Thursday, December 20, 2007

All I Want for Christmas

The Hubby and I have extremely low EQs. Over the past two weeks, we've been giving each other our unwrapped Christmas presents. Mainly because we can't wait to see the other's reaction to the gift. Now we have nothing left to open on Christmas day. Oh dear. I hope Raine's EQ soars way above ours.

So far, The Hubby's given me one of those memory foam pillows (because I always complain about neck pain when I wake up); an oven thermometer (because I always harp on about how am I supposed to know when the oven has reached its required temperature); a meat thermometer (because I once overcooked pot roast, and the other time I undercooked it); The Best Philippine Short Stories of the Twentieth Century (because I kept getting it and putting it back on the shelf at the bookstore); and The Poetry of Pablo Neruda (because The Hubby is a romantic, I've always wanted to try reading more poetry, and we both loved the poetry reading off Il Postino).

Me, I've given The Hubby Exceptional Breads (because he wants to move beyond bread machine bread), underwear, shirts and a dressier office jacket. These aren't my real gifts though, since they're stuff he really needs. I'm still waiting for something before I can get him the gift I've been planning to give. In case that doesn't push through, I still have Plan B. Now if only I can find it...

The Hubby has also been reminding me to list down all the stuff that we sort of need or want to get. So here's my list:

  1. Vacuum cleaner - a wet & dry one, with the reversible blowing/sucking function. The heavy duty one, since we need to vacuum often (our bedroom is carpeted).
  2. Mattress - we inherited a lovely antique narra bed, which came with a sort of antique mattress. The Hubby is attached to the mattress though; I think he grew up on it.
  3. New sound system - I'd be very happy just to get our current one's CD player fixed. Then I can play all the CDs of Raine. And I can teach her about the classics. Like U2 and EBTG and Sting and Tchaikovsky.
  4. DVD player - ours has been around even before we got married. It has gotten very picky in its old age, and we sometimes have to settle for watching movies on the laptop because the ornery old DVD player won't play.

Hmm. Wow. That's all I can think of at the moment. Isn't wonderful? We have everything we need! We really have to thank God for that. He's been such a faithful (and generous!) provider. And as we celebrate Rainey's first Christmas, I pray that we get the message across to her. That it isn't about the giving of gifts, but about the God who loved us so much that he gave us the greatest gift ever--the life of his son for ours.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Out the Window

I recently asked my mom--who is one of the most patient, laid-back, slow-to-get-riled people I know--if she ever, ever felt like tossing me out the window when I was a kid. "Oh, many times," she cheerfully replied. It made me feel so much better.

For all her precociousness and cuteness, Raine can sure be one annoying baby. And if my near-saintly mom felt like tossing me--and according to my mom, I was "such a good kid" (I didn't say that!)--then I guess it's normal for me to feel that too. Well, given my impatience and low threshold for irritants, I may indulge in window throwing fantasies more often.

My fear is that I am raising exactly the kind of kid that I don't like: the whiny brat. Raine isn't a high-maintenance baby; she's very sweet and happy--if she gets her way. She wants to be carried when I'm cooking or washing the dishes. She likes to poke and touch and hold and fling and eat whatever I'm holding. And when she doesn't get to, she whines and whines and whines. Of course saying "no" to her elicits that trembling-lower-lip face, and sometimes wails worthy of Bantay Bata.

People tell me that this is normal, since babies can't quite communicate what they want, need or feel yet. But as her mom who is with her 24/7, I feel that I should be able to decipher her baby ramblings by now. I suppose I can tell what she's trying to say, it's just that sometimes I'm busy or too exhausted to really act on it. Most of the time her whining means, "Play with me, Mommy. Play with me now." Or she wants to go out and see Chloe, the grumpy old dog, or the birds, or the fish or her favorite bamboo chimes hanging out in the back. And me, I just want to stay in the room and read with my feet up. How do you balance being Mommy, the all-around entertainment center, the housekeeper, the chef (I am elevating myself from cook) and being just plain Ree?

I love my daughter. Every day I look at her, I am amazed by the perfection of her toes and fingers, by the joy in her smile, by her happy disposition (I am even more amazed how two such grumpy people like The Hubby and me produced such a cheerful baby!). I watch her roll up to sitting position, I watch her zip and zoom around the living area in her walker (taking great care that she doesn't run over my toes), I watch her as she sleeps. I savor her warmth when she feeds, and when she snuggles up to me. My heart still melts every time she lays her head on my shoulder, or when her eyes light up when I walk into the room.

I love being Raine's Mommy. But sometimes frustration and annoyance, even anger, is normal. I guess what I should chuck out the window is my preconceived notions of motherhood (it's an everyday process). I am Raine's mom, not the Perfect Mom. And with God's grace, I can try to be the best mom for Raine. And I think that's the best thing we can do for our kids.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Best Baby Things

Gail tagged me ages and ages ago, but I really sat down to think what ten things have significantly helped Rainey and me. Now that Raine's napping and I'm waiting for The Hubby to get home so we can eat a sinful sisig dinner (with fresh salad greens to nullify the cholesterol), I'll make that list. In no particular order (and not exactly 10 items):

  1. Avent Uno IQ Breastpump & Playtex Storage Bags - don't know how I would have survived without these. Raine is still completely breastfed, so when I leave the house, or leave her with someone else, she has to have an ample supply of milk. I also have enough milk to donate to others. I love the Avent pump since it's relatively painless, quick and very efficient, compared to the Amazing Chu-Chu pump I first used.

  2. Juniors Sitter/Rocker - great place to put the baby! Raine got the hang of rocking herself right away. She's had her rocker since she was about two months old. She'd fall asleep in it, chew on it, scratch it (she loves the feel of the seat), and now uses it as a sort of walker and pushes it around. While we haven't gotten round to buying her a high chair yet, I also feed her in it.

  3. RJellybean Sling - in the early days, this didn't work for us, because it was at the peak of summer heat. But when the weather got cooler, and Raine got used to being in the sling, this became very handy. I love how I can do things with two hands while still 'carrying' Raine, and my arms and back don't get too tired! It's also a great conversation starter. These days, though, Raine is getting too restless in the sling, because she loves twisting and turning and looking all around. Still have to figure out how to sling her in the back. Jen CC Tan, one of the owners of the brand, is also so nice. She let me drop by her house so she could personally show me how to use the sling.

  4. ProKids Diapers & ProKids Wipes - this is the brand that works best for Raine. I love the velcro tabs on the diapers, and the wetness indicator. The wipes smells fantastic too (lavender).

  5. Baby Milk Bath, Cliven Diaper Rash Cream, Cliven Baby Shampoo, J&J Top to Toe Wash & Petroleum Jelly - Raine's kikay kit is comprised of these. The Baby Milk Bath comes from our pedia. It's very mild, and keeps Raine's skin soft and smooth. You apply it while she's dry, then rinse off. When I'm in a rush though, I prefer the J&J. The Cliven stuff were a gift from Tishpy and we love, love, love the scent. The Diaper cream is so effective; I even use it for Raine's occasional neck rash. Petroleum jelly, of course, has a million and one uses (this deserves a separate post!) but we use it to help prevent rashes by the mouth due to Raine's non-stop drooling.

