Stella’s first Halloween

When I was growing up, one of my favorite traditions was Halloween. My uncle would dress my older brother up in various reincarnations of either a headless horseman or a zombie (back when zombies were not yet in fashion), always just two alternating every year. The costumes were always a hit, and managed to snag my brother Best in Costume awards several times. When my brother outgrew that, my uncle, ever the Halloween fanatic, turned to his three hapless daughters and dress them up. We’d always go trick or treating around the neighborhood, then settle down and watch Magandang Gabi Bayan while munching on the treats we’d gotten from hours of hard work trick or treating. It was a fun time, and these little memories added to what I consider a simple, but really charmed childhood.

Now that I’m a mom, I want to start making family traditions for our little motley crew of three. Right off the bat, I knew I wanted Stella to celebrate her first Halloween. And not with dainty, cutesy princess outfits either. Nope. She will have loads of time to be a princess or fairy or butterfly. Now that she still can’t mouth off her objections, her father and I will have some fun. Thus was how Stellasaurus was born. I have to hand it to my DIY husband. He completely DIYed Stella’s costume using Stella’s pajamas, some cardboard, and strips of felt paper.

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For our costumes, I just bought a pink shirt and a red bandana (to channel our Jurassic Park costumes) from SM and tadaaaaa!!!!

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Stella’s face said it all: Moooom, you’re embarrassing me!” Why yes, my darling, and your father and I plan to embarrass you for many more Halloweens to come. Because really, what are children for, if not for parents to embarrass them? Happy Halloween!

DIY Menu Board and Meal Planning

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Stella eats solid food twice a day these days, and it’s a challenge to have food ready when she’s ready to eat. Before I organized her meals (and made my DIY menu board), we would prepare her meals on the spot. We would scrounge around for whatever vegetable or fruit is available, boil or steam it, then mash or pureee, then wait for it to cool. The entire process would take anywhere from 15 minutes to half an hour. Sometimes it’s not a problem, but sometimes the meals would just be too close to her next feeding schedule. Which means she won’t be drinking as much milk as she should. Which, of course, isn’t ideal, as the primary nutrition of babies up to 1 year is still milk.

In a nutshell, there was just zero method to the madness. There was just absolutely no system in place. And I learned early on that when it comes to babies, there needs to be a system for everything.

And so, after one too many rounds of “Anong kakainin ni Stella?” “Ano bang meron?!””Kalabasa nanaman!” I decided to sit down and figure this thing out once and for all.

I needed a plan. I needed a schedule of her meals AND a schedule of grocery shopping to make sure we won’t have to scrounge around anymore or “steal” food from the pantry that’s meant for other people in the house. After several rounds of deliberations, some hits and misses, I came up with the following:

Grocery: Do the grocery every weekend for the following week’s meals. I originally wanted to shop for two week’s worth of meals but when I did that I ended up with several rotting pieces of vegetables and herbs. Sobrang sayang. Grocery once a week after work just for one whole week’s meals is enough.

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DIY menu board: I’m pretty proud of my DIY menu board I made, considering I have absolutely no arts and crafts bone in my body. I just got a white board, a round of extra strength adhesive tape, and several colored markers, all from National Bookstore, alphabet letters from the toy section of the grocery, and a roll from my mom’s sizeable washi tape collection, and ta-da!

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Simple menu board. I wanted to make sure the lines were straight and even, but for the life of me I couldn’t figure out how to calculate the spaces. So… bahala na si batman. Pwede na yan!!! As long as I can write on the board and as long as Weng, our housekeep, can read it (she helps prepare Stella’s meals), ok na!

I plan Stella’s meals for the entire week every Saturday or Sunday and go grocery shopping with the husband after. We’ve been using this system for a while now and it saves us a lot of time and energy. I don’t have to rely on food jars bought from the supermarket. I can make baby food using fresh vegetables and fruits. And not to mention, no more scrounging around for food! I highly recommend sitting down and making a plan for when your baby’s starts eating solids. It’s apparently not one of those things that you can do on the fly. Well you can, but why on earth would you want to?

