Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Shopping for your Little One

I've recently discovered some cool baby stuff while shopping.

Walking Wings - This is perfect for toddlers who are beginning to take their first steps. They come in pink and blue (of course I got the pink one for Baby). I got one at Babyland for P1,290 - a lot pricier than the 70-peso version at Baby & Co. but the difference in quality is certainly more than apparent. The Walking Wings fits well, never hurts, easier for baby to wear and for adult to use. We use this at the malls, at my in-laws' house, even in play school, and I'm very grateful for the mompreneur who invented it.

Socks-On - I love buying clothes that are slightly bigger in size. We know how babies grow up so fast and we want the clothes to be worn more than once before throwing them into the second-hand pile. Baby wears Mothercare's 3-piece frogsuits to sleep. The Socks-On is perfect, not just for securing baby's socks in place, but also to keep Baby from tripping when her frogsuits are a little bit too long. They are quite expensive at P395 a pair (Rustan's) when they're not even socks, but I consider it a good investment!

funky socks - These are not just socks. They have anti-slip rubber material at the bottom, and they look like shoes over the feet! Baby looked like she was wearing maryjanes to play school (cool and comfy maryjanes at that!) and everybody just loved it! They are quite expensive at P500+ a pair (Rustan's) when I usually get 3-5 pairs of ordinary baby socks at Mothercare or Debenhams for the same price but the uniqueness of these funky socks surely made up for the premium in price.

Leg Huggers - Also known as leg warmers in other countries. They come in cute unisex designs made to fit babies from 0 to 4 years! I bought 3 pairs from Tiny Tots (online) @ P279 each. These are useful when Baby's wearing a onesie, especially since she hates any kind of blanket, no matter how smooth, to touch her skin. And I would like not only to keep her warm but to protect her skin against insect bites. The leg huggers can also be used as fashionable leggings beneath the baby's balloon skirt or short shorts.

It's so fun having a baby girl!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Homemade Bread, Cake, and Cookies

At long last, I decided to use our oven for the first time yesterday and try my hands at baking. (I have always loved to cook, but I've never expressed any interest in baking.) Needless to say, I got hooked instantly - spent the whole afternoon in the kitchen making homemade bread, banana cake, and chocolate chip cookies.

This recipe for the homemade bread is quite easy to follow. However, I waited almost 4 hours for the second rise (versus the suggested 1 hour) - it might be the amount of yeast, or my lack of kneading expertise, or something else, I should find out soon. Yes it took a lot of time... a lot of idle time actually, but after seeing the finished product, I almost jumped with joy - it looked, felt, and tasted like real bread! Hahaha...

The banana cake is the easiest to make. At first I was only convinced to do this when I saw 4 bananas sitting on the table. (I bought them for Baby to eat but obviously she couldn't finish everything before they expire, so I had to find good use for the leftovers.) It's just a little smashing here and mixing there, then putting everything in the oven to bake. Yummy. Click here for the recipe.

And while the 4-hour waiting time still wasn't up, I quickly searched for chocolate chip cookie recipes that I can instantly make. There are several recipes out there and they are almost the same but I picked this as my guide. (I improvised and used chopped Hershey's kisses as my chocolate chips, because I had to make do with what's in my fridge.) It turned out great! My favorite among the 3! (If you want to know the amount of butter used for this kind of cookie, oh my it's 1 whole block!)

Not bad for a first-timer! I'm so proud that I distributed some to family and my dear mother asked if I'm planning to sell them. Well if you think about it, it's very profitable; you can easily make more than 100% in markup, but I don't think baking homemade goodies can earn me a decent living. The margins are little, except of course if you commercialize. But then again, if it's commercial, it loses its appeal because then it's not homemade anymore.