  6. Sandra Boynton Board Books, Dr. Seuss, Guess How Much I Love You, I love You Forever and other books - Raine loves being read to; Sandra Boynton's Bellybutton Book and Dinosaur's Binkit are favorites. Raine will usually stop fussing when you start reading to her. Before she could reach out and eat her books, I also read Dr. Suess' Hop on Pop and The Foot Book to her. I Love You Forever always makes me cry when I read it aloud, so I've stopped for now. Guess How Much I Love You is my all-time favorite, but it's a bit too long to read aloud for now. I'm trying to build Raine her own library. I hope she'll love reading and books as much as I do.
  7. Cedric, Sofia, Benny, Betty and her other chewable toys - these 'friends' of Raine can sure keep her busy. She loves chewing and sucking on them, even if she isn't teething yet. One thing we discovered about toys though. She can have really cute, expensive ones but she prefers playing with stuff like a plastic rice serving spoon, an empty ice cream can, the straps on her rocker or stroller, even her burp cloth! So we try to control ourselves and not buy toys. I'll buy books instead!
  8. Car seat and stroller - we have a Graco system that The Hubby's cousin loaned us, and it's so beat up I'm ashamed to give it back. Been telling The Hubby to offer to buy it off them instead. I can't imagine carrying Raine the entire trip to Baguio or Laguna, so I'm glad for the car seat. We need to get a bigger one though--she's outgrowing this one! I find the stroller too bulky for commuting, especially when it's just Raine and I, but beggars can't be choosers. It's still helpful. Imagine carrying all 20lbs of Raine all the time!
  9. What to Expect in the First Year - one of the most helpful and informative books I've read. It keeps me in check--I don't get overly paranoid or too ecstatic about things Raine-related.
  10. Canon Powershot G3 Digital Camera - it's an old model, but still works fine for documenting Raine's amazing life :)

To all you moms out there--what are your favorite baby things?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Rainey Days and MomDays

I wasn't built for rain. It stresses me out. I get obsessed looking for leaks (our house has several). When The Boo was still here, my stress levels were right through the roof, since rain, thunder and lightning terrified the poor guy. In fact, I lost The Boo during one such thunderstorm last August. (side story: last Saturday, we went to Tiendesitas, and I saw several Shih Tzus, I missed The Boo so much I got teary eyed). I also abhore getting my feet wet, so I avoid going out. Rainy days on end drive me crazy, sometimes even inspire me to write sort of morbid short stories. Too much rain gets me low.

This is also my first week of official SAHM-hood (Stay-At-Home-Mom). Though I still get a few calls on magazine-related stuff, I can see that tapering off by next week. It makes a real difference, not having deadlines hanging over my head. I don't get as stressed when Raine doesn't follow her nap schedule; we just play until she gets sleepy. Hmm. I don't know if that's good though, not having a firm schedule. I would like to train her to be more disciplined and consistent, to be much, much better than her Mommy.

I'm wondering what other SAHMs do, and how do they do it. Last Monday, Aling Lourdes was here, so I didn't have to do any chores, including breakfast and dinner. I just prepared The Hubby's packed lunch, told Aling Lourdes what to cook, and Raine and I kept each other company. Tuesday was just me and Raine. She was in a clingy mood in the evening, so I overcooked the dinner veggies, but I got the rest of the meals out fine, washed up, fixed up and cleaned a bit. Wednesday, Aling Lourdes was here again and she kicked us out so she could clean properly, so Raine and I went to visit my brother and sister in law. Then I prepared dinner in the evening. Today, I prepared breakfast, The Hubby's lunch, played with Raine, now that she's napping I'm blogging and thinking about what to cook for dinner. Is there something missing here? I feel that I should be doing so much more. Like baking cookies or making soap or writing a novel. Or organizing the finances. Hmm. Well. I could be doing those things if I weren't blogging...But let's say I didn't have Aling Lourdes, how do other SAHMs manage the entire household and a demanding baby? Makes me appreciate my mom even more.

I'm also wondering if I'm stimulating Raine enough. Isn't she getting bored with my company? We either play in bed, where she can stand holding onto her crib (and fall without really getting hurt); hang out in the living/dining room, where she commando crawls all over, or zips around in her psychedelic pink walker (she inherited it from her aunt!); or we go for a walk around the village (which we can't do when it rains). I would've wanted to make swimming a regular thing, but The Hubby is adamant that we don't go just the two of us. I read to her (Sandra Boynton's Bellybutton Book is her favorite), but mostly I just rough-stuff and harass her. Ehehe.

Raine's also in that phase that she wants me around all the time. And the later in the day it is, the nearer I have to be. In the morning I can leave her to play in the room while I do chores or take a quick shower. In the afternoons, I can be preparing dinner and she'll be hovering around, either crawling or in her walker. By early evening, she wants to be carried, or I have to be right beside her as she plays. So I'm learning that I have to prepare dinner early in the afternoon. And I guess that's the best time to do other things as well. Like my imaginary cookies, and the phantom gourmet spreads.

But back to SAHM-hood. I feel that I should be more productive somehow. The Hubby is out all day working so I can have this option to stay home. So I feel that he should be getting value for his money. Hmm. That doesn't sound quite right.

I remember what Louise, a SAHM with no nanny and no maid, said. She told me early on that at this point, I should focus on the baby. Anything else I get done beyond baby things is a bonus. Belle, another SAHM says that just because I don't go to an office, doesn't mean I'm not working. In fact, the home is my office, and I'm on call 24/7. She and her husband have agreed that she gets "off" times, when he takes charge of their two daughters while Belle reads or does whatever she wants for herself. I guess it's a balance that I still have to work out: Rainey, The Hubby and me. Right now, Raine takes most of my time and energy. Essentials like food and making sure that there's clean underwear in The Hubby's drawer come second. Me-and-Hubby time and me time--well, whatever we can sneak in.

I suppose I'll get better at this SAHM-hood. I'm sure that among the three of us, we can work out something that will make everyone happy and loved. Rainey Days and MomDays will not get me down.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Swimming on a High


That's how I felt after Raine's first swim last Thursday. My first, too, after eight months or so of being landlocked (I swam till I was about 8.5 months pregnant). As soon as I stepped into the pool, holding Raine, I felt at home.

Swimming has always been something I could do well. Oh sure, not well enough to compete, but well enough to feel confident in the water; well enough for me to enjoy it. In fact, I'd even dare say that though I may not be the better swimmer compared to my excel-at-any-sport sister Rix, I am the stronger one. And that's saying a lot, given my total klutziness and lack of coordination on land.

In the water, while doing my laps, the world is reduced to a blurry hum. There's nothing else but me, my body, my rhythm, my heartbeat, my thoughts. Embraced by the water, surrounded by it, I feel free.

Sheer pleasure.

After our swim (my mom took Raine after her swim while I did a few laps), I couldn't stop grinning. I haven't felt so high in ages. It was an ear-to-ear-smile-laugh-out-loud-even-when-alone kind of high. I knew my body was going to kill me the next day--all those unused muscles complaining--but I didn't care. And it felt so good.

I haven't felt that kind of good in a long time. Sure, The Hubby makes me feel loved, Raine makes me laugh, my work has given me a sense of accomplishment. But this kind of good comes from being able to enjoy something that isn't essential, but pleasurable nonetheless (aren't the most pleasurable things non-essentials?). And being able to share it with Raine, having her enjoy being in the water, made it even better.

