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...

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Baby Goes to School

Schools at this time have become more aggressive. Before, the earliest that kids attend school is in nursery level. Now, even newborns are welcomed in schools. Playschools that is. They have special programs that are said to stimulate the babies' mental, social, and emotional development.

In my quest to finding the best playschool for Baby, I decided to try 2 of the more popular ones. And based on Baby's response, I am sure I have found IT.

Gymboree is conveniently located at the malls. Parking is never a problem. And you're not wasting gas because you can run your errands quickly while you're there. They also have very sophisticated materials, toys, gyms, playgrounds, and facilities. Everybody knows Gymboree; it's a name that is trusted.

Kindermusik, on the other hand, is a little more discreet (at least here in the Philippines.) Yes they also have several branches / locations, but only within another pre-school. Therefore it also looks like just another pre-school - a small studio with a tiny reception area, no fancy gyms and playgrounds. Having a driver is recommended because the crowded parking spaces can be a hassle.

I don't know why Baby enjoys going to Kindermusik more. She doesn't know it's a bit cheaper than Gymboree. Maybe she loves singing, dancing, and playing, more than playing, playing, and more playing. Maybe Teacher Jeannie is really really good as what I've been hearing*. But the verdict is obvious via Baby's reaction. In Gymboree, she cried because she didn't feel like participating. In Kindermusik, she cries because she doesn't want the session to end.

*Among all the Kindermusik instructors, I heard Teacher Jeannie is the best, so we signed up under her, despite the location which is in Cubao. But Cubao is not that far after all. I remember giving us 1 hour travel allowance on our first day of school. We got there in no time, 45 minutes too early, we even got to preview the toddler level class!

We registered in their summer course, P4,120 for 6 sessions, as a trial. But I think we're signing up for the regular semester in July, P8,925 for 15 sessions. Flu virus go away!

Yaya's Day Off Part 2

Baby's yaya has asked for this vacation since January. (The longest notice ever, haha.) It means 6 whole days of exhaustion and fatigue on my part. Although I could see her sincere concern for Baby, I had reasons to suspect that she might not be coming back:

(1) tip from the other maid, who happens to be the yaya's cousin
(2) she only left a few of her things - only the uniform and some old sleepwear
(3) I have read her Sent Items and she has mentioned it 3x

I kept telling her to at least inform me honestly if she's coming back or not, so as not to waste money on the return ticket. She said she would, so I kept my fingers crossed and hoped for the best. Fast forward to the 5th day of her vacation, I called her cellphone to remind her of the flight and to advise us if there's going to be any delay. But all her numbers (I tried 4 sim cards at that time) were out of reach. I dialed and redialed. Every 30 minutes for the whole afternoon.

I got super paranoid that by dinner time, I asked her cousin to call the auntie, or the neighbor, or whoever can help us pass the phone to yaya. I finally gave a sigh of relief when I was able to talk to her. True enough, she came back as expected (or hoped!) I immediately gave her a raise. And Husband took me to the spa for a relaxing massage. Woot!

Monday, May 11, 2009


I cut my left thumb while cleaning the lapu-lapu last week. It was big and deep, but didn't hurt as much as it seemed. The pain lasted through the first 2 seconds at most, but a lot of blood gushed out - I felt dizzy, nauseous, and I thought I was going to pass out. I think I just had my first panic attack.

Husband would always ask me to let the helpers, well, help me. I don't mind giving them the floor, when it comes to the rooms, the laundry, the cars, and pets, but I would rather have full control of the food that we eat. When I ask the helper assigned to the kitchen to do things for me, I still make sure I am around to supervise. Otherwise, I'd prefer dialing my favorite hotlines:

