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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Homemade ice cream

Everyone who knows Jaime and me knows that I can’t cook to save my life. Except for perhaps the usual adobo, tinola, and sinigang, and maybe fried eggs. I have never been and I doubt if I ever will be the domestic goddess of Jaime’s dreams. Jaime, on the other hand, one of his passions in life is cooking. That is literally the first thing he thinks of in the morning, and the last thing he thinks of at night. Not me, his darling, devoted wife, not anything else. Food. He told me himself. Ganong level.

I remember back when Jaime and I had just begun dating, he cooked this superb Chinese feast for my dad’s birthday. He prepared sweet and sour lapu lapu, steamed brocolli and beef, pork ribs, chow mein, the works. And in spite of themselves, I think my parents were thoroughly impressed. As for me, I think that’s when I first thought, hmmm… this boy, marunong dumiskarte.

During the pamamanhikan, my mom said “You do know na hindi marunong magluto itong si Mia, no?” My mom needn’t worry. I told him early on. Mabuting magkaalaman na habang maaga pa. He stuck around, so I assume that means my lack of domestic skills won’t be too much of a problem.

Thankfully, he still cooks for me (and for friends and family on special occasions) to this day. I’m only too happy to leave all the cooking to him, and I’m only too happy to be the guinea pig in his kitchen experiments.

So today I introduce to you a new category in my blog. Table for Three! Jaime’s homecooked dishes and their recipes.

First up, homemade ice cream, made without an ice cream maker. Very easy to make, even I can pull this off!

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Ingredients:

1 box whipped cream
1 small can condensed milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 pcs Oreo cookies, crushed

Procedure:
1. Chill whipped cream for at least 24 hours
2. Manually whip the cream using whisk for 5-8 mins until cream becomes stiff
3. Add vanilla extract and condensed milk and whip until well combined
4. Fold in crushed oreo then freeze overnight
5. Serve

And voila!!!

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Home for Christmas

My husband and I live in a tiny one-bedroom apartment in the middle of the city. We love where we live. There is a mall right across our building, which is perfect if you get a sudden late night hankering for milk tea and beef burritos (like I did during my first trimester). Nearby there’s a small park with enough space and security for us to go jogging any time of day. When we’re bored and there’s nothing on TV we can always check out the shops and pretend we have a lot of money. It’s the perfect neighborhood to sit down and watch people. Or watch dogs, which can infinitely be more interesting than people.

Still, it’s a small apartment. We share a closet and there’s never enough room for our shoes. Our dining table can only seat 4 people, and that’s on a good day, when the chairs are not overrun with bags, jackets, mail, what have you.

I’ve been looking for tips on how to decorate a small space for Christmas. There is literally no room in our unit for a Christmas tree. Unless that Christmas tree is a foot tall, like our tree last year. We placed it right on top of our TV console, right beside the books, the phone and the remote control. Cute, but definitely not the Christmas tree of my dreams.

So for this year, I decided that I will decorate our tiny apartment, no matter what. There’s no reason a tiny space like ours can’t have some Christmas cheer! Here are some of my pegs. It takes just tiny decors here and there (a tiny Christmas tree, candles by the window, throw pillows on the sofa, a wreath on the front door) and tadaaa! We’ll have our own Christmastime at the Martinezes.

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One Christmas day, while we’re mulling over the lechon and fruit cake sprawled across our 10-seater dining table, I hope we’ll be able to say “Remember when we were just starting out? We lived in that apartment that was so small, hindi man lang tayo makapaglagay ng Christmas tree?”And we would stop chewing on our lechon and go “Hmm…yeah. Fun times!”

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.