Ahhhh...finally, a time to write...

I've been on hiatus for a while...blame it all to the toddler in the house! :) 
Sometimes it's so hard to make her go  to sleep at night, I don't have the time to sneak into my blog site.  Other times, I feel so tired...I fall asleep before she does....but most of the time, I'm soooo loving every moment with her...I put all the blogging for later.

We knew that having a moving baby around the house calls for baby-proofing...and I "believe" we started early.  We received a lot of baby-proofing items from my baby shower and we were itching to use them!  So when our daughter started crawling, we have set up most of them.  We covered all the electrical sockets, made sure there were no sharp edges anywhere, and cleaned the floors to make sure there are no small objects she might choke on.  We live in a small apartment...we've done enough of this baby-proofing...right?  uhmmmm...WRONG!

I guess when you're a first time parent, you have this notion that you can fully handle your baby once they start walking.  I think it's like a "fairy tale" idea that once you baby-proofed your house, nothing can possibly go wrong...Your baby won't fall, won't hit their head and won't try to eat anything within reach.  Even if someone tells you to "be prepared" once your baby starts walking...you won't really take it seriously...because you THINK you've got everything covered.

So, fast forward to the future...Here I am now...with my walking toddler, a mess of a house and a feeling of 'the worse is yet to come'...What were they saying about the "Terrible Twos"...???  My daughter just turned one!!  So we're not even there YET??? 

Whatever we do, our toddler still finds her way to the trash, dirty shoes and indoor plants.  She even managed to give one of our fishes a heart attack (or so, i think) after repeatedly banging on the aquarium glass.

Now, we learned how to change things around the house base on our daughter's interests...In a month, we have:
1) placed a gate on the kitchen door (so she won't run directly to the trash, or the oven..or the fridge everytime)
2) remembered to lock all our cabinets (to avoid seeing clothes strewn in every direction..or paper ripped into a million pieces).
3) kept the dirty shoes and slippers as far away from her as possible (though she still finds a way to take whatever we're currently wearing in a flash!)
4) transfered our plants and aquarium to a much higher table (to avoid another loss of fish and to avert the possibility of leaves and soil ending on her mouth) 
5) made sure paper towels and tissue papers are out of her reach...powders out of reach, baby oil out of reach, baby wipes out of reach....and the list goes on...and on...and on....

Sometimes I wonder, with so much toys, why do toddlers spend so much time and energy going after the things they shouldn't?  human nature...?  Always trying to get something out of reach.  The challenge?  Curiosity?  Or maybe they just love the helpless, stressed and shocked look on their parents' faces?

The first few months of going after your walking baby is the hardest...at times you'll get frustrated...wishing he/she reaches the age of 4 (soon!) so he/she can just sit and play in a corner while you do the household chores. 

But then, it shouldn't be the case...the best thing to do to cope is to enjoy it.  YES!  Enjoy it!

It's funny, after a while you'll get used to having a toddler...As parents, we have to accept that we can only do so much with the baby-proofing.  Unless you cover your whole house in foam and remove all of your furniture, it will never be 100% safe.  In the end, we really have to be there with them...teach them what's okay and not okay to touch...to show PATIENCE.  To play with them.  Because really, I think they're just trying to get our attention most of the time.

Heck with the household chores!  I can do that later when my daughter is 4....for now, I'll cherish every moment of this toddler experience!  I'll let her play and be curious. 

Okay....I think I have to sign out now...need to take the dirty shoes from my daughter's hands!
Happy New Year! 

Apologies for not posting my greeting a week earlier.  Been super busy lately...plus, our daughter is sprouting a couple more teeth (started after New Year's) and we are trying our best to comfort her.  She was never really cranky or got a fever when her other teeth came out (she already has seven!)...this time, it was different...the notorious molars are to blame.  Her temperature was higher than normal for the past three days and she gets fever at dawn.  She also has flushed cheeks which kinda look like rashes.  Thank God she's feeling a lot better now...we can now get our much needed Zzzz's....and I can write my blog.

