Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Baguio

     This year, my husband suggested that we go on trips within the Philippines. Especially to places that we haven't been to in years. Although traveling outside the country excites me, this proposition seemed like a good idea. Anyway it's the company that makes traveling more fun than anything :)

      Our first stop was the city of Baguio last January. I haven't been to the Philippines' summer capital in 20 years! Yes, you read that right - twenty! It's been that looong. Our friends were going and it would be a fun experience for the kids - plus January weather in Baguio is chilly! Time to take out our cold weather clothes (that have already been gathering dust I think haha!). 

       I didn't take photos of the standard tourist spots in Baguio though (our childhood albums have all that - the lion, Burnham Park, Mines View Park... to name a few). This trip was intended to be a more relaxed, anything goes kind of trip - as opposed to one with a very busy schedule! And we wanted it to be that way for a change.

Azalea Residences

       We booked a 2-bedroom unit at the Azalea Residences complete with a living area and kitchen where you're allowed to cook! It was the perfect venue for us and our friends because we all brought our kids and our caterer friends were with us (woohoo! you can imagine our very yummy menu!). I would definitely recommend this place for families or big groups who want to avoid the crowded restaurants and don't mind cooking (and believe me, we've heard stories about the long wait in restos all over the city during peak season).

        We were all so happy with our spacious units and the service provided by the hotel. The kids also loved playing in the playground right outside. Azalea Residences' location is near Teacher's Camp and a lot of places of interest. It's only the slow traffic that makes it seem farther than it is - and yes, the traffic within the city kind of surprised me! I can't believe there are so many cars in Baguio nowadays, and tourists like us who want to get away from it all add to it too (that's why staying indoors most of the time isn't such a bad idea!).




Audrey and Natalie in the playground!
(and in their beanies hehe! It was really cold when we went)

       Unfortunately, I didn't get to take a photo of the interiors of our unit because as soon as we got to Baguio, I got sick! Good thing our doctor friend was with us (I was saved! whew!). I drank my meds, stayed in bed the whole afternoon till evening, ate some comfort food prepared by our friends, and slept. The next day I was back in good shape and ready to go out. 

       Another thing we loved about this hotel was the breakfast! They had a really good selection of Filipino breakfast dishes and the best longganisa! (I am personally not much of a longganisa fan but the one they served at the buffet was pretty good!). And even though there were quite a lot of people checked in when we were there (long weekend!), they were able to handle the influx of several people quite well. 

        The first activity of the day (after our arrival) was strawberry picking! We all looked forward to this because of our kids and it was a really fun experience. It would have been better if we came earlier (there would have been more strawberries to pick haha!), but we had a fair share of the strawberries from the field and everyone was happy. There were fresh salad greens that we were also able to buy from here for such a low price! I ended up getting two bags!

The Strawberry Fields at La Trinidad



Natalie really enjoyed picking strawberries! She even insisted on cutting the
stems herself and placing each fruit in her basket :)

Audrey loved picking strawberries too ;)

This one insisted on wearing Mommy's scarf ;)

Hot chocolate nightcap with the gang!

Fresh veggies at the La Trinidad Trading Post!
I really enjoyed shopping here haha! The vegetables were
fresh, crisp and most of all very cheap!!! 

At Camp John Hay

Our photographer

This is Audrey's shot ;)

Having a snack!


Time for mini golf lessons with Dad!


Finished up with mini golf before heading home

Check out the heart-shaped strawberry that I found! :)


Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Tips for Expecting Moms: What to Remember During Pregnancy


What to Remember When Pregnant


1. Be mindful of your body's signs - If you feel tired, rest. If you feel hungry, eat. If you feel sleepy, please sleep! You need to take care of your body so it can take care of your baby.  

2. Don't overdo things - Always gauge your energy level. Don't assume that because you did certain things before pregnancy that were easy enough for you, that it would be the same now that you're expecting. I had the unpleasant discovery in my first pregnancy that even though I was exercising enough beforehand, climbing up several flights of stairs can take its toll on my pregnant body. I felt ok and not so tired at the time but come that night, I had some spotting and was admitted to the hospital overnight. I ended up being on bedrest for the next two weeks! So much for continuing my usual activities. And although not all women will experience this, it's always good to set limits for yourself. Don't overwork, over schedule or get overly tired.

