Thursday, August 30, 2012

5 Venues for a Farm-Themed Kiddie Party

Planning your child’s birthday party can be exciting and stressful at the same time especially if you are a busy parent, if your child’s party is just around the corner, if you have a tight budget, or all of the above. I had been planning my second son’s first birthday party for a few months now and I have spent much time researching and searching for potential party venues after finally choosing a theme for his birthday party - Farm or Barnyard - for the simple reason that our baby enjoys our reading time the most when the stories involve farm animals. He laughs a lot every time we mimic their sounds. He also likes playing with his pig finger puppets a lot.

The challenge is to find a party venue that would fit our theme and budget. Since I started my research and inquiries at various food establishments and party venues, I realized that there are only a handful of restaurants that offer this party theme, so I‘d like to share this list to help other parents who are also planning a similar party:

1. The Creamery Resto and Ice Cream Bar
The Creamery is located at the Ground Floor of Selecta Kids Universe at the SM Mall of Asia in Pasay City. They can cater to farm- and rodeo- themed parties, as well as princess and luau ones.

Kiddie party menu:
Package A
- Classic Spaghetti
- Kiddie Pork Barbecue
- Orange Juice
- Candy Land or Banana Split Decision
Total: with Ice Cream - P13, 600
without Ice Cream - P11, 850

Package B
- Classic Spaghetti
- Mini Burger
- Orange Juice
- Candy Land or Banana Split Decision
Total: with Ice Cream - P13, 600
without Ice Cream - P11, 850

Package C
- Classic Spaghetti
- Mini Burger
- Kiddie Pork Barbecue
- Orange Juice
- Candy land or Banana Split Decision
Total: with Ice Cream - P14, 600
without Ice Cream - P13, 050

Package D
- Classic Spaghetti
- Kiddie Pork Barbeque
- Chicken Fingers
- Orange Juice
- Candy land or Banana Split Decision
Total: with Ice Cream - P15, 050
without Ice Cream - P13, 500

Package E
- Classic Spaghetti
- Kiddie Pork Barbeque
- Chicken Fingers
- Mini Burger
- Orange Juice
- Candy Land or Banana Split Decision
Total: with Ice Cream - P15, 850
without Ice Cream - P13, 950

Package F
- Classic Spaghetti
- Kiddie Pork Barbecue
- Chicken Fingers
- Mini Burger
- American French Fries
- Orange Juice
- Candy Land or Banana Split Decision
Total: with Ice Cream - P16, 350
without Ice Cream - P14, 550

- party banner
- theme decor
- balloon set-up
- invitation cards
- nametags
- game prizes
- loot bags
- candy shower
- a party host in themed costume in charge of the program, games and activities
- uniformed staff in themed costume
- a primetime number from The Creamery staff
- use of indoor venue/veranda/Kids Universe area
- three hours party time
- birthday gift for the celebrator

A minimum of 30 kids is required to avail of their party packages. For the adult menu, there should be a minimum of 5 dishes consisting of 4 main entrees (choose from pork, beef, fish, and chicken), 1 pasta and/or rice, and drinks.
They also offer Ice Cream Buffet packages:
Choice #1: Kiddo Ice Cream Buffet good for 30-50 guests is P4,900.
Choice #2: Full Ice Cream Buffet good for 50-80 guests is P8,600.

The regular balloon set-up does not include table centerpieces but they have packages for that as well, for a fee. A non-refundable reservation fee of P5,000 is required to block your party date, but will be deducted from the total bill. All prices are exclusive of 10% service charge.
Tel.: 901-1424 / 556-9195
Mobile: 0917-8224373
Visit their Facebook page
2. Big Red Barn

This venue has two branches: one in Ortigas and another in Alabang. Each branch has several function rooms that vary in size, depending on the number of guests you are expecting. The branch in Ortigas can accommodate a group of 100 to 550, while the branch in Alabang can accommodate 80 to 250 guests.
For a minimum consumable amount, the party venue fees are waived. Up to 20% of the minimum consumable amount can be converted to play tickets or tokens, and you can create your own menu from the food offerings of Big Red Barn or the Blue Whale Grill.

Kiddie Party Menu (all at P175 / plate):

Combo 1
- Chicken Crunchies
- Spaghetti-Pinoy or Carbonara
- French Fries
- Juice/Iced Tea

Combo 2
- 1 piece Fried Chicken
- Spaghetti-Pinoy or Carbonara
- French Fries
- Juice/Iced Tea

Combo 3
- 1 stick Pork BBQ
- Spaghetti-Pinoy or Carbonara
- French Fries
- Juice/Iced Tea

• Free use of party venue
• Birthday streamer (on loan)
• Directional banners (on loan)
• Free use of cake stand
• Free guest list form
• Free use of play area
• Free use of stage
• Free name tags
• Free guest identification stickers
• Kiddie Table Set-up
• Adult Table Set-up
• Buffet Table Set-up
• CCTV security coverage
• Extra security during weekends
• Free “I Rule in Fun Ranch” Bumper Sticker for the celebrant
• Free Use of Sound Stage for exclusive parties
• Free use of Fun Ranch Indoor Playground on the day of the party for the celebrant
• Free Birthday Certificate
• Free One Ride All You Can Ticket for the celebrant

They also have their own pool of entertainers and party hosts and an affiliated cake supplier. A 50% downpayment is required to finalize reservation.

