Monday, January 31, 2011

The Yaya List from Chin Bautista Joson

When we change yayas or when the yayas are sleepy or whatever excuse they can think of, they tend to forget a lot of things.  These things can range from bringing diapers when you go out or forgetting to put shoes on the child.  We as moms make lists, here's a list I saw on Facebook from a friend.  It is as detailed as it can get.  Feel free to copy and alter the details but believe me this list has got you covered.


1   BIB
1   HAT









List care of Chin and Sul :)

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Momma Bear's Eats: Happy Lemon Part 2

Still loving Happy Lemon, Poppa bear and I went to Lugang for dinner and then went to Happy Lemon.  I wanted him to try it out for himself.  I got out of the car and told him not to park anymore because I was just going to order takeout.... WRONG MOVE!  It took me 13mins to get to the counter and give my orders and another 25mins for my orders to come out.  The unhappy lemon me was sulking at the counter telling the cashier that she should have informed me that it would take that long before taking my order.  I didn't want to stand alone there listening to the childish conversations and annoying voices of HS students.  My eyeballs almost dropped because I kept rolling them the entire time I was there.  They're lucky I really love their tea... because as soon as I got my orders and took my 1st sip in the car I was smiling again!

Tip #1: DON'T go on a weekend if you don't feel like waiting 30mins or more for a drink.
Tip #2:  Don't think you can bring this in the movie theater if there are alot of people in the store.  There were loads of people who were torn between waiting for their drink and missing their movie or leaving their drink and going to the movie.
Tip #3:  Drink it there. Especially the ones with the crispy stuff on top or the Rock Salt because it gets mixed in the car ride home and won't be at its perfect unshaken state.

Crispy Cocoa Matcha with Brown Sugar jelly
If you view the picture closely they gave me a mix of brown sugar jelly and black pearl.  I wasn't happy with the 'surprise' mix because I really love the brown sugar jelly cubes... But thats what you get when there's a long line of angry lemon customers and 2 baristas making 6-8 drinks at a time.

Green Tea with Rocksalt

I ordered this one for Poppa bear to try and he liked it, because he likes all things salty.  :)  Though not at its best because it was shaken in the car.  Still good and yummy :)

Cocoa Milk Tea wtih Puff Cream
The 1st time I went into Happy Lemon I made a mental note to myself to try all the flavors they have.  So far I have tried 9 out of the 47 kinds of drinks they have.  I have no plans of drinking the normal one like Lemon Black tea or Lemon Honey Juice.  Nor do I think I will ever get a Latte there because all I really want to do is drink milk tea.  If I take out the NO WAYs I am now only left with 14 new drinks to try.  I can't wait!  Today I am drinking Cocoa Milk Tea with Puff Cream, like drinking chocolate milk but with a teeny tiny bit of tea flavor. LOVE IT!  The puff cream is a creamy fluffly mixture they spoon around the glass before they pour in the milk tea.  If you don't want your drinks too sweet get the 75% sweetness when ordering ALL cocoa milk teas.  Go to Happy Lemon today at Greenhills Promenade.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Toy Review: Play Doh Sesame Street Fun Shapes Bucket

Who doesn't love the stuff?  Even I still enjoy making things with clay at my young age of 30.  I've been wanting to buy her Pay Doh or some version of it since Maxine was born.  I got her her first set when she was 1 year and 7mos old.  She loved it.  We already knew of her love for Elmo so when we saw the playdoh sesame street set we immediately got it for her.  We spent more than a month playing with that everyday.  

There are so many things included in the set that it occupied her attention for around 30mins everyday.  She made Cookie Monster, Big Bird and Elmo using the molds but it took her awhile to learn how so for the first few weeks we (papa bear and I) were the ones making them for her.  After she got bored with the 3 main finger puppet molds she went on to use the stamp molds.  She especially loved the small plastic knife included in the set.  Four 2ounce cans of clay are also included.

What she learned:  She learned how to form shapes with the cutters and to make things with clay.
Durability:  The molds, cutters and stamps are all still intact.  The 3 playmats got wet when the rain came into the house and it couldn't be salvaged anymore.  We never got to play with them.  The clay has dried up even if we took good care of them but they are repairable.
Fun/Entertainment Value:  Spent 20-30mins each time we played with it.  Distracted her from every other thought and kept her attention for so long we fell asleep while she played with it.  Worth every Peso!
Age: 1.6yrs old to 100.

*quick tip: put a few drops of water in the canister and cover overnight.  open and mix with play doh utensil to somehow get back its former texture.  repeat as long as necessary.  

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Newborn Necessities

There are a lot of checklists out there and the number of longsleeved onesies or sleeveless onesies differ from household to household.  The same goes with bibs, Maxine didn't need alot of bibs, she only used them when she was being fed but now Kayla goes thru 5 a day.  She drools A LOT!  There's no exact formula to it but here's MY checklist of the things I used for newborns.