3. Moisturize - Whether you seem more prone to stretch marks (through genetics) or not, it's always a good idea to keep your skin moisturized well during pregnancy. You can start applying lotions or oils with natural and safe ingredients early on so that when your tummy expands, your skin is ready. My personal favorites are Coconut Oil and Clarins Tonic Oil. So far they've worked pretty well :)

4. Take Calcium - Pregnancy can deplete calcium stores in women like no other event in our lives! Calcium is the building block for our baby's bones and teeth so we need to have enough of it available in our bodies. If we lack calcium, chances are we are going to pay for it after giving birth. A trip to the dentist will confirm this :S

5. Hydrate often - Always remember to drink lots of water! It keeps you hydrated and helps prevent urinary tract infection which is common in pregnant women. The growing uterus pushes the bladder and in turn makes the urethra susceptible to bacteria. Water is also essential in maintaining the level of amniotic fluid in your tummy so drink up ;)

6. Watch your sugar - I know, I know - bummer right? Sweets are always a treat but when you're pregnant (and even if you're not), too much sugar just isn't good. It's ok to have some sweet stuff from time to time to satisfy your craving, but it is wise to keep away from too much sugar to avoid unnecessary weight gain and possible gestational diabetes. This can happen to you even if your family has no history of diabetes so it's best to be modest about your sugar intake.

7. Exercise (if your ob-gyn approves it) - It's always a good idea to have enough exercise to stay healthy, and hopefully pregnancy will encourage you to stay fit for your body's sake! If your doctor allows you to exercise, by all means do so! It will be good for your back (which will be carrying extra weight once your tummy grows bigger than ever) and will give you energy. It will also help prepare your body for the work due on delivery day!

8. Always consult your doctor before taking any meds - Whether it's for a headache, an allergy, or something major, you'll want to make sure that whatever medications you will be taking are safe for your baby.

9. Get some sleep - This one is easy during the first trimester (at least for me!), and for the second it's pretty good too (just remember to sleep on your left side from your fifth month onwards though). But for the third trimester it can get quite tricky. The discomfort of having a bigger tummy and more trips to the bathroom causes a pregnant mommy to wake up every so often. They say it's preparation for the coming baby who will require parents to get up every few hours! Well, that's why now's a good time as any to get some sleep before those sleepless nights come.

10. Eat wisely - Besides choosing to eat healthy, a good way to avoid another pregnancy hiccup known as heartburn is to avoid spicy or acidic foods. Also try to eat small servings often as opposed to eating a lot during every major meal. 


What To Do When These Things Happen


1. Spotting - Whether brown or bright red, little or a lot, always call your doctor. Better safe than sorry. I actually had spotting incidents with both Audrey and Natalie in the beginning of each pregnancy, and because I consulted my doctors right away, I was able to get the proper care.

2. Nausea and Vomiting - Eat small meals frequently to battle nausea. Having an empty stomach triggers dizziness so if you can keep snacks like crackers near you, you can always munch on them even at night or upon waking up. I found that eating fruits really helped me during the first trimester for both pregnancies and my personal favorite was mangosteen - a fruit that's sweet and sour at the same time ;) Also try to avoid nausea triggers like strong odors, whether from perfumes or from food. I couldn't stand the smell of certain foods during my first trimester because they made me want to vomit (ugh!) so I tried to steer clear of the kitchen whenever I felt that the smell of food was making me queasy. Unfortunately though, I had some vomiting episodes especially with Audrey and when this happens to you, try to re-hydrate - but not until at least an hour after throwing up or you'll just vomit again.

3. Cramping Sensation - If you feel even the least bit of cramping in your stomach, tell your doctor right away. It usually isn't a sign of something good in the first trimester but in the succeeding trimesters, it might be premature contractions which require that you rest and take it easy.

4. Pain anywhere in the tummy - If there is any kind of pain in your tummy, again, tell your doctor about it and have it checked if necessary. I remember having a quick and intermittent sharp pain on my lower abdomen during my second trimester with Audrey. I was asked by my doc to go to the hospital as soon as possible for a lab test which showed that I had a urinary tract infection. I had to take antibiotics and I loaded up on water and my fave - buko juice! I was good and clear by the time I had to do another urinalysis. 

5. Back Pains - Back aches and pains are quite common during pregnancy especially during the third trimester. I experienced more severe back pain with my second pregnancy since my pelvic bones have already been stretched before and seemed more "loose". It's a good thing I was allowed to exercise and I chose Pilates to help strengthen my back and stay flexible. Another surprising solution to my lower back pain was getting Fitflops! (Check it out here: FitFlop Women's Lunetta Thong Sandal,Black,6 M US) My friends have sworn on them and said that they are super comfy especially when you're pregnant. I never purchased a pair because I found them too pricey - but with the back pains that were constantly ailing me, I finally decided to get them when I chanced upon a sale. Lo and behold, they actually work!!! I guess they absorb all that extra weight so it becomes easier on your back. Now I swear by them too haha! 