Ortigas Branch: 706-3019 / 706-2887 / 687-2870
Email address:

Alabang Branch Telephone Numbers: 836-9387
Email address:

3. Racks Restaurant

Racks has several branches in Metro Manila but only their branches in El Pueblo in Ortigas and Paseo de Magallanes in Makati have function rooms. Paseo de Magallanes has two function rooms which can accommodate 30 to 80 persons., while El Pueblo has more function rooms.

Kiddie Party Menu:

Package 1 - P160 / head
- Bolognese with 1 piece garlic bread
- 1 piece fried chicken with fries
- A glass of coke
- Ice cream

Package 2 - P240 / head
- Bolognese with 1 piece garlic bread
- 2 pieces fried chicken with fries
- A glass of coke
- Ice cream

Adult Party Menu (served buffet style, good for 30 persons):

Package 1 - P295 per head, or P8,850 total
- Bolognese
- Classic Pork Ribs
- House Salad
- 4 choices of side dishes
- Bottomless Coke

Package 2 - P395 per head, or P11,850 total
- Carbonara
- Fish and Chips
- Classic Pork Ribs
- Hickory Smoked Chicken
- Classic Caesar Salad
- 4 choices of side dishes
- Bottomless Coke

Package 3 - P465 per head, or P13,950 total
- Carbonara
- Fish and Chips
- Classic Pork Ribs
- Hickory Smoked Chicken
- Classic Caesar Salad
- 4 choices of side dishes
- Bottomless Coke
- Memphis Pound Cake

- free use of themed birthday banner or backdrop
- free use of sound system
- buffet set-up
- cake and souvenir table with skirting

Barnyard party favors priced at P130 per head include the following:
- 30 pieces themed invitation
- 30 pieces balloons
- 30 pieces themed coloring placemats
- 30 pieces loot bags with 3 premium items (activity book, colored pencils and sticker book)
- 30 pieces themed name tags

A down payment of P5,000 should be paid to reserve the date of your party.

To discover more farm-themed venues and to continue reading this article, please click here.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Sharing the Gospel as a Family: Our DZME Experience

The disciples approached Jesus and said, “Who is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven?”  He called a child over, placed it in their midst,  and said, “Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the Kingdom of heaven.  Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven.  And whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me.  “See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven always look upon the face of my heavenly Father.  What is your opinion? If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them goes astray, will he not leave the ninety-nine in the hills and go in search of the stray?  And if he finds it, amen, I say to you, he rejoices more over it than over the ninety-nine that did not stray.  In just the same way, it is not the will of your heavenly Father that one of these little ones be lost.”
This was the Gospel according to Matthew 18:1-5, 10, 12-14 last August 14, 2012.  My husband and I were invited to share our reflections on this Gospel passage that night in the radio program, Kristianong Pamilya at DZME 1530 khz. We got the inviation to share our reflections through the recommendation of one of our co-parishioners with whom I had a Bible study session one time.  The invitation naturally excited me because it was an opportunity to share God's Word and to inspire others to live out the Word of God. 
We became a bit worried however when monsoon rains continued that week after causing floods in many areas in Metro Manila around a week before our scheduled radio guesting.  My husband said that if the strong rains will continue on that day, we will call Brother Bobot who hosts the program together with his wife and tell him that we can't make it.  It's dangerous to travel from our place (south of Metro Manila) to Caloocan where the radio station is given the bad weather and the conditions of our roads. 
So, we prayed for better weather and for God's guidance.  We also monitored the weather reports on the days leading to our radio guesting and on the day itself.  It was still rainy when we woke up that Tuesday but not as much as in the past days and the weather reports did not predict any strong rains in our area nor in the Caloocan area.  Thus, we decided to push through and I left the house together with our kids and our maid to meet my husband in his office so we can go together to the radio station.  We met my mom along the way too so she can watch over our eldest son while my husband and I are sharing our reflections. 
God heard our prayers.  He made a way for us to get to the station just in time for us to have dinner and have a chat with Brother Bobot and his wife before the actual program.  Even our baby cooperated by sleeping throughout the entire program.  Our eldest son was relatively behaved. :)  And our sharing and discussions with the hosts went smoothly by God's grace. 
We were about to leave the station already and were just waiting for our copy of the program in dvd when our baby woke up and suddenly vomitted.  We thought that it was nothing to be concerned about because it wasn't much and we thought it was simply due to his awkward position while sleeping in the past hour.  We got inside our car and left for home. 
Sadly, our baby's vomitting did not end there.  He vomitted some more while we were on our way home.  My baby and I were soaking with vomit.  I breastfed him when we were nearing our house thinking that it would help replenish what he lost but it did not help because he vomitted again after that.  My husband decided that we would rush our baby to the hospital to prevent dehydration and to find out what was causing the vomitting.  
Our baby was put on dextrose right away and was under observation.  He vomitted one more time while we were at the emergency room.  We were then advised that he will be confined for further observation and tests.  They said that they will get some blood and urine samples.  It was his first time to be confined since I gave birth to him.  I was reminded of the difficulty we experienced getting blood samples from him for his newborn screening.  I prayed that it will not happen again.  But it took two tries before the nurse was able to get some blood sample for testing.  I still thank God for giving us the grace to endure it and that the second try was already successful. 
At the pedia ER
I was advised not to breastfeed him for the next 5 hours to let his tummy rest.  But our baby kept on crying and he could not sleep even when on dextrose.  Thank God one of the nurses came to our room after hearing our baby's cries and told me that I can try breastfeeding again for around 15 minutes only.  That was after around 2 hours since his last feeding.  Then, we'll observe again if he will vomit.  If he does, we will postpone his next breastfeeding session. 
I kept praying all the while I was breastfeeding him.  I asked God to heal my baby's tummy and that he would not vomit again and that he'd fall asleep.  God answered my prayer.  He slept peacefully in the next hours and he did not vomit again.  Since our baby did not vomit after our last feeding, we went back to our routine of breastfeeding around every two hours but I was still limiting it to 15-20 minutes to give his tummy time to recover gradually.  We were happy again when our baby did not vomit the whole morning and we were able to get some urine sample already.  

