Monday, August 17, 2015

How to Spend Real Quality Me-Time

I've been wanting to spend the little time I have for myself in more productive and meaningful ways, but I always find an excuse not to do so. On top of that list is being more physically active.

As a stay at home mom, I often question where my time goes. The everyday routine of bathing my kids, preparing their meals, feeding them, breastfeeding my baby, cooking for the family, changing nappies, grocery shopping and so on and so forth eat up my 18-hour waking time that there's hardly enough time left for myself.  Once in a while, I'd get some 15-20 minutes of so-called me-time in-between the hullabaloo but I find myself using that time not very wisely.

And not having real quality time for yourself is a very dangerous thing. Because this spirals to a myriad of excuses to use what little time we have for ourselves to use what little time we have ourselves to do mindless activities that are not necessarily beneficial to our well being - like late night binge-ing on chips while watching TV or shopping for things we don't need at Ensogo.

Not a good thing...

And so I decided to change that this week. I started by setting the goal to use the little free time I have to get back to being active. When we still didn't have kids, I'd workout in the gym for hours. Of course I can't do that anymore so I started by working out in our condo gym and swimming in the lap pool. Initially, my goal was just to regain my strength and endurance from my C-section 9 months ago.  Last week, I told my husband I'm ready to go with him for spinning classes on Saturday. He pushed me further and said that he'll start training me for boxing on Sundays. Now my muscles are all sore from working out 5-days straight last week. But was it worth it? Oh yeah! Getting back to being active made me feels so good inside and out.  And what do you know, I'm also back to blogging. 

I'm excited to where this simple step to spending real quality Me-time is going to take me. As I said in my IG post last Saturday, it's now or never. No More Excuses.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Easy Maya Banana Cake with my Pre-Schooler

One of the things I love about being a SAHM is being able to do fun activities with my kids any time of the day. 

For our merienda, I decided to make an easy Maya Oven Toaster Banana Cake with my 3-year old, Caleb.  He's into fast food/Play-doh Ice cream lately so he got really excited when I told him we're going to bake his favorite Banana Cake together.

The Maya Oven Toaster Banana Cake recipe only calls for a few ingredients:

1.  Maya Oven Toaster Banana Cake Mix 230 grams

2.  3 Tablespoons of Cooking Oil

3.  1/4 cup Water

4. 2 Ripe Bananas

5. 1 Medium Egg

Because I love nuts, I added half a cup of almonds slivers. Walnuts would have been better but we only had almonds in the pantry.

Caleb identified the ingredients like he was on a cooking show. He also learned about some basic baking utensils like the measuring cup, measuring spoon, wire whisk and baking pan. By the way we only used 1 egg for the cake.

Any good chef should have excellent knife skills. I showed him how to slice the first banana and look at how he sliced the second banana almost perfectly. He's now promoted from using the plastic knife to the dinner knife. This is a big step for my junior master chef! 

The recipe is very easy, a three- year old can do it without any fuss - just mix all the ingredients together. Actually, you don't need a whisk to put them all together, but of course I won't disappoint his fascination to the whisk.

Our finished product after 30 minutes. 

Yum yum!  

It's never too early to involve our kids in the kitchen. When Caleb was younger, he would just observe and help put ingredients in the utility bowls. I feel proud that he can now slice the bananas and mix without making so much mess. Easy banana cake today, chocolate souffle tomorrow. Who knows!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Learning about Tire Vulcanizing

I have been driving more than half my life and I am blessed that I seldom get into any kind of car trouble. That's a good thing because the only thing I knew about car maintenance is to fuel up, add water to the radiator and fill air to the tires.  I know that as a driver I should take interest on these things. Admittedly though, I had always relied on the men to do the job of car repair and maintenance - my dad's driver, my dad or brothers. 

When I got married, I thought that my husband would also take care of these things. After all, he's the man of the house and this is his responsibility, right? Much to my dismay, he did not baby me this way.  

It was long overdue anyway. I started learning about "car stuff"  when I got married. Instead of doing it for me, Randy taught me how to go to LTO to have my car registered and also bring my car to the shop every time it needed some repair or maintenance work. So for the past 5 years, I've learned about aircon condensers and evaporators, starter and other terms or car parts which seem like French to me. 

One time I was in a gas station to fuel up and fill air in my tires when the manong told me that there's a slow leak in one of my tires because of a nail tack. It was a good thing I was 10 mins away from the house so I called up my husband to ask what is the best thing to do. He told me to go straight to this tire shop around the corner of our subdivision and have my tires vulcanized.

While there are a lot of vulcanizing shops, I wouldn't suggest that you just head on anywhere. It would be nice to get a referral from someone to be sure that the vulcanizing shop is reputable. Also ask if they do cold patch vulcanizing. I learned from my husband about another method - heated patch or "tusok" as they call it. This is an old method that will just ruin your tires even more.

So when I got to Jonel's Tire Shop in Levi Mariano, I acted as if I know what I was doing. Hahaha! I first asked how much their vulcanizing service is and the manong said 100 Pesos which is the amount my husband told me. I told him that my husband went to their shop before (I-name drop lang even if he doesn't really know my husband para at least manong would know that my husband can get back to them just in case they do a lousy job..)

