag kang maniwala sa mga standards-standards (na nababasa mo), di na kailangang timbangin, tignan mo na lang oh. Pumayat siya.”

“Isa pa lang yan pero di nyo maalagaan ng tama. Di na lang sana kayo nag-anak.”

I am aware of mom-shaming- what it is and how negatively it can impact the mommy. I had even read some articles and blogs on how to properly and positively handle these unsolicited advices. Pero ibang level pala kapag sa mismong pamilya mo galing ung shaming. Yesterday, after getting home from a tiring day at the office, I was reprimanded by my Parents because- in their own opinion- Ella lost some weight. They were blaming Aljhon for not taking good care of the baby. I did not react, just smiled and listened to all the hurtful comments they threw in. I know how they are with judgments and I believe in the way we are raising Ella, after all. Pero ansakit eh. Ansakit-sakit pala.

Allow me to argue:

1) Mama believes that fatter babies are healthier babies. Just like with adults, this is very untrue. Chubby babies surely are cute, but what matters most is they are nourished properly, are very active, and not sickly. I thank God because except for some cases of colds & cough (once and it just lasted for 2 days), Ella is not sickly. She eats well (though she likes sweet, pls refer to case point #4) and active.

2) My parents do not believe in research-based facts like BMI (“standards-standards” according to them). Papa doesn’t even consider the truth about a weighing scale. All they care about is Ella has longganisa limbs and feels heavy in their arms. WALA. WALA KONG GANA IDISPUTE ANG POINT NA TO BECAUSE THIS. IS. POINTLESS.

3) They don’t care even if Ella is having growth spurts and teething. All blame goes to us if they think Ella is not eating well (kahit na kumakain naman talaga sya, we just don’t push her if she doesn’t want to eat at a certain time. I told Aljhon to be patient when feeding Ella even if it takes an hour). Though I accept their argument that we should compliment more feeding so that Ella won’t just grow in height but also in weight.

4) I just can’t accept their judgment na pinabayaan ko si Ella. I am doing everything I can- God knows that- to become a good, if not the best, mother for her. I am a first-time mom, and I admit that I still have to learn A LOT when it comes to motherhood. But this is why I read and research books and legit blogs and websites. And I also ask elders and friends on their experiences. Hindi naman ako close-minded para hindi makinig sa iba, lalo sa Mama ko. That’s why sobrang hurt lang ako sa sinabi nilang di namin naaalagaan ng tama si Ella, much more na sana di na lang kami nag-anak. Parents sila, alam naman siguro nila pakiramdam kapag jinudge sa kung paano ka maging magulang. When they insisted to feed Ella chocolate, ice cream, stick-o, and cake while I decided to follow Tamang Kain (TK), I realized it was a lost cause and just surrendered to what they want. When they got mad at me for breastfeeding Ella and pumping milk for her (everyday they would reprimand me, telling me that my milk was not enough, and Papa even cursed me one time), I kept my silence. Last night when they hurl those negativities at me, I did not speak. I would always control myself because I want to respect them. Kaya nga siguro masama talaga ang loob ko ngayon. Ni hindi ko mapagtanggol ang sarili ko.. Hindi rin naman kasi sila naniniwala sa akin. Nakakasama lang din ng loob yung ako nga pinipili kong intindihin sila, pero sakin hindi nila yun nagagawa..

I may speak ill of my parents here, but please don’t get me wrong. I am thankful of them and I appreciate that they love Ella too. I know that in the end, they are just doing what they think is best for baby Ella, just like the way that I do. We may have different styles but the point is we all love Ella. Kaya nga hindi rin talaga ako sumasagot sa kanila. Pinapabayaan ko na lang kahit sa loob-loob ko, ang sakit para sakin ng mga sinabi nila. I just pray to God that He may also change their hearts to be more open and understanding, especially if I can’t do what they want me to do. I believe that as a Mom, I need to make my own decisions on how I will take care of my child. And I really hope that they can understand and forgive that.