First confinement in a hospital.

When his attending doctor arrived, she said that all the tests showed normal results and we were advised to try giving him a bit of solid food again to see if he will vomit again.  We gave him some rice or "lugaw" that day then oatmeal the following day.  Thank God he did not vomit again.  We thanked God as well that he was still playful even while in the hospital.  He even played with his big brother who stayed with us in the hospital overnight.  After 2 days and 2 nights in the hospital, our baby was finally discharged!  Praise God! 

Crib party at the hospita with Kuya Yanthy.
We thanked the Lord for answering our prayer to heal our baby and to provide for our needs while we were in the hospital.  I was thankful that my mom was with us when that happened and she was able to sleep with our eldest son in our condo while my husband and I rushed our baby to the hospital.  We thanked God that our hospital expenses were covered by Medicard and we only paid less than P50.  Most of all, we thank God for the grace to just trust in Him all throughout the time that our baby was vomitting and confined. 
What were my thoughts about that experience? 

I thought that it was just the enemy's way of trying to rob our family of our victory after successfully proclaiming God's Word through a radio program.  But he was not successful in distracting us or in making us question God's plans or His Will.  We praise and thank God for the grace to be still and to depend on God's mercy and grace.  Instead of feeling bad or asking God why it happened to our baby, we used the opportunity to bond as a family and to count our blessings amid the trial.  We claimed that we are victors in Christ and indeed we were!  That experience did not dampen my spirit or resolve to continue preaching the Good News.  I knew that the God we serve is faithful and He proved His faithfulness once more as He delivered our baby and our family during that time.  To God be the glory!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Spelling Fun through Foam Letters

One of my eldest son's favorite activities or past times is spelling words.  He (verbally) spells some of the words that catch his fancy wherever he goes.  Usually, he reads them first because he likes to read too.  Then, he spells out some of the words that he encounters while reading.  We catch him pausing in the middle of a sentence sometimes, looking away from the page of the book that he's reading, and then spelling out a word.  I guess he likes the thrill and the challenge of learning to spell a word.  He's happy every time he spells out a word correctly.  He really loves learning.  And I'm glad that he can learn on his own and he's internally motivated.
Thus, in our homeschool, spelling is one of our favorite activities.  We do this most of the time using our foam letters.  If not, my son writes them on paper using pencil or crayons.
I first bought a set of textured foam letters at National Bookstore when he was much younger (2 years old maybe). I wanted him to learn how to write the letters then.  I would lead him or guide his finger to trace the letters.  Sometimes, we trace them on paper.
I'm very thankful that God led me to find these textured foam letters in the bookstore that fateful day. Actually, I wasn't planning to buy them then. I didn't know there is such a product. I just saw them while I was going around the bookstore looking for clay. My original plan really was to cut out letters from sandpaper and use these to teach my son how to write the letters of the alphabet. Since I found these textured foam letters, I didn't make the sandpaper cut outs anymore. :) I was also very happy that they were cheap.
Since, he is becoming more familiar in writing the letters of the alphabet, he has devised a new way to play with them.  He now uses them to spell words.  In the past, I would just ask him to arrange the letters in sequence.  But since he has long mastered that, we now use these letters to spell words he is familiar with or words that we encounter in the books we read.  He can do this for at least 20 minutes.  But he likes it so much that sometimes he can do it for almost an hour, sometimes supervised, sometimes on his own.  He uses his books as guide when he can't remember how to spell some words or if I'm beside or near him, he simply asks my help.  
Yanthy's former therapist gave him a basket of foam letters and numbers in a basket, too.  So, he now has two sets.  I'm thinking of buying one more set from the bookstore or toy store soon since I noticed that my son not only likes to form a few words but he now uses them to form sentences or book titles.  These simple foam letters are really impressing me.  I'm delighted that my son has thought of a new way to play with them.
Hope this sharing/post gave you another parent-child bonding idea.  Kids can also play with these when left with their nannies because they're easy to use.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Activities Inspired by the Book Blue Cow Goes Out to Play