What to Avoid


1. Hair Color - If you're pregnant and want a new look, just opt for a new cut rather than coloring. Although studies haven't proven a hundred percent that hair color harms a fetus, it is still better to be safe than sorry. The chemicals in hair colorants are unnatural after all. If you must color though, please do so only when you're already in your second trimester and choose a brand with organic ingredients.

2. Teeth Whitening - Since there isn't enough research to back up the safety of teeth whitening while expecting, it's best to avoid it. The chemical contents that whiten teeth might not be safe for a growing baby so this procedure will have to wait even until after breastfeeding is done.

3. Products with these ingredients - Avoid products containing retinol, parabens, phtalates, hydroquinone (a skin lightening ingredient) and beta hydroxy acids. Opt for organic or products with natural ingredients.

4. Wearing high heels for long periods of time - Unless you're ok with having back pains and varicose veins, then by all means wear high heels all day hehe. But trust me, they are very uncomfy especially with a bulging tummy. Wedge sandals are a better option, but don't wear them all day either.

5. Raw foods and salads, deli meats, soft cheeses, certain fish - If you love sushi, it'll have to take a backseat when you're pregnant. Raw seafoods are just too risky to eat when you have a growing baby in your tummy. You never know when harmful bacteria might be present in them. Same goes for raw salads, processed meats (which pose a risk of getting listeriosis), certain types of cheese (such as brie and blue cheese) and fish that are high in mercury like mackerel, swordfish and tuna - better to avoid these rather than risk getting sick and affecting your health and the health of the baby.

6. Caffeine and Herbal Teas - I like drinking coffee almost everyday, but when I'm expecting, I try to avoid it as much as possible (and no, I'm not expecting at the time of this writing hehe). Some doctors allow drinking coffee once in a while, but remember, coffee makes your stomach acidic too so if you drink some it'll contribute to heartburn! Herbal teas are also not recommended at this time so just to be safe, avoid it.

    Although not on my numbered list (because I consider it a no-brainer) - alcohol, smoking, drugs and the like should obviously be avoided if you want what's best for you and your baby.

       I know there are a lot more that should have been included in this list but I just focused on the major ones - at least for me. You can always consult books or check online for more info ;)


Sources:
www.fitpregnancy.com
www.babycenter.com
www.foodauthority.nsw.gov.au

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Signs of Pregnancy

     Pregnant already? Or still uncertain? Before we get to the nitty gritty of pregnancy checklists, how can you tell if you actually are expecting? 

Signs of Pregnancy

1. Missed period - This is the most obvious, especially if you have a regular monthly cycle. A pregnancy test more often than not will confirm your suspicions. And when you get a positive result, you can pay your ob-gyne a visit just to validate your discovery.

2. Fatigue and sleepiness - This one's my telltale sign. I am not a sleepyhead by nature (hehe!) so when I end up napping in the middle of the day because I feel so fatigued and tired, it gets me thinking. With Audrey I thought I was just coming down with something, and with my period being only a few days late, I didn't really suspect anything at the time. But with Natalie, it happened to me again and I got suspicious that time around haha.

3. Implantation bleeding - When you think you're getting your period but only see drops or it suddenly stops (and you know something happened a few weeks ago), then it's possible that you are experiencing implantation bleeding. I had this with Natalie - I thought that I had my monthly period because it happened the week I was expecting it, but it was very weak and stopped a day after. I asked my doctor friend about it and with all the other symptoms I had, plus sudden bright red bleeding a couple of days later (which isn't exactly a good thing), I definitely had to go to the doc for a checkup.

4. Nausea - Some women don't experience nausea until their 6th week (like in my case and in most pregnant moms). But there are a few who actually start feeling dizzy early enough into the pregnancy.

5. Sensitivity to odors - As if nausea wasn't bad enough in itself, you now have to deal with sensitivity to odors which could contribute to feeling nauseous as well. Whether that smell is good, bad or has to do with food, our noses are working overtime when pregnant. 

