Thursday, July 23, 2015

Potty Training: The Return of the Mini Potty


   Ah yes. It's that time again. Having a two year old means sooner or later potty training will have to begin.
   Not too long ago I potty trained my eldest and although it became easy in its final stages, the beginning wasn't a walk in the park. There were delays and circumstances that needed to be taken into consideration. A new sibling came in the midst of potty training and we were traveling too so all these changes had to be adjusted to before we could resume and have a more consistent schedule.
    With my second, using the potty began almost a year ago already - we would place her potty seat into the adult potty and let her pee and poop (though this one was more challenging) and she would more often than not gladly oblige. However, it stayed this way - she would use the big potty upon our recommendation, and sometimes would also say no (which is usually normal). So if I were to be honest, this was more like potty trying than potty training. 
    It is after all called potty training for a reason. Training requires consistency. Trying does not. Training requires discipline. Trying doesn't require you to follow through. Therefore, I had to first prepare myself again and plan my course of action. I had to come up with a better Training Plan.
    
It all begins with me. 

    Potty training is initiated by the trainer, not the trainee. I'm the coach so I need to establish a good and effective plan for my trainee to follow. So as soon as I knew I was ready, I began (and of course my toddler too, check out these signs of readiness). By being ready I mean being committed. Admittedly, since Natalie was still very young when we first made her try using the potty, there was no sense of urgency on my part. I didn't want to rush my toddler, and I didn't want to pressure myself either. So we put her in the potty whenever it was convenient and whenever we had the time. We still had her in diapers so we didn't worry if there was a bathroom emergency and we were too busy to take her to the potty.
    Enter the comeback of the mini potty. This was an essential part of my current Training Plan. I prepared our precious little potty, a hand-me-down from big sis. It's been sitting for a while in our bathroom, waiting for its seat to come back (because we've been using it for the big potty). Alas, the potty parts were reunited and I was ready to start.
    I showed Natalie how this mini potty works. Open the cover, pull down your pants and diapers and take a seat. Wait for the wee to come out and tell me the good report! Use it as often as you need.
    I started this last week and as expected, she kept volunteering to use the mini potty. And with delight! A successful wee in the potty would always bring a smile to her face - and she beams with pride as she reports her success. Yes, the mini potty trick worked like a charm :) 
   And when you think about it, who among us adults would find using a potty twice our size appealing? Certainly not me! Hahaha! So I put myself in my child's place. I wanted to use something that was:

1) proportionate to my size
2) easy to use that I can do it on my own without anyone having to help me
3) easy to get up from

       You just can't rush a little one into using the big potty - at least not my little one. It may be more convenient for me to have her use the big potty (no need to clean, just flush!). But this doesn't teach consistency and independence. So I had to adjust to my toddler's needs. Just one of the many gazillion adjustments that a mom or parent has to make for her kids! And with this in mind, I know potty training again won't be so hard as long as I have an effective plan in place ;)

        Check out more Potty Training Tips and Tricks here :)

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Paper Dolls

     I have tons of photos of almost all of our Arts and Crafts activities at home and meant to share them here if I had more time. I just happen to love taking pictures of almost anything I do with the girls! I just wish I had posted these sooner because as you will see, the girls were much younger when we worked on our Paper Dolls - Audrey was 2 years and 9 months old while Natalie was only 8 months! Time surely flies! 

Paper Dolls seemed like an easy enough craft activity to do with my toddlers

Start by getting a piece of paper that you can fold into 4 equal parts and draw your dolls in pencil.
Remember to keep the arms intact and connected when you cut the shapes.

Here is what your dolls will look like after cutting :)

Prepare your markers or any coloring materials of choice

Start drawing out the details of the dolls' faces, dresses and shoes!
Then color!

The finished product!

With baby Nalie admiring the colorful dolls :)

8 month old Natalie staring at the camera :D


Mommy's idea source for this Arts & Crafts activity is The Little Hands Art Book (Little Hands!)


