Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Family Photos: The Girls


     I sure do hope you're not tired of looking at our family photos yet... because here's more! It was actually part of our family photo session with Tita Sheila last year and as always, the photos are great! :) 
      This time you'll see more of me and my little sis Natalie ;)

Here's Dad helping me with my outfit change. Isn't he the best?! :)

Seriously blowing bubbles here!

I'm trying to figure out how to make this colorful pinwheel spin faster!

Happy Natalie!

Natalie saw a puppy and she's pointing it out to us!

We got hungry posing for pics so this is actually a candid shot, haha! ;)

We all love this photo of Natalie smiling and showing off her goofy tooth!
(That's what we call the one and only tooth in her upper gums! Mom and Dad
say they'll miss this goofy smile when all of her teeth grow out)

Fun with Dada! (While Natalie's relaxing)
We have a few more photos with him here :)

Dad says I'm growing so fast. But I still love being carried by him ;)

Monday, January 27, 2014

Happy Monday

     Monday is the beginning of the work week for most of us - and possibly the start of more stress. Sometimes it helps to read funny stories or look at funny pics to make us forget our worries momentarily. Allow me to share Natalie's pucker up photo to hopefully brighten your day even for a bit :) Hope you'll have a Happy Monday!

This is the face she puts on whenever we ask her what the cow says!
Moo!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Change Your Approach

    So… I have been wanting to make some changes recently. The onset of the new year is the perfect motivation, but the reality is that these changes have been long overdue.
    I read this devotional recently which really encouraged me and I would like to apply it to my own goals. It was about modifying one’s approach to things so that we can very well see the changes that we want.
    This entry is somehow related to my post about Resolutions vs. Goals and I am intent on improving a lot of things in my life. I am hoping that writing about these would help not just me but you as well.

Here are at least 2 things that I want to achieve and change, and how I plan to do it:
   
  1. Lose weight. Get fit.
Usual approach: Exercise when I can. Eat what I want.

New approach: Exercise regularly (3-4x a week). Cut out sugar. Lessen carbs at night. Eat more veggies!

     Before I had Audrey, I was a regular at the gym. I also did Yoga and Pilates, and swam at least 800m 3x a month to add to all my other physical activities. When Audrey came, I was still able to go swimming from time to time, but I cancelled my memberships because I couldn’t work out regularly. I was able to exercise a bit more by the time she was 5 months old but because I was preoccupied with her and also got busy with work, exercise didn’t become my priority. I would do it whenever I was free but it didn’t take its usual place in my schedule. I also lost weight and inches easily after my first pregnancy so this made me a bit complacent when it came to exercise.

     When I was pregnant with Natalie, I was forced to exercise to help relieve back pains due to my heavy tummy. I did Pilates again but took a break on my 34th week because of a spotting incident. I didn’t go back to working out until Natalie was about 6 months old. My exercise schedule wasn’t as regular as I wanted it to be mostly due to time constraints. I was now busy taking care of two girls and working on one of my biggest design projects. Of course exercise took a back seat once again.

     As for my diet… what diet? I love to eat! Haha. I would like to think that I’m a bottomless pit because no matter how much I ate, it just didn’t really show much (unless my friends are just lying to me to make me feel better hehe!) and most of my old clothes still fit somehow (save for a few tight jeans! Childbirth does give you wider hips afterwards, especially after the second baby :o). 

     After I gave birth to Natalie, weight loss was still quick in the first few months and then I would lose weight gradually over the next couple of months - until it plateaued (somehow the last few pounds are the most stubborn and they say it is difficult to lose if you're still breastfeeding, which I am - but I don't want to make that an excuse). It wasn’t so bad, except that it was just a bit too slow for my own standards and expectations hehe!… And even though breastfeeding helped reduce the size of my tummy and helped me lose weight, it sure didn’t tone my body! Plus it was harder to lose the belly because my tummy’s officially been stretched not just once but twice! And that really takes a toll on your abdominal muscles. What I also noticed was that it was a bit harder to get back on track in terms of strength as well. What were once easy exercises and moves for me back then now became a little harder. It required more effort on my part.