6. Feeling bloated and sensitive - As with getting your monthly period, pregnancy can make your breasts feel extra sensitive. This sign though should only be considered together with most of the above, because it could also happen right before you get your period ;)

7. More frequent trips to the bathroom - Since the kidneys are working overtime during pregnancy, expecting moms will feel the need to pee more often than usual! Args! What a hassle right? This is one of the signs that I don't really look forward to (besides nausea) haha. And when your tummy gets bigger, the uterus puts more pressure on your bladder and yes, causing even more trips to the bathroom even in the middle of the night.

    A combination of these signs, especially with item no. 1 almost assures you that you are expecting. But it's always best to see your doctor just to confirm the pregnancy 100% :)

Monday, March 9, 2015

Go With the Flow

     For the last couple of months, I've been caught up with work - specifically with one of my favorite projects which left me hardly any time for other things that I used to be able to squeeze into my already crazy day. I must say though, this is one project that I don't mind getting busy with. And you'll see why in the photos below ;)

      Let me tell you a little something about this project first:


This is a perspective of my design for Flowhouse Manila. It is the first installment of this franchise from the US, here in our country. It is located within Seasons Mall, along Molino Blvd in Cavite which is a 20-30 minute drive 
from the Alabang area via Daang Hari Road. The Flowrider has been operational since December, which is when 
the photos below were taken. We are currently in the finishing stages of the whole Flowhouse site and will be 
having the grand launch on March 28, 2015. It will be open to the public by April 1. So close already! 

The Flowrider

Flowboards!

Riding the Waves!
You can flowboard or body board in the Flowrider. Either way it's fun!!!

The Cute Spectators!
We brought the whole family and kiddos along! Even though the site itself was barely
finished (and I mean with bare concrete as of this time haha), we all had fun!
The grownups rode the waves while the kids played and hung out. 
    
     Here are some videos that we took while I was bodyboarding and while my husband was flowboarding and looking cool while doing it (thanks to my slo-mo video haha!). ;)


video
video


    So if you're a board sports enthusiast, or are just willing to give flowboarding a try - you might just want to drop by Flowhouse Manila as soon as it opens this summer. Riding the waves can get pretty addicting! :)

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Fun Memories

   It's been a while... I've definitely missed posting on this blog. I'm still working on a couple of posts, but in the meantime I just wanted to share family photos which we took last December. And yes, I'm a sucker for pictures! :D I love looking back at my family and kids' photos - and I keep getting amazed at how much we've all grown (or not haha... always hoping that the remaining baby weight on me won't be here to stay forever). 
    Our photographer for this session was Bea Marquez together with Kaki Tingzon, both wonderful women who the girls loved working with. And special mention goes to Bea's two younger sisters Anna and Andrea, who were so game at helping and whom Audrey and Natalie loved playing with! :) An all girls' team was responsible for these lovely photos! Hope you love them as much as we do ;)








I was so happy to see this photo with Natalie smiling and keeping still! :D


Sneaking behind Audrey!



A tight squeeze for daddy!

We actually took these family photos mainly for our Christmas e-greetings - I painted this Merry Christmas
sign that morning only because I forgot about it :o Talk about cramming!!!
Good thing the paint dried up in time and didn't get ruined in transit hehe!



A couple shot while the kids were busy playing in the playground! ;)

Friday, February 20, 2015

I'm Still Here


   It's been so long since I wrote here. I've actually missed writing and  somehow I am convinced that there's been some sort of a void in my life since. There's been an unexpected empty spot that can only be filled by jotting down my thoughts and putting together words that become cohesive sentences. It's my way of de-stressing. Maybe that's why I've been thinking about when I could write again. And to think I have drafts and drafts of unfinished entries. Ugh. Why didn't I just finish them? Sometimes I just want everything to be perfect by my standards, if not almost perfect. And that takes time. And if I'm not inspired, I don't write. And when I'm doing too many things, I can't write. 
    Life can get so busy that there's not enough hours in my day to accommodate everything that I want to do. I've to give up some to give way to others. I've been so caught up with the usual things and people that I love! (A good thing if you ask me!) But I've also been focusing on a project that needed a lot of attention.  Soon though I can let up and relax. I can finally go back to the blogging grind and hopefully help some of you somehow (with mommy stuff or whatever stuff ;) ) So until then, I hope you can come back from time to time. Because I'll just be here. I still am. 

