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)


Wednesday, August 6, 2014

A Quick Guide to Organic Produce

       For the past year or so, I've been trying to eat as healthy as possible and feed my family nutritious, clean and whole foods. However, choosing grass-fed, naturally raised and organic do cost more so I found the Dirty Dozen Plus and Clean 15 List really helpful when prioritizing what to buy organic or not when it came to produce.
        You can also check out the Environmental Working Group's website to read more about this.

        Below is an easy to refer to list that I got from www.thegreengrocermanila.com which is where I order most of my organic vegetables and fruits, and naturally raised meats. I take a look at this every time I make my grocery list.
 

Image taken from The Green Grocer Manila website


Saturday, August 2, 2014

The Potty Training Challenge: Look Who's Training Who

     
     With the challenge that we faced while potty training Audrey, it's good to have it easier with Natalie.
     We got a pleasant surprise a couple of days ago when Natalie kept insisting that we put her in the potty because she needed to make a "weewee" (with her finger pointing at the potty and a stressed look in her face). This little one meant business and she made no secret of it!

     We have actually been putting her on the potty from time to time since a couple of months back - to give her a feel of how it is and to slowly make her comfortable with using it. It wasn't hard to convince her because she would see Audrey using the potty all the time on her own. Audrey would place her potty seat on top of the adult potty and use a stepping stool to reach it and sit. Sometimes when we're in a bit of a rush, we just help Audrey by carrying her and little sis will follow in the bathroom, get the stepping stool, and place it underneath the potty to make sure Audrey can go down from it on her own (now that's what I call teamwork!). 

     Unlike the problem we encountered in the past, which was regressing from what we had already achieved (big sis wanted to be like little newborn sis), this time we had the right order of things: little sis wanted to be exactly like big sis. She wanted to use the potty just because Audrey always did and was basically a pro at it ;)

      This meant we skipped these two steps altogether:

     1. Convincing her that using the potty is good and necessary, by all means (and basically trying to entertain her to make her stay put if she agrees to sit)
    2. Making her get used to sitting on the mini potty (like making her sit on it even if nothing is going to come out until the time when she's comfortable enough to start using it on her own - this is actually good because we won't have to throw anything into the big potty from the mini potty and clean up! eew)

      So because of Natalie's desire to be just like Audrey, she's practically potty training herself! hehehe! I must admit, I wasn't really intending on beginning formal potty training just yet - after all, Natalie is only 22 months old and I didn't want to rush her. But she was more than willing to start using the potty and sit on the potty seat whenever she felt the urge. Now of course we are still working on 'number 2' (poopie!), but so far, she knew when she needed to pee and would be able to tell us before it came out. We just put her in the potty regularly - in the morning after waking up, before bathing and anytime she feels like peeing. And when she's finished, she'll just tell me, "Duh!" (meaning done! :D)

      I can't tell you what a relief this is! A willing trainee makes it sooo much easier for the trainers! We are still in the process of completing this training though, please don't rush us (and by us I mean mom and dad haha!). We still put Natalie in diapers (to avoid getting our bed and floors wet and dirty and this will most likely happen at this point) and will probably do so for the next few months until we are absolutely confident that Natalie is an expert already! :)
      I am just thankful that potty training wasn't so difficult this time around!

Here are more Potty Training Tips for parents of toddlers :)

       

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Magosaburo Lunch Date

      For no specific reason except to try something new (and escape from our kids hehe), my husband and I tried out Magosaburo at the Fort for lunch. We love Japanese food and we've heard that they've got something different and good to offer so we decided to find out for ourselves. 
     We were set on trying the Japanese Wagyu steak, and opted for the Magosaburo Degustation (which they usually only offer for dinner but placed on the menu for lunch that day to take the place of the unavailable local wagyu then). It was a good thing though because it included the Lava Stone Japanese Sirloin Wagyu Steak together with other authentic Japanese dishes and actually came out cheaper than if we just ordered the Japanese Wagyu by itself. The Degustation was an 8-course offering and I enjoyed trying every single dish ;)
       

We had the Mixed Sashimi Salad apart from the Magosaburo Degustation but it didn't stop us from finishing each course. After the salad, we started off with a small appetizer of Iberico Ham, Cream Cheese Tofu and Strawberry (it was quite interesting). We had the assorted cold appetizer next (see photo below) and it came with a salad similar to what we already had (but I wasn't complaining because the salad was pretty good!). The Foie Gras Chawanmushi wasn't available that day so they replaced it with a seafood and mushroom version which I thought was really good and surprised my palate! I actually enjoyed this very unique dish. 

The Assorted Cold Appetizer, Garlic Butter Fry Scallop, Broccoli and Cauliflower and
our Mixed Sashimi Salad with Tomato Dressing.

And finally, here's the much awaited Japanese Sirloin Wagyu Steak which did not disappoint! It practically melted in our mouth :9 After cooking it in the lava stone, it was served together with lettuce leaves and wasabi sauce. You can either eat it as is or wrap it around the lettuce.

As if the steak wasn't enough, the Degustation also included a Japanese Style Chicken Rice in a Hot Stone Bowl. We were kinda full by the time it was served so we were pretty slow with eating it haha! We chose Matcha Ice Cream to go with the Philippine Mango Mousse and I had it with a Latte Nespresso Coffee.

We sealed off our yummy meal with a light, sweet and fruity Moscato white wine
compliments of the resto! It was the perfect ending to our meal :)

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Counting and Sorting


    Although it may seem as if counting is pretty easy to grasp, it isn't so when it comes to young minds. It takes practice and the use of more than one of your senses to understand this concept fully. 
     We may think that if our kids can count from 1 to 10 easily, that they do know how to count... but we won't really know that until we put it to the test by making them count objects one by one :)
      
Here are my students! Ready and happy! ;)

My teaching materials for counting:
plastic shoe boxes and index cards, plus toy blocks

     We can teach our children to count not just by rote (which is by repetition or memorization) but by helping them use actual objects to match numbers. What I did for Audrey was prepare shoe boxes (plastic ones - if I had used carton shoe boxes, Natalie would just sit and stand on them and they'll be useless in no time!), index cards which I wrote the numbers 1 to 10 on, and toy blocks.


For the first two weeks of summer, we practiced mastering numbers 1 to 5. In the next two weeks, we added numbers 6 to 10. The girls had fun using different colored blocks as the objects for them to count - although I was really teaching Audrey, Natalie joined in and we let her of course :) It was fun for the sisters!

The first five numbers were a breeze! But not so with 6 to 10! The confusion began when there were a lot of blocks to count. Sometimes counting through speech was quicker than counting with hands! :P But this didn't faze us, we kept practicing until Audrey got every number right :)

We also did some sorting exercises with the same blocks.
We didn't just count but sort the objects by shape or color :)

Learning how to count is fun! :)