Sunday, October 19, 2014

Gold Coast Video

      It's been a year since we went on a family trip to the Gold Coast in Australia. How I wish I was there again - the weather at this time of year is just perfect. I also just realized that I haven't posted our video here yet! (After a series of posts full of photos of the Gold Coast a couple of months back). 
      This mini movie was made by my brother in law, Patrick and it makes for good memories. Hooray for pictures AND videos! :)
     Check out our cameo - with Audrey and Natalie in supporting roles hehehehe! :D And don't forget to bask in the beauty and fun of being in the Gold Coast as you will see here ;) 


video


Friday, October 10, 2014

House Visit

     As an architect by profession, the completion of my projects always brings joy and fulfillment. And being able to visit these projects, especially the residential ones after they are done and being lived in is part of the fun! 
     I usually take photos of my projects for my portfolio so when I asked my client if it is ok to go one afternoon with the girls, we took the opportunity. It was a beautiful and sunny day so the  lighting was perfect. It was also the day before Audrey's birthday then. 
       
We used earth tones for this contemporary house.
As you can see, my girls loved it and felt right at home :) 

(The whole photo of the exterior isn't posted here to protect my client's privacy ;) )

My client wanted to have just enough space for the living and dining (which spills
over to the lanai through sliding doors), but a generous area for the black and white themed kitchen.

My client was a natural at decorating her home. She chose all of these furniture
and accessories to complete the look that we were going for. 

The high ceiling by the living area and stairs makes the house look
bigger than it is. This is a feature that I usually put in most of my
residential projects.

This house was featured in Real Living Magazine a couple of months ago :)

Sunday, October 5, 2014

To Try or To Wait

      Because I had my first child a couple of years (4 to be exact) after getting married, I would from time to time be asked if we had actually planned it that way or if we had trouble conceiving. It's probably because: 

    a) Most people here expect you to start a family right after getting married, so if you 
        don't, they assume something must be wrong
    b) It is common for couples nowadays to be faced with difficulty conceiving like never 
        before

     For us, the answer was: We really decided to wait. And I'm glad that despite waiting on purpose for quite some time, we were blessed with Audrey a few months after trying (and with Natalie without really planning hehe).
      My husband and I basically wanted to enjoy the honeymoon stage and travel to many different places before the kids came. We agreed that we will start trying when we are both ready. It's a good thing our timelines are in sync.
     And if you're a newlywed couple, you are probably asking yourselves if you should already try getting pregnant or if you should wait. 
     Making a decision to try or to wait is a crucial one. For me, the number one factor in deciding whether to have children or wait a while is this: Your Reproductive Health
     A few years ago I would have said: Whenever You Are Both Ready. Because that was our deciding factor and it worked fine. 
     But you might be wondering about the change of heart. Well, because of so many factors affecting conception nowadays, it is important for us to make sure that we are completely healthy before we decide on holding off on starting a family. I have friends who have missed this opportunity because of health issues that appeared unexpectedly. And some that are still trying after many years.
     While it is great to enjoy the honeymoon stage or traveling around the world, the joy of having children is a wonderful and extra special experience as well, and quite like no other - as we have witnessed ourselves. Of course there are other important factors to consider like finances, but this is not quite as crucial as health. You can always find ways to save and budget your money if you choose to start a family, (and this should ideally be part of what you prepare for before getting married) but good health is essential for a couple to bear children and cannot be taken for granted. There may be other unavoidable factors keeping you from having children at the moment, but this reminder is mainly for those who can start a family with nothing holding them back except uncertainty.

     If you are a woman, just remember that time and age can be your friend or foe. We all know that we have a biological clock and we won't know how easy or hard it is to conceive unless we try. So besides having optimum reproductive health, we also have to consider our age.
     So if you aren't sure of how you'll do, my advice is - just don't wait too long. You can put most things on hold for a while, but having children is only good until a certain age - how I wish that there was no deadline for us, women but it was just how we were designed. Unfortunately, if we miss that moment in time there's no more turning back. 
     So if you are married and have this opportunity, please take hold of it. Children are a blessing, not a burden!