3 Long sleeved kimono with pajama
3 Short sleeved kimono with pajama
3 Sleeveless kimono with pajama
6 Long sleeved onesies
12 Short sleeved onesies
6 Sleeveless onesies
6 pairs of Mittens
6 pairs of Socks
3 Hats
Laundry detergent for infants.  I use Perla because they say its the mildest.  You can also go for cuddles since its really made for babies.
*Coming home outfit

3 big blankets
4 receiving blankets
3 Sleeping sacks

Lots of bibs
Lampin (I got 2 packs of gauze material 1 in each size and 2 packs of the other material 1 in each size.  Now the 2 kids share in using all the 4 packs)
Milk Storage containers
Nursing Bras.  Buy 1 in a size larger than your pregnancy size.
Breast Pads.  I use disposable ones from Pigeon.
4 4oz bottles with nipples
4 8-9oz bottles with nipples
Sterilizer.  Buy the same brand as your bottles.
Bottle and nipple brush
Bottle and nipple liquid cleanser. I use Joy liquid soap.
Breastpump. Read this for more info on breast pumps.

Bath and Body Care:
Towels.  I got the ones with the built in hood to cover the baby's head.
Wash cloths.  I got a set from Mothercare.
Soap and Shampoo.  I used the one we got from the hospital, Lactacyd.  Then I went on to use Aveeno (available in SNR)
Thermometer. I use the electronic one where you stick it in the ears everytime before she takes a bath.
Nail clipper. I got mine as a gift, it was in a set that includes a nail file, comb, bruch, nasal aspirator, toothbrush, teether and etc.  All necessities for babies.  Available in most baby stores.
Bath tub.  They usually bathe in the plain tub, buy a bathing seat from Summer, its super useful because you dont have to worry about the baby slipping form your hands.
Diapers.  Buy a small quantity because you don't know the size of your baby yet.
Cotton balls.  Buy the cotton tube and make them into balls, its much cheaper.
Changing pad.
Cotton buds.

4 Fitted crib Sheets
Clothes hamper
Night light
Trashcan.  I leave mine just outside the door so the dirty diapers don't stink up the whole room.
*Sleep positioner
*Pacifiers (if you think you'll be needing it)

On The Go:
Stroller.  If you're going to put the baby in it make sure its age appropriate.  If it doesn't fully recline don't put a new born baby in it.
Diaper Bag.  Get a neutral color, something both you and your husband can carry.
Baby Sling.  If you think there's a chance you're going to wear your baby, get a sling.  Its really handy.
Car Seat.

Activity mat.  Its entertainment for the babies.
Rocker.  Use only when a month old already.  Useful because your baby can sit in it and watch you while you do other things.
Soft toys.  There's no real need for toys when your baby is born they don't usually play with anything until they are a few months old.  But I don't know anyone who can resist buying a toy or two or ten. hehe.
Books.  I slowly filled up Maxine's shelves with books.  I wanted to instill in her my love for reading.  Read to your babies as early as possible, show them pictures and let them hear the sound of your voice.  As new parents we rarely know what to say to a baby, this is your solution. 
Music.  My dad read that if you play classical music to a baby it will increase their IQ, yes it doesn't just apply when they are in the womb.  So, play your Motzarts and Beethovens during the day.

*extras, not really a necessity but nice to have :)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Maxie Bear 2years old and 1 month

There are days when I just want to scream in frustration but I swallow it with my juice.  There are nights when I just want to run and hide but I just stand still and breathe in.  This is my life.  The life of a mother with an over active toddler and a cranky baby.  I have psychotic noisy neighbors to add to the annoyance.  Most days are great, we play with her toys and read books.  Run around the house doing all sorts of things.  But there are trying days.  There have been trying days even before Kayla was born but it got worse ever since she came home.  Today Maxine slapped my hand with hers.  It didn't hurt because she purposely did it gently but she still did it.  I put her in the corner and stood there with her for 2 minutes for time out.  She fake cried and then went on doing what she was doing before she hit me.

How ironic that I refuse to hit her but she hits me.  She tries to kick the dog and sneaks a slap here and there to her lil sister.  Tonight she slaps herself then says sorry to herself afterwards.  What to do in this situation?  Maybe the world wide web will know but as of the moment I am grateful, still grateful to Maxiebear for doing all this and saving me more than $100 because now I don't feel like buying those outfits from Gap for her anymore.

A Generation Gap in Parenting Styles

There's no one in the world who can make you feel as great about yourself more than your parents can.  We as parents bear the responsibility of molding our children into good and honest people.  We do that by supporting them when they try out new things, at first when they're learning how to walk, when they go to school and then when they grow older we support them in their choice of clothes, colleges, partners and work.  The other side to that is we as mothers can also bring them down in the blink of an eye or better yet the lash of the tongue.

