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.