                                                            

Monday, July 13, 2015

Mothers Who Brunch

     Mothers Who Brunch was a caption moms Mish and Sabrina came up with (instead of Ladies Who Lunch) and used to call this gathering of mommas who love to cook (and eat!). It was held at the Viking showroom in Alabang (no not the buffet resto!) and it was the perfect venue with its spacious interiors which include a working kitchen that can be rented out and an upstairs showroom for their modern kitchen appliance setup. 

View from the top!

Introductions! ;)

Ready to cook the recipe of our choice (I chose the pancake team! :9)

An assortment of yummy dips for our veggies

Chopping walnuts for our pancakes

These cottage cheese-mango pancakes were heavenly!
They weren't just delicious, but oh so fluffy!
I already re-created these at home the following weekend :)

The Kangkong and Kesong Puti Quiche
This was sooo good as well!

Busy busy!

The refreshing Pakwan Salad with sweet pili nuts!

Pinoy Breakfast Salad a.k.a. Adobo flakes with kesong puti and salted eggs salad!

Tomato-chorizo stew!
I tell you, my plate was full!

Oh and this heavenly HOMEMADE Vanilla Bean ice cream by Sabrina is a winner!
It has Salted Caramel Sauce bits! :9 I couldn't forget the taste!! hehe!
I can honestly say that it's the best vanilla bean ice cream I've tasted!
Unfortunately it isn't for sale! waahh!!!

Eagerly awaiting our turn to get from the brunch buffet!
(I was ready to get up as soon as the go signal was given haha)

The giveaways from Viking and other suppliers

Our take home basket filled with organic veggies from Holy Carabao

With the ladies behind Mothers Who Brunch - Mish and Sabrina, and Patty my sis in law.

Visit Mish Aventajado's blog at www.mommanmanila.com and 
Sabrina Go's blog at www.sinfullysabrina.com

Friday, July 10, 2015

Mason Jar Terrarium

       
      Last summer, I had to come up with creative ideas to keep both girls busy at home. We did our short home school sessions together with arts and crafts and fun activities. A nice and simple one that I came across online was making your own mason jar terrarium - except I wanted it to be easy for kids to make and maintenance free. So instead of a live terrarium, we made a faux one! hehe! We used plastic plants, marble chips, and shells which the girls collected from the beach during our trips :) 


Here they are! Audrey's is the one on the left, and Natalie's is the one on the right.

      You can also make your own terrarium and place animal figures, miniature furniture and sand inside! These can also be displayed in your home as decor and can be your activity with the kids during days when the rain forces you to stay indoors! ;)

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Breastfeeding Your Newborn

   
One day old Natalie enjoying some cuddle time with mommy :)

     If you’re new to the world of breastfeeding – welcome to the club! It’s a place where hardship, struggle, pain, sacrifice, good health, reward, joy and happiness are all mixed up together in one bunch. If you’re not quite there yet but will be soon, then do read on to get some tips and tricks in time for the arrival of your baby.

    I still remember being a first time mom with Audrey. Breastfeeding was something I welcomed with open arms. In fact, in the operating room where I had a nerve wracking C-section experience, the only thing that calmed me down was the presence of my newborn infant who was handed to me to feed for the first time. I was groggy but I remember that time oh so clearly. My reward has arrived and instead of me giving her the warmth and reassurance of my presence and loving arms, it was she who put me at peace. I felt secure amidst the chaos of unwelcome anesthetics that was shot up through my spine, with a dose of more meds to put me to sleep during the procedure and the anxiety of not being able to breathe properly. But having my baby in my arms to breastfeed at that moment was just a wonderful feeling. And as soon as she had to go, I felt anxious again. I couldn’t wait to see and hold her once more.

     Hmm, that was a little bit dramatic huh? Hehe! Well, it’s just proof that the presence of your little one and her closeness will bring a calming and relaxing feeling to you, and there are studies that back this up. Breastfeeding releases the hormone oxytocin that not only promotes bonding but relaxes both mom and baby. So I highly recommend that you give this a try. And not just try, but persevere.