A child's self esteem is built slowly as she grows up, too much praise they say isn't good.  As a child, I came from a generation when giving praise was saved for the ultimate special occasions.  (What those were, I don't know, they were so special they never happened.)  Nowadays, our kids do something as simple as standing up, we applaud and take a hundred pictures.  Each milestone is recorded and captured to be viewed again and again until the next one happens. Yes, sometimes we praise blindly but is that worse than criticizing because we can?  The mothers of our generation differ greatly from the generation of our own mothers.  A vast majority of them worked day and night, while we now have the luxury of being stay at home moms.  The internet has helped us work from home giving us the chance to be with our kids as they grow up.  I know of moms who have never bathed their kids and moms who take a bath with their kids everyday.  Sometimes I think kids have slowly become softer and weaker by the generation.  The harder life was for the children the more resilient they became, direct examples of that are our grandparents.  Who I personally think never got a hug or kiss from their own parents as adults.  And in my imagination, their conversations were all about rehashing past mistakes the children made and past failures to remind them what not to do again.  Does tough love work better because we were trained to work more and do better to get praised?  Or do we sometimes feel that its useless to even try because you can jump to the moon and no one will really notice.  Who really knows.  Growing up I have heard the sentence "I will never do that to my kids" from several people.  They are talking about their own parents.  Every generation thinks they are doing better than what was done to them.  At least we are slowly learning from the mistakes of the past, more hugs less hitting.  I guess the lesson of the story is to learn to believe in yourself and to find validation from within.  Who you are cannot be defined by 1, 2 or 100 mistakes you made in the past,  your worth cannot be measured by how Negative Nancy's and Debbie Downers of the world see you but by how you see yourself.  
There is no right or wrong in parenting styles.  We do what we can with what we have and what we know.  This also goes with parents and children, we do what we can with what we have.  We weren't given a choice to who our parents would be or which kids we would get.  You just do the best with the cards you're dealt.

Thank goodness I think I got pocket rockets who don't need to soar to the moon for me to show them I love them.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Toy Review Playskool Ball Popper

My hubby said I bought this toy for myself. He said I only used Maxine as an excuse to get this toy.   I really don't know why he thinks watching a ball pop into the air would amuse me and that I would buy a toy for myself.  But he was 50% correct, thank goodness he doesn't read my blog so he won't know that sometimes he's right hehe.  I got it for Maxine when she was 6 months old, she can sit on her own by then and I thought she would be amused by this.  It plays music as the air blows the balls into the air.  Such a simple toy.  At first hubby kept teasing me about it because Maxine didn't really pay any attention to it.  Weeks later she started to stare at it in wonder, then she started to try and catch the balls and as they fell to the floor she crawled to chase them.  She then figured out that pressing on the button would start it up again.  She's now 2years old and almost one month, today she turned on the switch and played with it.

What she learned:  Cause and effect.
Durability:  ***** Still works until today.
Fun/Entertainment Value:  15-20mins playtime when she was 9mos old.  She likes catching the balls and putting them back in.  She loved chasing them and identifying their colors.
Age: 6months to 2yr old.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Toy Review: Leap Frog Sit to Stand Learning Walker

There are walkers of different shapes and sizes in the market.  When we say walker we think of the donut like thing with 4 wheels where you put the kid inside and he walks on his own all the while being surrounded by toys.  Well, they say those walkers aren't good for the kids so the new and "improved" kind is like the one in the picture.  I  wish I got the old style of walker for Maxiebear, this one was just too hard to master.  By the time your child can really use this as an aid to walk, he already knows how to walk on his own.  Maxiebear tried to use a Winnie The Pooh version of the learning walker and hit her head on the floor.  She fell backwards as she put her weight onto the handles and the toy slid away from her.  I was so shocked that I couldn't move.  After that I put the toy away.  I still wanted her to learn to walk so I went to the store and tested out the walkers they had.

The Playskool version is just as dangerous as the Winnie the Pooh one.  When I tried it out at the store, I almost fell!  I was actually on my knees trying it out!  There's something about the distance of the sets of wheels and where the weight goes as you try and depend on it to walk (thats just me trying to think of a reason why some walkers work while others are just too accident prone).  I also tried the Fisher Price and Chicco one.  Both passed the test but were too pricey for my budget.  I ended up getting the Leap Frog one, it has enough activities on it to entertain and was balanced enough for walking.  You can also take out the activity part of the toy so the baby can play with it even before she can walk.  Maxine loved the telephone on it, the piano keys and the page that you can turn.

Just be careful when using any thing with plastic wheels on tiles, they slide fast.  What some people do is they put tape on the wheels to keep it from moving too smoothly so the toy wont "run away" from the baby using it.  You just wrap the tape generously on all 4 wheels.

What she learned:  It helped her learn how to walk a little.
Durability: ***** (5 Stars) It still works.
Fun/ Entertainment Value: 5-8mins on standstill.  Indefinite when being pushed.  At the age when they need this toy, anything that can help them move from 1 point to another is going to be used a lot.
Age:  3mos to 1yr depending on when the child starts to walk.  You can use the activity pad separately at 3 mos or ever earlier.  Kaylabear uses it now as entertainment while she's sitting on my lap.