Can't believe 2011 has passed and we're now on 2012!  Something I love about New Years is that even though it's an extension of the Christmas festive spirit (or hangover), it makes me feel like I can just wipe the slate clean when I wake up the next day.  A fresh year = New beginnings.  It's like I've been reborn and have powers to erase the mistakes I made the prior year.  Maybe that's the exact reason why people make new year resolutions.  Subconsciously, we are hoping we can correct the mistakes of the past.  But then again, new year resolutions are meant to be broken.  Come on...be honest, do you think you can keep up with your resolutions by June?  or even February???

That's why I no longer made a list of my resolutions.  Instead, my husband and I wrote down our dreams...our plans for this year and years to come...Because for us, resolutions are like burdens!  And when it gets too heavy to carry, you give up (read: I promise to jog every morning)...the resolution falls apart and you'll make another promise to try again next year!  In short, resolutions are normally short-lived.  But dreams...they're different...dreams will motivate you...push you...especially when you pray for it everyday.  Dreams are long term...

We somewhat got this idea from our bible study group a couple of years ago...at the start of the year we all wrote down our wishes & prayers and placed it inside a sealed envelope with our names on it.  We placed all the letters in a box and prayed over them after every gathering.  Then at the end of that year, we opened our envelopes and reflected on them.  It was a thanksgiving for all the prayers granted and also for those that were not.    

I guess this is a better way of welcoming each year...a sense of gratitude for what has been and thanksgiving for what is yet to come.  Reflecting on the year gone by and offering a prayer for the year to be.

Again, Happy New Year and may all our dreams come true.  God bless! 

It's almost Christmas and when I watch The Filipino Channel, instead of the usual news about Christmas celebrations and preparations, I see the disaster brought about by typhoon Sendong (Washi).  It was devastating to see our 'kababayans' suffer this much, lose so many loved ones and stripped off all of their belongings a week before Christmas.  It made me ponder...how can someone even celebrate under these circumstances?

I was watching the news and they interviewed an official from Mindanao State University.  He said, one good thing that came out of this was they saw the people unite...Christians and Muslims alike.  Everyone was there to help each other without regard for religion, gender or status in life...It is sad that it would take a catastrophe like this for us to realize that we should all be united.  Shouldn't we be at peace with everyone everyday?

Christmas became Christmas because Jesus Christ gave Himself for us...That is why it is called the Season of Giving.  So during this time, what better way to celebrate than for us to give a part of ourselves to others.  Let us join hands and help our 'kababayans' in need.  

I have posted links to some websites that are accepting donations.  Hope you can give a little bit of your savings, used clothing or some of your time this Christmas.

World Vision Philippines                   - http://www.worldvision.org.ph/
700 Club Asia (Operation Blessing)    - http://www.worldvision.org.ph/
Philippine Red Cross                        - http://www.redcross.org.ph/
ABS-CBN Sagip Kapamilya                - http://www.abs-cbnfoundation.com/ and http://www.sagipkapamilya.com/
GMA Kapuso Foundation                   - http://www.kapusofoundation.com/

Merry Christmas and God bless you!
It's the first night of "Simbang Gabi" and I'm starting to feel homesick...

The Filipino tradition of "Simbang Gabi" (mass at dawn or novena mass) is a nine-day novena in preparation for the birth of Jesus Christ.  It starts on the 16th of December as early as 4 or 5 in the morning...while the anticipated simbang gabi starts on the night of December 15. 

Here in Los Angeles, the first day of simbang gabi was held in the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels.  I was overwhelmed with the number of Filipinos who attended the mass and was overjoyed to see a lot of "parol" or Filipino christmas lanterns representing different parishes.  The First Reading was in Filipino and about half of the hymns too!  During the offertory, my eyes were brimming with tears...I felt the pangs of homesickness...

Filipinos have the best Christmas in the world because for us, it's not all about the presents...it's not really about Santa, the snow, nor the shopping the day after...For us, it's about Jesus and it's about family...everything is centered on the love and togetherness...it's the reason why we feel warm and fuzzy inside...not the hot chocolate we just gulped down (okay...maybe, that's a teeny part of it...)

After the mass, I was glowing with Pinoy Pride...We have shared our Simbang Gabi tradition with the world...

Now, if only I can find a store selling bibingka and puto bumbong...