     Now back to eating… healthy eating is not a problem with me. Except I also love sweets. I actually started eating healthier when I started feeding my girls solids because I wanted them to have good eating habits and avoid sickness and disease. So I decided to apply the same thing to myself and my household. My only problem is the sugar in my life! Because I get stressed with work and lack sleep, I resort to eating sugary sweets in order to keep myself awake or to provide me energy (which is actually false energy!). So the change in approach here is to cut down and eventually cut out sugar in my diet – if not completely then at least 90 percent of the time (giving allowance to those days when I need to celebrate with family and friends with a piece of cake haha! Come on, let's be realistic here ;P).

     As for exercise, I just want to make it a point to prioritize it from now on for the sake of my health and my family. I want to avoid getting sick and be strong enough to take care of them and live long. After all, taking care of my body is something that is within my control and definitely a worthwhile goal. 

  1. Work Smart. Don’t over exert yourself. Sleep more.

Usual approach: Work whenever I find any free time. Work in the wee hours of the morning before the girls wake up. Work all night and sacrifice sleep if necessary.

New approach: Delegate more work to others. Learn to say no to projects that will go over my workload limit. 

     Now this one is tricky and is somehow related to Goal Number 1. When I work too much, sleep little or don’t sleep at all – my physical activity and food intake gets affected. So I know I need to make it a point to balance everything in my life and prioritize. As much as I love designing, planning and creating, I know I have to work smart. Before I had kids, I could handle up to 10 different projects at one time – but that is only because I have the time to do so. But my priorities have changed now. I’m a mom with two kids to take care of – and that is a choice that I willingly made. Architecture and Interior Design projects can take up so much time especially since I am very detail oriented and do not like submitting half baked drawings or designs (or you can translate that to obsessive compulsiveness – but in a good way! Hehe). Whether a project is big or small, they both require quite a number of details and the full attention of its designer. They pretty much take up the same amount of effort but vary only in size or completion time.

     So even if I do hire contractual draftsmen occasionally to help me with certain projects, this time around I would like to delegate more tasks and responsibilities to an Architectural Assistant (if by any chance you are an Architecture graduate and reading this, please email me if you are interested to freelance with me! J )

     I will still incorporate some of my usual approaches though – like waking up very early to plan and work on projects, as well as sneak in some work time during Natalie’s daytime naps, but I would definitely like to stop pulling off all-nighters in order to avoid sleeplessness which will lead to stress and burnout! 


     And of course, I can’t do all of this with just my own strength so I am going to couple my efforts with prayer and faith. I hope that I will be able to see some dramatic changes and results very soon ;)  

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Fun in the Snow


      Last week we checked out the Snow Playground at SM Aura while Mama met up with her girlfriends at Shine Cafe nearby. I have to admit, when Mom told me about the snow - I didn't like it at all (even after watching Frozen!). All I could think about was how cold it will be! Brrrrr! But when I got there, I changed my mind right away! :) Especially after seeing the Hello Kitty boots that they let me wear hehe.
     
Mom actually brought my boots but I couldn't resist these pink ones!
Ninong Pat kept me company at first, and we had the Snow Playground all to ourselves until a group of kids
came a little later. Good thing they have so many toys and shovels for everyone to use! :)

Mama joined me a couple of minutes later - we only had a total of 30 minutes of Snow Play. And by the way, I forgot all about the cold! It didn't feel that cold at all (except maybe a little bit on my toes!) 
Natalie would join us from time to time but didn't really want Mama to let her go on the snow so I guess she's officially a beach babe! She loves the sand and the beach and she isn't that crazy about ice :S

I really enjoyed playing in the snow! :) Mom and I tried to make Olaf the snowman but I told her we forgot to bring a carrot for his nose! Plus the ice is so cold on bare fingers so we couldn't make it big enough or round enough haha!
I think wearing gloves when building a snowman would be a good idea ;)

Natalie and I also had fun playing by the glass window at Shine ;) 

Took photos with Tita Patty too and Mama loves this "Roar" picture!
Mama had snacks and talk time with the girls! I was so amazed at Tita Rica's tummy
and kept touching Baby Philip :) He came out the next day! hehe! 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Parenting is a Calling