Momma Bear's Eats: Happy Lemon

I've heard about it, I've seen the pictures on facebook but it took me almost 2 months after the place opened before I got to taste it.  Happy Lemon made me a happy happy melon (melon bec it's the 1st rhyme that came to mind)!  I bought the Green Tea with rocksalt and cheese at 100% sweetness level.. What a surprise!  It's the culmination of 3 things I love all mixed into 1 drink.  I don't think its for everyone but for people who are used to drinking tea and want to try a new twist to it, this is just the thing for you.

For the less adventurous friends, they got the Milk Tea with Black Pearl.  I am the super fan of milk teas and if you think you've tried it all and found the best... think again. Give THIS a chance.  The pearls are small, some prefer the big ones but these are really chewy.

I also got to try the Lemon Honey with Seaweed Jelly.  Refreshing but I would order so many other things before ordering this.  If i lived in the Happy Lemon House where I can drink Happy Lemon everyday I'm sure i'd order this but not when I only get to go there once in a while.

I ordered a few extra glasses to take home with me.  Today I drink my Cocoa Milk Tea with Brown Sugar Jelly.  Its a bit too sweet, next time I will get it at 50% sugar level but the brown sugar jellys are a winner.  Chewy to the max even if left in the ref for 8hrs already.

Lemon Peppermint with Nata
Roasted Cocoa Milk Tea
So, I announce today that of all the Milk Teas I've tried in my 30yrs of living, this is the best so far.  I just drank 1 at a bazaar last weekend, tasteless.  Serenitea Hokkaido at home last week, it was great but now I think i've found something even better.  Or maybe I have to try them all together for accuracy.  Any excuse to drink another cup! :)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Toy Review: Leap Frog Learn & Groove Musical Table

The box says its for 6months to 3yrs.  We got this from Aku, for Maxiebear when she was 1.  She used it for around 15mins when she first got it.  She kept turning the page back and forth.  She isn't musically inclined even if she listened to classical music when she was a baby so she simply ignored the piano keys.  This toy was then put into the cabinet after a month or so.  Recently, now that she's 2years old, she's started playing with it again.  She still flips the page over and plays the "piano".  This toy also has 2 language options, English and Spanish.  So if you want your child to be bilingual this can help.

Price: $37.64 at Amazon
What she learned:  Shapes and colors were in her face everytime she stood by this toy.  It helped her stand up longer and she walked around it as she was getting used to walking.
Durability: Still working well, despite all the banging and pounding.
Fun: **** (4 stars) spends around 5-10 mins around the table.
Age: 6mos to 2.5yo (you can use it once the baby starts pounding on things because the legs are removable.  When the baby starts to stand up, you can put the legs in and he can use this for support as his legs get stronger.

Other Option:

We also got to play with the Fisher Price Laugh and Learn Fun with Friends Table at a playdate, I prefer it over the Leap Frog version for 2 reasons.  1.  Fisher price also give you 2 language options, English and Chinese.  Since I am Chinese and not Spanish, this would have been more useful to me.  and 2.  Kids prefer to play with things that open and close, this toy has more choices like that.  Cons, I have seen a kid slam the computer shut on another kid's hand and it is more expensive.  Priced at $44.50 at Amazon.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


Independence.  What a big word for such a small person.  Recently Maxine was a flower girl at 2 weddings, both of them she didn't walk on her own.  I was not surprised. She can run around narrating her every move in the house but when she's out there in the big world she becomes timid and afraid clinging on to us for dear life.  Refusing to be put down for fear that people will grab her.  I think all this came about when she was smaller and people just grab her and carry her away from me.  Adults forget that children are people too and they are born with their own personalities.  She was born shy and demanding.  She is still shy and demanding.  I am trying to teach her to be independent and to learn to play on her own.  But even if she's more than 35lbs now and 3ft tall, I still enjoy carrying her around the house and squeezing her in my arms.  To me she will always be a tiny baby, I guess it just shows that I am not the right man for the job in teaching her how to be independent for if it were up to me I wouldn't have cut the umbilical cord.  So, this April we start summer school and in June we start going to preschool.  Good luck to us! I hand her over to the teachers and the impossible task of making her grow up and less attached to her mommy.  All the while I will be hiding behind the bushes watching her diligently.  Maybe I should go be the one who should learn to let go. :P
me and my baby bear

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Breast Milk Storage

There are all kinds of containers for our expressed breast milk.  I used to put the milk in these plastic containers I got from SM.  Sort of like lock and lock but cheaper.  I got them because I wanted something reusable, now I put Maxine's food in them.  But this time around I got milk bags as a present so I started using them and realized how much space you save with them!  I've used 3 brands already and I think each has its own pros and cons.

Pack of 25 for Php250
Can be filled up to 9oz
Stands up on its own but can be tricky
Thick with double ziplocks
Tore one when opening in a hurry.

Pack of 50 for $10
Can be filled upto 9oz
Rarely stands up when full
Thick with double ziplocks
Tore a lot when not extra careful.

Pack of 50 for $20
Can be filled up to 6oz
Stands up properly even when full.
Thick with double ziplocks
None torn ever.

