Monday, November 24, 2014

The Little Jokester


     Natalie, oh Natalie. This little one is quite a jokester. Unlike Audrey, this toddler likes to pull pranks on us by running away sans diapers and clothes right after we give her a bath and place her on a towel on top of the bed. As soon as we put her down, she gets up and runs around the bed and the room in her birthday suit! Starting off a chase.
    This goes on more often than not. And that's not all. This one likes to surprise us with funny comments. She likes to pull daddy's leg hairs or armpit hairs (haha!) and says, "Eeww hair!" and then laughs out loud.
    And today, as I usually do, I asked her this question again, "Do you love Mama?". She puts on her smiley face (that looks like she's up to no good) and says, "Just yoh milk!" and breaks into a laugh. She expects her breastfeeding mama to protest - and I do, and she laughs even more. She actually enjoys teasing me! And when I put on a sad face after the so-called protest, she would laugh once again.
     After five attempts with the same question, she surprised me with her fifth response. It was what I was hoping for. She then says, "I love you Mama" with a smile. Then she plants a kiss on my lips and puts her arms around my neck to give me a tight squeeze. At last, the jokester takes a break and I'm one happy mom :)

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Arkitektura Magazine


      Although I don't write about work regularly on this blog, I thought it would be nice to share something about my profession - next to that of a mother. I've been a licensed architect for more than 12 years now and Arkitektura Magazine recently featured me as one of their architects on their September 2014 issue. Their magazines come out quarterly so this issue is still available in bookstores and home depots in case you'd like to get a copy :)
      For this feature, I had to submit photos and renderings of my works, both completed and ongoing projects, to be included in the article that Arch. Justin Basco wrote. During the interview, I remembered why I chose architecture over medicine. There's just something about design and architecture that fascinates me. I knew I was born to design and create structures ever since I was a young girl. 
       Below are the layouts found inside the pages of the magazine. I couldn't think of a more appropriate title and write up to describe my personal style, interests and how I have found a way to balance both being an architect and hands-on mother :) 

The residential projects shown above are two of my favorite projects. Both houses helped me land more projects afterwards. And a fun fact about the houses I design is that each one has a corresponding country or continent 
that I visit :) House number one brought me to Australia and house number two to New Zealand ;)

Flow House Manila and Seasons Mall
The project featured here is the biggest one I've done to date. It's a sprawling mall development along Molino Blvd, Cavite which is about 15-25 minutes away from the Alabang area depending on the traffic. What I'm excited about in this project is the Flow House - which is the first installment of the franchise here in Manila. It features the Flowrider - a ride which mimics a fast moving wave. It will take you on a fun ride while on a flow board (which is shorter than a surf board) and it can get quite addicting! :D Flow House will be having its grand opening soon and will give updates about it here too :)

And finally, here are some of my current residential projects. 
These houses are due to be completed by this year and next :)

The back cover
Do get a copy of this magazine if you can ;)

Friday, November 14, 2014

Natalie's Safari

     My youngest one just turned two last September. And though she's officially a toddler (and really has been for a while haha!), I still call her my baby :) 
    This year, our theme for her birthday was a Safari! Natalie loves animals and specializes in copying their sounds! She's our resident baby lion! She makes a roaring sound each and every time we ask her to scare our friends hahaha! (they do get scared by the way, but will break into a smile after. Mission accomplished hehe).
     Here are some photos of her birthday and our small celebration with family and the neighborhood kids :)
Upon waking up, my husband showed Natalie the backdrop that I prepared for her party.
I love her smile and funny reactions! She was giggling with her dad upon seeing the
paper lion and monkey!

Labor of Love + Stress Therapy
For some reason, doing arts and crafts just helps me relax and forget about
life's stresses. I made leaf cutouts in two shades of green for a jungle feel and
printed out Natalie's Safari on paper! (there are some things that are
better printed than drawn haha! I was out of time so I just designed the
labels and printed them on my trusty ink jet printer)
And thank you to Mommy Bing of Carnival Party Supplies for pumping air into 

the animal print balloons! She saved me from blowing air into them myself hahaha!

The Fun DIY Crafts
These animals are my babies hehe! I just cut out pieces of colored
construction paper (which we always have stocks of for arts and crafts)
put the shapes together, and hoped they looked like safari animals!
I chose Natalie's favorites - the Lion (of course), the Monkey,
the Elephant and the Zebra!

The Dessert and Snacks Table
I love putting together dessert buffet tables! In keeping with the theme, I just
used small plants that we already had at home as part of the decor, fresh fruits and a collection of books that were animal or safari-related. The colorful book covers
brought the table to life! Not bad for a DIY and no budget backdrop hehe!

Cake Pops and Rice Krispies
Our little party wouldn't be complete without a bit of sweet treats! hehe!
I had Michelle of Coco Cakes make us some animal cake pops and animal print 

rice krispies and they were yummy! :9

The Cake
We ordered this oh so scrumptious Coffee Crunch Cake from Shortcrust along
Aguirre Avenue, BF Homes ParaƱaque and had them place random sugar confetti
and Natalie's name in front (which slowly slid down as it got warmer!).
We opted to get this cake because it was our (Mama's and Dada's and now the girls' too) 

favorite!!! I tell you - it is super duper delicious and comes with the crunchy sugar thingy  
(I can't remember what they call it really, but it's so perfect with the cake)
It goes so well with coffee (as expected haha) and I got the safari animal sugar
toppers from Shortcrust as well. Natalie loved them! ;)

The birthday celebrant in her safari explorer inspired outfit!