I hope that, someday, Raine will find something that will give her this kind of high. I pray that she learn to relish life's little pleasurable moments. And I thank God for mine.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Shining Through

Rainey went to her first art exhibit yesterday. She was the youngest guest at the opening of Shining Through, by Dan Reventar.

Tito Dan is the dad of my good friend, Kelly. He recently retired from flying (he was a corporate pilot). He took up painting as a hobby because his wife, Tita Emy, was so into cross stitching that she wouldn't talk to him, so he decided to go do his own thing. After several paintings, he asked his friend, artist Lino Severino, to check out his work, to see if he should go on, or he was just wasting his time. So Lino took two of Tito Dan's paintings, and a few days later, came back and informed Tito Dan that he was booked for an exhibit at Ayala Museum.

Tito Dan's work is all landscapes. Serene, peaceful pictures of God's gorgeous creations. I think that's what drives his work: the desire to capture the beauty of God's own work. Tito Dan is also fantastic working light and shade into his paintings. In the title piece "Shining Through", it's as if you can actually feel the radiance of the light diffusing through the trees.

Shining Through will be at the 2F ArtistSpace of Ayala Museum until the 19th of November. If you want a taste of serenity, do drop by and enjoy his paintings.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


The greatest thing about being totally hands-on with your baby--no yaya or nanny--is that you get to see all the milestones yourself. Even the yardstones (not quite a milestone, but still something to be proud of). Or milepebbles, if you prefer.

I know, for example, exactly how Raine discovered her feet. She was sitting (technically she was on her butt and I was holding her up) on the footstool in front of the mirror, one of her favorite activities in her younger days, and she happened to look down at her wiggling toes. In the mirror, I could see her expression of fascination and wonder, as in, "What are these things down here?" And I've seen every little bit of progress till she finally got her foot in her mouth. That's one of the ultimate baby goals, apparently. A yardstone in itself, but not one they put in baby books.

It's also great knowing that one of Raine's favorite songs is Stand By Me, not Boom-Tarat-Tarat or Ocho-ocho. And if I do give in to the temptations of TV, I know she isn't soaking in the local (or local-dubbed Asian) soaps. Not that I'm above watching such--I confess to knowing who Carlos Miguel and Rosario, Rosemarie and that third triplet that Claudine Baretto played are. But it isn't mindless viewing all day. I'm thankful we didn't get cable, and that even our local channel reception sucks--it makes The Hubby and I keep the boob tube turned off more often (which is a big deal for The Hubby; he even used to sleep with the TV on). But I digress.

I know what Raine's crying about, though sometimes I'm just too impatient to really listen to and decode what she's trying to tell me. I was around the first time she did that trembling-lower-lip face when I said "no" to her. I know why she suddenly took to feeding from the bottle after the great battles (she saw me pumping milk into the bottle, and she touched the bottle, looked at me--and we never had much of a problem after that). I've seen her progress from rolling one way only to rolling all over, from scooting to commando crawling, from looking like a rickety table on her hands and knees to cruising. The first time she sat up, the first time she reached out, the first time she learned to spit--I was there.

When other SAHMs told me about the joy you get from staying home with the baby and witnessing these yardstones, I was skeptical. How can you be in a state of thrill all the time? But while I haven't reached that mommy nirvana yet, I can wax poetic about things like Raine's poop.

Of course, there are times when I feel overwhelmed by our uber joint-at-the-hip-ness, (sometimes literally). I don't think it's healthy to be with the baby 24/7. For me at least. So I'm glad I get to go out once in a while. Last Monday, I went for a mini pamper session at Rustan's with my cousin Randee, and left Raine and The Hubby alone the entire afternoon for some Daddy time. Both survived the experience.

If Raine were keeping track of her own parents' progress, I suppose she'd celebrate the yardstones too. "OK, can figure out I've been stewing in my nappy in less then 20 minutes--50% improvement since last time!" Or "Hmm, finally learned that the view from the floor is great and is now rolling around with me." Or "Breastmilk is still best for babies! No yucky solid stuff!" But that last one--our battle at solids feeding, when she refuses to open her mouth and expertly spits out anything I manage to spoon in--is a tactical retreat on my part. We'll try solids again next week. Maybe I should change the spoon...

I suppose I should join Raine too, celebrating my yardstones. Motherhood, like anything else, isn't done overnight. It happens little by little. I am slowly letting go of my expectations of myself--that absurd picture in my head of the perfect mom that I have to be. I thank God that babies, Rainey in particular, are a resilient lot. They can take the little blunderings of their fumbling parents. And as Raine learns to deal with our world, I learn to deal with hers. One yardstone at a time.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

End of an Era

This week and next, I'll be wrapping up the December issue of Masigasig, Globe's business magazine published by Summit. After that, it's full time wifey/mommyhood for me. And I'm scared.

Some women are born domestic goddesses; others like me have to try very hard. This doesn't mean that I don't know how to run a household or do the chores. It just means that--let me put it this way: I can write a 5,000 word essay on the wonders of all-natural household cleaners in less time than it will take me to apply said cleaners to the appropriate areas of the household.

It's not that I don't enjoy domesticity. I am rediscovering my love for cooking and baking. I used to find it therapeutic, cleaning the bathroom. And nothing can give me satisfaction the way a shiny, eat-off-it-clean expanse of floor can.

I guess what I'm scared of is whether I will enjoy the SAHM (stay at home mom) role for a long period of time, when it just isn't a break from the work that I do. When it will be, in fact, my work. The sheer repetitiveness of it all overwhelms me. Like I will have to bathe the baby everyday for the next five years at least. And I will have to plan menus and cook and all that till death do us part.

I know it sounds selfish. But I know myself. I have a very short attention span. I like trying out new things, and when I've satisfied my fix, I like moving on to the next. Then again, there's some hope. I've been together with The Hubby seven years, after all. So not everything is short term with me. I guess it's a matter of attitude and God's grace.

I guess I'm also scared that I will disappear; that I will just be The Hubby's wife, Rainey's mom. I've worked hard to see my name in print; people are beginning to know my work, my byline. But there are hundreds of new writers out there, lots of them good, some of them not, but all of them available. I'd be so easy to replace. Maybe in a year, no one will remember me. And if I don't use it, I might lose it--this skill for writing. Even the drive to publish. I might turn into the wifey with nothing to talk about other than Junior's scores and how I manage to haggle down the price of fish at the market.

The other week, I turned down what could've been a lucrative gig copy editing for a Hong Kong-based magazine. I'd work from my home, and they pay in dollars! My friend from the company said that they were impressed with my resume, and that it was regrettable that I declined. It was both hard and easy to do, turning down that gig. Easy, because based on the priorities--God, The Hubby, Rainey, work--it was way down the list. And besides, The Hubby and I have already discussed that I will take the supporting role at this point in our lives, because his career is really taking off, and one of us needs to be in charge of Raine and the home.

Yet it was hard to do, because it could've been a good gig, another impressive entry in my resume, an international client. It could have been a step to other international projects. The experience (not to mention the pay) would have been great, to say the least. And it was hard to turn down because my work has defined who I am for the longest time.

But things change. Priorities change. And I'm ready to make that change. So help me God.