P. S. I am Team Grandparents, really. Kahit ganun sila, gusto ko lumaki pa din sila na minamahal at ginagalang sila. Pero I just need to vent out. Kaya ayun. Haha. πŸ™‚

Family and Relationships · Motherhood

My first Mother’s Day

Mas masaya pala magcelebrate ng Mother’s Day pag ikaw mismo ang mommy. Kumbaga ikaw ang bida. Hahah! My first Mother’s day was filled with food, flowers, sweet messages, and of course, a whole lot more of hugs and kisses. Parang birthday ko lang ulit! Hahah ^_^

I started the day by serving in the 6am mass at SPP. Then we already got ready to go to SM Megamall. Aljhon had to go to Kalayaan early because it was also their Fiesta Mass, so I had to do all the preparation by myself. Feel na feel ko lang nun ang hirap ng pagiging Nanay. Hahaha :p

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Twinning with baby Ella at St. Peter Parish. Thank you Lord for making me a Mom πŸ˜€

We planned on having lunch at Mesa Filipino Moderne Restaurant. We arrived at 11am but still we are 4th in line. That had been my 2nd time with Mesa, and I observed that smaller groups are faster to be seated than bigger groups (you are ordered in line but the order by which you’ll be seated is according to how many you are in a table). Also, the SM North branch is better in terms of interior design and lighting, though I could say that the servers are friendlier (they smile more!) in Megamall.

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Kami naman ngayon πŸ˜€ This lunch is brought to you by the magigiting na empleyado ng pamilya. Heheh. Love you Mama and Papa! ❀
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For a family of 71/2 (Ella included haha), this feast was very affordable for a less than 4k budget. Very recommended: Crispy Pata and 2-way Laing πŸ˜€

After dining, we strolled around the mall and bought shoes for Mama and Papa, as well as shirts from Spoofs (wala sa budget kaya lagot). Before heading home, Mama treated us sundaes and blizzards. ^_^

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Ice cream!!!!
Thank you ate Joan for the gift πŸ‘•πŸ’‹

This is my first Mother’s day and my only regret that day was Aljhon was not around to celebrate with me. I was actually preparing myself not to expect anything from him, because I know he doesn’t recognize special occasions. But honestly, it did make me sad. Kasi nga first mother’s day ko diba 😦 But anyway, he’s him, and urging him to do something he doesn’t want will just put us both in a difficult situation. Wag na lang pilitin. Hahah.

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After all the pagod of his busy day, Daddy Aljhon gave me this self-arranged flowers. Kahit galing ito sa fiesta, thanks Daddy :*

I realize that Mother’s Day is also about the little one (it’s all about the children nowadays, isn’t it?). I thank God for giving me Ella because she is the one who makes me a mother. Because of her, I learned that I’m capable of a love so deep that even I was not aware of before. I changed- physically, mentally, emotional, socially. My priorities shifted- from being self-centered to having Ella as the center of my and Aljhon’s universe. For her, I was able to know how it felt to have genuine fear for the first time (when she had dehydration fever at 4 days old, or when I once woke up without her by my side), but as well as how strong I can be especially in the face of sleeplessness, power pumping sessions, and/or immunization (seeing Ella cry because of the injection would always break my heart). I would never know the real strength I have in me since I have to go back to work, all the while patiently and painstakingly building my breastmilk stash, and then take care, spend time, and play with Ella after getting home. I would never know how tough and resilient I am until the fatigue of being a working Mom and wife, weariness of life in general, and a little bit of PPD on the side, kick in but here I am- still alive, feeling grateful even, right now. I would never how great love can truly move and change me, until I have a little baby in my arms, and I swore to God I would live the rest of my days protecting her and making her happy. God have given me the best gifts of life, family, service, work- but what I would always be proud of would be being a Mother.

Motherhood · Reviews

Ella’s first Summer Adventure

As our family’s thanksgiving, as well as advanced celebration of Papa & Mama’s anniversary, we spent last Sunday at Noah’s Park Resort in Rodriguez, Montalban, Rizal.

