Wednesday, September 9, 2015

The Girl Everyone Loves


    She's unassuming. Beautiful but unaware. She doesn't try too hard to be noticed - but attention seemingly goes to her, without her knowing it.
    She's nice to everyone, and they all like her. They want to be around her. Because she has a good heart. She doesn't crave for attention, in fact she doesn't even want any.
    She's genuine and kind, generous and sweet. Thoughtfulness resides in her being. People are drawn to her because of who she is.
    She's like a sister to her friends, much like how she is to her own sibling. Knowing when to give and share.

    This testimony given by teachers should not come as a surprise to me, her mother. The one who knows her so well. Who sees her at her best and at her worst. And this brings a smile to my heart because wherever she is placed, she exudes character that is truly beautiful. 
    My hope is that the hearts of our children, especially our daughters, will know that true beauty lies within. That character is more valuable than appearances. That girls need not get attention by flaunting their looks and drawing focus on themselves. With beautiful character, this just happens naturally. And it's the kind of attention that is innocent and genuine. Like with these children. 
   I think we can all learn this valuable lesson from them for these young ones seem to know what is truly attractive and truly important.



"Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate 
hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should 
be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, 
which is of great worth in God's sight."

                                                                                                                             - 1 Peter 3:3-4

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Local Organic Food Sources

      Healthy eating is not just a trend for me, it's a lifestyle that I want to maintain as much as possible (yes, I still go to buffets and eat sugary sweets but these are treats that I don't intend to take in every single day! once in a while is good enough). I know it's a bit more difficult to source out organic goods and more often than not, you'll have to pay the price. However, I have made my choice and I want my family and I to eat as healthy as possible - with less or no chemicals, msg, high fructose corn syrup and a bunch of other very unhealthy and unsuitable ingredients for our body. 
       I have listed down my go to sources for organic goods below along with their pros and cons.

1. The Green Grocer Manila




    I order from the green grocer online regularly and I can say that I am one satisfied customer. They have a broad range of products and I order naturally raised and grass fed meats, organic salad greens and vegetables, fruits, baking supplies, bottled gourmet products, organic eggs and butter, organic sausages and desserts like suman and ice cream. You will have to check their website on your own to see all of the products that they are carrying. 

Pros:   

  • Convenient online shopping with a new website complete with photos. So easy to use and choose.
  • One stop shopping is possible because they carry a lot of products and is basically complete as compared to other online stores.
  • They always send confirmation emails after every order, another to confirm your total order amount, and text messages to inform you of the estimated time of arrival or any changes in your order (in other words, they are very organized).
  • Their delivery charge is reasonable especially if you meet the minimum, unlike other stores.
  • They have good quality items. If you're not happy with the vegetables, they will gladly take it back and not charge you - but this rarely happens because they choose their items well prior to delivery.

Cons:  

  • Deliveries are scheduled every Wed, Thur and Sat and you have to meet the 12nn cutoff every Monday and Thursday in order to make it (or pay a fee - fair enough but just try to make sure you make the cutoff anyway). I just wish they delivered more than 3x a week ;)
  • Some items are more expensive compared to other online shops such as meat, but this is also because they are not the direct source - they also source out their goods from farmers and suppliers so naturally, additional fees apply.
  • You can't pay with a credit card directly, but only through PayPal so I just pay Cash Upon Delivery to avoid PayPal fees.
     
2. Holy Carabao



    I ordered online from Holy Carabao because I wanted to try their products and saw that they carried meats as well. I was disappointed to find out that the organic and naturally raised meats were from Down To Earth (and not directly from them) and were priced so much more! I could've just ordered directly from their source, had I known then. Their organic veggies though are pretty good and I'm glad that as an option, they are now selling their products in S&R.

Pros:      

  • Organic vegetable products are now available for purchase at S&R.
  • I like the quality of their veggies and glad that they also carry Malagos unsweetened chocolate and cheese!
  • You can pay for your order with a check if you don't have cash on hand.

Cons:   

  • Online ordering through Holy Carabao is quite backward - they still have not updated their website (and the old one wasn't so great) - they will make you email your orders through a word document that you have to fill out, and you compute your own total amount (which is not even final because as we know, these items need to be measured first for final amount to be determined), and then you have to text them. Too much work if you ask me, haha (I order online to lessen the hassle of shopping but it's not the case with HC).
  • Delivery charge is quite expensive for the South area and because of this, I have stopped ordering online. Their staff also isn't so organized and the delivery people aren't so knowledgeable either (unlike the delivery staff of The Green Grocer who seem to be updated on what's going on and actually know about their items).