Monday, September 24, 2007


I love my daughter's feet (my daughter--still sounds so unreal, like saying "my Pulitzer" or "my New York Times bestseller"). I love the way they look: like a misaligned stack of thickly cut Spam (well, just two pieces, actually), with Alaminos longganisa toes. I love the way they feel, so soft yet substantial. I love the way her toes flex and curl. I love how I know she's awake without her making a sound, when I see her feet up in the air, barely visible over the top of her crib. I laugh at the peremptory way she parks a foot on my breast when she's feeding, as if laying claim. I love the small spots of warmth when her feet rest on my thighs. Or when her tiny toes knead my arm. Strangely, I love the way they smell on a hot day: slightly sour, slightly pungent--baby catchichas! But only under the toes of her right foot. I love the strength in them, as she kicks, kicks, kicks away; stomps in her tub; or grasps her toys between them. I know someday these feet are going to walk away from me: as she goes to her classroom on her first day of school; as she stomps away when we fight; as she moves on to live her own life. But today, I hold her beautiful baby feet in my hands, saying, "Can Mommy have these feet?" And with a laugh, my daughter gives them to me.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Raine's First Pro Photos

Check out Raine's pix done by her Tishi (Tita Shishi), professional photographer Sheila Juan. They are fabulous! Tishi and Tishpy came over to the house one afternoon, ate popcorn and played with Raine--and Tishi took these wonderful photos. Thanks, Tishi!

Check out her photos done by Mommy as well (not as fab, but taken with tons of love!).

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The Hot Momma's Workout

While at the pediatrician's clinic last Saturday (Raine's growth is apparently self-regulating already--she gained only 0.4kg from last checkup, but her over all weight and length is 17lbs and 24in, so still good) I decided to weigh myself. My pre-pregnancy clothes were starting to fit, and I felt thinner than I did before I got preggy, so I figured I had maybe 10lbs more to lose. To my horror, I still weighed 138lbs! Where is all that weight hiding? Or am I looking at myself through make-yourself-thinner glasses? Could the milk in the boobs and the smooshy marshmallow belly really weigh that much? I was flabbergasted. Or maybe flab-coated.

I suppose I should take it as a challenge, losing that weight and getting back into bikini-clad beach goddess/hot momma shape. It's somewhat difficult, since being a work-at-home-mom with no nanny and no fulltime help, I don't really have time for the gym (not that I'd really go anyway; I'm a bum). But with some creativity, I've found ways to work some exercise into my days with Raine.

Walking. This is one of the best ways to burn some calories. I strap Raine into her stroller and we go around the village. Since I'm from Baguio (where we walk everywhere), and I love looking at other people's houses (must have been an architect in a previous life, or a member of the akyat bahay gang), this is one of my favorite activities. Plus it keeps cabin fever at bay. There are different groups walking babies in the afternoon as well, sort of yaya cliques (I think I'm the only non-yaya who takes the baby out) hanging out in the park, at the corner of Montreal and Monterey, and by the Jewish part of town. Some walk their dogs.

Raine and I have racked up some pretty good mileage on our walks. We go for at least 30 minutes, but usually take an hour or so. My sister Rix taught me an efficient way to burn more calories in less time. You'll need a stop watch for this, though. First, walk briskly for two minutes. Then walk at a normal pace for the next two minutes. Then brisk for another two, normal for another two. Just keep doing this for 20 minutes. I forgot to ask why it burns more, but since she's a Sports Science major and licensed fitness instructor, I'll take her word for it.

Superman. Got this from Rix as well. I do this while Raine's doing her tummy time. I get on my tummy too, arms stretched before me, legs behind me, chin down. Then I alternately lift opposite arms and legs. Three sets of 15 pairs should do it (I started from 10 pairs). This works the lower back--good thing for carrying the baby!

Lifts. You need a cooperative baby for this one. Again, make sure that you didn't just feed the baby! I hold Raine under the armpits and just lift her up, ala Lion King. Best done with sound effects like "up, up, up!" Raine likes this a lot. There are a lot of variations to this, depending on what your baby likes. I guess the important thing is you're working out your arms. Other lifting--like the water-filled bathtub, laundry pail, etc--works too, I suppose.

Seesaw. Another of Raine's favorite games. Sit with your knees drawn up, and place baby tummy (hers) to shin (yours). Lie down (hold on to the baby!) and draw your legs up, knees still bent so the baby is horizontal, lying on your shins. Now you can raise and lower your legs, saying "seesaw, up and down" or "airplane" or whatever you feel like saying. You can also swing your legs side to side. Or for the more daring, stretch your legs up. I feel the pain in my thighs after this, so I guess the glutes are worked out here.

Abs. Rix made me a simple abs routine to turn my jello belly into abs of steel. Well not really. But anything is better than this puffy, flabby gut. First, do 15 crunches. Then do 15 pairs of Scissor Legs--legs straight up in the air, alternately lower each one. Finally do 15 pairs of V Legs--legs up in the air, opened wide, reach for the opposite foot. Then rest, and do two more sets. I let Raine sit on my tummy while doing this. She gets a kick seeing me grunt and all that, I suppose. Plus it's teaching her to count!

Rix said that ideally, I should do this at least three times a week. Let's hope I can keep it up. Goodbye marshmallow belly! Goodbye 18lbs!

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Mommy Milkshake

I never realized how deeply I'd feel about breastfeeding until I had Raine. From encouraging others to actually donating breastmilk, I'm trying to do my share to get other women and babies into breastfeeding.

Which is also why I'm joining the Mommy Milkshake Marathon at The Fort this Saturday, August 4, 7:30AM. It's a 2km fun run/walk/hop for breastfeeding awareness. The fact that my seester gave me new shoes for my birthday is entirely coincidental.

Joining is free. Plus you get a free shirt too. Daddies, kids and people with no kids can join too. Just call 780 9898 to preregister.

Hope to see familiar faces over there!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Supercow Unmasked

Supercow is tired.

She goes to bed as early as she can, but when she wakes up the next day, she's still tired. She slugs through her morning chores--fill the water tank, cook breakfast, take out the trash, feed the pets, pump milk--and by the time Superbaby and Superdaddy are up, she's ready to go back to bed.

But she can't. She has to feed Superbaby and make sure that Superdaddy gets to the office at a reasonable time. Then it's time to bathe Superbaby and maybe another feed and a nap. Then it's time to clean up after breakfast and fix up after bath. And if she hasn't bathed yet, now's the time for a quick shower. Really quick. Gone are the days of two-hour baths with body scrub and all that. Then it's time to boot up and start working.

But these days, Superbaby doesn't nap for 3-hour stretches like she used to. Sometimes she's awake in 30 minutes. So Supercow has a hard time concentrating. I have to be more efficient, thinks Supercow. I have to be more disciplined and learn how to use my time wisely. She marvels at all those mothers without helpers, who manage to work and take care of the baby and the house and still look good.

Nap while Superbaby naps, Supercow, people say. But she can't. She tries to, but her mind is busy churning, churning, churning. Listing all the things that can be done in the time she spends tossing and turning on the bed. When she finally starts drifting off to sleep, Superbaby wakes up and it's another cycle. And it's also time to think about dinner. And breakfast for the next day. And Superbaby's evening bath. And the articles sitting in the Inbox, still unedited. And deadlines looming. And budgets and a million other little things.

Supercow is frustrated. It wasn't supposed to be like this. Other mothers can do it. Why can't I? She has time. Superbaby is a good little baby, pretty low-maintenance, Supercow has to admit. She has help--SuperAlingLourdes comes in three times a week and helps a lot with the chores and the breakfast and the washing up. What she doesn't have is the energy. And the drive. She just wants to curl up and read and sleep and not think about anything.