Sango - 6361991 - I usually order the master cheeseburger for merienda, but prefer any of their Japanese rice meals for either lunch or dinner.
Razons - 6870019 - Sisig and halo-halo satisfy our craving!
Brooklyn Pizza - 6339999 - My favorite pizza! Not only it's the least greasy, I love the way it tastes too! We customize our pizza, it would always be a combination of cheese and porko.
Causeway Restaurant - 6389374 - Frozen dimsum kept for another day (asado siopao, chicken feet, and raddish cake), and cooked food for lunch or dinner (beef with ampalaya, polonchay with garlic, lapu-lapu fillet with taosi, yang chao fried rice, needless to say, a balanced diet!)
CPK - 6877841 - Always always chicken BBQ pizza and thai crunch salad, no more, no less.
not but not the least!
McDonalds - 8-MCDO - cheeseburger and float for me, quarter pounder meal for Husband :)

Yaya's Day Off

My in-laws are out of the country. Their housemaids are consequently out of household chores. They went to Divisoria today. Since they were chaperoned by the mayordoma, I asked my helpers to tag along, so someone could keep an eye on them in this so-called "day-off". Although the newest one was left here with me, she wasn't a big help - she wouldn't do things correctly because she isn't used to them, and I couldn't blame her. I don't care about the laundry, the dishes, and all the other chores, they know they should finish everything when they come back. All I care about is Baby; I couldn't just wait for yaya to come back before she takes a bath, or takes her vitamins, or drinks her milk...

The yaya left at 7am. It was my first time, in 10 months, to give Baby a bath. And I thought I was already a super hands-on full-time mom. (Don't laugh, Husband has never clipped Baby's nails, changed her nappies, or given her a bath. What he does to help around is feed Baby junk food, and sometimes puts Baby back to sleep when I happen to be in the shower.) Anyway, I just realized how dependent we are to the yaya. Without her, it's like 2 hands are not enough. I'm so thankful for Baby's undisturbed 1 full hour morning nap, I was able to shower, express milk, and prepare Baby's lunch. It's very difficult to look after a high-maintenance human being like her, I don't know how other people do it without a yaya!

They came back around 1:30PM, very delighted about the tons of stuff they've bought for P1,000. But I'm happier I finally got the time to turn on my laptop.

Mothers' Day

It was extra-crowded at the malls yesterday (Sunday). But our Mothers' Day celebration started on Saturday - we checked out the newly-opened 85-peso japanese store Saizen at the Robinsons Galleria; took home some TGIFriday food for lunch; visited Husband's grandma at her residence in Greenhills; had dinner with my whole family at Burgoo - and continued going out on Sunday - lunch at Crustasia; snacks at Seattle's Best; shopping at Expo Mom (Rockwell Tent); movie at Eastwood Ultra7; and finally dinner at Mr. Kurosawa. It was very tiring. And definitely a good day for the restaurants, because even the not-so-good ones are fully booked.

Happy Mothers' Day to both of our moms (Husband's and mine). Couldn't even begin to imagine whether I deserve to be greeted like so. Whatever I think I've sacrificed for Baby through these months is n.o.t.h.i.n.g. compared to what they've gone through for us through the years. I feel I can only deserve such honor when Baby herself expresses it with utmost sincerity. I guess that would still be several years into the future. So for now, I'd be the good daughter greeting every mom out there, Happy Mothers' Day!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Technical Department

I am not techie. I have never owned a single iPod in my life. I prefer simple point-and-shoots compared to sleek SLRs. I have never upgraded my laptop.

Marrying a techie guy might not change me, but it might influence Baby a great deal. She loves to "listen" to the iPod, "work" on the laptop, "play" with the PSP, and the list goes on...

I still couldn't get her to love posing for the cameras, though. That's why we end up taking almost 400 pictures of her every month. It's the total number for my simple Canon IXUS 850 and Husband's complicated Lumix LX3 and Canon 400D.

He's blown away cash for lots of camera lenses too. I wish I could say he earns the money back. But he's a CFO, not a photographer. If only I'm interested, I've taken photography lessons by now.

The OC

Why should I bag the title The OCD Queen?