    While motherhood is something that I thoroughly enjoy – the laughter, the surprises, the privilege, and the sweetness of it – there are times when I also ask myself how much more stress I can handle. I'm a hands on mom and a working mom at the same time - and this can be very difficult to balance.
    I often find myself enjoying playtime with my girls and at the same time worrying whether I will finish my work deadline for the day and wondering how many hours of sleep I will get at night. Or I try to sneak in some work during my daytime hours but will get interrupted not once or twice, but several times to attend to the girls' needs and wants. 
     Being a parent can be very inconvenient not just at times, but many MANY times. And there come moments when I don’t know how much more poop washing, putting to sleep, feeding, crying, and fussiness I can actually take (I've noticed these thoughts come at times when I am super stressed, lacking sleep and barely able to stop and rest - go figure :S). 
     Oh! But I still don’t plan on giving up. NO WAY. And if you’re a parent just like me, I hope neither would you. Yes this is just a season, as all things are – but there’s a greater purpose to it all. I had just come across this book by Gary Thomas and although I have barely read a chapter, it opened my eyes to what parenting is really all about. 

     “Having kids isn’t about us – it’s about Him. 
We are called to bear and raise children for the glory of God.


     I love that it reminded me that parenting is not all about me or about my children - parenting has a deeper purpose and meaning than just raising kids so they can become good human beings with great achievements. It is so much more than that. It's about bringing honor and glory to the One who made us by molding and shaping lives that make a difference to those around them. It's about modeling love and compassion to them so they too can show love and compassion to those in need. It's about attending to your children's needs before yours so they can learn to put others above themselves. 


And when we don’t understand the purpose of parenting, 
the process becomes tedious.”

     It's like having plans but no goals. It's like working on a project and not knowing the purpose for it or having a desired outcome. When you know the purpose for something, then it becomes significant and important, instead of wearisome. And this is how parenting is. When we don't really know why we have to keep doing things repeatedly day in and day out, we lose sight of its significance. We become tired of adhering to a certain standard - usually, a standard that we place on ourselves.

     But when we start seeing the greater purpose of parenting, then all the little inconveniences become easier to handle and everything that we do starts to have better meaning.

     
Quotes from Sacred Parenting: How Raising Children Shapes Our Souls 

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Warner Bros. Movie World

   Thanks to the VIP Pass from www.themeparks.com.au , we got to visit 3 theme parks for a reasonable price! If you're visiting the Gold Coast, this is well worth buying because it'll save you a lot of money.
   Theme Park No. 3 was Warner Bros. Movie World! And although I ended up basically spending most of my time in the WB Kids area, I didn't mind at all. I was all for fun minus the dizziness! (I sound like an old fuddy duddy, well....so what hahaha! just being realistic here :D). We were able to take lots of fun photos and you can check them out below.
     

There were a lot of roller coaster rides and a parade of some famous comic characters like Batman, Green Lantern and The Flash
This is the Green Lantern ride which my husband said was pretty fun!

WB Kids! The boys brought the girls here while they rode the manly rides haha!

Just posing! (Didn't get to ride this one - although I wanted to hehehe)

The sisters with Daffy Duck in the background



At the Carousel ride with Audrey

Audrey drove this taxi all by herself! ;) (Well, I wasn't allowed in there hahaha!)
She had fun and didn't mind being alone in the ride. Wow, independent! hehe

Proud mama hahaha
The Looney Gardens (it offered a great background for pics!)
Went on a train ride with their Tita Patty!
That's all folks!
Almost closing time...Playing with shadows!
Had some yummy ice cream from Ben & Jerry's before going home ;9
Another family fun day at the Gold Coast! ;)

Friday, January 17, 2014

Whole Wheat Banana Pancakes


       Whole wheat pancakes might not sound so enticing to anyone who's used to eating regular pancakes made with white flour... buuuut, whole wheat alternatives are healthier than its processed counterpart - and this recipe's pretty good! ;)
       The bananas add just the right amount of sweetness and if you're a fan of bananas (and banana bread), you can try to add a bit more of it if you like. Not a fan of this fruit? Then you can try substituting with blueberries or raspberries (as the maker of this recipe suggests). I have yet to try that out (and since I love berries, I think it'll be a hit with me haha).