First thing he did was remove my tires was to use a wrench to loosen the nuts.  He showed me the part where there was an air leak and got the nail out.

Using a tire changer, manong removed the tire from the rim. He then used a buffer to clean the surface where the patch will be placed.

This is manong's makeup kit, este, tool kit. He placed the patch on the inner part of the tire so it was not at all visible from the outside. He let it dry for a few minutes.

After which he soaked the tire in water to check for "bula" (bubbles)

He installed back the tire and I'm good to go!

The entire vulcanizing process took about 15-20 mins.  You may choose not to give a tip because the P100 payment is actually the tip itself. 

It looks pretty simple, but I was actually proud of myself for being able to do it instead of waiting for my husband to handle it for me. If I did so, the tires might have deflated and he'd have to take it out and replace it with the spare one which is more time-consuming.

So sometimes, it's also good for us women and mommies to learn about basic car troubleshooting and maintenance instead of always relying on our hubbies to do these things for us.

How about you, do you handle car issues yourself or rely on your husband to do it?

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

My Comfit Flats: Fashion + Comfort

When it comes to shoes, I usually go for wedges. But having a pair of dependable and comfortable flats is a must especially when you have to be on superwoman mode.  

My wedges are reserved for weekends when my husband can load and unload the stroller from the car. On regular days that I beat the clock for errands, take my 3-year old to his class or play date (while wearing our 5-month old on a sling), it is not only practical but necessary for me to be in flats.

My only dilemma with flats is that it tires my feet when I wear it for a long time.  I have a slightly higher arch than normal so if I'm to be in flat shoes, the heels or shoe base have to be padded. Aside from comfort, I also want something that's fashionable even if I'm just in shorts or leggings. 

Aerosoles and Naturalizer have always been my go-to brand for shoes but I buy they only in the States because they're a lot cheaper than if I buy them here in Manila.  I've been on a hunt for a local counterpart until I've come across the brand Comfit. 

I was happy to learn that they have a branch in Market Market Taguig (where we're only a few minutes away).  In their store, I was pleasantly surprised with the variety of flats they have. Unfortunately, there were only a few styles available in my size. I initially wanted a black, but the friendly sales associate offered me this pretty flats in gray.

I have to admit that I initially thought it was too dressy for an everyday flats. But when I tried it on, I fell in love with it. As the S.A. described it, "nakakaputi ng paa."  Sige na nga, as if naman maitim ako. "Maam, mas pumuti pa." LOL! Before the S.A. got even more cheeky, I asked for a size 6 and just like Cinderella, I was enamored. Yes, enamored is the word I chose because that's just what it felt like. Aren't they just lovely?

There are so many things I love about this flats. One is the gold and ribbon detail makes it so fashionable and modern.  Second is the spiked padded base which not only makes the shoe comfortable, but also gives me added height. Third is the soft leatherette material that does not rub off my heels and toes. 

And lastly, what's not to love about the color and design? It just goes well with everything in my closet. It is definitely a worthy addition to my wardrobe.  It compliments my personal style. And lastly, it is reasonably priced at only P1,599.

So with that, I'd give this pair.....

Now I can't wait to get my second pair. How about you? Do you own a Comfit or any comfortable shoe that you just fell in love with? I'd love to hear your shoe story. 

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Breakfast Date At Italianni's

I don't know about you, but I just love breakfast.  

I can skip lunch or dinner, but breakfast everyday is a must. As a SAHM, I usually prepare a healthy breakfast at home. But whenever there's a chance, having breakfast outside is always a treat, may it be a breakfast buffet in Sofitel or just a simple longganisa meal in Jollibee.

That is why, when we were offered a free breakfast voucher in Italianni's, I was easily convinced to get the Bistro Group's Premier card despite having to shell out an extra P2,500 on top of our lunch bill. Well, we were actually offered another 40% off on our bill. But yeah, the breakfast voucher pretty much had me.

For P2,500, The Bistro Group Premier card includes ten (10) P250 vouchers, 30% discount on Mondays, 20% discount on Tuesday to Sunday and 25% discount on your birthday.

It took a while before we were able to set this breakfast date. My husband is not a breakfast person like me but I'm happy that we were able to schedule it right before the voucher expired. And because it's weekend breakfast, we went there in shorts and convenient!

Italianni's is not really a popular place for breakfast, but we were surprised that they seemed to be frequented by regular guests. They offer a decent selection of breakfast choices from gourmet creations, puff pastry pockets, pancakes, omelettes, crepes, continental specials and local favorites.

Because I love eggs and adobo, I ordered the Eggs Benedict Adobo (P325)- Toasted English Muffins topped with Adobo hash, tomato, kesong puti, poached egg and Hollandaise sauce.  It was a delightful fusion of continental and Filipino. The saltiness of the adobo is balanced by the poached egg and kesong puti. And the hollandaise sauce makes it even more flavorful.  At first, I thought the serving was a bit too small for its price, but it was actually a heavy protein-packed meal that lasted me throughout late afternoon.