She feels bad because by the time Superdaddy comes home, she's too tired and grumpy to properly talk to him. She doesn't even get to cook a proper dinner most days, and she doesn't send him off with a packed lunch.

Supercow is scared. What if she can't shake off this lethargy? What if, even if she gets her energy back, she still can't get chores done, meals on the table, house fixed up, engaging conversation and then some with Superdaddy out, or inspire Superbaby? What if, the truth is that Supercow is just a whiny lazy bum?

What if she isn't super after all?

Monday, July 09, 2007

Raine Has a Friend--And She Isn't Imaginary!

Last week, as Raine and I went to Marbella Cafe by the park to get a salad for dinner. When we arrived, Bobbie, the owner was there and she was utterly charmed by Raine (this is MY version), who of course was in her usual sociable, aren't-I-cute mood.

Apparently, Bobbie's daughter just had a baby too--a little girl a month younger than Raine. Bobbie wanted Raine and Monica, her granddaughter, to meet, but when she called the house, Monica was asleep, so she couldn't be brought over (their house was near the cafe). But I suppose Bobbie was thrilled at the idea of Monica and Raine meeting, so she invited us over for just a few minutes. And she had my order delivered to her house instead.

So off we went to Bobbie's house, just in time for Monica to wake up. Cat, Bobbie's daughter, who was reviewing for the medical boards, so kindly accommodated our barging in. We lay Monica and Raine side by side on the bed. Monica was still sleepy and hungry, but Raine was obviously delighted at something her size. It was funny--flailing hands with no idea I suppose of what they were holding or touching. And in a gesture of friendship, Raine ate Monica's hand.

"Oh, I can see them inviting each other to their birthday parties!" cooed Bobbie. And I'm thinking Raine's thinking, "what's a birthday?".

But Cat and I did make some vague plans to meet again. I do hope Raine and Monica become playmates, if not friends. It's lovely being able to meet other moms with babies Raine's age. And it's nice that Raine can have 'built in' friends in this village.

Here are a couple of pictures of Raine's first play date (Raine's the cutie on the right)!

Friday, June 29, 2007


Inspired by Stef's post on how she spotted God while killing time in the airport, waiting to see if she could get a seat to the US, I decided to come up with my own list of places, people and things that I've spotted God in this week.

  • In that gorgeous baby as she lies in my arms, one hand on my breast, as if keeping it in place; one foot resting on my arm, tiny toes kneading my flesh; making contented sighs and grunts as she makes like a vacuum and feeds.
  • In the text messages from generous mommies who answered my call for donations for a sick little baby who can only take breastmilk.
  • Inside the refrigerator, where the Dole Mandarin Orange Fruit Cups are chilling--pasalubong from The Hubby who is learning my love language.
  • In the text messages from my mom, who continually encourages me and thinks I'm getting better at this mommy thing, even when I make Raine throw up like the Exorcist while playing seesaw.
  • Outside, in the garage where the Boo and Chloe, the dogs, delightedly sleep in the shade of huge plants The Hubby bought, thinking that they have their own private jungle.
  • In the kitchen, where the ever trustworthy Aling Lourdes is cooking spicy eggplants (only had to teach her once), giving me time to do other things like blog (and supposedly work).
  • In my Sent folder, where proof that I have finished and sent off edited articles and recommended lineup for the next three issues of my magazine lies.
  • And in me--a little more grace, a tiny bit more patience, a little less stress, a lot less worries. And a lot less weight :)

So where have you spotted God this week?

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

While I Was Sleeping

The Hubby and I have never been a "romantic" couple, in the flowers-and-chocolates sense. The Hubby is more the practical type who would buy me an optical mouse rather than a bouquet of flowers. Most of the time I am delighted with his gifts, though I wouldn't mind the sweet, romantic gestures every now and then. Then I realized that The Hubby does do those sweet, romantic things. Only, he does them while I am sleeping:

  • Last night, he operated on my dearly departed laptop to retrieve my hard disk, and he transferred all my files to another hard disk. And he did this even if he had other projects to finish, which keep him up till 4AM.
  • The other night, I forgot to put on my bandage, and I semi woke up to him carefully wrapping the bandage around my hand.
  • When I was a very pregnant, very hot momma (literally), he'd have all the fans pointing at the bed, full force, then he'd go to sleep beside me, wrapped in a fluffy blanket.
  • When Raine cries (and he's still awake), he changes her diaper, soothes her, and wakes me up only if she needs to feed.
  • When I fall asleep in bed, reading, he puts away my book and takes off my glasses--and puts it somewhere I can easily grope for it.


Yesterday, 5 June, was the third year anniversary of the day The Hubby proposed marriage inside the car in the middle of a muddy parking lot at Sonya's Garden, with an apathetic carabao as witness. I'm glad I said yes.

God Bless This Cow

Yesterday, I donated 25oz of breastmilk to a total stranger. Her baby boy has been in the NICU the past two weeks, and breastmilk is all his poor little tummy can tolerate. His mommy has run out of milk, which is not surprising, considering all the stress that she's under. That little boy needs a continuous supply, about 20-24oz a day.

As I gave away Raine's entire stash, I was overwhelmed by how blessed I am. I have a beautiful, healthy baby. I have an overabundance of breastmilk, enough for my baby, and enough to bless others with. I have a great breastpump, which allows me to harvest quickly and painlessly. I have a supportive husband, who encourages me to pump, and was all for donating the milk.

I also realized how distant from God I've been. I haven't read my bible since I gave birth. I haven't attended cell, and I haven't gone to service. My prayers are more of "Lord, please let Raine stop crying," or "Lord, please, one more hour of sleep!" Yet through my inattention, God continues to be there for me, and even if I tend to be an ungrateful wretch, he still continues to bless me.

Isn't it amazing? Thank you, Lord.


For those who also want to donate breastmilk, let me know, so I can hook you up. Milk banks are out of milk, so as Weng said, every ounce counts. I'm really grateful to be able to give milk--I am now a Supercow with a purpose.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Other Tales - Part Three

I. Am. Supercow!!!

So a couple of weeks after my traumatic first pumping experience (time flies so fast! Raine is about to hit her 7-week mark!), I decided to try it again. Raine was still asleep and my breasts were leaky, achy and rock hard. Good time as any to pump.

As my seesters ate taho at the breakfast table (warning: this is not something you do at, say, McDonalds while you get your hashbrown, or in front of unsympathetic people, or in front of people you don't know too well--they would not want to see a deformed breast squirting milk), I set up the amazing Chu Chu pump, whipped out a painful breast, started breathing ala Lamaze and turned on the pump. Wonders of wonders, I came up with about 6oz after maybe 20 minutes of Chu Chu-ing.

In about three days, I had built a stock of 17oz. And I had great incentive. My seester from Dubai was taking me out to paint the town red while our mom watched the baby. And since I hadn't been out since Raine and I came home from the hospital (other than OB and pedia visits), I was super cabin fevered. All I wanted was a haircut.

Oh, we did have a trial run Wednesday night, when The Hubby and I went to a baby shower for one of our cell mates. Raine decimated 6oz and she was raging mad when the bottles of milk ran out. Good thing we were on our way home; otherwise my mom would've given her formula. So for an afternoon of painting, I had to make sure I left enough milk (as it turned out, Raine slept most of the time we were out, so she didn't drink too much).