Saturday, October 4, 2014

My Most Important Work




         When I saw this quote online, I couldn't help but smile (and feel relieved). Here I am feeling a bit guilty for not being able to work more, blog more, clean my house more... all because I spend more time with my kids. We play, we read books (lots and lots!), we even do laundry together (they're my hardworking assistants hehe, they love sorting and putting clothes in the washing machine!), and all this coupled with the "everyday essentials" of bathing, feeding and bringing to and picking up from school. The list never ends and it gets repeated every day. 
       I'm glad to be reminded that my children are indeed my MOST IMPORTANT work. The investment I make in their lives by spending time with them and showing how much they matter will go much farther and have greater rewards than any gift I can give or living in the cleanest house there is (which will get dirty and messy again by the way! and no, this is not an excuse, it's true! hahaha!) :D
       So if you ever get to read this in the future, my dear Audrey and Natalie, you should know that you are the best work assignment and project I've ever had! Nothing beats my job as your mom ;) 
       

Monday, September 22, 2014

Blind to the Mess


      Without a helper for about 7 days now, I had an epiphany- I didn't realize I've become such a pack rat.
      I also didn't realize that mess and disorder was staring me in the face and I hadn't really noticed. I just got numb to it due to the busyness of my life.
     Whatever happened to the clean and orderly household that I used to have after we renovated and before Audrey came?
      And no, I'm not gonna blame the chaotic state of my house to my kids. Keeping it orderly is ultimately my job (I was merely wondering haha!). They may contribute to the mess but I need to see to it that no matter how messed up it gets, I make sure that it gets cleaned up whether by having them pack away, telling the housekeeper to clean up what they can't or putting them away myself. And as for the piles of things that slowly sneak up on me? Well it's time to get rid of what is no longer needed.
       I just can't believe that I allowed us to accumulate so much stuff. I have clothes from a decade ago still hanging in my closet. And just because it fits again doesn't mean I should keep it- I tend to buy more classic than trendy clothes so you wouldn't really notice they've been around for a while. But I ask myself, why do I keep it anyway when I do buy new ones from time to time? Yes. Let. It. Go.
      My husband says my sentimental nature is getting in the way of disposing stuff effectively. Ugh, I hate to admit it but it's true. It's time for me to sort things out and keep only what is necessary, valuable, and useful. And anything I haven't used for a year needs to go.
      So my goal for the next couple of weeks is to dispose of things I no longer need and give away what others might find useful. I need to make more space in my home. Most importantly, I need to show my girls the proper way to maintain a home. I want them to uphold good standards when managing a household and know first hand how to keep it clean and orderly. I don't want them to be pack rats and accumulate things that will only gather dust. I also want them to know when to give away things that they no longer need to someone who might have a need for it.
    This whole realization has made me aware of what I need to change and to pay attention to. I just can't be complacent about it. After all, an orderly home is a relaxing home. I bet you're thinking, "Wow her house must be so messy!" Haha! Well it is- in certain areas like my workstation, the storage room (where we can't seem to store anymore stuff in), part of our lanai, part of our bedroom. And yes, mostly just parts. But these parts make up a whole. And when it isn't orderly, the whole space appears messy. So it needs to be put in order.
       I hope I can fix it all and soon. I know it is quite a challenge but I know that if I do it one day at a time, one step at a time, clean up one shelf at a time, then I will eventually meet my goal. I can't wait to have more space and have a neater household again. And I hope I will never again get numb or blind to the mess around me. I want my eyes to see what it needs to see, whether busy or not busy.


Monday, September 15, 2014

Why Use Car Seats?


     If you’ve got young kids and Senior Citizen parents, I am pretty sure you’ve heard them say not just once but a couple of times that “We didn’t use those things when you were a baby.” And they were probably pertaining to any of the following (or more):

a.     Car Seat (They just put us in their lap)
b.     Baby Carrier (All you need are strong arms!)
c.     Baby Monitor (THEY were the monitors)
d.     Diaper Genie (There were no disposables then)
e.     Sterilizer (All they had to do was boil water in a sauce pan to sterilize bottles)
f.      Nursing Pillow (Again, arms were all they needed)

     You have to admit, all of the above items do make life easier for today’s parents – parents in a fast-paced technologically advanced world. Convenience is the magic word for most of us. And why would we say no? Why make things hard when we are blessed with inventions that make it easy? I personally feel that without most of the above items mentioned (I don’t own a baby monitor or diaper genie), it would be more difficult for me to be a hands on mom, especially when I’m out with the kids.