I enjoy baking because I love experimenting in the kitchen and feeding people along the way. I'm planning to try making other stuff like brownies and chocolate cake as soon as we finish all of this food! I thank our new gas lighter, which triggered my mood for baking and opened the door to a new discovery about myself. :)

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Joy Angel Milkbags

This is one of the cheaper brands available in the market. Please click here for a list of other milkbags I've tried. The verdict: buy anything (even the NANNY bags I like the least) except for Joy Angel.

Don't let it deceive you - it may be cheap, it may feel sturdy, and it may be self-standing... BUT... what's the use of all of those qualities when the seal leaks BIG TIME? Every pumping mom knows how every drop of expressed milk counts. It's worth paying a little premium on bags like Lansinoh or Breastfeeding by Blue. Nothing is wasted so it becomes a pleasant experience for everyone - the pumping mom, the breastmilk donor recipient, the hospital nursery, or the baby's caregiver.

I lay the milkbags flat to save on freezer space. After this incident I pretend not to mind the bulkiness of frozen milk. But I'll keep in mind that I'm never buying this again. The little add-on you pay for other brands is worth every single cent because you save the milk. And there's no pricetag to that.

Lucky Charms & Crystals

My in-laws took Baby yesterday so I thought of making use of the "free" time for a trip to the nearby supermarket to buy some ingredients needed for making homemade bread. (I've been searching for recipes online and they look pretty much easy to follow. The "brand new" oven has been sitting in our kitchen for more than 2 years now, it's about time we use it!)

But instead, Husband and I stopped by this new store, Charms & Crystals by Joy Lim at SM Supercenter Pasig. (The business has been around for a while so this is not "new" per se.) I meant to just inquire, I did not intend to purchase, especially after hearing that one bracelet costs P2,800. It looked fancy to me, despite being told that they are semi-precious stones.

So I asked a lot of questions, and the saleslady was nice enough to accommodate all of it and share a lot of other things too. Then I began to justify to myself the "like" or "want" (not "need") for the bracelet - I love accessorizing so whether these stones have been "cleansed" or "blessed" or not should not matter much. If yes then good (there was nothing to lose, something to gain), but if not, then it's also good (I just add the bracelet to my collection). It's a win-win situation. So I decided to give in to the temptation.

But I wasn't expecting Husband to be as gullible as me! His version was more expensive (@ P3,800 and it doesn't look any nicer) and I'm sure he would just wear it for the first few days then forget about it in the days to follow. Just like what happens to his Omega watch, the watch that is supposed to have more meaning because it was an engagement gift. He always ends up adjusting the date and time, because the "automatic" mechanism would not work when it is left laying still for a long time. He's just not that type of person, that's all.

I'm quite concerned about the bracelet, the lucky charms, the stones, the Buddha, the fish, the feng shui, etc. I'm not sure if these things offend God or have any bearing on my religion. To make myself feel better and give myself some peace of mind, I make sure I stand by the 2 big rules - (1) to love God, and (2) to love others. With this positive energy, good karma is sure to follow.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Freedom From Fitness First, Finally

Wow 5 F's. This is all about how I wasted money on Fitness First. I won't start by blaming the gay sales agent who aggressively pestered me at the Fitness First booth in Megamall 2 months before they officially opened their new branch. He (or should I say she?!) was very convincing. (I think loud gay people have strong convincing power. But that's besides the point.) It was mainly MY fault. I was naive for a few minutes.

I was 4 months preggo at that time. Being a first-timer, I was clueless whether to engage in physical exercise when pregnant, and up to what extent is generally allowed. I voiced this concern out when the GSA (gay sales agent) was begging me to sign up. GSA said it would be better for me and for my baby. Several minutes into the conversation, I signed the sheet and they swiped my card. I'm not sure why I listened. He's not in any way a doctor, and was just obviously after his sales commission.

I started "working out" on the first week they opened, all because, I was curious about the whole gym thing (my first time!) and they've begun charging to my credit card anyway. I was 6 months preggo by then, so the bump on my tummy was obvious. After the whole evaluation process, Fitness First people recommended that I hire my personal trainor, at P9,000 for 11 sessions, because of my "special" condition. Again, I was too naive to disregard that suggestion, so I signed the sheet and they swipe my card. For the second time.