Building up my 17oz stock though, the Amazing Chu Chu finally gave up. Though I changed batteries, it was barely sucking. I was painfully overflowing with milk, and I pumped for 30 minutes, and all I came up with was 2oz.

Fortunately, The Hubby finally agreed to get an Avent pump. I would've settled for the manual one, but dear, dear Hubby got me the electric Avent that just pumps out your milk while you sit there. And with the Avent I discovered that pumping milk isn't painful at all! It was just that torture device Chu Chu that hurt (but give it credit, it helped me when I needed it. I think I will keep the Amazing Chu Chu for posterity's sake). And that petal massager isn't all hype. Thank God people actually took time and effort to study breastfeeding mechanics.

So now my new record is 7oz in 14 minutes--and I didn't empty the breasts, just took off enough to relieve them. I am such a supercow!

That makes Raine Superbaby. And to match, The Hubby gets to be Superdaddy. Superbaby, Superdaddy and Supercow don't exactly sound like the perfect family, but it works for me.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Raine's Here, My Feet Are Back and Other Tales -- Part Two

My First Experience in Being a Cow
The first night home, my mom had to wake me up when Raine cried. Either I was dead tired, still too doped up or just not attuned to the baby yet. I'm so glad my mom was around. I had no breast milk yet, or at least not much. So Raine wasn't getting much and it made her cranky and fussy. So we were up most of the night, my mom and I.

But I'm really adamant that Raine be fully breastfed as long as possible. And, praise God, by Monday, my breasts were so engorged it hurt. Even my left armpit was so swollen--and I could feel the drag in my pit whenever Raine sucked! I've also been leaking milk like crazy. So thank you, Lord. He's answered my prayers for an abundance of breast milk.

It takes getting used to though, I guess it really takes time to adjust, both me and Raine. Things got better as the days went on, and my mom didn't have to get up every time Raine and I did. And the past nights, The Hubby gets up to do diaper duty, letting me sleep until it's time to feed.

I've also gotten used to whipping out a breast with no qualms, whether there are people around or not. Raine does not take any delay in her food lightly. What I still have to get used to though is Raine's enthusiastic feeding style--she can suck like we haven't fed her in days, and we have no intention of feeding her in days to come. Oww! I am so not looking forward to when she starts teething.

Funny thing Raine, she sometimes has this little ritual before she will actually start feeding. She opens her mouth wide, then shakes her head from side to side, before forcefully latching on. The Hubby says she looks like a little gremlin coming in for the kill. Sometimes, she will pause and seemingly contemplate my breast, as if thinking, "Hmmm...what shall I have today? Milk? Or maybe more milk? Then she'll daintily latch on, all wide-eyed and innocent looking--then she closes her eyes and makes like a vacuum cleaner. Other times, she uses my other boob as a personal footrest while she's feeding; or she uses either breast as a pillow as she falls asleep. It's amazing how I never realized how multi-purpose breasts can be.

The Hubby has been after me to start pumping and storing breast milk, so I can at least hand over feeding responsibilities once in awhile. But I'm sort of torn between wanting the freedom, and being sad that I won't be her sole source of nourishment anymore. Besides, I still have to psych myself up for another pumping session after my traumatic first experience, which my mom insists is my fault for not reading the pump instructions completely.

A friend of The Hubby lent us a pump, which I confess I didn't have much faith in. After all, how effective would you think a tiny battery operated pump with a brand name of "Chu Chu" will be? So the first half of the instructions said attach the bottle, turn on the pump and apply to the breast. Dutifully, I attached the newly sterilized 2oz bottle and switched on the thing. I tried sticking it on my palm to test the suction, but didn't feel a thing. So overflowing with cynicism that something named Chu Chu could really suck, I plunked the suction part on my poor unsuspecting nipple. And promptly screamed in pain, disbelief and shock as I watched my nipple elongate and get sucked down the tube. It took me a few seconds before I had the sense to turn the darn thing off--and I still couldn't get my nipple out. "Press the button," said my mom. "See --if you read the instructions from start to end..." Fine, fine. Mea culpa. The good thing was, I was quickly able to come up with 1oz per breast--which according to my sources, is a very good start for a first time pumper.

When The Hubby tried to give Raine the bottle though, it was like she was at war with it. She hated the thing. Though she managed a little more than an ounce, she cried every few sucks, poor thing. It almost broke my heart to see her cry like that, knowing that I could just lift my shirt and put her out of her misery. We finally gave up and did just that. But I know I have to pump soon, and teach her how to drink from the bottle. We're trying softer teats next time. I'm just worried that she'd start preferring the bottle. Oh well.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Raine's Here, My Feet Are Back and Other Tales of Birthing Joys and Pains

Into our lives a little Raine has come.
Erynne Isobel Hermoso-Prudente arrived with a lusty cry of protest on Wednesday, 28 March, 10:27PM.
WARNING: may contain graphic details and words such as "vagina" and "blood". And this is going to be a long post. Possibly in several parts.
Raine, Please Come Out Already
I guess it's a real sign of a Daddy's Girl. On Monday night, The Hubby told Raine that she could finally come out, and Tuesday 1:30AM my bag of water started to leak, complete with bloody show.
I woke up The Hubby to tell him, and my mom woke up as well. Calmly, The Hubby asked if I was having contractions. At that point I didn't know what contractions felt like, so I reluctantly said no. Both my mom and The Hubby advised me to go back to sleep and call the doctor at a more decent time in the morning. I admit I was a little upset that they didn't seem to take me seriously (The Hubby even asked if I was sure I just didn't pee in my pants!). The Hubby and Da Mom went back to sleep, but I was too excited and sort of worried to sleep well.
Got to talk to my OB at about 8AM and she told me to go to the hospital for assessment. So we took our time--bath, light breakfast, The Hubby backed up files on his desktop, and Da Mom and the giant of a baby seester prepared for a go-see. Finally got to the hospital around lunch time, to find out that our OB's team had been waiting for us. Oops.
To cut a long, long, long tedious story short, we had to check in Cardinal already because I was leaking and about a centimeter dilated. At 1:30AM Wednesday, I lost the mucous plug and there was more blood--and I finally learned what a real contraction felt like. I was contracting every 10, 15 minutes throughout the night, so that didn't make for a good night's sleep. Plus they put me on a fast, so no water at all. Almost died of thirst. Finally, at a more decent time in the morning, they allowed me a light breakfast. Then at about 10AM they wheelchaired me to the delivery room, where I was given an enema. Now that is an experience that is beyond words--going through the after effects of an enema while getting contractions. It's enough to make you sweat blood!
When they finally let The Hubby into the labor room, I had already been given an epidural, so I lay there, comfortably contracting, sometimes drifting in and out of sleep. The Hubby and I also enjoyed the tiny cable TV in the labor room. We were thinking that by 10PM, Raine would be out and I'd be back on our room, and we could still catch the new episode of CSI on AXN. But alas. It wasn't meant to be. After two-and-a-half hours of pushing, Raine just wouldn't come down, so the OB called for a Cesarean. I was strapped onto the operating table, crucifixion style. The anesthesia they gave me made me chill terribly, as in there I was, like something out of exorcist, tied down and shaking and rattling the bed while they did their rituals. And so after everything, Raine finally arrived--huge, screaming and very, very beautiful.
Raine weighed in at 8lbs, 5oz and was nearly 21 inches long. Big baby just like her mommy (I was 7lbs, 15oz and 22 inches long). She was the biggest (and prettiest of course) baby in the nursery. I could only start breastfeeding her Friday, when they took off all my attachments--the IV, the epidural tube and the catheter. I got to walk to the nursery and she latched on and sucked enthusiastically. It was so surreal.
Oh, side story after they took off everything. I tried to stand and walk around the room, and suddenly, there was a strong gush of blood running down my legs. It was like one of those classic Pinoy flicks. The Hubby, who just woke up, was telling me to stay calm and not panic as he zipped around the room, essentially panicking in a calm way while I stood in a puddle of blood. Finally, a nurse came in, saw what had happened, called a couple of very pleasant (female) orderlies who cleaned me up. End of adventure.
We took Raine home Saturday afternoon.
I also want to say we had such a great birth experience in Cardinal Santos. The whole staff, from the interns to the residents to the nurses to the orderlies to the people who clean the rooms, were all so nice. Very pleasant, very professional. The facilities were clean, even the bathroom (I dread hospital bathrooms--they look like the very place you catch disease). My core doctors--the OB, the anesthesiologist and the pediatrician--were extremely competent, and they made me feel I was in very good hands. I'd choose them again if I were to go through this again (maybe in three years--have to really think about it).