      Let me focus though on the first item – Car Seats. I believe that this product was a great invention. It keeps babies, toddlers and young children safe while riding a vehicle, and is convenient for parents who are traveling with their kids. In our country, yayas if not parents, take the place of car seats. This though isn’t the safest alternative for traveling especially in highways where cars travel fast. It has been proven that car seats provide protection in the case of accidents and reduces the risk of death or serious injuries (as long as the car seat is installed properly). Check out the facts here at CDC Injury & Prevention Control: Motor Vehicle Safety.

      Another thing that I appreciate about car seats besides providing safety for my children is that when I drive and have no one else with me, I can travel with both my toddler and preschooler easily. They just stay buckled into their seats while I drive to our destination. Without a car seat, I don’t think I would be able to take my toddler along with me on my own (because she will most likely play with the windows and locks or bump her head inside the car while we’re moving). Car seats do provide the assistance I need when I have no extra set of helping hands (or bodies!).

      For me, car seats also help teach kids to be disciplined. I am fortunate that my girls hardly boycott the car seat, and they know that whenever they will be riding the car or van, they will be sitting in one. No ifs, no buts. It’s just part of our rules of safety. Occasionally, my toddler Natalie would object to this when she can’t wait for her milk anymore and we just try to pacify her until we get home since it usually isn’t a far ride (and thankfully this hasn’t happened in longer trips because we make sure she’s well fed before leaving and we have snacks on the go). It really just takes getting used to for both kids and adults.


      So now that we know why having car seats are really worth considering (and you really should take into account using one even if it’s not mandated by law in our country), let’s see which type of car seat is right for your child:


     1. Rear Facing Car Seat

This type of car seat is best for newborns/infants until the age of 2 and can be bought as part of a Travel System (which comes with a stroller that you can attach the seat to). It is also the safest type. In the past, Rear Facing Car Seats were only required to be used until a child turns 1, but this was changed by the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) a few years ago to age 2 or until they exceed the height or weight limit. It is much safer for a child to face the rear in case of accidents, especially when a car encounters a side impact collision which is the deadliest.
According to www.thecarseatlady.com, research shows that kids who sit rear-facing in a vehicle are five times safer than those who are riding forward-facing. This is because they avoid the whiplash motion altogether since the head, body and torso all move in a straight line on impact. Check out the article here Why Ride Rear-Facing.

The Swedish and Car Seats

    As I was also researching on car seats before Audrey was born, I came across articles about the Swedish and their almost zero record of child fatalities and injuries in car accidents. Apparently, their car seats were designed to hold kids at a rear facing position up to the age of 4-6 years. This provided protection for the head and neck, which are vulnerable body parts for young kids. Read more about it here in The Swedish Car Seat Approach. 


 My almost 2 year old daughter still sits in a rear facing car seat
comfortably and I will keep her in it until she’s reached the
height or weight limit.


2. Convertible Car Seat

      The convertible car seat is a good choice since you can install it rear or forward facing when needed. We currently use this type of car seat for Audrey, our 4 year old. She was using it as a rear facing seat until she was 2 and a half, and is now in the forward facing position so her legs are more comfy. We also have another convertible car seat on standby for Natalie when she outgrows the infant seat.
      You may be wondering why we didn’t just buy a convertible car seat to begin with. Well, for one – the infant car seat that Natalie is using now is actually a hand me down from Audrey and was part of a Travel System so it has a stroller that it fits into perfectly (By the way, unless you know who used the car seat previously and are assured that it hasn’t gone through an accident, it is best to buy it new. You don’t want to use a second hand car seat that can compromise the safety of your child). Another good thing about it is that it’s easy to take out from the car (or from its base which is strapped into the car), and take with you anywhere (can't do this with a Convertible Car Seat). So if baby is asleep you don’t need to take her out from the car seat (or risk waking her up!) – you just take the car seat with you.
       Second, my children are on the petite side so starting with a convertible car seat isn’t exactly a good idea because it's bigger. I don’t know how many more infant head support pillows I will need to fit my baby in one in order to prevent her from moving around and about. An infant car seat is also safer for younger babies according to experts so having two kinds is ok with us.

Newborn Natalie snug as a bug in her infant car seat!
                                            Thanks to our Diono 2-in-1 Head Support, Ivory :)


Audrey in her Convertible Car Seat in a Rear Facing Position
(she was 1.5 years old in this photo)
    A lot of car seats are now available here but the convertible ones that we own are both an Evenflo brand and were ordered through Amazon.com. Our family just helped us bring them home from the US since they came out cheaper if we bought them from there ;) We got the Evenflo Symphony model which is similar to the one featured below (except for the fabric used). We were happy with Audrey's so we got the same one for Natalie.