Randy ordered the Three Meat Delight (P395), a heavy platter of chicken longganisa, pork tocino and beef tapa served with sunny-side up egg and garlic fried rice. I took a bite of his beef tapa and for a moment wished I ordered the same thing. It was so good! The beef was tender and it was marinated very well. I At least I know what to order next time. Even though Randy is not a breakfast lover like me, he thought the food was delicious and was worth waking up to.

After our meal, we lingered for a little while to chat, read the newspaper while enjoying their free-flowing coffee. It was a perfect date! Another reason for me to love breakfast.

Italiannis is open for breakfast daily at Bonifacio High Street and Greenbelt 2 from 7:00 am to 10:30 am.

Friday, February 13, 2015

5 Things I Learned About Having A Cesarean Section

I'm finally back from a 3-month hiatus!

Baby A just turned 3 months old and I finally could sneak some time to blog again. I might not be able to finish this post in one sitting, but I have to admit that I really missed blogging. So it just feels good to be back! I'm loaded with so many blog ideas that I had a hard time choosing where to begin. I thought it's apt to start by sharing my experience in giving birth to our second baby.

Moms know that nothing prepares you for childbirth, may it be your first, second, third or even tenth. As they say, a woman giving birth has one foot on the grave. Childbirth is painful, scary and even traumatic for some. But no matter how difficult the experience is, seeing the baby you carried for 9 months for the first time makes you forget all that pain.

I am blessed that for my second cesarean section, recovery was much easier and faster. Nevertheless, adjusting to my new life took some time. One of my biggest challenges was how to manage my time between my newborn and toddler (we also took a break from homeschooling) while attending to the usual household concerns. Both of them craved for my attention and I was distraught and restless for the first few weeks.

But despite having a smooth C-section and quick recovery, the days that followed my delivery were not without drama. Our baby girl had to be admitted to the NICU when she was 2 weeks old to rule out sepsis. Not to mention my struggle with breastfeeding and her poor weight gain. Oh well, I'd probably take that up in a one of my future posts. For now, let me share with you my thoughts about giving birth via a C-section the second time around.

1. Don't fret about not having a normal delivery 

When I gave birth for the first time, I totally discounted the possibility of having a cesarean section. Not only were we not ready with the things we needed for a longer stay at the hospital, we also did not anticipate paying a heftier hospital bill. 

With all the hype in natural birth, I had feelings of regret as well as a sense of guilt that maybe, I didn't try enough. So when I became pregnant again, I discussed the possibility of going into normal delivery with my OB-GYN.  She told me that given my previous experience, there is that risk that I might have an emergency CS again. The thought of going through that financial burden again made us decide to have a planned CS. It is still more expensive than a normal delivery, but at least we know how much money (more or less),  we would have to shell out.

Yes, I did not go into labor. Yes, I had to get anesthesia. Yes I had to take pain relievers and antibiotics. But push or no push,  it does not make me less of a mother. I still had to endure pain, just like any mom who bore and delivered a child. 

This time, I did not have any regrets. Whether CS or normal, I learned that comparing myself with other moms is pointless. What matters is that me and baby are well and healthy. 

2. It's ok to ask for help  

As moms, we tend to take control of almost everything. But after a major operation such as this, I didn't have any choice but to rely on others for help. Because I don't have immediate relatives here in the Philippines, my husband became my major source of help. It was during this time that I had proven how much my husband really loves me. Since I couldn't move much (not even lift my baby from the bassinet), Randy did everything-- as in everything! 

I also sought help from my cousins and sisters-in-law. They ran errands for us, took care of our eldest child while we were in the hospital and even cooked for us when we got back home. 

3.  My baby is my priority 

Never mind if the house is a mess. Never mind if we sometimes had to order-in fastfood for dinner. Never mind if my hair was unkept and I only had 5 minutes to shower. Never mind if I had to pass up Christmas reunions and parties. Everything else can wait. Even my husband understood this and he never demanded that I go back to my usual routine during the first weeks.  I learned to cherish this time that our baby is solely dependent on me. I know that it will pass fast enough and I will miss it when it's over.

4. Respect my body and allow it to heal 

It still amazes me how Hollywood celebrities and Victoria's Secret models manage to go back to their pre-pregnancy sexy figures just weeks after giving birth. As for me, I don't obsess in losing weight immediately. My CS scar and my stretchmarks are trademarks of my motherhood.  The extra pounds, I can deal with when it's time.  What's important is to allow my body to heal internally even if I seem ok at the onset. Even if I am able to move like usual, a C-section is a major operation and it will take time for my body to fully recover.

5.  To embrace my life as a mother

When my I gave birth to my eldest, I was overwhelmed with the big change and the big responsibility that I had to take on all of a sudden. Tearfully, I asked my mom, "When will my life get back to normal?" Her response was an awakening. "This is your new normal. Deal with it."  I may have given up a lot of things, but the gains far outweigh the trade-off. I could never imagine how my life would be like without my babies. And for this, I'm truly grateful to God. Being a mom is a privilege that God has given me. It doesn't really matter how they came out, whether CS or normal. What's truly important is how I raise them from here on...