Today, I decided to have an art activity with Yanthy.  I checked out our art supplies and saw that we still have some unused balloons from the birthday party I had in the orphanage
I reminded Yanthy of the story in one of his books, Blue Cow Goes Out to Play, and told him that we're going to make a cow balloon.  He was thrilled! 

At first, we took turns drawing spots on our deflated white balloon using a black pentel pen.  We also made a playmate for Blue Cow so that he would not be sad. This time, we chose the pink balloon and made it into a pig. I drew a pig face on the deflated pink balloon.

Then, we used a pump to inflate the balloons.  We noticed though that the black spots and the pig face we drew were not very visible anymore after we inflated the balloons.  So I checked out some of our paint supply as well and saw that we have blue and black inks.  I asked him to paint blue paint over the pale spots of the cow balloon using a brush while I painted black paint using my fingers on the pig balloon.  We air-dried the balloons after we're done painting.  Then, I got some blue yarn and made it into a cow tail by tying it on the knot of the balloon.  I also got a lavender ribbon and curled it using a pair of scissors and tied it on the the knot of the pig balloon.
Yanthy's Blue Cow Balloon with a blue yarn tail.
After cleaning up our hands and our mess and taking some pictures, my little boy was ready to go out and play with his cow and pig balloons outdoors.

Yanthy's Pig Balloon with a lavender ribbon as tail.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Six Tips on How to Breastfeed Longer

Here is another article I wrote recently at Philippine Online Chronicles' Wellness Section on Breastfeeding.  Happy Breastfeeding Month!


Based on the 2009 Poverty Statistics released by the National Statistics Coordination Board on February 8, 2011, an estimate 23.1 million Filipinos or 26.5% of the total population are poor. Official government data also showed that 20.9% or 3.8 million Filipino families are poor. They earn an estimate of P230.70/day; P7,017.09/month or below P84,205 a year.

These figures show that breastfeeding can help many poor Filipino families since they have very little budget for food and non-food needs. On top of helping families stretch their budget, breastfeeding also keep babies and moms healthy. This would lessen the chance of moms and babies getting sick and spending money on medicines or hospital bills. Breastfeeding can even help families space pregnancies by acting as a natural contraceptive.

August is Breastfeeding Month and there are many benefits of breastfeeding to moms and babies.

I interviewed breastfeeding coach, Zenaida ‘Zeny’ Feliciano to ask her wellness tips to breastfeeding moms so that we can breastfeed our babies/kids longer.

According to Zeny, it is crucial that a pregnant mom who contemplates on breastfeeding her baby attend a breastfeeding class so she would be well-informed and prepared for the challenges ahead.

Support of the people surrounding the breastfeeding mom can also make a big difference especially in the first 24 hours after giving birth. A new mother needs her husband, ob-gynecologist and pediatrician to be a part of her team. The decision to breast feed exclusively and not to resort to glucose supplement or formula milk is made during the first few days after giving birth. Making the baby room-in with the mother right after birth is a good way to ensure this.

She further said that it would be helpful to have a list of Ob-gynecologists and pediatricians who are breastfeeding advocates so that the nursing mom can get the support she needs in her breastfeeding adventure with her baby.

Here are 6 tips from Coach Zeny:

Coach Zeny teaching Dads how to massage their wives.

Click here to continue reading the article.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

6 Wise Investments for Breastfeeding Moms

Since it's Breastfeeding Month this August, let share one of the articles I wrote at Mom's Corner of Philippine Online Chronicles (POC).  Hope this helps other breastfeeding moms or those planning to breastfeed.


I wrote about the five wise investments for a first time mom before here at Mom’s Corner. This time, I’d like to share what I think are some wise investments for moms who choose to breastfeed their kids. I had been breastfeeding for a total of two and half years already. I breastfed my eldest son from birth until he was two years old. I plan to do the same for my second child whom I had been breastfeeding exclusively for six months now since I gave birth to him.

