Life photo shoot

When I gave birth to Anna, I’m so blessed because the man behind Imaginenation photography was in town… He happens to be my brother-in-law, John Ong.  His gift for photography has blessed many couples for their prenuptial photos and wedding in photos. Now, they have a new segment called Life, where they capture moments in one’s life. They take baby, maternity, and family photos.

It was Imaginenation that took my first maternity photos. We could not resist to have photos taken because we waited 7 years for this first child. We were excited and wanted to make sure we encapsulate our journey through photos. Imaginenation’s team of photographers plus the direction and styling of my sister, Monique Lopez Ong made it exceptional.

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Now, John and Monique captured Anna’s first days at home! She was absolutely adorable with their direction!  Also our first family photoshoot with Anna were made possible because of their presence!

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Imaginenation does not only capture photos, they are also involved in family ministries. They organize “Before I do” premarital counseling seminars. Many couples who plan to take the road to marriage and want to prepare for it should consider joining one of these sessions.  Another one is actually coming up very soon in Manila… If you are interested to know your fiance and know God’s plan for your marriage start booking today!

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Watching Him Grow

In the last 2 months, I have been so amazed at my son’s development. I am so impressed with his ability to absorb knowledge.  Joshua knows numbers and knows how to count. He can identify colors and shapes.  He also memorized songs and sings them. He holds a pen very well and can draw circles and scribbles.  When I see how much he is learning, I am more convinced to just home school him so he can keep going on his own pace without limitation. Joshua now is 23 months old.

Unlike what some doctors recommend of not exposing children his age to the digital world, I seem to disagree. There are so many good videos that teach songs, colors, shapes, numbers, alphabets to preschoolers.  It is really a matter of supervision.  I do understand that over exposure is not good, but for me limited exposure has its benefits.  I will not deny that many of the things Joshua knows are because of these preschool videos found on youtube. Of course, we supplement what he watches with tangible learning tools to help him understand fully the concept presented on the videos.

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I am so happy that there are many educational toys available.  I am also blessed that with Joshua, he enjoys educational toys.  He is the type that likes building blocks, play doh or home-made clay, and wooden puzzles, books, more than toys (e.g. cars, stuff toys, etc.) Let me share with you what gets Joshua busy and stimulated throughout the day.

1. Mega Blocks – These are great toys for kids below two. It helps them assemble towers and gives them imagination on design.  Joshua enjoys this so much because he can identify colors and build new designs every time. He also enjoys destroying what he builds and start over again.

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2. Play Doh – I first made home-made clay. I got a recipe online made of salt, flour, cream of tartar, water, and food coloring.  He was only 1 year and 9 months old when I decided to introduce him to home-made clay and I bought a few cookie cutters to help design shapes and so he can identify them. It was fun!  Then as time passed the clay was not properly stored they became hard and we had to throw them away.  So, he probably had a month of no playing with clay.  He kept watching the youtube review on play doh and watched how they were making ice cream and food with play doh.  So, Daddy Steve decided to buy him his first play doh set.  He was so thrilled he kept saying “I love play doh”.  We still play with play doh every day and we talk about colors, shapes, and food!

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3. Wooden Puzzles – I found a wooden puzzle in national bookstore that had numbers on it and as you removed the wooden piece it would show the fingers corresponding the numbers.  When I first introduced this to Joshua, he was totally enjoying the puzzle. He played with this puzzle the whole day without looking for his “baba” (or what he nicknames his tablet).  He had on his hands the numbers that he was watching on youtube.  The amazing thing is that he does not only recognize numbers, he actually can count stuff.  He actually did a count of the slices of grape fruit and it confirmed he understands.

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4. Magnet alphabets and numbers – This is such a great educational tool too! We would stick letters on the fridge and say its name and sound.  We kinda have to stay near the refrigerator but that is fine.  He finds it quite interesting that he can stick them one by one and pull them out. Its pretty stimulating.  I also bought a smaller version with a magnetic board for travel because its just good fun!

5. Colored pens and papers –  Joshua was holding a pen quite early.  A little after he turned one, we have been making him scribble on the white board.  Then later, I decided to buy him a set of colored pens so he can start drawing on paper.  He likes to write, and its part of his daily routine to either go on the white board or to scribble on paper. He really enjoys it!

It is never too early to introduce our children to explore new things.  I really suggest to my mommy friends to go ahead and try… dont wait for your child to enroll in a pre-school to learn something new. You can do it at home together. As I watch my son grow, I am so blessed to have this opportunity to be part of his development and not miss it!

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Training to Potty

Sometime ago, I wrote about buying that toilet seat for kids that you place above the adult toilet. My son was able to poop on it and I was so mighty proud. Little did you know that he did that only once. Since then, that toilet seat has become just an point of reference on where people should sit when they need to go to the bathroom .

For months since that successful event, we have tried to make him sit on that toilet seat and see nothing happen. We would still end up with soiled diapers for he refuses to poo sitting on that high toilet seat.