I keep a list of the following:

LPG - to keep track of the last purchase to find out whether the helpers have been abusing it or have not been switching it off after each use (note: a fire hazard!)

rice - for the same reason, to keep track of last purchase to know whether the helpers throw away left-over rice when they know they shouldn't (They need to finish everything before they could cook a new batch.) A 25kg sack usually lasts 1.5 months, feeding 5 adults in the house.

payroll - to track the helpers wages and salary increase (This is based on their performance; I don't have a set rule.)

baby notebook - a list of the date and time of each single thing related to Baby, from day-to-day stuff like feeding, burping, peeing, pooing, to milestones like first tooth, first crawl, first step, etc.

Anyone want a re-match?

Vanity Fair

I had flawless skin even with the growing belly, only until my 6th month in pregnancy that is. I didn't think I'd be one of those who'd face the stretchmarks problem. Then ugly tiny red lines started appearing, concentrating on the bottom part of my tummy. I heard quite a lot of rave stories on Palmer's cocoa butter lotion so I decided to try it out. Unfortunately, I developed allergic reactions to it, I ended up giving away the second unused jar I've purchased.

I had friends who suggested some oils but I was too lazy to religiously apply every after bath. I just let the stretchmarks be. (I also had a few on my lower butt cheek.) After giving birth, these lines became light brown. And now, 10 months into momhood, I noticed these lines have become white. Hopefully, they would match my skin tone soon, so I would only need to worry about the still-obvious stitch the next time I need to bear my tummy.

Having stretchmarks is a visible indication that my skin was, well, stretched. Therefore having flabby skin is the next issue to be resolved once the baby is out of my uterus. My masseuse introduced Clarins firming cream to me. It tones the skin; I don't know how it works, but it somehow managed to solve my skin's "droopiness". It better do the trick, because it doesn't come cheap (P2,800 for a jar available at Rustans).

Currently, I don't have much time fixing myself up. I'm happy with a shower and some face powder. Thank goodness I'm not super vain. But I would love to engage in some kikay activities once in a while.

Apples of My Eye

Consumers nowadays are lucky to benefit from a fairly competitive market. If only the baby and mothercare industries were run by monopolies, I'm pretty sure they wouldn't be as keen investing in R&D to improve their products. While there are several options and alternatives available to us, here is a list of my personal favorites, when it comes to different baby-related items:

Huggies Dry Comfort - I have only tried 3 brands of disposable diapers - Drypers, because it was a free sample, Prokids, because I trust Taiwan-made products more than Phil, China, or Thai-made, and Huggies, because Baby came with this kind of diapers when she was taken home from the hospital nursery. It was a sureshot goodbye Drypers for me; it gave Baby rashes after the first and only use. I still found good use for the remaining samples; they make good hot compress for my breasts when I was suspecting plugged milk ducts during the earlier stages of my breastfeeding (or pumping, for that matter!)

Prokids are ok, but Baby would develop some rashes at times, so I decided to just finish the pack and then switch back to Huggies. I think Huggies is the best not only because it does not irritate Baby's sensitive skin, it's also super-absorbent, it lasts upto 10 hours. No more changing in the middle of the night, and Baby stays dry all the time.

Vandol ointment - There are lots of organic, expensive, and imported brands at Rustans, but I love Vandol. Vandol is not only used by babies for diaper rashes; grown-ups also use this for bites, wounds, and whatnots. It's vitamins A and D (you can never "overdose" or over-apply); it smells good; it's soothing on the skin. We would always have several tubes - 1 in Baby's organizer, 1 in Baby's diaper bag, and at least 3 in my medicine cabinet for buffer. Vandol is available in most drugstores.

Medela PureLan - I'm on my 10th month in pumping (and still counting!), and so far I have tried 3 different breast creams. Lansinoh is ok, but I feel it's a little too sticky. (I personally dislike that icky feeling.) Earth Mama-Angel Baby is neat, it works like butter (i.e. melts/softens when applied), and it's all-natural, but I feel it's not as effective in healing cracked nipples. Medela PureLan worked best for me. It's a bit expensive but a little amount goes a long way. I haven't tried the generic ones they have in Mothercare, and I'm not planning to because I've found The One. Then again, I think it's different for each one. Find yours here.