I wrote about the five wise investments for a first time mom before here at Mom’s Corner. This time, I’d like to share what I think are some wise investments for moms who choose to breastfeed their kids. I had been breastfeeding for a total of two and half years already. I breastfed my eldest son from birth until he was two years old. I plan to do the same for my second child whom I had been breastfeeding exclusively for six months now since I gave birth to him.

I encountered many challenges the first time I breastfed, as well as in the first few weeks that I breastfed my second baby. Thankfully, I was able to overcome them eventually. I wrote about how to win over breastfeeding challenges after I achieved my goal of breastfeeding my eldest for two years.
Breastfeeding is not easy; nevertheless, with a lot of commitment and help from people around you and the things I will enumerate in this article, it can be done even if you are a working mom.

What do I recommend nursing moms to invest on?

Good Nutrition – Your biggest investment would be on the food that you will eat. You need to make sure that you eat healthy and stay away from food and drinks that would not be good for you and your baby while you are breastfeeding. This would entail sacrifices on your part, especially if your favorite foods are those that you should not eat or eat less of while breastfeeding. To learn more on diets for breastfeeding moms and to find out what foods and drinks to avoid, click here and here.
A reliable breast pump – There are many kinds of breast pump available in the market. You can choose a manual breast pump, an electric breast pump or a portable breast pump that can be operated with batteries or that can be charged. If you just stay home and don’t leave your baby for long hours or frequently, a manual breast pump would suffice for you. If you are usually mobile and you need to express milk at work or away from the house, I highly recommend you invest on a portable breast pump. That would help you save time expressing milk at home and most especially at work. It would also enable you to build up your supply of stored breast milk faster. An example of this kind of breast pump is Pigeon’s silent electric breast pump.

Breast milk storage bottles and/or storage bags – These are what you need in tandem with your breast pump.

Click here to continue reading the article.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Saying I Love You to Mateo: Another book-inspired activity

My husband was cleaning the bathroom.  Our maid was cooking the pasta.  I was left to care for the kids.

I decided to read a some books to my baby while engaging my eldest son in conversation while he was playing with his building blocks and imagining that he has a car wash and a toll exit.

After reading some animal books, I picked up a book that my mom gave as a gift to my eldest son in the past.  The book's title is Saying I Love You. 

I read it to Mateo with some help from his big brother.

One of my joys today is to see Mateo turn the pages of the board book.  He is already 9 months old today and I'm delighted to see him turn the pages of the book as I read to him.

Since, my eldest son has already shown interest in writing, I asked him after reading the book if he wants to write a letter or greeting to Mateo by writing I LOVE YOU in a paper.  That thrilled him.  He packed away his other toys immediately and proceeded to get his crayons and asked for a paper.

He got the book and declared aloud that he will write "Saying I Love You to Mateo" instead of just "I love you."  I really do not mind.  I was already happy that he showed interest in writing and that this activity did not only spark his interest and enthusiasm to practice writing but also was an opportunity to plant seeds of love and affection between my sons.

And so he began writing with some verbal instructions from me every now and then to remind him that he should try to make his letters of the same height.

I asked him to write the words again at the back of the paper and try to improve his handwriting.  I was impressed that he obeyed.  Then, he asked for another paper and wrote Dada. That's what Mateo calls my husband.  Sometimes, we hear him say "Daddy" too.  I took my cue from there and asked my eldest if he wants to write "I love you" to his Dad as well and draw a heart.  And he did!  He was in a good mood this morning.  He also showed me the heart that he drew.  Impressive writing skills for a 3 year old and impressive behavior today made me one proud and happy mom before lunch.

Happy 9th month, Mateo!  Mommy, Daddy and Kuya Yanthy loves you!

Family-friendly Places to Visit in Quezon City

The Philippines will mark the 135th birth anniversary of former Philippine President, Manuel L. Quezon on August 19, 2012, Sunday. The late President Corazon Aquino signed into law in 1989 Republic Act Number 6741 which declared August 19 of each year a special working holiday throughout the entire Philippines and a special non-working public holiday in Quezon City and the provinces of Quezon and Aurora. Manuel L. Quezon was the President of the Commonwealth of the Philippines from 1935 to 1944. He is considered the second President of the Philippines after Emilio Aguinaldo following a national election in 1935. Moreover, he is known as the “Father of the National Language.”

As we remember our former president, let me share with you three places in Quezon City -- a city named in his honor -- where you can bring your family in the coming long weekends.

The Quezon Memorial Circle located at the Elliptical Road in Quezon City is a National Shrine and the central park of the City. The remains of former President Manuel L. Quezon and his wife, former First Lady Aurora Quezon are laid inside the monument at the center of the park. It used to be much larger in 1949 when former President Quirino reserved 425 hectares for the central park of the new capital city. A series of Presidential Proclamations later reduced the park area into the now Quezon Memorial Circle, portions of the Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife and a small nearby forest. It is now a 25-hectare park managed and maintained by the city government.