Shortly after, Fitness First management required me to submit a form, signed by my doctor, allowing me such workout. Little did I know, my doctor would refuse to give her permission, because she only advised me to do some light walking, not the heavy, gym-type workout. And I consider myself "healthier" than average (i.e. easy pregnancy, no morning sickness whatsoever...) - so I conclude that any other "ordinary" pregnant woman is not actually recommended to be a gym rat. Screw the GSA for telling me otherwise just so he could increase his sales. But double boo to me who was too impulsive at that time.

Fast forward to the present. The contract has expired and I'm finally free! In sum, I only used 2 out of the 11 special / personalized sessions (I stopped right away when doc refused to sign the form.) and continued paying P2,470 per month for a passport membership without really using any of its services (minimum subscription is 12 months, which I have stupidly agreed upon by affixing my signature so I had no choice).

I still feel like banging my head to the wall. I could have bought nicer things with the money, donated to charity, treat a friend to a good meal, or just put it to savings. If only I were content with the top of the line cross-trainer machine Father-in-law gave Husband (which he can always share with me for free), or with the breath of fresh air I could get by just walking around the private subdivision (which is not just good for toning the muscles, it's also good for the lungs, and for the wallet!). If only I were practical enough to do research first before signing up. If only I were obedient to dear Husband (he didn't want me to subscribe, not because of health issues, but because he doesn't support the auto-debit feature, long story.) If only, if only...!

Now that I'm free... NEVER AGAIN. I've learned my lesson. For the preggy out there, don't be too excited to lose your figure to pregnancy, or to regain your original figure after pregnancy. Don't waste your money to these selfish capitalistic gym chains. Walking around is free! Do it at the mall to be entertained (by the sights and sounds around) and to be comfortable (thanks to airconditioning). Once the baby is out of the uterus, try to breastfeed to get your pre-pregnancy body back. It's good for you, good for the baby, and it's free! Babies grow up very fast, and you would want to be by their side as much as you can, going to the gym just goes to the last of your priorities, so just don't. :)

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Choosing Baby's Gender

I wonder why there seems to be a shortage of girls in Baby's age group. All of her classmates in Kindermusik are boys! (Some yayas even daydream of my yaya's job, because Baby seems so easy to babysit - all prim and proper in front of the teacher while the boys go running all over, tossing the little furnitures, tumbling hyperactively, and throwing tantrums all around the place.)

If there was even a little part of me that wished to have a baby boy, that's only to please my Husband and his family. You see, he is the only boy in the brood of 4. He is the only one expected to continue the family name. And I don't want to be the one responsible for breaking this chain. But personally, I like having a baby girl. :)

Girls feel more comfy to hug and kiss in public. Girls are easier to discipline. Girls have more patience. Most girls do better in school. It's fun dressing up a girl. I would feel more comfortable bonding with a girl. It's more likely for a daughter (rather than a son) to take care of you when you get old. The list goes on. The only downside I can think of is - girls don't get to keep their surnames (unless of course they do not marry).

And since I already have a girl, and money does not fall from trees, I would love to have a boy for my next baby. (I know it's too early to talk about this because we aren't even planning. It's just a boring Sunday that's all!) Google shows several ways on how to conceive a boy:

-artificial insemination
-chinese charts
-The Shettles Method
-The Whelan Method
-other dietary supplements and medications

There are even urban legends or old wives' tales which I find funny:
-eat more red meat, salty snacks, and drink more cola
-let your the man climax first
-BUT the woman's orgasm is more useful
-make love on odd numbered days of the month
-have sex at night, preferably when there’s a quarter moon in the sky
-more boys are conceived during the “honeymoon” phase of a relationship
-have the man drink coffee before sex, since this causes the sperm with Y chromosomes to become more active
-let the man wear boxers, because tight underwear lowers sperm count
-leave man's socks on!
-if the hairline at the base of your last child's neck is straight across, your next baby will be a boy
-man should be more dominant in a couple