Sogo nursing bras - There aren't many choices when it comes to nursing bras. And among the limited selection, it could only be too cheap or too expensive. Bravado is a good brand (available at Crossings in Shangri-La) but one piece costs P2,000+. (I have 2 of these, thanks to my mom, who got those for me while I was on "house-arrest", i.e. a few days after giving birth.) There are also a few options at Marks & Spencer and Debenhams, but it's not easy to find your size. (And even if it was, I still find it impractical; I would rather spend the same amount on branded clothes so that people may appreciate, and not on something that would always be hidden under my shirt.)

Good thing there's SM. (They really got it all for you!) They carry cheap nursing bras like Sogo and Soen. I stay at home most of the time, so I don't really need nicely-padded bras. What's more important for me is that the bras should be comfy and non-wired. (I find underwired bras to worsen plugged milk ducts and do not help at all in pain related to breast engorgement.) Whenever I go out, I use my pre-pregnancy bras that are nicely-shaped and padded, but because of my bigger ahem, cupsize, I use extension hooks available in Big & Small Co.

Lansinoh breastmilk storage bags - I swear I have tried every kind of breastmilk storage bag available here at this time and Lansinoh is the ultimate winner. Breastfeeding By Blue comes in second. I say this with obvious criteria in mind - quality and price. The Nanny brand is the cheapest, available in SM Baby & Co at P250 for 25 bags. It can ideally store upto 10oz (I personally try to fit in 12oz to save on bags with no problems.) However, I have experienced wastage 3x because of sudden holes on the bags while thawing the milk. Bottomline: it's cheap for a reason - poorer quality.

Lansinoh bags are very durable. (Feel the plastic and you'll know the diff!) And it has a double seal to ensure freshness and to avoid spilling. The downside is that it's the most expensive one in the market. Mothercare carries this item at P479 for 25 bags. And it's usually out of stock. A better alternative is available here. I also like the brand Breastfeeding by Blue. I actually use this most of the time. It's always available at Babyland for P350 (with 10% discount if you're a Babyland member like me.) I wish though they also come up with an improved perforation version because it's easier and more convenient to just tear along the opening than cutting it open.

Kleenex/Surebuy - I always keep a box of facial tissues on my bathroom sink. This is where I pump the milk and I need the magic paper to dry my nipples, wipe my breastpump and pump parts, etc. I wasn't particular of the brand before all of this came. I actually preferred cheaper ones because it goes to the trashcan after each use anyway. But I realized I actually pay more because cheaper ones are not durable and so I end up using more pulls. I know Kleenex might be the most expensive brand, but I like that it's 3-ply; just one pull gets the work done almost every time. Surebuy (it's like the SM Bonus version of Rustans) is the next-best thing, but be sure to get their 3-ply tissues (even if they are a lot harder to find) because they also have 2-ply poor quality ones.

Pigeon wet tissue - There are also a lot of baby wipes in the market - Wet Ones, J&J, Lactacyd, etc. But I like the Pigeon brand because it's chemical-free. It's not only safe for the baby's bottom, it's also safe to use on hands and mouth. I recently got a free sample of NUK oral wipes and I love it! It's pre-sterilized, also chemical-free, and the texture is effective in taking the food residues and other dirt away.

Got Milk?

People may wonder why I chose to bottle-feed breastmilk to Baby. I'm lucky enough to have a lot of milk supply. Thanks to the ever-reliable mamary glands, I haven't given Baby a single drop of formula milk. (She's 10 months old now and my 5cu ft chest freezer is full, and I haven't stopped pumping. I think I can feed her pure breastmilk for a few more months and afford to donate some because of frozen milk's limited shelf life...) So why not directly breastfeed when the benefit is obvious (e.g. great bonding between mother and child)? Well, I have 3 practical reasons:

(1) I wanted to measure Baby's intake. I have a notebook that chronicles the date and time of each feeding, burping, diaper change, and other what-nots like rashes etc. since the day she was born up until the present. This is not an exaggeration.