I used organic whole wheat flour from Healthy Options and I had Audrey help me make these pancakes.
She happily obliged :) 

See the recipe below from www.100daysofrealfood.com


INGREDIENTS

   2 cups whole wheat flour 
   2 teaspoons baking powder
   1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
   ½ teaspoon salt
   1 tablespoon honey
   2 large eggs, lightly beaten
   1 ¾ cups milk
   2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted + butter for frying
   2 ripe bananas, mashed
   100% pure maple syrup for serving


INSTRUCTIONS

1. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
2. Make a well (hole) in the center of the flour mixture and pour in the honey, eggs, milk,
    and 2 tablespoons of melted butter. Whisk together thoroughly, but do not overmix.


3. Gently fold the mashed bananas into the batter with a spatula.
4. Heat a griddle or sauté pan over medium-high heat. Swirl enough butter around the pan until it is well coated. Add pancake batter using a soup ladle.

The sous chef taking a peek behind the cabinet door ;)
She asked me to make heart shaped pancakes (and I wish I had a mold but I didn't so the shape
looked a bit weird hehe) Good thing kids are easy to please so she liked them anyway! ;)

5. When the pancakes have begun brown on the bottom, flip them over to cook the
    other side.
6. Serve with warm maple syrup and a side of fruit. And don’t forget to freeze the
    leftovers for another day!

Yum! ;9

Happy to help and Happy to eat! :)

     You can freeze the leftover pancakes and place them in between sheets of wax paper and store inside a ziplock bag for future use! ;)


Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Paper House

     Sometimes I think of Arts & Crafts activities for Audrey on my own (or try to unearth ideas from my memory bank dating back to grade school! Yeah right. No really, I do haha!), but there are times when I need a little bit of help :) I usually look online for ideas and inspirations, but last summer I finally decided to get some books to make my life easier on those days when I can't seem to get my creative juices flowing!
      For this activity, we chose to do the Paper House from The Little Hands Art Book (Little Hands!)




We gathered our Materials:
2 sheets of Construction Paper, preferably in contrasting colors
An old magazine and cookie box (or your photos if you want to be part of the art!)
Child safety scissors (and one for me so I could cut the more intricate shapes)
Glue or paste
Markers or colored pencils



1. Put the 2 sheets of paper on top of each other.
2. Cut them in the shape of a house (we folded ours in half then folded in the corners to create a diagonal line for us to follow and cut easily).
3. Cut out windows and the front door from the top sheet only (we folded our paper again to make cutting out the windows easier). I let Audrey cut the lines for the 2 top windows so she was able to practice using her scissors ;) 
4. Cut out pictures of people's faces, animals, plants and flowers from old magazines, photos - or in our case, the cookie box.
5. Glue the 2 sheets of paper together.
6. Glue the cut out pictures in the windows and doorway of the house. Add some plants and flowers as well.



7. Use the markers or colored pencils to put in the details such as window shutters, door design, bricks and roof of the house. 
    

Go ahead and let your toddler draw and doodle and design her little house! :)


The finished Paper House displayed on our shelf ;)

Monday, January 13, 2014

Writing

     I really love writing and I wish I could do it more often. It’s sort of my therapy especially after a long day of looking after my loved ones’ needs and working in between and beyond. Now writing is a luxury – much like a day at the spa. It will cost me time just to get an opportunity to unwind and loosen up.
    I’m the type of person who wrote in journals when I was younger. I liked the feeling of being able to write my thoughts down and being able to express myself without being judged. And sometimes when I go back to what I wrote previously, it helps me understand myself better - why I felt a certain way or what I need to improve on.
    For me writing is kind of like talking - but without bothering anyone who doesn’t want to be bothered (haha!) or being interrupted mid sentence. You can just go on and on until you feel that everything that needed to be said has been said. Writing makes you feel lighter and able to take on the next thing that’s coming.
    And when I get a chance to go back and read some of the things that I’ve written, it makes for good memories too.
    It’s a stress reliever, a burden lifter and a memory keeper.
    You should try it too :)

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Resolutions vs. Goals


Image from business2community.com

     As a tradition, most of us like to make New Year’s Resolutions. Unfortunately, most of us fail to follow through and by the time summer sets in (or maybe even Valentine’s), we’ve forgotten it altogether or have failed and given up. There’s always next year, we think to ourselves. Ha!
     I’ve been thinking about making some resolutions myself, but decided that it’s better to set goals instead.
    