3. Down To Earth




       Down to earth was the answer to my search for organic and preservative free bacon and a number of grass fed meats from local farmers. You can tell the difference once you cook the meat - they are tender and tasty. Best of all, I know they are free from chemicals and feeding them to my family reassures me that we are lessening intake of unnatural ingredients and increasing nutrients in our bodies. Locally sourced also means that we are helping the Filipino farmers that are part of the direct suppliers to Down to Earth - they actually provide the names and locations of these farmers if you'd like to check where the meat is coming from.
        I've also tried their raw cow's milk and it really beats boxed/uht milk when it comes to freshness and taste! Besides the vitamins that one can get from drinking raw milk, lactose intolerance is also avoided because enzymes aren't destroyed by pasteurization. I have given this kind of milk to both my girls, from when Natalie was one and a half and Audrey was 3. Although we don't regularly consume raw milk, we do from time to time and this was my only source so far (Holy Carabao gets theirs from here as well). 
        Although they carry mostly meats, they also offer dairy, grass fed butter, organic and biodynamically grown herbs and greens, heirloom tomatoes and chicken and beef broth. I am quite happy with their products and will be a faithful customer as long as their quality stays the same.

Pros:    
  • You can buy their products at the Salcedo Market.
  • Meats are of good quality and reasonably priced since they source them directly from the local farmers.
  • You can easily place orders online and they will send you an email confirmation and text you if in case some items are not available.
  • You can pay for your orders online with a credit card.


Cons:   
  • Delivery is done through a courier so there is a corresponding shipping charge which isn't exactly cheap. What I do is I order by bulk to maximize this fee.
  • As with most suppliers of fresh meats and veggies, some items on the website are not always available.


Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Our Favorite Baby Products

     If you are about to become a new parent and are not sure of what items to buy for your little one, here are some baby items that have always been my favorites. I have used every single item on this list for both of my kids and they've proven to be very useful, extremely helpful and long-lasting.


1. Arm's Reach Co-Sleeper

                                                
                                Arm's Reach Ideal Arc Original Co-Sleeper Bedside Bassinet, Natural

      We bought the Arm's Reach co-sleeper back in 2010 for our firstborn and it proved to be a very good investment. I had a C-Section then and having the co-sleeper right beside our bed where I could get my baby easily to breastfeed her was very convenient. We also didn't have to worry about squishing our very small baby while we were asleep because she had her own bed to sleep on while keeping a close distance to us.


2. Baby Bjorn

                                                          
                                            BABYBJORN Baby Carrier One - Black, Cotton Mix

       Although I had several types of baby carriers, this one remains to be a constant favorite. The Baby Bjorn was recommended by my sister in law and it is our go-to carrier when traveling. It's so easy to put together and so safe. And it also makes baby carrying look cool for daddy ;)
         You can check other types of Baby Carriers that I love, here.


3. Medela Harmony Manual Pump

                                               
                                                        Medela Harmony Manual Breast Pump


        As a breastfeeding mom, I cannot live without this manual pump! And yes, this brand in particular. It's the best one according to my mommy friends, especially those who have tried other brands so this is what I got. I personally did not try any other brand - but I am very happy because of the Medela harmony's efficiency. Although I've used their double electric pump as well, I still would say that this manual one is my essential one to have, simply because you can take it with you anywhere (the car, your bed, the kitchen, walking around, traveling, etc.), you can control the pressure, it doesn't require batteries, and it gets the job done! (not to mention cheaper too).
       You can check my other Breastfeeding Essentials here as well.


4. Safety First Grooming Kit

                                                  
                                    Safety 1st Deluxe Healthcare and Grooming Kit, Dupont Circle


        I have 2 sets of this grooming kit in 2 different colors. One for Audrey and another for Natalie. It's my favorite because it has all the essentials and comes in a nicely designed case. I like the nail cutter in particular because it makes cutting small nails really easy and safe. 


5. Chicco Sterilizer

                                             
                                          Chicco Electric Steam Sterilizer in Purple/White
        
      Even breastfeeding moms need sterilizers. I needed one for all my breastmilk storage cups, breast pump parts and bottles (for those times when I had to leave a little longer than my baby could wait for the breast to come back! Can't let baby go hungry). I liked this brand because it was easy and simple to use.


6. Exergen Digital Thermometer

                                                                         
                                                      Exergen Temporal Artery Thermometer

      Now this! This forehead thermometer is a MAJOR essential for me. My pedia uses this type of thermometer because it's easy to get a child's temp with it and it's accurate. Our doctor got it from the US and so I searched Amazon and voila! My sis and I bought one each through amazon.com and she brought it home with her during a trip. Whenever my kids would feel warmer than usual, this is what I use to check for a fever and it's so hassle free. I don't have to stick anything in their mouth, armpit or (gasp!) butt! :o There's hardly any struggle when using this one and they can be asleep and not know that I'm checking up on their temperature. Super duper good investment! And up until now (5 years later!), it still works very well and has not run out of battery! 


7. Baby Bag

                                             
                                        Skip Hop Swift Changing Station Diaper Bag, Black


       Now of course, what parent can leave home without a baby bag when going out with baby?! none! (unless you're super forgetful or like to take risks! haha).  I love our Skip Hop messenger bag because: 1) It carries everything we need from diapers, a changing mat, sippy cups, wipes, clothes, etc and 2) I love the design - it doesn't really look like a baby bag so my husband doesn't mind carrying it, plus 3) It's durable. 

     These are my Top 7 for Parents' Essentials for Baby! These items are actually used more by a baby's caregivers to make life easier and more convenient. These sure helped me a lot and hope they will help you and your baby too :)