(2) I wanted to give chance to others in helping out with Baby. I did not hire a yaya or marry a husband for nothing. I have a life, too.

(3) I wanted to save the frustration Baby and I would have gone through when (a) she doesn't latch-on properly and (b) she needs to switch to bottle when her teeth start to grow because it would already be too painful for my poor nipples.

So far, I have tried several bottles. Each kind has its own pros and cons. Read on to know more:

Born Free - I like that its neck is wide; it makes it easier for me to transfer frozen milk from bag to bottle. The regular-neck bottles are a little too messy for milk that hasn't completely been thawed. It also has a valve that prevents colic and gas - very reliable. It's not available here in Manila, though. There's this brand, B Free, that I see at Rustans and Baby & Co, but I believe it's the fake version.

Green to Grow - The best thing about these bottles is that they're eco-friendly! It looks best too, with its cute design. The only thing I hate about Green to Grow is their nipples. They tear easily. And of course it poses a danger to babies. Who cares if the material is guaranteed silicone, we still don't want tiny pieces to be processed by baby's fragile digestive system. The good news is, Medela and Pigeon nipples work compatibly with Green to Grow bottles! I got my Green to Grow bottles in the US, but now I see these bottles to be widely available at Rustans, so that's another good news.

Evenflo - It leaks. But it's glass. I use this to feed water and vitamins to Baby. (The doctor recommends to drop the baby's iron vitamins to her water, so it wouldn't stain her teeth.) I really don't mind if ever the bottle gets stained, I think Evenflo is the cheapest BPA-free bottle available in the market!

Medela - The thing I like about Medela is its compatibility with Medela pumps. It's very convenient for Medela users like me; just pump and feed, or pump and store, no hassle. The nipples can be very hard to find (sometimes available at Rustans) but I use Pigeon nipples when I'm out of choice and it works perfectly well. BTW, there are 2 kinds of Pigeon nipples. The cheaper ones (at P39.75 a piece) work fine, but the more expensive ones called Peristaltic Nipples (P239 each) are softer and more durable. It's perfect!!

I'm loving the Pigeon brand. But I don't have the chance to use any Pigeon bottles because I already have plenty. (I actually have other brands like Adiri, Gerber, and Sassy, sealed and brand new. Any takers?)

Tooth Fairy

Baby is a late bloomer indeed. The average age for the first tooth to emerge is at 6 months, so I've been waiting, and waiting, and waiting. I was even anxious that Baby's first tooth might pop while I was in Singapore for a few days (@ 8 months). Of course I wouldn't want to miss that special milestone. And her poor gums have been itching and aching and swelling for the longest time. Last week was kind of different. Even her sleep was disrupted for 4 straight nights (and so was ours!) She would wake every hour, crying inconsolably and uncontrollably.

And then I saw the tiny white thing on her lower front gums. This signals yet another sign that she's growing more and more each day. Until such time when she's totally independent of me. Although I would like to see her develop normally (or preferably even more advanced compared to other kids), it somehow depresses me to imagine the day when she will not need any of me anymore. It would be too selfish for me to wish that she remains to be my baby forever, so I'm just praying that we would be able to raise her as a good Christian.

Anyway, I bought this tiny tube of Hyland's Teething Gel from Healthy Options (not cheap, almost P600 for 1/3oz.) I was just convinced to buy it because it's 100% natural. No minimum or maximum number of application. Yes it didn't have any side effects. Honestly it didn't have any effect at all, if you ask me. I would still feel much pity for Baby because she continues to cry even after applying this to her gums. The good news is, we're pretty sure it's safe for baby's sensitive gums. The bad news is, it's a total waste of cash.