     So what is a Resolution exactly? The dictionary defines it as:

·        A firm decision to do something
·        Firmness of mind or purpose
·        The process of resolving something such as a problem
·        A course of action determined or decided on
·        Firm determination

It really isn’t so bad, but oftentimes we become unsuccessful because our resolutions become unattainable or unrealistic, and are not specific enough. Goals on the other hand can either be short term or long term, and provide a better picture of what we want to achieve and how we can do it. Here are some dictionary definitions of Goals:
    
·        Something that somebody wants to achieve
·        The object of a person's ambition or effort
·        An aim or desired result
·     An observable and measurable end result having one or more objectives to be achieved within a more or less fixed timeframe

Image from my.science.ubc.ca

      I feel that goals are more appropriate for me. It’s not just a general idea but is more detailed and gives me a better vision of what I want. It’s not just deciding on doing something in particular, but planning a course of action in order to attain it. The SMART mnemonic can be used as a guide to make setting goals more successful.

Image from studentsuccess.unc.edu

                                S - Specific (who, what, when, where, why, how?)
                                M – Measurable (how will u know when you're done?)
                                A – Attainable (is this realistic?)
                                R – Relevant (how does it fit into your life now?)
                                T – Time bound (when will you achieve your goal? Deadline?)
From www.crossfitcypress.com


     With this as my guide, I can make a more detailed plan on how I am going to achieve my goals and will most likely be able to accomplish them. Here are some examples of how we can differentiate Resolutions versus Goals (not all of the listed are my actual goals but I have a pretty similar list hehe).

R: I’m going to lose weight.
G: I want to lose 1 lb per week for the next 6 months by exercising regularly and eating well (see next two goals).
    
R: I’m going to exercise.
G: I will do cardio exercises like walking and biking at least 3x a week for 30 minutes in the morning.

R: I’m going to eat healthy this year.
G: I will cut down on sweets and eliminate processed foods from my diet, and increase my intake of fruits and vegetables. I will list down my daily food intake to be aware of what I eat each day and make the proper adjustments if needed.

R: Get organized.
G: Archive projects more than 3 years old and throw out files that I no longer need every 3 months. I will file documents properly by color coding and cleaning out folders. I will make To-Do Lists daily and schedule activities by writing them down in my calendar.

R: Save more money.
G: I want to save more money this year by requesting for a lower limit on my credit card to avoid unnecessary purchases and setting aside 10% of my earnings in another account as soon as I receive them. (Or you can just cancel that credit card altogether! ;P)

R: I am going to do natural birth for my baby.
G: I will research on natural birthing methods and enroll in a birthing class. I will prepare my body through exercise and eating the right foods. I will make a detailed birthing plan by my 7th month and make sure I am knowledgeable about the signs of labor and how to manage labor pains. 

R: I will breastfeed my baby.
G: I want to breastfeed my baby from birth to two years. I will read up on breastfeeding, attend breastfeeding classes and get tips and advice from my mom friends to prepare and to help me when I encounter difficulties. I will enlist the help of a lactation consultant when necessary. 

   Just a personal note: Lately my 15 month old has been accidentally biting me during breastfeeding if she suddenly falls asleep - super ouch! And I would have thoughts of quitting during those painful moments. However, I've already set a goal for breastfeeding her until she's 2, so I knew I just couldn't quit. Now there could be special cases for stopping breastfeeding, like a medical condition or pregnancy, but since I have neither of those cases, I know I have to continue on. And I plan to because I already have a set goal in mind. If I didn't, I might just give up easily and at anytime - so I believe setting goals beforehand really helps. 

    I am sure you can think of more ideas and plans to help you with your personal goals :) It really helps when we write our goals down so if you have a journal or planner, make sure to write it where you can see it (or post it on your wall!). And always review your goals so you don't forget about them. Most of all, stay positive all throughout. Don't quit if you fail in one of the steps that you listed (like if you ate the forbidden cupcake or didn't have time to exercise one morning!). Just pick yourself up and try again until your efforts to change finally turn into a habit.
    I think this post just helped me with my own list of goals. I know it's been a week since the new year set in, but that's the beauty of goals - they're good to make at any time of the year hehe! Hope this post helped you too ;)     


References:
Merriam-Webster Dictionary
Encarta Dictionary
The Free Dictionary

Sunday, January 5, 2014

8th!


Today marks my 8th year of marriage to my husband. What a blessing it is! :)