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Ella enjoyed her first experience of “swimming”, though at first she was so scared of the water and the new environment. It just melts my heart to see her become curious of her surroundings, and eagerly respond to all the new things around her. I was also proud (though paranoid and hesitant as well) as other children would come to her and play with her.

Nung una takot sya sa tubig, but she eventually got the hang of it. One thing I learned with babies is that let them discover things, don’t use the word “No” too much. Just be around her as she discovers the world around her.
Sama din ang baby sa Hanging Bridge eh ^_^
Mapuno ang lugar but it can still get very hot. Make sure you wear rashguard and put sunscreen.
In front of one of the houses
#TheAgustins with Jam ^_^
Ang saya ni Ella ^_^
Nagmoment hahahaha
The “mini-bar”/ restaurant
Photoshoot! Hahahah
#ERJ

Review: ⭐⭐⭐ The entrance fee of P200 is reasonably price for a daytime (8am to 5pm) usage of their 5 public swimmimg pools, large landscape, and additional exciting amenities such as zipline, wall climbing, and rapeling. What I like most about their resort are: 1) green outdoors nice enough for instagram, and 2) lots of things you can do inside the resort. I am a fan and lover of trees so I truly appreciate Noah’s Park for having so many trees inside their premises. Being surrounded by trees also means less badtrip because of the summer heat, more especially important for a family that has a baby, like us. Moreover, you can never get bored in this resort. They have Grand pool with 2 slides (right side for kids and left side for the swimmers and adults), Garden pool, 1 Wave pool, Rock pool (lagoon-inspired), and a Bucket pool (our favorite). Aside from swimming, you can climb and walk on the hanging bridge, or do zipline, wall climbing, and rappeling, for a VERY affordable price of P50 each. Then, you can stroll in the property and take photographs of their landscape. The houses (they call it Condotel) are colorful and pretty, and make sure you spend some time for a quick photo shoot in their restaurant/mini-bar (not open during daytime, but this is the most instagrammable spot in the resort). Lastly, they have a basketball court and a team building facility (more of a playground or an obstacle course) that you can play in.

Downside would be: 1) no one was answering in their contact numbers as well as facebook page so don’t even bother calling them, 2) and because you haven’t contacted them, come as early as 6am so that you will still have cottage of your choice, 3) even if you will rent a room, the resort still requires you to get a cottage if you want to swim in the pool (SERIOUSLY, I don’t get it), 4) for a very big place, they forgot to provide ample number of comfort and shower rooms (good thing is it’s only a 30-minute travel to our house, so we just took our bath at home), and 5) their adult pool was so dirty the water smelled like sweat.

All in all, Noah’s Park Resort is good enough for a daytime summer outing with the family (just use the wave and pail pools, kahit dun lang sulit ka na din). Corkage fee is just for softdrinks, alcohol, and electrical appliances, so you can bring in home-cooked meals or food to grill (grillers are free to use). Bring lots of sunscreen as well as energy so that you can fully enjoy all this resort has to offer.

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Bucket Pool, our favorite ❀
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Wave Pool
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Ella’s favorite place in the resort πŸ˜€ abot nya eh :p
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Rock Pool. Yes, the pool can get really crowded, peak season eh.
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Hotel.
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Condotel

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Hanging Bridge. Even Ella took a walk! Hahah
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Team Building facility (i.e. playground)
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Chapel
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Haven’t seen photos of their cottages in their website, so here they are. These are the cottages in the Upper Section (Small cottages, P300 daytime rate). If you will stay here, be patient because the pools are 5-minute walk din!
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Lower Section cottages (Garden round table P700)
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Lower Section cottages (round table P900)

Noah’s Park Resort

Bgy. San Isidro, Rodriguez, Rizal (Beside Avilon Zoo)
T: 347.5031 / 517.1242 / 399NOAH
M: 63+ 922.854.4410
E: noahsleisurepark@gmail.com