     My first day at breastfeeding was quite a good experience. The nurses at the hospital huggery were very helpful and able to teach me the proper feeding techniques. I happily obliged at their instructions and noted their tips. However, by the second day, I already experienced sore nipples and there was a bit of bleeding as well. This forced me to ask for some breastmilk from my sister who currently had a six month old baby, so I could take a break from time to time. My husband was instructed to cup feed Audrey and he did an awesome job. I also applied Lansinoh (lanolin cream) to my nipples religiously to help them heal and avoid cracks. Needless to say, I pressed on and continued breastfeeding even with all the hiccups along the way.


With newborn Audrey :)

Here are some tips that helped me during my first time at breastfeeding:

  1. Preparing for breastfeeding your newborn starts during pregnancy. By the 7th month, start applying lanolin cream on your nipples to avoid soreness and cracks. I did this and it was a big help even though I did have soreness in the first few days, but at least my nipples didn’t crack (ouch!). I also started drinking malunggay or moringa supplements to help with milk production on my 9th month. I continued to drink them until my milk was overflowing (and lessened, or sometimes stopped when there was just too much to avoid engorgement).
  1. Feed on demand. Feed your newborn infant on demand, even though it seems that you have no milk yet – the colostrum isn’t like regular breastmilk but it’s already there and ready for baby as soon as she comes out (try squeezing your nipple and you will see light yellowish thick liquid coming out). Feeding on demand will help establish the breastmilk which should come in within 3 days, or sometimes 4 if you had a C-section.
  1. Pay attention to your baby’s cues. Don’t wait until your baby’s crying and can be heard all the way across the hall. When she’s already crying like crazy, this means that she’s very very hungry. Feed her before this happens. Watch out for the rooting reflex (place your finger on the side of baby’s mouth and if she follows with an open mouth, she definitely wants to eat!). If baby is moving her head from side to side, as if looking for something (and momma’s not beside her), chances are she’s looking for the breast. When baby starts to put her hands in her mouth, this also means that it’s time to feed her already.
  1. Make sure baby’s latch is correct. When about to feed, baby’s mouth should be wide open, with tongue down and both lips turned out (think fish lips). Try to encourage her to open her mouth by offering the nipple and when she does, put the areola in (not just the tip of the nipple or you’ll get sore easily and baby can’t get enough milk). Feeding shouldn’t hurt but you should feel the suction or latch and see baby’s cheeks moving as she drinks. If it hurts or the latch feels wrong or there’s dimpling on baby’s cheeks (which shouldn’t be the case if latch is correct), just simply insert your small finger on the side of the baby’s mouth so the suction breaks, and start over.
  1. Don’t be shy with baby. Grab as much of the areola (the area around the nipple) as you can and toss it into baby’s mouth with fingers underneath and thumb pressing on top when you feed her. I learned this with the help of the hospital nurses where I gave birth. At first I was semi-shocked when the nurse demonstrated it (using my breast of course! :P) haha! I didn’t know I should grab my breast without hesitation and shove it inside Audrey’s mouth for a successful feeding experience! Haha! It really works!
  1. Be mindful of feeding times. You usually have to feed baby every 1.5-3 hrs, and in my case it was 2 – so be mindful of the time because this changes along the way (especially during growth spurts!). Keep a notebook to log in feeding times if you can and count the time when you began to feed and count from there (if you fed her at 9am, next feeding should be by 11am if you feed every 2 hrs).

This notebook given by a friend was so helpful when I was logging
Audrey's feeding times and other baby activities
 like sleeping, peeing and pooping! :D It allowed me to see if she 

was eating enough, peeing enough and pooping enough!