Out of the 3 brands i've used Medela is the best, it is also the most expensive so I didn't buy them again.  The 2nd best for me is Nanny, out of the 50bags i've used i only tore 1.  While with Lansinoh I tore 5 out of the 45.  I recently discovered a trick when freezing the milk.  You lay the bag down flat and let it freeze, that way the milk wont take up as much freezer space and you can stack them one on top of the other.  After my milk is frozen I put the bags in a ziplock freezer bag and label the bag with a pen ex. "End of Dec".  So when i'm going to need to use my milk I wont have to go searching one by one wc is the oldest, I just have to grab them by bag.

If you don't want to use plastic bags you can get the containers I got from SM, they cost around 25php each but more worth your money because you can put them to use next time.  Just wash and sterilize.  The only problem with them is if it's too full and you shake it the milk spills a little.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Tips On Yaya Hunting.

There are a few among us who don't get yayas for their kids.  I think these few should be given medals or even just an award for being supermoms.  There are also a select few who get 2 yayas for 1 child and those who still have yayas and are already in their 20's.  To these groups of people, shame on you for hiring someone to push the stroller and another to carry your child or bag, if the child is already running around.  Maybe i'm just envious because I know that they don't get stressed out about dayoffs like I do.

One of the hardest things about having a child is having a yaya.  They are stressful, psychotic and plain old annoying. The saying "can't live with them, can't live without them" refers to yayas.  Not unless you're lucky enough to still have the yaya who took care of you as a child, then you are truly one of the lucky few.  The vast majority have no idea where to get one so we turn to the agencies to give us options to choose from.  When I was a new mom I had a hard time interviewing because I was new at this and they were not.  Even the 20 somethings were veterans at the interview game.  Here are a few tips when interviewing one from an agency.

1.  Have your top 3 requirements/non negotiables.  For example mine were.  a. Younger than 50.  b.  Only 1 dayoff a month and c. Salary is 6thousand max.  I told the person at the agency these 3 things so that they wouldn't waste my time letting me interview people who don't want to agree to my requirements (they still did, they would do anything to make money).

2.  Ask her how old she is.  Then ask for the year she was born.  Why? Because they lie, if they're very old they subtract a few years and if they're young, they'll add some.  Why you don't want someone young, how much experience could a 21yr old have taking care of a baby?  Why you don't want someone old, lets face it the older you are the harder it is for you to see, hear and the slower you are.  I once tried a yaya who said she was 50 (She was at least 60) who couldn't see anymore.  She was changing Maxine's diaper and Maxine started to pee, she didn't even see that pee was coming out as she was cleaning.  "ay kaya pala parang may mainit"  was what she said.

3.  I have this theory that yayas with short hair do a better job.  I don't know why but I prefer them with short hair.  I hate seeing falling hair on the floor.  I really don't want to see my child holding or chewing on her yaya's hair.  I find short hair neater, I even give my help headbands to keep their hair out of their faces.

4.  Make sure you're yaya knows how to sing a lullabye or just plain old put a baby to sleep.  I once saw a yaya talk to the baby "bakit ayaw mo matulog? bakit ka umiiyak?"  and another yaya who sang London Bridge Is Falling Down as she shook the baby to sleep.

5.  Ask the yaya when she does her laundry.  The answer is supposed to be when her job is done or when the baby is asleep.  There are yayas who ask the maid to look after the baby during the daytime whlle they slowly wash their clothes or wash their clothes while the baby is crying, waiting for someone else to do their job.

6. Ask her what time she goes to sleep and what time she wakes up.  You don't want someone who watches telenovelas until 11pm because your baby will wake up whenever she feels like it (and most likely it will be  early).  If you sleep late and wake up early, what do you get?  A sleepy yaya, and a sleepy yaya is a clumsy yaya.  Tell them to sleep when the baby is sleeping so they get enough rest.

7.  Clarify your house rules early on.  Ask her if she thinks she can abide by them.  I don't let the yaya use her cellphone when the baby is awake.  Because i've seen yayas texting while feeding the baby, texting while carrying the baby, texting all the time.  I hate it.  If you don't want your yaya kissing your baby, make sure to make that clear early on.  Some moms don't understand this pet peeve of mine saying there's nothing wrong with the yaya kissing their child.  I always ask, so if you had a daughter its okay with you if your driver kisses her too?  I'm sure some will answer yes.  I remember a time in HS when my school actually held a seminar on yayas and drivers because one of the teachers saw a driver changing the clothes of the student.  It's okay, i'm sure there was no malice (but are we really really sure??).  The student was in grade 5 (I don't know why she didn't know how to change her own clothes) and it wasn't a pretty sight to see.

8.  Most yayas ask for 2 days off nowadays, if not they'll say that they'll get 1 day off but overnight.  Overnight means 24hours.  If they leave at 7am they have to be back by 7 the next day.  Make the time clear.  But no matter how clear you are with them, be assured that they will never come home on time.  And their excuse will always be because it's traffic.  Some who don't go out ask for compensation.

9.  Find out how much experience they've had.  Make clear that if they say they took care of so and so they mean they worked for someone.  Because taking care of their nieces and nephews don't count.  If they can give the number of their former employer that would be great for you, but that happens rarely and when you do get a number its usually a fake one.