Monkey-ing Around
Audrey and Natalie gamely posed for pictures and started goofing around too :D

The family with Natalie ;)

Pin the Tail on the Monkey
We actually had room for games! I made a bigger monkey craft and cut out
different colored monkey tails for the kids to stick. They had so much fun haha!
The kiddos during the game ;)

And finally, the blowing of the birthday candles! :)
Happy Birthday Sweetie! 

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Have a Life!

    I recently met with a new client who was well past Senior Citizen minimum age, had a humongous house needing renovation, several staff who were mostly invisible, and a life well lived. She was a pleasant lady who was also very outspoken and direct.

    While we were discussing the project over merienda together with my colleagues, we got to know our client more through her stories, which revealed her personality, humor and frustrations. And while she got to know more about our personal lives, I told her that I was a mother of two children - 2 and 4 and with no yaya. To which she looked bewildered and said, “Please have a life!”.

    I laughed and felt no need to explain myself at that moment. I found it rather funny more than offensive. If I’m being honest, this was really the life I chose. I chose to be a hands-on parent – doing everything for my kids one hundred percent of the time – through the fun and the dirty work. If you’ve been following this blog you already know that I take care of both girls, give them baths, clean after dirty diapers and poop, cook their meals, read them books, take Audrey to school... I could go on.

    I think this remark was brought about by a different set of values. She prefers convenience, I prefer experience. I also do not have the luxury to hire a staff of almost 10 - and even if I did I would still choose to be my childrens’ primary caregiver (crazy but true! I would hire mostly cleaning staff plus a personal chef haha!). It is easier to consider hiring an extra set of hands to take care of your children if you prefer a comfortable and stress-free life. But if you are willing to take on the challenge, then by all means go for it.

    I also think that this lady had regrets of being a full time mother because her children didn’t turn out the way that she wanted them to (please take note that 'full time' is different from 'hands-on' in this context, at least for this lady). They made a lot of wrong decisions as adults. This was evident in her story and in her tone. I, on the other hand believe that I will regret it more if I don’t pour out my time and efforts on my children, despite what their decisions in life may be. If they turn out to become wise women, which is really my goal, then well and good. However, if they choose a path less desired, I will still be there for them and will continue to try my best to lead them to the right way again. If we have a good relationship from the very beginning of their lives, I know it will be easier to connect with them as grown ups.

     And if you’re curious about the reasons why I refuse to get my girls yayas to look after them so I can work in peace, get more sleep and have a life (haha!), here they are: (now if you do prefer and find it easier to have yayas, please don’t feel bad – we are merely different and what works for me might not work for you):

1. I want to make the most out of the time that we have - different ages and stages pass by so quickly and I don't want to miss out on anything.

2. I know I can give them the best care that they can get. There's no one more capable and fit to care for children than their own parents.

3. I want to invest in their lives and teach them discipline, obedience, respect, responsibility, diligence, gratefulness, and love - even at a very young age. This is the best time to start and I cannot do this consistently if I am not the one looking after them 24/7.

And as this verse goes:
Train up a child in the way he should go
and when he is old he will not depart from it.
                                      - Proverbs 22:6  (KJV)

4. I want them to get to know God in a personal way and use our time together to teach them how to pray and know the goodness of God. I intend to sow seeds of faith now while they are young because the heart of a child is fertile ground.

5. I am learning from my children. My patience, perseverance, discipline and character has never been tested as much as it has before I became a mother of two. I know I am becoming a better person just because I have chosen to be a 100% hands-on mother.

     Oh and by the way, my client called me the day after and apologized for this particular comment. She said she was in no place to make such a remark as we are living in different dimensions and at her age she is less careful of filtering her words. It was nice of her to do this, but since I was also confident of my own choices as a mother, it did not bother me as much as it should have.

       And yes, I do have a life! ;) A not so easy life but definitely a good one! J

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Pic Stitch Photos in 3 Words

    Ever since I switched phones, I've been using and enjoying this app called Pic Stitch quite tremendously :) During times when I want to share photos and can't decide which one to post, this app solves my problem by allowing me to make a collage so I can put the pics all together in one layout.

    Here is a collection of my photos with descriptions in three words - there's quite a lot (and more that I didn't post!). I just want to be able to look back at these and laugh or smile! :) (and if I can't help it, will just have to comment under the photos below hehehe).

The Spaghetti Slurper

Apple Sandwich Monster
         As you can see, I like taking photos of the girls while they eat! This is 
    because I get a lot of happy and funny faces when they're chomping away! :9

Nighttime Baby Acrobatics

          My toddler is in that stage - of fighting sleep and trying to stay awake 
even when she is already actually sleepy! This is just one of the many antics 
that she pulls while she's trying her best not to sleep!

Giggling Over Lunch

Fun at School

The Waiting Game

Natalie and I always bring and pick up Audrey from school. It's a good thing 
there's a big garden and playground there so waiting can be more fun!

Rainy Night Outfit

It's fun to dress up girls and even more fun when they want to be matching with mom! hehe! We actually had 
a pair of brown suede boots for Natalie which she wore for a couple of minutes before she kicked them off her 
feet and asked for her rubber shoes hahaha! Well at least she didn't ask us to take out her star leggings! ;)

Family Circus Act

The girls had so much fun goofing around with their dad! This went on for a while in the restaurant we 
were in (I was getting take out!) and they actually had a few amused spectators (besides moi!) ;P

Oopsie Badoopsie Natalie

This little girl always has a lot of laughing pictures! I just keep shooting 
away that's why I end up with many of these collages! :)

I knew I wouldn't be able to resist commenting under the photos... so much for just 3 words haha!

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 ;) 


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 

     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 ;)