Monday, March 26, 2007

Pregnant Pause

This happened yesterday.

My Mom (on the phone with my sister in Dubai): No, we haven't given birth yet ... We're in Glorietta, walking Ate.

Hmph. Like walking the dog.


These last few days are a killer. Waiting is driving me nuts. Everyone keeps texting and calling--have you given birth yet? No. I haven't. Raine loves it too much in there, she hasn't even given notice of any plans to come out. No labor pains, no bags bursting, no mucous plugs, no bloody show. No bloody anything.

All the baby things are set up, even the crib with its carinderia-ulam-keep-the-flies-away-looking mosquito net. The tons of baby clothes are washed, linens out--all that's missing is the baby. Oh, just wanted to share: we are so, so blessed. The baby things are complete, and we haven't had to buy a single thing. Everything was lent, given or handed down. Isn't that amazing?

Anyway, I've been trying to walk around more, except it's been so hot! So we've been trying to go to the malls. Serendra/Bonifacio High Street is a great place to walk in the late afternoon. Not too many shops open yet, but the view is lovely and the breeze is nice. I love the Serendra area. If I had money, I wouldn't mind owning a unit there.

I'm really praying to give birth this week, before Friday. The Hubby says Thursday would be good--he'd be done with his projects by then. I think Raine is such a daddy's girl, listening to The Hubby instead of me. If I had my way, she would've been out Thursday last week!

It really is getting hard to sleep at night. Though I suppose I shouldn't complain, since when Raine gets here, I will hardly get any sleep! I'm always sleepy. Not like that's anything new. But I guess I should try to stock up on sleep, if possible.

I hate waking up with rheumatic hands though (or what I imagine rheumatic hands would feel like). It takes some time before I can grasp anything properly, because my finger joints hurt and can't bend properly. And my thumb/wrist really hurts! Sometimes hypochondriac me thinks it's de Quervain's syndrome or something. The Hubby is singularly unsympathetic.

I haven't seen my doctor in nearly a month. I guess she's really busy. When is peak season of births? I should be really glad and just take it as a sign that I am so ridiculously healthy and no-risk that she does not feel any urge to see me. The Hubby says I must have some Igorot blood in me (Igorots are a hardy mountain tribe--their women work in the fields even while pregnant, and at the proper time, go squat behind a bush, deliver the baby, clean up, rest a little, and go right back to the fields). I AM pretty sturdy. And tough. I like to whine, but I can take a lot. So thank you, Lord. And I mean it.

Obviously this post contains no real substance. Just a lot of whining from an impatient mother-to-be. And while we're on the topic of whining, might as well talk about my feet. Or these things that sort of resemble my feet. I seem to have solid but really fluffy-looking blocks of something; they don't even feel like flesh anymore. Putting them up doesn't help bring down the swelling. On bad days, even my legs and thighs seem swollen. Or it just be all that accumulated fat (oh the joy of eating!).

Oh well.

Sunday, March 04, 2007


Sometimes I don't recognize myself.

I look down and I don't even see my feet. I can't even see my bellybutton, or the area below it, unless I look in the mirror. The jokes about me swallowing a basketball, or a watermelon don't feel like jokes to me. Add the sometimes creepy, mostly fascinating undulations of my belly, the way its shape transforms from perfectly round to pointed to some other asymmetrical form, and it's like some alien attachment.

I guess it's a good thing this huge belly hides my feet. Because I don't think those fluffy, puffy, red-mottled, took-a-beating painful things down there are really my feet. If they were, they'd be slender, gracefully attached to ankles, then calves. Those swollen things down there seem to have gobbled up my ankles, leaving a roll of flesh instead. They have a mind of their own, cramping up, and egging my calves to cramp up as well. Usually in the middle of the night.

Joining them in that midnight rebellion are these things that used to be my hands. I wake up in the middle of the night with arms and hands that don't respond to my mental urgings. Instead, they freeze, claw-like, then retract, shooting pins and needles up and down my arms. In the daytime, I can't fully command them either. I can't open small bottle caps and those pesky aluminum packs because my finger joints hurt.

My nose, which I have to admit, has always been on the round side, is bigger, rounder and bright red. Like I stood under the noon sun with SPF75 on every part of me except my nose. My thighs and butt have accepted boarders, and are now happily living in crowded quarters under the shade of my belly.

The only new body parts that I do like are the boobs. Now these, I can live with. But when I give birth and start to breastfeed, I feel like I'll be giving up ownership too.

I miss the old me. Where am I?

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Our First Family Portrait...and Then Some

This is one of those indulge-the-pregnant-wife moments with The Hubby (actually, more than a moment--half the day!). So thank you, Hubby.

I have a confession--I've always wanted to be a model. Really. But my attributes are not exactly what the modeling industry is looking for, so tough luck. But now I figured, why not make the most of the big belly? After all, this is the ONLY time that having a big belly will look good. I'm so glad maternity portraits are getting popular.

So thanks to my good friends Mich Lim, who made my bulbous red nose decent and transformed my dead straight hair into something pleasing to look at; and to Harvey Tapan whose lighting and composition actually made me look good on cam. These were shot at Harvey's Fuji Film studio at Mall of Asia.

Oh, and this is the debut of two pieces from our new Hot Momma Couture alpha collection--a maternity clothes line that my friends and I are working on: the white sleeveless V-neck top I was wearing and (don't laugh!) the white tee that The Hubby wore (you have to admit, it did look good on him, if you don't see the side stitching). These are still prototypes, but we hope to have them out soon. Hot Momma Couture's mission is to make maternity clothes that are comfy and will make you look and feel good. Wear your tummy proud!

Finally, I just want to say another thank you to Mich--she really made me look good. The Hubby hasn't seen me pretty in a long time. And another thank you to Harvey, who patiently coaxed us as we stood there under the klieg lights, like deer frozen before headlights. I learned that it ain't easy being a model!