Thankfully, my mother-in-law gave us another teething gel, Bonjela brand, from their family trip to the US several months ago. I'm not sure if it's available in Manila, but I've never seen it here. I have no idea of the price either, but this is what I would highly recommend. Baby starts feeling better (i.e. stops crying) a few minutes after application. The downside is that you will have to wait for at least 3 hours before you can apply again. So the trick is to apply the gel right before you put the baby to bed. It will provide the necessary relief for her to have her sweet dreams.

The intensity and duration of the pain differs for each baby. I'm glad I only had 4 sleepless nights in my case.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

The First Years

I'm a fan of The First Years BPA Free Suction Bowl with Lid. Baby got hers in green and yellow. (Baby & Co. P399) It has soft sculpted handles to offer a secure grip. Suction base helps keep bowl in place in almost any material. Sure-fit lid helps prevent leaks around the edges. Bowl material is break-resistant and surface can only be warm to touch, at most, even if you put something very hot inside. Deep sides for easy scooping. Microwave and dishwasher-safe. 8 oz. capacity. This is the perfect handy bowl for serving, storing and transporting your child's meals and snacks.

I also find The First Years Take And Toss 8 Oz. Bowls With Lids (6 Pack) very useful in storing baby’s meals! (Baby & Co. P399) I make Baby's meat stock per batch, store everything in the freezer, and just take one bowl to reheat per meal. It's just the right size, and it saves time and power. These bowls come with lids that seal tightly to keep food fresh and prevent leaks. There's also a designated area for putting the date, so you can always keep track of the food's freshness!

I got Baby's The First Years Take & Toss Bowls with Lids and Spoon in Singapore. I did not give it a second thought; I purchased it right away. I find it practical because they are affordable enough to lose and durable enough to reuse over and over. Just the right size of an infant's feeding needs, these bowls have 2 compartments and are also comfortable for adults to hold. Lids seal tightly to prevent foods from mixing into different compartments. Built-in utensil compartment makes it easier to take along a Take & Toss™ Infant Spoon!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

No Wait, No Waste

I'm not saying it's good to be impulsive. All I'm saying is, if you want to make the most out of your hard-earned money, do not procrastinate either. I've had my fair share of regrets because of "saving now" and then "paying later".

1. G.E. personal ref - I've wanted to put one in our bedroom eversince Baby was born. It would bring a lot of convenience for nighttime feedings when the breastmilk is stored just a few steps away. But I would always be in thrifty mode and convince myself that the big ref in the kitchen is big enough and it's not practical to buy another one just for the Baby's milk. 3 months into momhood, I gave up and asked Husband to get me one. I'm so happy with the convenience I think I wasted 3 months.

2. Medela 80z storage bottles - I use Medela double electric breastpump. It comes with 5oz bottles. I've been using those bottles even until they couldn't keep up with my breastmilk supply anymore. When I went to Singapore, I had no choice but to hold pumping upto 9 hours. (3 hours at the airport + 1 hour boarding + 3 hours flight + 1 hour baggage claim and immigration + 1 hour ride to the hotel = 9 hours) At that time I would produce 20oz of milk in one go. So I had to pump in batches because I had small bottles. After expressing milk for so long and making do with the bottles, I finally got new 8oz bottles at Rustan's! I never had to pump in batches ever again. I felt I wasted 8 months.

3. G.E. chest freezer - When I first started running out of freezer space due to abundance of breastmilk, I had to throw away lots of older ones and find takers for the other extra ones so I wouldn't feel I'm losing my body's stored calcium for the benefit of garbage bags. When my sister-in-law gave birth after 7 months, I was a little relieved that I can share some of my extra milk to her baby (in other words, take some of her freezer space, while her milk supply was still very low in the beginning. I have also invaded my mother-in-law's freezer and yet I still have nowhere else to store the newly expressed milk. Finally I decided to ask Husband to get a chest freezer specifically for storing Baby's milk. After taking back everything from the space I've "rented", without counting the ones I've thrown away (there were around 200+ bags), the chest freezer is almost full. I did not only waste 9 months, more importantly, I wasted frozen breastmilk, breastmilk storage bags, electricity, and my calcium, for nothing.