By the way, just in case you're from Los Angeles and need the schedule of simbang gabi masses, here it is:

Dec. 15 (6:30pm)            - Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angeles

Dec. 16 & 17 (5:00pm)    -  St. Basil's Church
                                        637 S. Kingsley Dr., Los Angeles, CA 90005 
                                        (213) 381-6191
Dec. 18 (7:00pm) & Dec. 19 (6:30pm) - Christ the King Roman Catholic Church
                                                          624 N. Rossmore Ave, LA, CA 90004 
                                                          (323) 465-7605
Dec. 20 & 21 (7:00pm)     - Cathedral Chapel of St. Vibiana Parish
                                        923 S. La Brea Ave., LA, CA 90036 
                                        (323) 930-5676
Dec. 22 & 23 (7:00pm)     - St. Brendan Church
                                        310 S. Van Ness Ave., LA, CA 90020 
                                        (323) 936-4656
Our baby turns one today...Happy 1st Birthday, Shandi!

I guess she's also excited about today since she woke up around 11 last night and seemed like she's going to wait for 12am (and welcome her day with a bang!).  Well, after 30 minutes, she got really cranky and decided to go back to sleep...funny baby!

Needless to say, today is also my 1st year anniversary as a mom.  Motherhood can change someone in so many ways...as for me, it made me more appreciative and thankful for the littlest things in life.  Thankful for my family's good health, for our baby's achievements, for supportive family and friends, for all the blessings we received.

I never knew our lives would change so much after having Shandi.  I cannot say it was a change for the better because I believe all the phases of our lives should be lived the best we can.  Instead, I call it a "happy" sort of change...

Before I got pregnant, when friends would show me a video or a picture of their children, I sometimes feel obliged to say something nice...something with the word "cute", "wonderful" and "adorable" in it.  Who knew that as soon as I gave birth, I'll have a phone full of baby pictures waiting to be shown to the world????  I could talk on and on about my baby to complete strangers...would even show a video of her trying to walk and babbling.  For me, everyone should care...she's my daughter and the source of our everyday joy!!!  I also have thousands of pictures on our computer, add to that the albums and picture frames around the house...would you like to see them?  Oh, and by the way, I also have this website...

On this special day, I have nothing but gratitude...It has truly been a year of "firsts" and I know it doesn't end with the first year.  This is only the beginning of all the wonderful moments to come.

So come and share our joy as we watch Shandi try to blow out her first candle.  It's cake time!!!
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!!

Once again, it's time for turkeys, pumpkin pies and most importantly, family gatherings.  It is also a day to reflect on all the things we are thankful for...

It's already 1:10am and I'm sitting here in front of my computer trying to write a nice blog...I initially wanted to list down all the things I want to thank God for and share it with you, but then if I do that, I'll probably sleep around 6pm the day after Thanksgiving...

I'm very much grateful for the gift of motherhood, for Shandi, for my loving husband, for our wonderful relatives, our good health and the gift of waking up to wonderful "everydays".  This year has been an amazing ride for me...and the joy and excitement is not yet over!  I know God has so many wonderful things in store for us and I'm sooo looking forward to all of it! 

That's the beauty of Thanksgiving...it reminds us to be thankful to everyone, for everything, and for all we've been through...in case we forget to do it everyday...

How about you...?  What are you thankful for?
    I was cleaning my daughter’s dresser this weekend and I can’t believe how big she’s grown.  I mean, she’s almost a year old, I know…but I still see her as the infant the nurse handed over to me in the delivery room… 

    A sense of nostalgia swept over me as I folded clothes that no longer fit her.  Clothes she’ll never wear again.  I was looking at her old onesies and jumpsuits and I can’t believe she used to be that tiny!!! 

    Now she’s starting to learn how to walk and do all these things that make us laugh.  She knows how to shake hands, give high fives, clap and wave bye bye.  She would also do this cute little squint when we ask her to show us her “beautiful eyes” and would look like she’ll give us a smooch when we ask her to do “baho” (which means “unpleasant odor” in Filipino).  Well, it might be "baho" to her but it will always be a smooch for me!  

    I still stand in awe thinking how a 7.9 lbs little baby could do so much in just 11 months.  I think sometimes, as parents, we get too excited on the milestones our baby achieves we forget to take time and ‘breathe’ the moment.  

    Every day is precious.  Every day is a milestone. 