  1. Feed from both breasts. Make sure to feed from both breasts everytime baby eats. Spend at least 15-20 mins on each breast and start with the last breast you fed from during your next feeding. Log this in your notebook if you can – I did because as a first time mom lacking sleep, I would tend to forget.
  1. Nudge your baby if she sleeps during feeding. I can’t really blame newborn infants when they start drifting off to sleep only a couple of minutes after nuzzling on mama’s breast. After all, it’s the comfiest place to be after coming out of the tummy. But when baby hasn’t fed much, you need to encourage her to drink again by tickling her under her chin or jaw. This sort of wakes her up enough to remind her that her primary purpose at the breast is to feed (and not just fall asleep!).
  1. Entice your baby to feed if necessary. If baby is more interested in sleeping and finding comfort at your breasts than feeding, another “come on” for her is to make her smell the milk. Squeeze some of the colostrum out of the nipple and have baby smell it or taste it. This should give her an appetite and she’ll remember to drink!
  1.  Don’t forget to burp the baby. After feeding your baby from each breast, try to burp her – although sometimes they burp anyway when being moved around from one breast to another. But when feeding from both breasts are done, this is definitely something you should remember to do to prevent spit ups and relieve baby from any air she may have swallowed up while feeding. Otherwise, baby can get fussy because of gassiness.
  1.  Make sure breastfeeding positions are correct. The cradle hold, reverse cradle hold, football or clutch hold, and side lying position are ways to breastfeed your baby. Moms who have had a C-section may find it easiest to do the cradle hold or football hold while baby is on a nursing pillow to help support baby’s weight. With Audrey, I was breastfeeding sitting up practically for a whole month because of the wound. With Natalie, my second baby and delivered via VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean), breastfeeding was easier – I could do any of the above positions including the side lying position (my favorite actually, because I get to rest better while she feeds) with so much more ease. You can check out breastfeeding positions here
  1.  If you need to cup feed. New moms may end up with sore nipples whether from getting used to breastfeeding for the first time or possibly having baby latch on incorrectly. If so, sometimes cup feeding is recommended as this causes less nipple confusion than feeding from the bottle. This happened to me with Audrey and my husband was tasked to cup feed her because having someone else, other than mom, give her the cup will make her less confused as to why she can’t feed from the breast when mom is just in the same room. You can give about 2-15ml to your baby on the first day and you can increase to 20-30ml by the 2nd and 3rd day.
  1.  If there is some blood in your milk. This doesn’t sound so good, I know, but it happens, especially to first time moms. Sometimes blood comes out as you press the milk out or you can even notice this from your baby’s spit ups (brownish in color when mixed with breastmilk). However, don’t worry! This is actually quite harmless (as long as it’s not gushing out ok :o). This happened to me with Audrey and I asked my mommy friends if it’s ok to just feed her anyway and apparently it was. Eventually the bleeding stopped and Audrey was all good!
  1.  Do not use a breast pump for the first month. Avoid pumping your milk out until after a month which is when the milk flow should already be established. This is quite a difficult order but is helpful in the long run. Pumping sort of messes up your milk supply and may cause engorgement (this may be an option though if you decide to pump milk all the way and feed from the bottle instead of the breast, but trust me, you will want to feed baby directly if you can). What you can do to relieve yourself of excess milk, is to hand express. This can be done through massaging your breasts in a circular motion all throughout and pushing the milk out all the way up to the areola (not just the breast skin).
15. Make skin contact with baby often. Skin contact not only relaxes your baby and gives her warmth, it also encourages her to feed. She also sleeps better when she’s near mom and hears her heartbeat, just like in the womb. Hold her often and cuddle as much as you can – you will be glad you did! J


        For more breastfeeding tips, check out my post on Breastfeeding Challenges.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Mother's Information Sheet

       In connection with my previous post, here is a sample of the Mother's Information Sheet that I bring with me to the hospital to help speed up or assist in filling out forms once we arrive for baby's delivery.