Baby has stopped increasing her milk intake because she has started on solids, so I think I can already stop lactating now and still be able to feed her until she turns 1 year old. My only problem is, I'm a coward. I'm scared, not of the living, nor the dead, but of ideas. The idea that I might get fat after breastfeeding. The idea that my boobs would hurt for plus/minus 3 weeks while trying to stop lactation. The idea that my petite body would not look proportional having boobs that are bigger than my butt in those 3 long weeks. The idea that I might have to resort to medication if lactation does not stop on its own. The idea that I might change my mind in the future and decide I want to feed Baby breastmilk until she turns 2... In exchange of what? Nothing but more meaningful social life for me, because I would no longer be restricted by any pumping or feeding schedule. Is it worth it?

4. Bumbo seat - In trying to save some space in our house, I moved the Fisher Price rainforest highchair to my in-laws' house, and got a green Bumbo seat as booster to our dining chair. I even tried putting Baby into it before buying the item at Baby & Co. (P2,999) Unfortunately, right the very next day, when Baby used the Bumbo, her big fat thighs got stuck through the hole, and so we never used it again. I was planning to passing it on to my sister-in-law, but her 2-month-old baby is only 1 pound lighter than mine. And the Bumbo seat is only for babies who can already sit (i.e. 6 months and up). I'm not sure if I can sell it on eBay, because we used the box as chicken house for our pet chicks. If I have purchased the Bumbo seat sooner, I wouldn't have wasted the money.

5. Safety First walker - when Baby turned 6 months, I got so excited I immediately went shopping to choose her walker. I was naive and misinformed by no less than the sales people at Baby & Co. I charged the top-of-the-line walker to my poor Husband, only to be informed by Baby's pedia that walkers can actually delay the baby in learning to walk (ironically!). Babies would tend to push their upper bodies to move, instead of using the corresponding muscles in their hips and legs. I'm not sure the exact age when babies are expected to start walking, but Baby's a little delayed in that she can sit and kneel at this age, but not crawl. I trust the doctor so it's goodbye walker for me.

Maid in the Philippines

I tend to be very strict with our housekeepers. I'm not sure if it's my zodiac sign, birth animal, or big influence from my mother-in-law. I don't allow them out of the house, except when taking out the trash. I better not catch them using their cellphones during work hours. They have to be very neat (because they are working for the OCD queen with a baby in the house). I have installed 2 monitoring cameras on the ground floor and 1 wireless baby monitor in Baby's room. I use the 42" Sony Bravia to keep an eye on them instead of watching my favorite TV series.

After reading the first paragraph, don't be misled. We also treat our helpers almost like royalty. We eat the same food. But they also have their own stock of canned goods and frozen foods for the weekends that we dine out, plus loaves of bread (with different selection of jams!) for merienda everyday. And whenever we drive-thru McDonald's they would also have their own cheeseburgers. (Husband tends to collect all happy meal toys for Baby in one go.) I have given them 3 old cellphones. They can watch TV on the LCD screen mounted on the kitchen wall after their chores are done. They go to Enchanted Kingdom once a year, free of charge. They also go shopping at Divisoria once a year, with an American SUV and a driver. We pass to them used clothes and other giveaway stuff to send to their families. We shoulder the airfare when they go home for vacation (as long as they've stayed for at least 1 year) and that vacation is also with pay. I am also very generous when it comes to salary increase. The yaya alone has had 3 raises, and my Baby hasn't even turned 10 months old. We're talking of the Ninoy Aquino bill here.

I have been very pleased with the quality of their work. (I think it helps that I stay at home most of the time.) They are very courteous, disciplined, and well, honest. I haven't encountered any big helper-related problem in the 2+ years that I've been running this house. Except last week. A little background:

Helper1 = my Baby's full-time nanny
Helper2 = in charge of our food plus other baby needs like sterilizing; assists Helper1 whenever needed
Helper3 = in charge of cleaning the house, washing the clothes, taking care of pets; came 3+ months after Helpers 1 & 2; also the underdog, despite being Helper1's first cousin

Helpers 1&2 are very close. I remember the time I got sick, Baby had to sleep in her own room for 1 week. Of course I asked Helper1 to sleep with Baby. And after the 2nd night, Helper2 asked if she could also sleep in the baby's room, because she missed Helper1.