In reality, we can only prefer, but we can't really choose. We can only try, plan, hope, and pray, but it would always be a 50-50 chance. The only thing that matters is giving birth to a healthy child!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Planning Baby's First Birthday

Would you believe we've reserved the venue for Baby's birthday 5 months ago? 5 months! (Which is already quite conservative considering the advice one mommy friend once told me - to book the venue as soon as the baby turns 1 month old!) Thanks to her, I've panicked a little and booked "early". Otherwise I'm sure we'd be knocking on Jollibee's or Shakey's doors.

We only have 2 venues in mind. One here in our clubhouse, which is more preferable because of its convenience and price. But what do you know, it was already taken! The next-best choice is in my in-laws' clubhouse, which cost P15,000 just for the venue - a highway robbery indeed. It was hard to convince myself to give in but I finally did, because the date was perfect (Baby's birthday falls on a Sunday, there's no need to advance or delay the celebration.) The location was good too; everybody knows where it is.

For the caterers, we booked La Comida, which has proven to provide good food and service everytime my in-laws call them for parties at home. They have a wide selection of set menus, even for merienda. I like that they also offer extras like bibingka, putobungbong, chocolate fountains, the works.

We also booked a photobooth, which I think hit 3 "birds" at the same time - unlimited fun for cam whores (who isn't?), photography / documentation (it comes with a cd of all the shots), and souvenirs for the guests (I ordered the one with magnets so they could stick them up on their fridge or whiteboards rather than piling them up with the rest of their files and forgeting about it after a week.) So that's another P14,000 down the drain.

For prizes and giveaways, I would love a trip to Divisoria or 168. I have yet to schedule this, but I'm already excited to shop! The invitations are DIY - I asked Husband to use his Photoshop skills and print them at 4R for P6.00 each, while I manually glued the names on the ready-made baronial envelopes.

For the other things that you think I've missed, like the balloons, cake, host, face painter, food carts, kiddie sets, and tarpaulins, we let Mr. Sun Kiddie Partycom, Inc. take care of those. I'm glad they can do the set-up for the place, and pull together mini carts like fishballs, ice cream, taho, and even branded ones like Candy Corner, Figaro, and Potato Corner for the client's convenience. So the stress, time, and energy may be poured onto something else.

Aside from sending the invitations and deciding what to wear for Baby and me, I think we're all set! And we still have one month to go... One of the perks of being an OCD mom :)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

An Absent-minded Dad

I didn't think something like this could happen in real life.

baby found dead in a car

Could the dad be under the influence of drugs that he would just "forget" about his baby? Could he be sick with alzheimer's? Or could he simply be out of his mind?

My sympathy goes to the baby's mom. A 4-month-old is just too tiny and fragile to be exposed to anything or anyone that could bring her harm, even if it means her own daddy.

Friday, June 5, 2009

The Ketchup Poo

On our last visit to Baby's pedia, I asked to be referred to a pediatric allergologist. Baby had clear mucus trickling down her nose for more than a week. It did not disappear in 3 days so it's not viral, but it also didn't turn yellow or green so it's not bacterial either. She's been letting out coughs, with clear lungs, and had skin rashes appearing, disappearing, and reappearing on her right cheek. So we figured, it must be an allergy.

The allergy doctor, Dra. E.A.C. gave a bad first impression. She made herself seem intimidating by "snapping" at us because we didn't fill in some fields (Occupation and Mobile Number) in her new patient's info sheet. She made up by being nicer towards the end (maybe because she realized we live in the same subdivision), even offered special treatment like having her secretary call us when it's our turn so we won't have to wait in line in the next visits. I doubt there's gonna be any.