                                                                                                        Evenflo Symphony LX Convertible Car Seat, Graphic Black 


         3. Forward Facing Car Seat

      This one is for children who have reached the height limit of the Rear Facing Car Seat. You can find 3 kinds of Forward Facing Car seats: A Convertible Car Seat – as mentioned above, A Combination Car Seat which is a Forward Facing Car Seat that can also become a Booster Seat (for older children or those who have gone over the height or weight limit for Car Seats), and just a Forward Facing Car Seat.
     A car seat such as this keeps a child safe through a 5-point harness so they are secure in the seat and forces are distributed evenly in the case of a crash.


Audrey in her Convertible Car Seat in a Forward Facing Position


            4. Booster Seat

     This is for older kids who can’t fit in seatbelts well enough and have gone over the limits for car seats. See this article from The Car Seat Lady to know when a child is ready to use a booster seat.


      See image below as a guide to which type of car seat would be best to use for your child depending on her age or size:

     I hope you would seriously consider using appropriate car seats for your child, but if this is simply not an alternative, then make sure that you always make your child stay in the back seat with someone, and NEVER ever let him or her sit in front. I have heard of accidents that proved to be fatal because a parent allowed their child to sit in front while sleepiness made them lose control of the wheel. Don’t let this happen to you. Better to be safe than sorry.

     And if your child or children ride in car seats and are strapped in whenever you are on the move, please don’t forget to wear your seatbelt as well! Keeping your children safe is a priority, but if you don’t wear your own seatbelt and get into a crash, you put the other passengers inside your car in jeopardy. Our bodies are thrown with a force 30-60 times our body weight during a crash impact so we can hurt other people inside the car when we aren’t strapped in. 

     So as responsible adults we should also remember to buckle up!


     See CarSeats: Fast Facts and How Child Car Seats Work for more info.



Havin' a baby? C'mon, go get a car seat! It's actually fun
to ride in one! :D (I now know how to buckle the shoulder straps!)


References:

www.thecarseatlady.com
www.carseat.se

Monday, September 1, 2014

Self Discovery

     
      Sometimes it's nice to stop and think about what we really value and what takes up the most space in our hearts. I found this list online and it confirmed what and who was most important to me. Maybe it will do the same for you :)



Saturday, August 16, 2014

Audrey's 4th


     Another year, another birthday. How time flies... but I already knew that. All I can do is seize this moment and celebrate my daughter as best I can. Soon she will be venturing life on her own... but not so fast! I still want to hold onto her like she was the baby that I once carried in my arms - so dependent and so small. And so I do for now :)


    This year I asked Audrey what she wanted to do for her birthday (and yes, my husband and I had some 'suggestions' which she gladly chose from ;) hehe). We opted to celebrate her special day with her classmates in school the day before and with her cousins today, her birthday.
     As with most celebrations, we zeroed in on a theme - and Doc McStuffins was this year's winner! It was quite fun to plan and I tried to make it both creative yet uncomplicated (for me at least!). Check out our pics :)

Birthday girl Audrey smiling for the camera wearing none other than her Doc McStuffins shirt 
that Dada bought for her during one of his trips!

The sisters share sweet hugs! This always makes me smile :)
(Check out Natalie peeking at the treats!)

Here are the giveaway boxes for Audrey's classmates and cousins. We placed toy shaped pasta pieces 
with bolognese sauce, crazy straws, colored utensils, cookies and krispies inside! 
Oh, and I made Doc McStuffins name labels for each of them! :)

The birthday cake! :)

Cupcakes in our color theme!

Band aid cookies with a heart! These were pretty yummy!

Audrey's special request - Ice Cream cake pops and Popsicles (rice krispies)
with rainbow sprinkles!

Our little big girl!

Another shot with a different head angle hehe

Audrey in school! :)
She was pretty happy with her birthday celebration!


Thank you to Michelle Teves of Coco Cakes for making Audrey's birthday cake and treats! :)


Thursday, August 7, 2014

Let's Go Swimming


Who says you can't go swimming without water? :)

video

Thank you Natalie for being a reliable source of entertainment for mom
(and everyone else! :D)