Mother’s Information Sheet

Name of Mother:  _________________________________
Age / Birthdate: __________________________________                                  
Blood Type & Rh Factor: __________________________
Name of Father: __________________________________
Age / Birthdate:  __________________________________                                         
Blood Type & Rh Factor:  __________________________
Last Menstrual Period or LMP:  ______________________   
Date/Year of First Menstrual Period: ______________________ (yes, they actually 
asked me this question while I was in labor pains!)      
Expected Date of Delivery or EDD:  ___________________
Age of Gestation AOG: ___________________ (No. of weeks upon admittance)
Gravida (G): ___________________ (No. of pregnancies)
Parity (P)    : ___________________ (No. of births > 20 weeks)

Medical Insurance: ________________________________
Attending Obstetrician: _____________________________
Attending Pediatrician:  _____________________________      

Medical History:

Allergies: _________________________________________     
Illness: ___________________________________________
Pregnancy Tests Done: (Examples below)
-         Oral Glucose Tolerance Test
-         CBC – Complete Blood Count
-         Urinalysis
-         Ultrasound
-         Group B Strep
Any Complications during this Pregnancy? (Examples below)
-         Spotting at 6 weeks, given Duphaston 2x a day
-         Premature Contractions and Slight Bleeding due to tiredness 
      at 34 weeks, given Duvadilan 3x a day for 1 week
Do you smoke or drink alcohol?  _______________________
Supplementary Vitamins Taken:  _______________________
Family Medical History: (Examples)
            -     Asthma
            -     Diabetes

As you Reach the Hospital Delivery Room:

How are your contractions? ____________________________
Any pink/bloody discharge? ____________________________
Any rupture of bag? ___________________________________
When was your last food intake or meal? __________________


BABY’S NAME:   ______________________________________ :) 


Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Preparing Your Hospital Bag

     Pregnant and giving birth anytime soon? My sister in law just currently asked me what to pack in her hospital bag and I just realized that I have posts about labor, childbirth and pregnancy, but totally forgot to include this list! Now here it is ;)
    
    What to pack in Your Hospital Bag:

   1. Birth Plan - Don't forget this! A birth plan is discussed with your doctor prior to the actual birth but it also serves as a guide for the nurses and doctors on call at the time you arrive in the hospital. And if you are in pain due to labor, there will be no more time for talking and explaining so this is the best way for you to communicate your preferences for the birth.
   Check out my post about how to make your own birth plan.

   2. Doctor's Request Form - Your doctor will give you a Doctor's Request Form in one of your final checkups so do put it together with your Birth Plan.

   3. Mother's Info Sheet with Baby's Name - It's a good idea to prepare an Information Sheet about yourself prior to the birth to make it easy for you or your husband to fill out hospital information forms. It will serve as your guide in case you forget some information related to your pregnancy which the nurses will ask, and at least your husband won't be clueless either if this task is suddenly left to him. I also suggest that you put your Baby's Name at the end of this information sheet so that if your husband fills out the info about your newborn baby, he won't be making any spelling mistakes! 
    Here is a sample Mother's Information Sheet that you can use as your guide.

   4. Labor Notes and Notebook - Since I was aiming for a natural childbirth in my last pregnancy, I prepared a very detailed guide to labor and childbirth which became very useful during the early stages of labor. I included it in this list in case your husband will be taking on the role of your childbirth coach, as mine did. My notes were in outline form and typed on index cards which I placed in a photo album together with photos of Audrey and our family so my husband could show me every time labor was getting more and more difficult. 
     Do bring an extra notebook for jotting down your breastfeeding schedule when baby comes. This will be very helpful in tracking feeding times and answering your pediatrician's questions about the baby when she visits.

   5. Face Towel - If you know you will be doing some hard work during labor, do bring a face towel. I know I used mine quite often - labor wasn't a walk in the park, it felt more like a marathon!

   6. Music - If music relaxes you, do prepare a playlist of songs on your phone or any device that plays music. It can help you relax while in labor.

   7. Snacks - This is mainly for your husband haha! Depending on where you are in labor when you arrive at the hospital, you need to think about how Daddy will eat as well. Labor could take a few hours to several hours so it's good to make sure your husband isn't going hungry because you will want him to have enough energy to assist you and take care of your baby when he or she arrives.