10.  If you plan to breastfeed, find out if they've worked for someone who has breastfed.  So you know that they know how to handle breast milk.  If they haven't then that means you have to make clear how important the milk is and how careful they have to be with it.  I've had a yaya who threw away 10oz of my milk because she thought it tasted bad.  But she's never tasted breast milk before so she has nothing to compare it with and to this day it disturbs me why she drank the milk in the first place!

11.  You're the boss.  Make clear that you didn't hire her to be her friend or to be treated like her child (this is one of the cons when you get someone much older than you).  I don't like the superstitious beliefs that yayas have with their alaga, like putting a strand of thread on their foreheads when they hiccup.  I had a yaya who ruined the bed sheet just so she could do that.  This is another question you could ask before you even hire the person.  Because if you don't want you baby's feet smelling like ginger then find out.  You can't really cover all the bases so when the time comes that you and your yaya disagree on something, you should put your foot down your rules should be followed.  She is your child after all.

11.  If you were lucky enough to find someone you think is okay on the phone, go to the agency and interview her one more time personally.  Take a look at the person who will be taking care of your child when you can't.  Judge the book by its cover.

Remember that half of what they say has been rehearsed and you really won't know the truth about them until they're in your house for a few months.  You won't find out how capable they are until you see them working already.  If you see something you don't like look for a replacement, you have 3 chances to find someone that you really like.  Don't settle for less because in the end whatever small thing you didn't like in the beginning, will seem bigger as she stays longer.  Read the contract before you sign it.  Their contracts usually last for 6 months, after that you have to pay the agency fee again if you want to get someone new.  Be warned that they usually show their true colors at the 6th month, I don't know if its a coincidence (I dont think it is) or its them trying to annoy you enough so you'll fire them (if you fire them, you will have to pay a compensation).  Lastly, be kind and encouraging.  They take care of your child when you aren't around so you want them to be happy with their jobs.  Check up on them only from time to time especially if you see they know what they're doing.  Let them do their jobs, just make sure your child is well fed, clean, healthy and happy.

Don't take it personally when they decide to leave, because they will leave for whatever reason they have.  Good luck in this tiresome endeavor and remember, you've only just begun!

Toy Review: B. Times Square Activity Cube

There are so many toys to choose from in the stores nowadays.  Leapfrog, Fisher Price, Baby Einstein are just a few of the well known brands here in manila.  Its a hard job making sure a toy we get is going to be worth it.  There's no way of knowing that our baby will like the toy in the 1st place, play with it a lot and really get to learn things as the packaging promises.  I tried to make a list of toys that I know Maxine and Kayla like but it was too hard and such a wide range.  So, instead of that I decided to just write a review of the toys.

  This was a gift from Ninang Nat from the states.  There are different versions of it here in Manila, some smaller and simpler.  There are also more complex and larger versions of this in the states.The cube has 6 sides, 2 sides are shape sorters for numbers and the other for letters.  1 side is a telephone and it has shapes you can press.  The other side is a clock and when you line up the hands to read 12o' clock the door opens.  The top part lights up and has music while she moves the shapes in the light up maze.
   She enjoyed putting in the letters and numbers in their designated holes.  She was very curious about the door in the bottom.  But she gets bored easily with the maze even with the music and lights.

What she learned:  Nothing specific.
Durability:  *****
Fun: ***** Spends 15-20 mins sitting down playing with it.
Age: 1yo-1.6yo
Purchase at for $19.99

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Top 10 Inexpensive Toys For 1 Year Olds

I know how expensive toys can be and how we feel when our child plays with the box more than the toy inside.  I didn't want to keep spending money on toys that would be left in the cabinets to gather dust.  Here are a few things that I saw Maxine liked that were really easy on the pocket or already available in the house.

1.  Crayons.  I got her a box of Jumbo crayons, 8 colors and she went crazy for crayons.  My dad got her coloring books and drawing pads for her to doodle in.  The bed sheets in their house would be massacred by her love for "drawing"  and "coloring".  With these crayons she learned her colors and we discovered that she loved the color orange.  Soon after she learned what color was what, she then learned her shapes as we drew them on the drawing pads.  And then she learned her alphabet.  She doesn't know how to write them yet but when you point to a letter she can tell you what it is.  She still mixes them up sometimes but crayons were the 1st tool we had for her learning a lot of things.  Available in National Bookstores nationwide.

2.  She may not have had a lot of toys during her 1st year of living but she had a lot of books.  I made it a point to read to her everyday.  She loved it.  I got her hardbound books so I wouldn't be afraid of her tearing the pages up,  When she could, she opened them up on her own and would stare at the pictures.  She would sit in front of her bookshelf and explore other worlds.  Dr. Seuss entertained her with rhymes and once she could open the flaps on her own she couldn't stop turning the pages.  The Circus Macgurkus was one of her favorite books.  Also the very hungry catterpillar.