      Photo: “Pastime” by Ree Dexter, c/o Flickr. Some Rights Reserved

What can families do here?

Click here to continue reading the article.

Happy Quezon City Day!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Cheap Treats, Simple Joys, Big Bonding Moments

A walk to the nearby mall, ice cream cones, a donut or some munchkins, some kiddie rides, a bag or two of groceries and lots of smiles, sticky and wet kisses, holding hands while walking and exchanging "I love you's."  These are some of what my eldest son and I share every week when we go out on dates.  There's usually nothing fancy.  In fact, they are so ordinary and cheap.  But he loves all those things.  These things and my undivided attention and presence make him very happy and loved.  So, I choose to let him have his simple joys and I choose to make them part of our bonding moments every week.

Enjoying our donuts and munchkins at Dunkin' Donuts.

How much do I usually spend during my weekly dates with my eldest son?
Walking to the nearby mall - no cost
McDonald's ice cream cone - P15.00 each; available in 3 flavors (choco, ube and strawberry). 
Dunkin' Donuts - P20-30.00 a piece depending on the flavor
Dunkin' Donuts Munchkins - P4 each or P20 for 5 pieces 
Kiddie Rides - P5.00 per token.  They also have a promo where you can avail of 10 tokens for P50.00 +2 free tokens.
Grocery items - It varies depending on what grocery items we buy.

Our son likes to go to the grocery.  It's a special time for him and he likes to bond with me and his Dad by going to the grocery with both of us or any of us.  So during our Mommy and Yanthy weekly dates, I buy some grocery items that we need in the house with him - a bag or two maybe that's light enough for the two of us to carry on our walk back home.  I buy some of the items that he asks me to buy for him like a chocolate drink (Milo, Moo, Chocolait or Chuckie) and oatmeal cookies or Oreos.  Sometimes, I buy him a book from the series that he likes.  Yanthy's sensitive and helpful nature surfaces every time we walk back home.  He would eagerly offer to carry a bag.

During our dates, I would allow Yanthy to enjoy some kiddie rides either before we go to the grocery or right after.  He gets to enjoy 2-3 rides usually.  On rare occasions, he gets to enjoy a maximum of 5 rides.  Thus, our 12 tokens last up to 3 dates most of the time.

We then buy something to eat like a donut, some munchkins or ice cream.  Sometimes, we buy bread or muffins.  Sometimes, he drinks a chocolate drink or he simply drinks his water that we bring with us in his bottle.  We enjoy our food and drinks in the seats near the grocery while chatting and smiling before heading home.

When he is not very active and is showing very good behavior (meaning more cooperative and obedient than usual), we check out the home store that sells furniture pieces and other home decors.  We also go to the toy stores and check out their products.  Yanthy likes to tell me the toys that he wants us to buy.  I seize these opportunities to remind him of what he already has and that he needs to save money for some of the toys that he likes.  I use that time also to remind him of our deal/agreement with his Dad that if he manifests the good behaviors we want him to exhibit until his 4th birthday, we will buy him the toy that he likes very much.  

Enjoying the ride.

Yesterday, we had our date once more.  Yanthy enjoyed some rides first before we went to the grocery.  After that, we bought ice cream cones because he has been craving for ice cream for days.  He had melted ice cream all over him!  So, I cleaned him up first before we went home.  We were about to head to the exit when he saw the toy store again and asked if we could go there even for 5 minutes.  So, we took a sidetrip to the toy store before finally going home.

Enjoying his ice cream cone.

We were supposed to simply walk back home but Yanthy requested that we ride a jeep instead.  He said that our grocery bags are heavy.  He was right.  I realized that too so I agreed and we rode the jeep.  We thus walked a shorter distance going home.

That's our typical weekly date, very ordinary and cheap.  They provide consistent deposits though in my eldest son's emotional bank account.  They may be simple; but to him, they are BIG because through this ritual, he feels valued, important, special and loved.

I plan to keep on doing this until he is much older.  Right now, we only spend around 30 minutes to more than an hour for our weekly dates because I need to go back right away to breastfeed his baby brother.  When Mateo is much older, Yanthy and I will have longer dates and Mateo and I will have our own dates as well.  

Sunday, August 12, 2012

The WHO Growth Chart for Breastfed Babies and My Breastfeeding Journey

"Mommy, your baby is not gaining enough weight.  We need to give him vitamins and formula milk supplement.  Your breastmilk is not enough for him."

"Mommy, we need to put some Cerelac already in your child's formula-milk because he's quite slow in gaining weight.  He's a very active baby and it seems that your breastmilk is not enough to provide him with the milk that he needs to sustain and support his growth."