More photos here.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Ang Aking Masigasig na Pagsusulat sa Wikang Pilipino

My written Tagalog sucks. It's atrocious; it's terrible. I'm the first to admit it. I've always thought that my spoken Tagalog was adequate, but The Hubby informs me that my spoken Tagalog is "pang komiks". Whatever that means. He won't let me forget that I sometimes mix up words, like saying that I got my uber cool retro dress from my lola's ataul, instead of baul (for those who experience word confusion like me, ataul is a coffin; baul is a chest--they sound alike, don't they? And they both are sort of boxes where you keep things. Easy to get confused, I say). Or saying that I don't really go for balon-balon, instead of balun-balunan. I don't even know how to spell correctly most of the time! And those repeating syllables and letters! Like off the top of your head--how many "A"s are there in the word maalaala?

Which brings me to my newest career challenge. I am currently editor of a small business magazine for small and micro entrepreneurs. The magazine name is--tah-dan!--Masigasig (that didn't come from me; it's the client's choice). For those not in the know, masigasig describes someone who is persistent, with a set goal in mind. That's why you hear of guys who are masigasig na manliligaw. This magazine is actually a Globe in-house publication, and they are doing it together with Entrepreneur Magazine. The Entrepreneur/Summit people were the ones who got me on board. It's a good project; it's meant to be both inspirational and instructional. It's a monthly (it will be given out for free with Entrepreneur. I think). I think small biz people will find it useful.

My problem is, though, half is to be written in Tagalog, and the other half in English. The English part is a breeze. The mag's only 28 pages, so I have very short articles to deal with. Now the Tagalog--oh boy. When my first writer submitted her story, and I opened the Word file, all I could see were the red squiggly lines underneath 99% of the words. My eyes glazed over. I swear. Editing Tagalog articles take me three times longer, because I have to translate it mentally into English to see if it makes sense, then I have to call on my meager reserves of Tagalog grammar and spelling, and I have to continuously snap myself out of the red-squiggly-line-induced stupor.

Now writing Tagalog articles is a different story. I submitted one to the client, quite pleased with what I'd done. They gave it back with the comment, "please make more reader friendly". To my excruciating embarrassment, I read a mangled sentence that I had written: "Ang flip flops ay hindi lang comportable, kundi mura pa at pwedeng suotan ng kung sinong-sino." Ack! I cringe at the memory. Even I know that is such a wrong sentence!

The Hubby has suggested that I get a good English-Filipino dictionary. But my writer friend Inna says that it's my sentence composition that's the problem, and I should immerse myself in the language more. Hence I bought a copy of Hi! Magazine (after all we have a Celebrity Raket section, so might as well get up to speed on the latest showbiz tidbits). I was going to buy a Tagalog pocketbook--I mean, that should be masang Tagalog, right--but The Hubby told me all I'd get out of that would be super cheesy phrases like "ang kanyang tarugo ng kaligayahan na kinipkip (kinimkim? kinupkop? kinamkam? kinutkut?) sa kanyang karsonsilyo" or something.

Fortunately, I found this little book written by Bob Ong. And to my amazement, I'm actually enjoying it. I even find myself laughing out loud sometimes. Though I'm not too sure if I laugh because Bob Ong is genuinely funny, or out of sheer joy because I actually understand what I'm reading. Still, it's progress, though I am moving through it at a much slower pace.

I haven't given up on myself completely. After all, I did get one of my short stories published in Dyaryo Filipino--and that was pure Tagalog, not the conversational kind. I have to confess, though, that the original story was written in English, then translated with the help of my trusty dictionary and my beloved roommate and friend Leah (Leah has her own memories of my Tagalog boo-boos, but let's not get into that).

I guess it's a matter of practice. And exposure. What else should I read? Any suggestions?

Friday, January 19, 2007

The (Mis)Adventures of the Blob

The Hubby and I spent New Year's eve with my dad and his family in Meycauayan. Nothing really spectacular goes on there; it's basically a dinner-and-do-your-own-thing kind of celebration, which is a nice change from the usual frenzy in Baguio or at The Hubby's. I was really looking forward to watching a movie on my dad's kick-ass home theatre system. As I was settling in on the lovely La-Z Boy (The Hubby put the delicious Boy Bawang far from my reach and would intermittently dole out a piece at a time), my dad came in. "Oh," he said, "Is The Blob getting sleepy?"



I have been getting big. I actually waddle when I walk. Really. It's so weird. But not as weird as seeing Raine move inside my tummy. I thought it was some exaggeration, when my mom and other mothers would tell how you could see a foot or a knee move around. But you actually can! It's so creepy. Like Aliens or that scene from Constantine. I'm just waiting for the day I see a face forming on the surface of my tummy, and tiny hands pushing my skin! Creepy, I tell you. But it still makes me laugh to feel her move.

I praise God that we have our birth money all saved up. I just continue to pray that we have a normal birth, with no complications. That's my faith goal this year, that and that I be able to fully breastfeed Raine (tons of savings! not to mention so much healthier). The Hubby and I actually are believing God for a lot this year, and we're excited to see how He answers prayers.

But going back to my weight, and chances for normal delivery, my doctor said (and everyone says) I have to slow down my weight gain. Imagine, I packed on 30 pounds in seven months--the average weight I should gain for the entire pregnancy! But it's such a joy to eat. Sniff. And the seester sent tons of chocolates. For some strange reason, I've suddenly developed a sweet tooth. It doesn't help she sent lots of mint chocolate. Oh, joy.

The Hubby and I have also been going to childbirth classes (with Rome Kanapi, who The Hubby calls Sally Fields). And one of the constant topics is, of course, weight gain. My anorexic classmates, who look mostly younger than me, gained an average of about 12 pounds. The most was 20. When I told them (yes, you have to share your poundage with the entire class!), I gained 3-0, at least Rome said, "Wow, you must have been skinny before you got pregnant!" I felt a little better.

I have to work in more exercise into my schedule. I have been trying to do the pre-natal moves from class, but sometimes I forget and when I remember, I'm on the verge of falling asleep. If only thinking of exercise burns calories and tones muscles! The seester said I need to get frog kicks into my swimming routine, to help with the thunder thighs syndrome. I didn't have the guts to tell her that I need to get swimming into my routine! I have about 10 weeks left, so I need to get serious exercise into my life. Argh. Inertia is the most dangerous thing.

The Hubby and I also have to discuss how we really want to fix the house, and how long we intend to stay here. We are praying for our dream house, but problem is, we haven't agreed on where we want our house to be. I don't mind settling down here in Merville for the meantime. After all, your dream house for this period in life isn't necessarily the dream house for the rest of your life. I don't know; we still have to talk about it.

We also have to finalize our career plans. Just last night, The Hubby was computing my income versus my expenses, and he declared that for what I'm earning, my PR gig isn't worth the time and effort. And he said I should ask for a raise, or leave. Then today, with a potential 10-month gig coming up, he recomputed my income with the PR gig and it seems that the PR gig is back inthe picture.

I've long been wanting to give up that PR gig, but I can't seem to let go. It's a love-hate thing. I feel so burnt out (been at it more than six years!), it doesn't pay enough, yet I don't want to abandon my client just like that. I'm praying that we get really good writers to take my place (in preparation for my maternity leave) and that after Raine comes, I can eventually segue out of there. But I'll miss it for sure. Then again, maybe not. I'm confused.

And I'm getting sleepy. So yes dad, The Blob is getting sleepy.

Enough for today.