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Preparing for Pregnancy

     So... who wants to be a Mama??? :D I know a whole lot of women who do! (and a very very small part of the population who don't - or don't anymore because they already have three bundles of joy and that is enough for their lifetime haha!). 
    But going back to those that do... we moms all know motherhood is no walk in the park. And it all starts with pregnancy. There are some of us who have it pretty easy - with barely there nausea (or none at all), no complications and hardly any back pain. But there are some of us (probably most of us) that experience what they call "morning sickness" which actually translates to "all day sickness", nausea, vomiting, back pains, heartburn, etc. All in the name of the precious little one that we've prayed for in our hearts! So we endure it all with blissful expectation until we see our prize! :)

     If you're planning a pregnancy, the following tips below might prove to be helpful to you (and I sure hope they will be!). And I wish you a wonderful journey into motherhood because it sure is an extra special experience that you won't forget ;)

Before Getting Pregnant

    Good preparation always yields good results. And this is true for pregnancy as well. A lot of things can change about our bodies during pregnancy, and it would be wise to get ready beforehand because you never know how it's going to be for you.
  
1. Eat Healthy - Although this advice has been tossed to everyone a gazillion million times whether pregnant or not, it's always good advice. I cannot stress how good eating habits before pregnancy helps a mom-to-be. Eating nutritious foods helps a mom stock up on the good and important stuff needed to nourish a baby in her tummy. We can take all the iron, calcium or folic acid supplements that we want but our body still absorbs these nutrients better through food intake. So go get those dark leafy vegetables, fruits and good quality meats (preferably grass-fed and organic!) into your system so you can have enough vitamins and minerals stored up especially during the first trimester where most of us barely have an appetite and some of us just want to throw up.

2. Exercise - Not enough time for exercise? Wait till your baby comes out!! haha! Then you'll have an even harder time to fit in this very important activity into your schedule (or you'll have to stretch out your creative muscles to do so - i.e. Use your baby as weights hehe). Preparing our bodies to carry the extra weight, have the stamina for childbirth and go back to pre-pregnancy form usually depends on how fit we were before the pregnancy. 

    Although I have to admit, my first pregnancy caught me off guard. I was exercising about 3-4x a week before getting pregnant with Audrey but was placed on bedrest for weeks due to spotting and premature contractions during my first and last trimester. And I wasn't really able to exercise much during my first pregnancy except for a bit in the second trimester and during full term. Nevertheless, I believe that all of the exercising I did years before pregnancy helped me endure labor prior to childbirth (I labored for 33 hours before ending up with a C-section) and helped me get back into shape without as much effort. (But let me tell you, a second baby will change the whole ball game haha! Especially if the gap is a bit close! So exercising to tone up again is definitely a good idea).

3. Consult your doctor - It's always wise to consult a professional before undertaking a major project. And in this case, the project is your baby and your pregnancy. Really major if you ask me! First and foremost, it's best to have yourself checked to see how your reproductive health is doing. 

     I remember having this checkup done weeks before my wedding, just to make sure I am healthy and have no underlying health issues, particularly in the reproductive department. And a couple of months before finally planning for a baby, I also had MMR shots which my doctor friends and own practitioner recommended to protect me from getting measles, mumps and rubella (German measles) during pregnancy. If you get rubella especially during your first trimester, there is a high chance for the fetus to have defects - and I didn't want to risk it, and you shouldn't either. I first had to do an immunity screening for rubella to see if the antibodies were still present from childhood vaccines - but my test showed I was negative so I went ahead and got the shot. Just note that you can't get pregnant until after 3 months from getting the vaccine so this definitely needs to be planned.
     Your doctor will also most likely recommend you to take folic acid supplements, which I also did but again, healthy eating is still the best way to go. 

4. Give up bad habits - This sounds like a tough order - and it is. If you are a smoker and/or drink alcohol, now is the best time to quit. We all know the ill effects of these habits on an unborn child so it's best to start focusing on healthier alternatives. And for us coffee drinkers (yup that's me), this is also a time to re-evaluate your caffeine intake. Too much of anything isn't good, especially during pregnancy. I personally had to give up coffee during pregnancy and it is possible! hehe.

5. See your dentist - Good oral hygiene leads to good health. A lot of diseases actually stem from unhealthy teeth and gum conditions, so it's wise to deal with any of these issues before pregnancy. Some oral procedures can't even be done while pregnant so it's best to be prepared beforehand and do any necessary treatments to ensure that your teeth and gums are healthy. Just imagine, anything you swallow goes inside your body, so if there's disease-causing bacteria in your mouth, it will have easy access to you and your baby.


    And in case you're already on the way and expecting your little one, I also have a post just for that ;) Coming soon!