Are you a breastfeeding mom?  Have you heard these lines from your child's pediatrician?  I have.  And it broke my heart when I heard those words when I was a first-time mom breastfeeding my eldest son.  I got worried and my confidence fell.  I listened to my child's pediatrician even though my lactation or breastfeeding consultant was telling me otherwise.  So I chose to mix feed my eldest son when his pediatrician recommended it to me.

Then, I gave birth to my second son almost 9 months ago.  I heard similar feedback.  My children's pediatrician said,"Your baby's weght is lower than what is indicated here in the growth chart but it's alright.  Breastfed babies tend to be lighter than formula fed babies.  What is important is that your baby is gaining weight and growing in many ways steadily and is not getting sick."

I'm thankful that our new pediatrician now is much more supportive of my efforts to breastfeed my second baby.  Of course, I sometimes get worried when my baby's weight shows that he is at the lower curve or level but deep in my heart I have resolved that this time around I will trust my instincts as a mom.  I think it helped that it was not my first time to breastfeed so the comments from my son's pediatrician that his wieght is relatively lower than that of other babies doesn't faze me much anymore.

My second child in one of his photoshoots.

So amid some thoughts that maybe my son is not growing enough or getting enough milk, I chose to push through with my plan to breastfeed him exclusively for six months.  Then, one day, my husband searched for the WHO growth chart for breastfed babies in the internet and he plotted our second baby's weight against it.  He found out that he is within the 90-95% level and that his weight gain in the past 6-7 months is very good.  That piece of news was very good news to me as a breastfeeding mom!  It was a great boost to my confidence and the more that I became determined to breastfeed my second child exclusively now that we have slowly introduced solids to him.

It's really very important that we, breastfeeding moms, surround ourselves with people (experts included) who have the same beliefs about breastfeeding.  It's very difficult to be taking on this journey/adventure alone with no one to give us a tap on the back from time to time.  Of course, the most important person who should be part of your team is your spouse.  Then, it would be good if your ob-gynecologist and pediatrician are part of that team as well.  What I found helpful in my years of breastfeeding (my eldest and my second baby) is surrounding myself with other breastfeeding moms especially those who had gone before me and have succeeded in this adventure.  Their stories and encouragement are very helpful and valuable.  So, if you find yourself a bit low in confidence one day, choose to call or bond with a friend who is also breastfeeding or who has been successful in it.  You may also search for mommy blogs that share about their breastfeeeding challenges and their successes.  You may also get a breastfeeding coach/consultant like what I did especially during the first few days or weeks that you are breastfeeding your baby so that you can get the much needed expert advice and support you need in this crucial stage.  I was blessed to have known my breastfeeding consultant/coach, Zeny Feliciano, who was recommended to me by my birth coach Chiqui Brosas-Hanh.

And my advice to moms who hear their pediatricians tell them to mix feed or to quit breastfeeding altogether because their milk is not enough for their baby's growth, I suggest that you check out your baby's weight and height using the WHO growth chart which was developed using a sample of infants/babies who exclusively breastfed from birth to 4 months at least , breastfed partially until 24 months, and who were not introduced to solids earlier than 6 months.  Even the American Academy of Pediatrics stated in their policy statement last february 2012 that infant growth should be monitored using this chart to avoid labeling infants as underweight or not thriving because of looking at the wrong growth charts.  Sometimes, moms and dads are not aware of this and so use the wrong growth chart since it is commonly used by many.  Had I discovered this growth charts when I was a first time mom, my breastfeeding story with my eldest son would have been different.  But I'm still glad that I did not quit breastfeeding him and simply chose to suppplement with formula milk.  I still achieved my goal to breastfeed him until he was 2 years old.

I'm thankful that we discovered these growth charts now so that we would be more equipped as we take on this adventure anew with our second child.

Now, more than ever, I choose to rely more on my intimate knowledge of my baby aside from these growth charts.  I monitor his milestones and his health since it was also said that these charts should only serve as guides and not hard and fast rules that if your baby deviate from them, it means that there is a problem.  Well, if the deviation is big or substantial, it's worth investigating.  What I'm saying is that babies develop at different ways and some are leaner or heavier than others because of many factors aside from breastfeeding.  There are babies who are very lean but are not sickly and are hitting their developmental milestones just right or even earlier.  That was the case with my first born son.  He's on the lean side, a bit taller than what is expected for his age and advanced when it comes to hitting his developmental milestones.  So, now that I know better, I'm not as worried as before when it comes to his weight and health for I know that he's healthy and he seldom gets sick.

If you want to read more about the weight gains of breastfed babies, you may read this article from Dr. Sears' website.

So, there mommies and daddies, keep your focus on your breastfeeding goals for your child!  Trust that you are giving the best for your child as you nourish him/her with the best milk in the world -- his/her mom's breastmilk!

At a free breastfeeding class of Zeny where I shared my success story. 
With me are my husband and eldest son, Yanthy, Zeny and other parents.

