Favorite Mommy and Baby stuff… for now

So many toys!

So many toys!

Before I had a baby, I didn’t realize how much stuff we were going to have to deal with. It’s a whole armada of bottles, blankets, clothes, what have you. Like many moms before me have wondered, how could one tiny human being need so much stuff? It’s mind boggling how easily these seemingly little things accumulate until they’ve managed to take over our entire house, and our entire lives. The Mom stuff is a whole different matter. Breastfeeding pumps, nursing covers, diaper bags, the whole shebang just never seems to end. Still, there are some things out there that to me are just worth the extra kalat. Here are some of my favorite mom and baby stuff that have so far made this new motherhood journey easier for both baby and me.

1. Exergen thermometer
This is every paranoid mom’s best friend. You just swipe the thermometer on their forehead and it gives you an accurate measure of the baby’s temperature without waking the baby up if they’re sleeping. Plus, and more importantly, this gives a reading which is about as accurate as a rectal thermometer. I could never bring myself to use one of those, so this is really the next best thing.

2. Mama’s and Papa’s stroller
I searched high and low for strollers before settling on the Mamas and Papas Armadillo Flip Stroller. It fulfilled all my requirements – has to be useful from birth to toddler (so we don’t spend on another stroller when Stella grows bigger – and we all know babies grow so fast!), has front and rear suspension for a smooth ride for the baby, easy to navigate in most kinds of terrain (perfect for strolling in the mall or walking in parks), easy to fold and store, not too bulky, can be inward or outward facing, and has a big basket for extra storage. Also, it’s not too attention grabbing like some other super expensive fancy schmancy strollers being pushed around by the sosyal mommies at the Fort. Or maybe I’m just envious. Har har. Anyhow, Stella seems to be comfortable enough in it so that’s the most important thing.

3. Lillebaby Airflow carrier
When we’re not using the Mamas and Papas, like when we’re just running a short errand, we use our Lillebaby carrier. The choice was actually between this or the Tula and I ended up going with the Lillebaby because one, it was cheaper, and second, the Lillebaby was suitable for a newborn whereas the Tula needed an extra infant insert if it will be used for newborns. Stella has fallen asleep in the Lillebaby so I take that to mean she’s comfortable in it.

4. Nosefrida Snotsucker
This one has been a godsend, particularly because Stella is so prone to congestion. Her nose gets stuffed so easily and it’s hard for her to breathe and breastfeed, which in turn makes it hard for her to sleep. And when baby doesn’t sleep, mommy doesn’t sleep as well. This little sucker gets the stuff out in no time. We find that using a saline solution beforehand works even better. But this one is so, so handy especially for kids and babies.

5. Crane humidifier
Still on Stella’s problematic congestion, I find that a combination of the Nosefrida snotsucker, the saline solution, plus this Crane humidifier pretty much keeps Stella’s congestion at bay. The Crane works beautifully. Just put in some water, and the thing can run for 24 hours straight. Perfect if you’re like us where the aircon is sometimes on practically the whole day.

6. Pigeon teether and lip trainer
Since every cool kid was sporting a Sophie the Giraffe teether, we went ahead and bought one. P1,250 bucks for a teether! Lord. And of course we discover that Stella prefers the cheap ass Pigeon teether, which is just P250. Oh well. The teether is made of soft silicone and can be sterilized. Lesson learned: never again will I be carried away by hype! Or, well, I will try my very best not to.

7. Skip Hop Activity Gym
This activity gym keeps Stella entertained for a good 10-15 minutes. And what good is a mere 10-15 minutes? I didn’t know too, before I became a mom, but let me tell you all the beautiful things that can happen in just 10-15 minutes: I can take a nap, I can take a shower, I can cut my nails, I can check Facebook in peace, I can eat my lunch with both hands, the list is endless.

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.