Mommy favorites: the solid food edition

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I guess it’s safe to say that Stella doesn’t like carrots

We started feeding Stella solid food as soon as she turned six months. It’s exciting to see her get a taste of something other than milk, and it’s a joy to discover what food she likes and doesn’t like. So far, she loves squash, pears, prunes, bananas, peas, sweet potato, and cauliflower. She doesn’t care for carrots and brocolli. I don’t too, so I can’t say I blame her. Here are some of the things that have made this feeding journey easier for us.

1. Whole + Natural Baby Food Book

This beautiful book is a comprehensive guide to feeding babies up to one year. The book, written by Filipino moms, uses local ingredients and gives a step by step guide to preparing solid food for babies. The book is filled with recipes and beautiful photos and it’s perfect reference book for first time moms like me. I suspect even non first time moms will find this useful for their own children. I’ve tried many of the recipes already and most of them has been a hit with Stella! I even tasted them myself and the food is delicious. As it’s independently published, this book isn’t out in the bookstores yet. Try emailing wholenaturalbabyfood@gmail.com to purchase your own copy.

2. Munchkin suction bowls

The suction feature comes so handy when your baby is like mine, always grabbing things or knocking them over.

3. Chicco spoon
I’ve used other spoons before and this is my favorite. The spoon isn’t so hollow, unlike other spoons, which makes it easier for Stella to take the purees we give. It’s also made of silicon, which makes it soft on Stella’s gums. Love this and I’m so glad we switched to this.

4. OXO Storage container set
These are leak proof, watertight, and air tight and they have measurements to make portioning a breeze. We make Stella’s food in batches ( because who has time to cook baby food every single day?) and we store the food in these containers. We just pop them in the refrigerator and take them out for the next meal.

5. Ecomom sterilizer
I cannot rave about this sterilizer enough. It cleans all of Stella’s bottles, spoons, bowls, toys (even our cellphones!) and its drier feature saves us from the time consuming task of drying all her stuff one by one. Everything just feels so clean after a cycle in the Ecomom. We use it as storage too. I love multi purpose appliances!

6. Mamas and Papas baby bud booster seat
I was initially hesitant about getting a snug chair but this one has cast aside all my doubts. The chair feels safe when tied to a chair and though the fit is snug, Stella seems comfortable enough. It’s easy to clean, too. The removable activity tray that comes with it has also been a useful and most welcome distraction for Stella.

Where to buy children’s books on Instagram

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I’m only just now beginning to see the joy in reading and collecting children’s books. There is so much artistry that goes into making a really good children’s book that I never quite appreciated before, from the carefully crafted words to the matching illustrations. Kids are a really discerning audience. How do you make something engaging and still make it relatable to a preschooler? How do you even captivate the imagination of a 3 year old when most of them can’t stay still long enough to have their pajamas put on?

I’ve managed to get a hold of some really nice books for Stella. Some I’ve bought in bookstores, some are gifts, and some I’ve bought online from Instagram sellers.

Here are some of the book sellers on Instagram that I follow. They have a nice, well-curated selection of children’s books that I always check out.

1. Sunnypages
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2. Ben.and.lily.
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3. Beluga Dreams
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Sleep training update

After weeks of sleep training, which includes increasing her milk intake, experimenting with different bed times and bed time routines, I think it’s safe to say that my sleep training has been an utter disaster. Lol. I have come to just accept that my dearest, darlingest daughter just won’t sleep through the night yet. She will when she’s ready and I just have to accept it. She’s a very happy baby during the day, anyway, and is rarely ever fussy. Her awful sleeping habits are just a quirk. She still reaches for me at night, with her eyes closed. It’s cute and sweet and I console myself with the fact that the time will come when she will no longer reach for me.

It works, sometimes. Other times I want to tear my hair out.

Ah, motherhood.