3.  One thing she still loves playing with until today are bottles.  She just loves them.  I give her bottles of half empty lotions, small alcohol bottles that I fill up with water and clear bottles of hand sanitizer.  She can walk around the room putting "alcohol" in her hands and rubbing them together.  She asks for lotion from me because she can't get it out.  This is how she learned to say "please" (saying please only lasted a few days), "thank you" (this lasted a few days then came back after a few months of disappearing), "more" (this is here to stay), "last" (I know she doesn't mean it), "one last" with her eyes looking up at you like the cat in Shrek.  and "promise".

4.  Play food.  We went to play school and she saw a basket of play food that you can "cut".  The fruits and veggies were held together by velcro.  There are plastic sets sold in most toy stores.  You can use this to teach her her fruits and veggies.

5.  Shape sorter.  Everyone has one it just differs on the number of shapes and the colors they come in.  My dad got her this from SM.   She used it so much I began to rethink buying branded expensive toys.  This was the most worth it toy she ever had based on the time she spent playing with it and how much it cost.  She learned even more shapes using this toy.  Her oval, cross and octagon.

6.  Keyboard.  Get an old one and give it to her.  But first, put it in front of the real computer so she'll think its the one you use.  Get her an old mouse too.  She'll happily clickety clack away for a few minutes.

7.  The ballpen.  She loves to copy the people she sees and she sees me and my mom write a lot.  So, this is her writing.  She draws circles, lines and makes random movements with the pen.  We spend a lot of time here on my desk drawing.  I would draw houses, trees, rainbows, clouds, birds and whatever else I could think of.
8.  Water.  She loves playing with water.  We go to swim in a pool when we can but that's only a few times in a year.  We wash our hands together, and she plays with the water in the sink in our bathroom.  We also let her wash the dishes in the sink in the kitchen.  As you can see in the picture she's watering the plants happily.  To say that she loves playing with water is an understatement.
9.  Household cleaning items.  I remember when I was a child myself that I loved "cleaning" the house with the help.  I would clean the floors and wipe the tables with them.  Since Maxine also spends a significant amount of time with them she sees them cleaning the house.  The little gaya-gaya that she is, she insists on helping them out.  She sweeps my bed room in the morning and the fallen leaves in the afternoon.  I like that she knows how to clean after herself, put her things back and wipe the things she spills.  She's actually happiest when she thinks she's helping out or when she's doing things she sees adults do.  

10.  Containers of any kind.  She loves moving things from one container to another.  Whether its water, pebbles, sand, candies or coins. *note that the gummy bears are mine, I don't let her eat candy.

Pahabol... I know we aren't supposed to let our kids play with plastic bags but Maxine lost the habit of putting things in her mouth when her first few teeth came out.  So here she is walking around trying to tie the plastic bag around her neck.  Now that she's older she likes to hold paper bags and put things in and out of them. :)

Friday, January 7, 2011

I Blame It On The Epidural

I blame it on the epidural...

One of my best friends is getting married next wk.  I am a sponsor in her wedding and Maxine is a flowergirl.  I got measured only today.. I know! I forgot all about it. If I were my friend id be pissed, thank goodness she is much nicer than me.  I blame it on the epidural.

We planned a shower for her, we're in charge of 1 game each.  I am in charge of drinks and ice. Food and giveaways and the hotel suite.  I forgot to make a list of my questions for my game. I blame it on the epidural.  I forgot to pay for the giveaways. I blame it on the epidural.  I forgot to buy the softdrinks and ice. I still blame it on the epidural.  I actually asked the celebrant to pass by for the platter of cold cuts i ordered bec i forgot abt that too. Note that this is a surprise shower and I had to make up a story why theres a platter.

On the way to the hotel I kept remembering the things I forgot and as I was apologizing for not leaving the payment for the giveaways I noticed that im still wearing my house slippers! Dammit!! I blame it all on the epidural!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Breastfeeding Tips

Breastfeeding is my life... Or rather, breast milk is Kayla's life.  Its the only thing she eats from the day she was born, until 5months of age.  I have heard so many reasons as to why mother's don't breastfeed and I think its safe for me to say... I don't care.  

Fact:  Every mother can make milk.  Every mother HAS milk.  Does every mom have to breastfeed? No.  To each his own.  I'm not an advocate, I do it because of these reasons.  
1.  Breast milk is free.  A can of formula is expensive 
2.  Studies have shown that a breastfed baby's IQ increases by 6% if the baby is fed with it for 6months.  Now that 6% can make a normal smart baby a genius and a dumb baby smart.  Because it is in my power to make that difference then I will work my hardest to give my baby that advantage.  
3. Breast milk fed babies don't get sick as much.  The antibodies we have accumulated through the years are passed on in our milk.  The flus, colds, coughs we've already had, our baby will be immune to.  
4.   Because I like challenges.  A lot of people I know didn't breastfeed because of various reasons one of which was that they have small boobs so they don't have milk.  I wanted to be small breasted exception. 
5.  I work from home, I have the time to build my milk supply and feed my child.  Its more difficult for working moms because they have to leave the house and pump in the office.