   8. Massager or Tennis Ball - Labor is usually hard on your back so it's a good idea to bring a massager or used (but clean!) tennis ball (it's softer). This will help alleviate the pain and stress on your back while you are undergoing labor.

   9. Maternity Napkins - Usually the hospital provides (and charges you for these) but it's always a good idea to bring your own maternity napkins - even just one pack as backup.
       
  10. Toiletries, Toothbrush, Toothpaste - If you want to bathe in familiar scents, do bring your own shampoo, conditioner and body wash. Don't forget your toothbrush and toothpaste too! You want your breath to smell fresh for baby! ;P 

   11. Nursing Cover - Although hospitals usually provide a nursing gown, it's still good to bring your own nursing cover especially when you need to feed baby while you have visitors.

   12. Comfy Clothes - Make sure to pack comfy and nursing friendly clothes in your bag. You can use them for photo ops, a special dinner with your hubby (like what Asian Hospital offers parents of newborns) and for going home.
    Check out some breastfeeding fashion ideas here.

   13. Undies - This should be a no-brainer! Please don't forget to pack underwear! And pack more than usual just in case! :D

   14. Nursing Bra - Please be ready with your nursing bra at least a month before full term (as your breast size will be as is when you give birth). Don't forget to pack a few to match your comfy clothes (i.e. bandeaus for strapless dresses and strapped ones for shirts).

   15. Nursing Pads - With nursing bras must come nursing pads! Whether you prefer disposables or reusables, just make sure you pack them in your bag too. Leaks aren't cool! :o

   16. Nipple Cream - New moms will need all the help they can get with breastfeeding, and based on experience, lanolin nipple creams are a must. It's hard to get sore on the first few days of feeding your newborn (or ever that is!) so you want those nipples to be protected.

   17. Slippers - You'll want to be comfy while walking around your hospital room and bathroom so bring slippers!

   18. Soft pillow or cushion - Moms who give birth vaginally and have had episiotomies may find it difficult to sit on hard chairs. This isn't a necessity though but it can help you feel more comfy. 


    Now onto my favorite part... baby's bag! :)

    What to Pack in Your Babys' Bag:

   1. Baby's clothes (Sigh!! I love this part the most :) ) - I pack around 2 sets of outfits for my baby - A special going home outfit and a backup (which apparently was useful the last time because we had a free photo shoot care of the hospital) ;)  Outfits can include onesies, pants, and overalls with beanie and socks.

   2. Baby blankets - I also pack at least two baby blankets for swaddling! Nowadays though rooming in your baby right away is required so you might want to bring more than two even if the hospital provides some.

   3. Newborn diapers - The hospital usually provides these but you can bring a few extras in case, since newborns use up a whole lot of diapers per day

   4. Cloth diapers or Lampin - You can bring cloth diapers so when you are carrying or feeding, you're protected from spit ups and can easily wipe baby.
   
    Among the other items that hospitals provide are baby wash, cotton balls, and alcohol so you won't have to bring those.


    Other Reminders:

    1. Don't forget to install your Rear-Facing Infant Car Seat already. We used this baby head support pillow Diono 2-in-1 Head Support, Grey and we love it because when baby grows, you can take out the smaller head support and leave the bigger one.

    2. Get baby's crib or co-sleeper ready so it's all set when he or she gets home.


   3. Get your sterilizer ready and prepare all your breastfeeding storage cups. These Avent Via Breast Milk Storage Kit 1 kit storage cups were very helpful in my first few days as a breastfeeding mom because I would hand express my excess milk into them and store them in the freezer for future use. None of my precious milk goes to waste! haha! I use these cups because it's so hard to hand express milk into plastic storage bags. Also remember not to pump milk until after the first month so as not to get engorged.
        You can check out my Breastfeeding Essentials and Tips here as well :)


Sunday, June 21, 2015

Father's Day







My daughters are blessed because you are their Dad.
Happy Father's Day!