    I guess it’s something I have to accept (and swallow like a big pill) as a mother.  My baby would grow up…and even if I don’t want to think about it now, she’ll be a know-it-all teenager sooner than I can imagine. 

    So starting today, I vow to not wait for BIG milestones.  She’ll get there on her own time…she’ll learn how to walk when she’s ready…for now, I’ll cherish those moments where she still allows (and even enjoys) me carrying her…even if my arms would hurt after a while…   

    And if you are curious as to what “beautiful eyes” and “baho” look like:
showing off my beautiful eyes!
hmmmm...i think something doesn't smell right....
with her fellow pumpkins!

               "Trick or treat!!!
                 Smell my feet
      Or give me something to eat!"

Our little pumpkin experienced her first Halloween yesterday.  Even though she's too young to understand trick or treat, we're sure she enjoyed it...because she cried when we decided to go home. 

Jude and I both grew up in the Philippines where going trick or treating is not really a tradition.  It's a day for planning how you're going to maneuver your way around the cemetery when you visit deceased loved ones the following the day.  And since it's also our first time to go house to house in search for candies...we're more excited than Shandi!

Maybe you're wondering what happened to the candies she got?  Take a guess....


It's our daughter's first Halloween and I'm so excited to dress her up!  From the hundreds of costumes to choose from...what would she be?  Of course, we want her to be as cute as a button!  But I don't want to spend too much, really...she'll wear it once or twice and that's it.  I was also looking for something that's comfortable to wear...I don't want her costume to be too bulky or itchy. 

Looking back at her past pictures, there's a few that would already count as costumes:
at 3 months, she was a Ballerina
at 9 months, she was a Hippie
then, a Witch
at 10 months, she's a Ghost / Photographer
Okay...the last one doesn't really count.

We never really had a hard time choosing the perfect outfit for her...we just looked at her cute chubby cheeks and we knew what she'll be...she's going to be our cute little pumpkin! 

We'll be posting pictures soon!  Oh, can't wait!!!  Happy Halloween!

My aunt normally stays at our place when she babysits our daughter.  It's convenient for everyone and we have nothing to worry about since everything is available when she needs it.  The crib, highchair, toys...they're all within reach.

This day, however, we need to drop our baby off at her place because she can't come over...there's a first time for everything...and here's the start of my story...

My husband woke me up like two hours before what my body clock is used to.  

(Note:  If you know me well, you would know that I cannot function properly under two circumstances.  First, when I'm hungry...and second, when I have less than seven hours of sleep.  Brain functionality decreases even further for every hour taken out.)

After a quick breakfast, I decided to take a nap beside my daughter...Bad idea.  I slept for a full hour!! 

Okay, it's not really late and I have lots of time left.  I already prepared her diaper bag the night before so there's nothing much to do.  As soon as my daughter woke up, I fed her breakfast, cleaned and dressed her up...now we're ready to go to my aunt's place.

 Uh, except for one thing...I can't find the keys to the garage...

I searched everywhere...my purse, the kitchen, bedroom, living room...I even checked the fridge!  Nope...nowhere to be found!  I was getting really stressed out and was blaming my husband for losing the keys (called him like ten times just to make sure he knows.)  I was asking help from my guardian angel when I decided to look at the diaper bag for the fifth time.  Lo and behold!  It's in one of the pockets!!  No idea how it got there but thank God!!  After almost an hour, we can go now!

So here's what I can share from this harrowing experience:

1.  Prepare everything the night before. 
2.  Take more than enough of everything.  Bottles, milk, baby food, clothes, bibs, diapers, baby wipes, towels.
3.  Bring your baby's favorite toy (or security object).  It's important for your child to have a "piece of home" with her/him.
4.  Visualize a typical day at home with your baby to double check if you have packed everything she/he needs.
5.  Try to stay for at least half an hour before leaving her/him alone with the babysitter.  This is better for the baby because it gives them time to relax and get used to the new surroundings.
6.  Be calm when you leave and be quick with the goodbyes.  Your baby will probably cry when you go but don't worry, she'll stop when she gets distracted.
7.  Know where your keys are!!!

We're lucky to have my aunt as our daughter's babysitter.  We know our baby is in good hands...but dropping her off at my aunt's place the second time...? Uhhhm...what was the question again...?