September favorites

1. My Amazing Blow Dry Secret

I am the ultimate consumer and I love products with outrageous claims. Some favorites: “Dramatically Different Moisturizing lotion,” “Hope in a jar,” “Hello Flawless Oxygen Wow” and “Ultimate Miracle Worker Night Rejuvenating cream.” Take note, dramatically different. Not just “different” or “somewhat different.” Dramatically different. And not just “night rejuvenating cream,” but THE “ultimate miracle worker night rejuvenating cream.” My Amazing Blow Dry Secret Quick Dry Shake n Spray, I’m happy to discover, is no different. Amazing ba talaga? Well, in a word, yes. The product promised to cut my blow drying time in half. That is no easy feat, considering I have long, thick, wavy hair, which isn’t code for “healthy” so much as “annoying” or “unmanageable.” Not that I blow dry my hair every day, but on the times I do, this product did manage to speed up the entire process. Yey for products that deliver on their promise! The only downside is that it doesn’t leave my hair with that nice, fresh scent. Unlike my trusty Vitress Hair Protect serum . It’s quite pricey too, again unlike Vitress which retails for less than 30 bucks.

2. The Wet Brush
I am, shamelessly if I might say, so easily swayed by advertisements, cute names (see example above), and I believe everything that advertisements tell me. Whiter teeth in 7 days? Yes please! Lose 10 pounds in 1 month? Where do I sign up? I’m naturally curious and I am horribly gullible. Doesn’t always make for the best combination. Sometimes it pays off, sometimes it doesn’t. The Wet Brush is supposedly “Kendall Jenner’s favorite brush.” Yes, that’s exactly how they advertised it. I’m not a fan of the Jenners, per se, but if something is some celebrity’s favorite, well, then there goes all my sensibility out the window. It’s Kendall Jenner’s favorite brush! It makes her hair beautiful, and if she’s beautiful enough to have the most liked photo on Instagram EVER, well, the girl must know what she is talking about.

In all fairness to the product, The Wet Brush is truly the softest brush I’ve ever used. It does detangle my hair and it can be used for either wet hair or dry hair. I use it for both, although I enjoy it more when I use it while my hair is wet. I plan to give this to friends for Christmas. I imagine thrusting this into their hands and saying “This is Kendall Jenner’s favorite! And it will be yours too!”

3. K-Palette Lasting Two Way Eyebrow Pencil
Doing my eyebrows is my favorite thing to do in the morning. I don’t always get it right. Some days it’s acceptable, some days the right brow looks better than the left. Some days both brows are a mess. But I enjoy doing it just because I don’t know exactly how it will turn out. This product has given me more “good days” than bad days. It’s easy to use too. I just line my brows with the pencil, fill it up using the eyebrow, and I’m done. I think it’s safe to say that this little thing shall remain in my kikay kit for the time being.

 

4. Bad Bird Umami Fried Chicken
This was a discovery Jaime and I made on a casual Saturday afternoon date at Hole in the Wall, Century City Mall. I wasn’t actually sure if umami was safe for pregnant women, so While waiting in line, I had to Google “umami safe for pregnant women.” Before my pathetic 3G internet worked, we were up next and I decided, fuck it, bahala na. So I went ahead and got this umami fried chicken with 2 pcs sweet potato waffles with miso butter and maple syrup. Susmio ang sarap. No regrets whatsoever. Jaime got the Dirty Plate, which consisted of the fried chicken, fried rice with bacon and chicken liver, and kimchi. Delicious as well.

And if you’re wondering if umami is indeed safe for pregnant women, yes, it’s generally safe for pregnant women and children. Ha!

5. Akemi Suprelle Ultra Quilt duvet
I have searched high and low for a duvet that isn’t too heavy, too expensive, too thick, etc. We would love to have goose down feather duvets, but alas, no tengo dinero. The ones I previously purchased were too thick that we ended up sweating, even with airconditioning on. The one “feathery” duvet we had was hand me down, and it was so worn out that we literally had to sweep feathers around the bed every morning. Not fun. Akemi’s Suprelle Ultra Quilt comforter is the best duvet I’ve ever had. Really soft but provides just the right amount of warmth. It was warm when you want to be warm, and cold when you feel like being cold. Yes to technology! And if that doesn’t make sense to you, you will have to get one and see for yourself.