Let me start the story by saying that "three is a crowd" indeed. I saw a cellphone in Baby's organizer. I asked Helper1 whose it was. Helper1 was too intimidated to admit it was hers, because I had a policy "no cellphone during work hours". So she looked at Helper2 for help. Helper2 lied straight to my face and said it was Helper3's. I was a little surprised, how could Helper3's cellphone land in Baby's organizer, but I did not mind that little thing because I trusted them.

So I gave another used cellphone to Helper1, thinking that she owns the oldest model among the 3. I'm not sure if Helper3 got a little green-eyed, or if she just got tired of being the underdog, or if she couldn't stand fooling me with Helper2's lie, but the next morning, she came to me, crying while spilling the beans. That it was really Helper1's cellphone, not hers.

I know it's a little too petty and shallow. But a lie is a lie. And personally, I think liars, cheaters, and robbers are the same kind of people. Plus doing it straight to my face is a little too daring. In my anger, I asked Helper2 to pack her belongings that instant. I sent her to my mom-in-law's house as an "exile" while waiting for her ticket to go back home. Of course Helpers 1 & 3 did not go unpunished. I "confiscated" their cellphones for 1 week. And informed them that the next time something like this happens, it's going to be a 1-month torture.

Was I too harsh? You be the judge. But there are also some consequences I'm suffering now. With Helper2 gone and with Helper4 as a replacement, everything is not back to normal. Helper4 is "new"; we have to start from scratch; she's got a lot of "getting used to" to do. Hopefully, we'll get there. By "we" I mean me plus all of them, because I need them to translate some of the words to Bisaya so Helper4 would get what I mean.

Thursday, April 9, 2009


I have always been a neat-freak all my life. My bag should have a small bottle of hand sanitizer, rain or shine. This "convenient" and "useful" habit just got magnified a hundred times eversince Baby was born. We have more bottles of rubbing alcohol than the fingers on both of your hands, at any given time - 1 in the living room, 1 in the kitchen, 2 in Baby's room, 1 in each of our bedside tables, 1 in my CR, 1 in each of the cars, 1 in my bag, 1 in Baby's diaper bag, and a few more bottles in stock.

There are quite a number of varieties in the market - ethyl, isoprophyl, 40% and 70% solution, regular, or with moisturizers, etc. I don't intend to master their differences; all I know is that 70% solution of ethyl alcohol is good for your stitches (C-section) and your baby's belly button (when it hasn't healed). But we are past that stage now, so I can choose my alcohol more freely - i.e. based on scent. Let me share with you some of our favorite brands.

When I was still an OCD "Princess" (fresh grad, young employee, no husband, no child), I used Blue Angel in cleaning my landline phone, my keyboard and mouse, my desk, and yes, even my armrest. I had to label my office chair so it wouldn't get mixed up with somebody else's everytime the maintenance staff does a general cleaning. At that time, I could only find this brand at Pioneer Centre.

Fast forward to the present, the OCD Queen likes Guardian. It was part of the hospital welcome kit when I gave birth. And I've been addicted to the scent eversince. It smells like a mild cologne instead of a disinfectant.

However, being a full-time mom means having no steady income as part of the deal. It's Hubby who pays the bills, so he should at least have the freedom to choose his own products. His loyalty is with Cleene. This 70% solution ethyl alcohol by PhilUSA is not bad: decent-looking bottles, in big and small sizes, with nice-smelling scent. My only complaint is the cap, which is not the flip-top type, and so aside from the time wasted opening and covering before and after each use, you also risk losing or misplacing the cap when you tend to be a little clumsy.