Yes, she taught us (inluding the yaya) how to cleanse and moisturize Baby's skin, and it was absolutely effective. (But more on the ketchup poo later.) I love Baby super very much, but I have to admit her face looked like fish scales to some extent because she had very dry cheeks. Now she has very soft skin, just like the ones you see in the TVCs. I'm gonna tell you the secret, because I will feel much better maximizing the 900-peso consultation fee.

After bathing, pat dry baby's skin with towel. (Pat dry only, no rubbing.) Leave some layer of moisture on baby's skin. (Do not dry thoroughly.) Apply Physiogel cream to "seal" this layer. Physiogel cream is available at drugstores at around P500 per 75-ml tube. It's hypo-allergenic, perfect for baby's sensitive skin, even on the face. It contains no colourants, perfume, or preservatives. It's cream, which is preferred by the doc over lotions. It doesn't come cheap, but it does the wonders.

Now onto the ketchup poo story. Aside from the washing and moisturing lecture, Dra. E.A.C. also prescribed 2 drugs - Iterax and Singulair - and wanted to see how Baby would react to the medicines / anti-allergy / antihistamine. She even gave us free samples! (Told you she was nicer to us towards the end.) At first I thought it was ok, but seeing Baby's ketchup poo made me wonder, WTF is she trying to make my precious little baby into her little guinea pig or lab rat??? Even if she paid me millions I wouldn't have agreed!

Iterax is safe (also confirmed by Baby's pedia). But after one dose of Singulair, there was a little reddish part on Baby's poo. And the doc prescribed Singulair for 14 days. 14 days! I didn't know it was Singulair, so we had another Singulair on Day2. Lo and behold, 100% of Baby's poo was reddish!!! I had the shock of my life!!! I began to imagine what's happening inside my baby's tiny digestive system. Sure she had watermelon juice the day before. But she also had the same juice last month without resulting to any weird color in her stools! Of course we took the stool to the hospital lab at that very instant.

While Husband was at the Medical City for the fecalysis, I was in front of the computer trying to find some answers. I read whatever I could find on Iterax, Singulair, irritable bowel syndrome, and yes, even the Swine flu! Turns out, the Singulair granules is known to have some gastrointestinal disturbances as one of its side effects! (This is also confirmed by Baby's pedia, upon discussing this drug with another doctor.) So what the hell Dra. E.A.C.???

Finally the result came out. Color is reddish brown. Mucus present. Blood invisible to the eye (whew!), but visible on the microscope (WTF?). And there were some comments on the RBC/WBC. The pedia asked to stop the intake of Singulair. The next stools on the following days were not as alarming. There would be some reddish spots, but it was not the same ketchup poo. The fecalysis was repeated after 3 days to make sure that effects of Singulair were completely flushed out of her system. And the result was the best lab report I've seen ever. Everything was back to normal!

We were scheduled for a follow-up with Dra. E.A.C. on June 15. I'd be crazy if I say we're still going.

Baby's First Toothpaste

Baby has 5 front teeth now! She started teething very late, at 9.5 months, when the average is at 6 months. (Normal range from what I've read is 3-9 months.) But once the first tooth erupted, the next popped one after another. I remember eagerly waiting for her first tooth. She has been excessively salivating when she turned 3 months, and has been putting everything in her mouth when she reached 6 months, the signs of teething you cannot miss. But months 7, 8, and 9 passed and still nothing... I thought it's never gonna happen.

Now she has 5, and I've started shopping for her first toothpaste. Her pedia reminded me to get her a fluoride-free one. And so I'm thankful Healthy Options is here to offer safe and natural items for us. I got the Earth's Best brand @ P250 (it's the only one they have) before I found plenty of other choices at Baby & Co, and yes, even at the New Hatchin Japanese grocery store (but I don't think they are fluoride-free).

I'm glad that Baby enjoys brushing teeth (with or without toothpaste). It doesn't only give her relief from itchy gums, it also gives me peace of mind that she's starting to maintain a good dental hygiene. From time to time, I miss her plain gums when she grins really wide. But my baby has to grow, I can't wish for her to be bungi forever...