Happy Breastfeeding Month!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

A God of Mercy and Love. A God who Saves.

I woke up today because of a phonecall from my mom.  She informed me that they have moved temporarily from our house to my Ninong Ed's house which is a two-storey house with attic.  She said that there were houses near our house within the same subdivision that were flooded again.  They chose to take precautionary measures just in case the rains would continue and the flood waters would rise again.

This has been the scenario in San Mateo, Marikina, many parts of Metro Manila, and nearby provinces in the past days due to the southwest monsoon enhanced by a low pressure area. 

Floods, evacuation and relief operations had been the norm these past days in many areas in Luzon.

It's a very sad scene.  Many individuals and families were affected and continue to suffer, to be inconvenienced, to live on the edge because of the threat of floods brought about by strong rains.

I had been monitoring the news these past days and I experience mixed emotions as I read news online and as I watch from the tv. 

Our country has already suffered from many weather-related disasters in years.  It's sad that until now no long term solutions are in place to address these problems that repeatedly bring disasters every year.  I pray for more government leaders who will choose to truly serve our nation's interest and that of our countrymen; so that these problems and the damages to lives and property would be minimized or prevented during bad weathers.  I pray that those in positions of authority, influence and power would choose to go beyond giving short term help or solutions, would choose to be selfless and make sacrifices for the people they promised to help and serve.  May God move their hearts during this time to do their best within their capacity to be God's hands and feet to their countrymen and not use these difficult times to advance ther personal interests.

Though it pains me to watch many of our countrymen suffer and experience danger, I was glad to hear and see that these disasters continue to bring out the good in many, Filipinos and foreigners alike who live in the Philippines and those who learn about what's happening in the news.  Many relief and rescue operations are being organized and done in different parts of the country not just by those in government but also by other groups.  I hope and pray that we will not grow tired helping every time we see a need and an opportunity to help; and that those who are in the receiving end, who suffer and are affected by calamities/disasters, would continue to be resilient during times of crisis.  I pray that situations like this would bring us together as a nation and as children of God.

May God be our anchor in the storms of our lives as individuals and as a nation.  May He be our strength and our hope.  May He be our protector and our strong fortress.  May He shepherd us.

Photo source here.

Many had been asking as these developments unfolded whether God had a hand in causing these rains to happen and if this is happening because of what happened last Monday in Congress as Congressmen voted to stop the debate on the RH Bill.  Well, that's not surprising because of the timing.  God made us thinking or rational beings, and I believe that it's normal and alright to ask.  Sometimes, God uses those times when we are searching and groping for answers to draw us closer to Himself. 

What do I think about all these?  This is just my opinion  and I could be wrong.  I think that these floods and disasters are a result of the abuses in our environment (like dumping of garbage in bodies of water for example) and the wrong done by those in authority either by allowing people to build businesses and villages or by building homes in areas where the waters are most likely to flow.  I do not believe that God caused these disasters to happen to our country and that He likes to see our countrymen suffering because of them.  But I also think that He ALLOWED it to happen at this time to communicate a message to us.  He might be teaching us that life is valuable and sacred.  He might be teaching us that something good can come out of bad situations.  He might be teaching us that although we experience many trials in life, we can overcome our hurdles with His grace and with the help of each other.  He might be teaching us that in the face of hardships, the good and noble and pure in us can surface to help turn things around.  He might be warning us that we need to change our ways.  He might be telling us to redirect our steps.  he might be reminding us that above all, He is in control.  He might be teaching us that miracles are possible even in the face of death or impossible situations when we choose to put our trust and faith in Him.  God can speak different messages to us through our similar or shared experiences.  Each one of us though should take time to ponder God's personal message to us as we face certain choices, situations and crossroads in our lives.  May the Holy Spirit enlighten and guide each of us.

Most importantly, I believe that God our Father is a God of MERCY and LOVE.  I believe that He allowed these bad things to happen for a reason and that He is not wasting our tears or energies.  I believe that our God is a God who values LIFE and that He does not delight that these lives end through calamities or disasters.  He has manifested His mercy, love, value for human lives and souls in many mysterious ways from times past to this present day.  He has manifested it through His Son, Jesus, who though innocent, He allowed to suffer to save us from our sins to save us from eternal damnation.  I believe that our God is a God who SAVES us not only from those that can harm our bodies but ultimately from those that can harm our souls. 
I can say this with conviction because I have experienced His mighty hand at work, delivering me and those I love, from many challenges and storms (literally during the Typhoon Ondoy and figuratively) in the past.  Through it all, I have known God to be my strong fortress, my protector, my deliverer. He has been the embrace I constantly run to in times of trouble.  He has been my strength, peace and hope when things get difficult. 

This is what I pray for at this time for my countrymen.  May this God of mercy, love and life hold us close to His heart.