Breastfeeding is hard work, I didn't feed directly which was my 1st mistake.  It was just too painful.  I swear, my eyes would well up every time Maxine latched and fed directly.   Because of that, I had to pump almost every hour during the 1st 2 months of Maxine's life.  I got up 3x in the middle of the night pumping manually in the bathroom.  I used my friend's Avent Manual pump, because I wanted to make sure I had milk before I purchased a more expensive one.  I cried over spilled milk because it took me 30mins to make 1oz of milk.  Each drop was precious.  I drank Natalac everyday and drank soup with malunggay that my mom sent over. They say your milk supply develops in the 1st month.  Mine took a bit longer, I worked hard day and night until on my 4th month I was producing 50oz of milk everyday.  

I've been asked what I did to make so much milk and now that i'm feeding my 2nd child I had the chance to compare notes.  As I said my 1st mistake was not feeding directly.  Pumping takes a lot of time, you have to pump, clean the pump, move the milk, sterilize the pump, reheat the milk, wash the bottle.. etc etc, and you have to do that 7-8x a day, depending on how often you pump and your baby eats.  Feed directly, its easier,  this time around I just fought through the pain.  I fed her directly as much as I could to the point where I bled. Yes, I pumped out blood and yes it was just as painful as before.  But I fought through it and still fed.  On the 5th day she learned to latch more properly and my nipples started to heal and the pain subsided slowly.  My 2nd mistake was to be so anal about breastfeeding, I had a goal and I was too focused on it.  Relax, the milk is there and it will come as long as your working on it.  3rd I was too stingy about the pump.  If you plan to breastfeed then go out and buy a good one.  One that latches on both breasts so you don't spend as much time pumping.

1.  Buy a good, nay, great pump.  Don't skimp on this because this is the make or break of your breastfeeding career.  I use a Medela Pump In Style.  Its big and heavy compared to the newer model but I don't mind.  I used mine for more than a year with my 1st child and now again with my 2nd, it still works great.  If you have relatives or friends in the states or going there ask them to buy it there for you.  Its almost if not half the price there as compared to here.  The only downfall is the voltage, its 110 and my adaptor died on me when I plugged it in the wrong socket.  But have no fear, you can buy a replacement one in the hardware stores, you just have to find one with the same wattage and fit.  Use the pump, if you don't want to feed then use it.  Feed on demand.  That means you only feed the baby when she asks for milk.  But what I do is, I pump every 2 hours so I get to keep extra milk.  If she does wake up because she's hungry, have no fear! Even with empty tanks her sucking will generate milk you didn't feel existed.

2.  Drink or eat malunggay.  I don't like eating veggies so I just stick to the capsule form.  It helps.  You can drink up to 3 capsules a day when you're still building your milk supply.  It all depends on the brand.  I drink Natalac because it was the only brand that I knew of before, now there's also Prolacta, it's cheaper by P1.50 and has 100mg more malunggay than Natalac.  So its more value for your money.  

3.  Learn to express your milk with your own hands.  In the 1st day of Kayla's birth I knew with confidence I was making milk because I knew how to express the milk.  To see is to believe!  Breastfeeding is all in the mind, if you think you can then you will.

4.  Call a lactation therapist.  Lita Nery, she can teach you to express the milk manually, massage your breasts to wake them up and tell them they need to make more milk and help you with any problems you might be having, feeding wise.   09185557565  this is her number.  Call her before you give birth and tell her when your due date is and what hospital you plan to give birth in.

5.  Feed directly as much as you can.  Pump afterwards.  Empty the tanks so your body knows it needs to make more milk.

6.  Drink lots and lots of liquids.  Drink before pumping, during your pumping session and afterwards.

7. EAT, this is no time to worry about losing your pregnancy weight.  Your body needs food because its working hard to make milk.

8.  Don't be afraid to give your baby a bit of formula as you try and increase your milk supply.  Maxine was a big baby, 8.9lbs, its only common sense that she'd have a bigger appetite than the smaller babies.  I couldn't feed her as much as she wanted so she got angrier and angrier.  Believe me you don't want to feed an angry baby,  

9.  How do you know how much milk you're making?  You won't especially if you feed directly, don't worry, if your baby is still hungry he/she will let you know.  If you want to be sure, you can pump for 24hrs and list down the time you pumped and how many ounces you've made.  That's what I do, so I know if my supply is increasing or not.  

10.  Look at your baby or her picture while you pump or feed.  It helps, I don't know why but it does.  The milk just comes out.  See, it truly is a mind thing!

11. Rest.  Sleep.  Take naps.  Breastfeeding is like running on the treadmill.  It ta

12.  Lastly, don't be ashamed of what you're doing.  Breastfeeding is something you should be proud of.  It is one of the most natural things in the world.  That's what breastfeeding covers are for, so you can breastfeed wherever you go.  I pump wherever I am, whenever I need to, whoever I'm with.  

Good luck Mommies and future moms!  I hope I helped somehow in this tiresome but worthwhile endeavor.  Remember, don't pressure yourself too much, breast feed for as long as you can whether thats 2wks or 2years, just as long as you do it.  And no, im not an advocate! :P