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!

It’s a girl!

A while back, I wrote about our plan to throw a small gender reveal party during our family Christmas get together. It was a fun little pakulo and to this day I don’t know how we managed to keep the gender a secret for four whole months. There were some slip ups, but on the whole we managed to keep everyone in the dark.

We bought pink balloons, decorated our gender reveal box, and prepared prizes. I am proud to say that I prepared the “tally board” where guests can cast their vote. (Everyone who guessed right gets a prize, and then we drew one “grand prize winner.” That board, by the way, is really the height of “craftiness” as I can get. Jaime, on the other hand, decorated the box. I’m rather glad at least ONE of us is good at this crafting business. Boy’s got skills, I must say.

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See you soon Stella girl! Everyone’s excited to meet you!

Revelations

 

There are some things, apparently, that I would rather not know. Or that make me question the level of curiosity that I actually have. Jaime and I talked about whether we would get a Congenital Anomaly Scan for our child. A Congenital Anomaly Scan, as the name suggests, is a detailed ultrasound, usually done late second trimester, that checks for any abnormalities in your baby and whether it is growing as it should. Sort of like your baby’s first ever Report Card.

The phrase alone sounded like a terrifying prospect. Anomaly. Aberration. Abnormality. Would we want to know if our child had a defect, some sort of flaw in her genetic makeup? What would we do if we were told that yes, Mr. and Mrs. Martinez, there is something… not quite right with your child. Would we be less joyful, less brave, less thankful?

The answer was, no. If the child had an anomaly in his grand design, then so be it. It is still his own design, and it will be no less grand. This was a child, after all. This was our child, and we would love our child, with all the courage, joy, and thanksgiving our hearts can muster. Whether or not he had a hole in his heart, or had six fingers in his right hand instead of five.

And so we trooped to the Women’s Health Center at St. Luke’s Medical Center, Quezon City, for the Congenital Anomaly Scan. Jaime sat at the waiting area, and I was left alone at the screening room. At times the OB sonologist would say such charming things as “Now let’s count the fingers. One..two…three…four…teka di ko makita yung panglima,” triggering a mild myocardial infarction. “Nandyan lang yan!” I would feel like yelling. “Hanapin mo doc!”

“Ahhhh there you go. Nakatakip lang pala. Five fingers on the left! Tingnan natin yung sa right…”

And the whole fun process would start again.

“This is the eye. I have to see a white mass there or..”

“Or…? Or?!?!”

“Or it means your baby may have a cataract.”

“A cataract? As in parang sa mga matatanda?

“Yes.”

“…”

The baby seemed to enjoy this process because it shifted its position and we were forced to wait until it decided to move again and torment mommy no longer. Thankfully, it turned out that my baby’s eyes do not resemble that of his great grandfather’s. No cataract. Cue tremendous sigh of relief.

She then moved on to the heart (4 chambers, check! regular heart rate, check!) brain, lungs, spinal cord, etc. I must say, this OB sonologist was very thorough, and explained everything every step of the way. I was amazed at how detailed these scans are. I could see my baby’s kidneys! I actually know more about this 23 week old fetus than I do about my own body.

To be fair, the tension was more a reflection of my own apprehensions and anxieties rather than the OB sonologist’s relatively candid manner. Every time the OB sonologist paused, or checked her “book” (which presumably tells you the normal-not normal range), or every time she would mutter even the slightest, most imperceptible “hmmmm…” I would silently pray, bargain, and make all sorts of promises to the Almighty. “Lord, please make my baby healthy and I swear I will never bitch about anything in my life ever again!”

Thankfully the OB sonologist gave my baby a clean bill of health. Everything is where they should be, and measures how they ought to measure, and looks how they ought to look. Thank you lord! I shall strive, with all my heart, to keep my promise!

It amuses me when people say kamukha ko or kamukha ni Jaime. All I see is a melting baby! Haha. Hello there!

It amuses me when people say kamukha ko or kamukha ni Jaime. All I see is a melting baby! Haha. Hello there!

He or she?

When it came time to reveal the gender, Jaime was called to the room. The OB sonologist showed us our baby and there and then, I saw our future flash before my eyes.

I shall keep the gender a secret for now, as my darling mother, the excited grandmother-to-be, wants us to throw a gender reveal party come Christmas time. I was puzzled. What IS a gender reveal party? Apparently it’s literally what the name says – it is a party where you reveal the gender. My mom showed me some pegs. Who cooks up these things? But even I had to admit they were cute. The piece de resistance in most parties is this huge box filled with pink balloons if it’s a girl, and blue balloons if it’s a boy. After everyone has voted, the parents open the box and tadaaaa! Out come the balloons!

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We plan to do it during the Christmas party with all the relatives from my mom’s side. I doubt a secret of this magnitude will even last until December, but we’ll see.

Gold!

We celebrated Jaime’s birthday this year with a bang – by watching Spandau Ballet, live in Manila. Well if, like us and our tito tita standards, you define ‘bang’ as watching an 80s band perform their greatest hits and some new songs they have churned out over the years. We thoroughly enjoyed the concert, as did the hundreds of other titos and titas in the audience.

Spandau Ballet sang old favorites like Gold, Through the Barricades, Lifeline, Round and Round, and of course, True. We were thrilled that Fra Lippo Lippi was the opening act, too. Or at least one member of the band was. Yihee prom songs. The kids in the audience had absolutely no idea what was going on.

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Grisly little trivia: Spandau Ballet actually refers to the “dance” that Jewish prisoners made while they were being gassed or hanged at Nazi concentration camps. No wonder the band landed in the list of “World’s Worst Band Names,” a list that includes Dogs Die in Hot Cars and Crazy Penis.

It will be a couple more years before Jaime actually turns golden. Hopefully we’ll still have enough energy to watch concerts then.

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