Now at 1 year and 9 months, I need to get some intervention. My son’s change of diapers have increased and that’s because he urinates more and poos as much as twice in a day. I know my son is very smart, but on the potty a bit lazy.

It was last week that I went to the baby store to see the kind of little potty they had. I needed my son and husband help me make the decision on what to buy. And we finally did our purchase — the Safety 1st Comfy Cushy 3-in-1 Potty.

We brought it home and Josh kept playing with it like a new toy. He would open and sit and then close his potty. We also kept instructing, “this is where you pee and poo”.

However in the evening, I got frustrated because despite the push to use his potty he still chose to soil his diapers. I decided to not let him wear any diaper and just walk around the house in his shorts. It was only then that he wet himself and the floor. It became our teaching moment. We explained to him that when he feels like peeing to go to the potty. His daddy also demonstrated what Josh should do.

In my frustration, I really prayed out loud. “Lord teach me what to so I can effectively teach my son to potty!” I was losing my patience over this, so I rested from the potty training obsession.

The next morning, after Joshua wakes, he tells me to change his diaper because it is “puno” or full. When I was changing him I saw he was ready to pee again. So I raised him out of bed to his potty. Then with time and encouragement he finally succeeded! His smile was ear to ear with all the words of praise and high fives.

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He was so happy with his achievement he called his Yaya and showed her his potty. Then on his own, he sat on the potty and also poo-ed on it. What a bonus! I thanked God for the blessing and I pray that my son will be potty trained fully. As they always say repetition makes perfect!

TANG Sweet Orange Baby Teethers!

If you are a mommy like me, you know exactly that a baby going through teething is no joke. Our babies get cranky, they often want to have those itchy gums soothed by pacifiers, or even toys.  Well my little boy is growing a new tooth again and though he is pretty sport about it, it still makes him drool alot and want to bite on toys.

This week, I was privileged to join my other blogger friends to the launch of Tang’s new product.  They introduced something really interesting… A TANG powdered juice formulated for the Mindanao palate.  They brought their own food scientists to study what a Mindanaon wants in their orange juice.  7 out of 10 Mindanaoans seem to agree that they want a sweeter flavor in their orange juice.  So, if you like your orange juice sweeter, guess what, you can now buy the TANG SWEET ORANGE.  The only catch is, you can only buy it in MINDANAO groceries and sari-sari stores! 

Think about this —  An international brand willing to formulate a new variant just for Mindanaoans … willing to adjust to the taste and the culture of Mindanaons???   I say, “Its just super cool!!!” 

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Well, my son is a true Mindanaon. He was born in Mindanao and most likely will grow up in Mindanao.  Therefore, it will be highly possible that he will develop a Mindanaon palate.  Good thing that TANG Sweet Orange it is fortified with Vitamins A,B, C, Folate and Iron, and is Halal certified (meaning clean food and organic).  So I have decided to be creative, and use TANG Sweet Orange to make a Baby Teether suited for my Joshua.

It is suggested to mix one 25g sachet of TANG Sweet Orange with 1 Liter of water. I still find it very sweet.  So, to adjust to my little one year old’s taste, I mixed the sachet with 1.5 Liter of water.  Then I started storing it in Ice Plastics and placed it in the freezer overnight. This TANG Sweet Orange teether is ready to soothe my baby’s gums.  Also since its summer, it is another great popsicle to cool off the hot sunny days! 

 

 

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Alternative Milk

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I was trying to wean my son from breastmilk to cow’s milk, suddenly he contracted amoeba. My personal suspicion– it was triggered by lactose intolerance. Finding the right milk for him suddenly became secondary because I decided not to wean him. Breastmilk has so much antibodies that it strengthens a child who is afflicted with some kind of sickness.

In reality, Joshua even having his amoeba continued to play, continued to run around as if he was not sick at all. Of course he had the runs, but overall he seemed very well. I have to say that the breastmilk has really given him some kind of booster that makes him quite strong. Even when everyone got the virus, he too got it. But again, he just continued to play, run around, laugh and he was not difficult at all. I have to really thank God for giving me a child like that.

However, I also know that reality will set in, I have to find an alternative to breast milk. I am really planning to wean him slowly. My schedule is filling up with activities and meetings which means I am often out. I have to start finding another milk that Joshua is not allergic to. I was told to try goats milk, or soy milk. However, there are two mothers who have recommended another kind of milk. Nut based milk is their choice and specifically, the Almond milk.

So when I was in Manila, I entered Rustan’s and there was a section of Silk’s Almond Milk. What made me happy was seeing that it was NON-GMO (Genetically Modified Organism), Lactose Free, Gluten Free, and Soy-free! Wow, its calcium content is higher than cows milk, and it tastes just great! Also a box is not so bad it costs from Php 144- Php152 a box.
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A box is about 946 ml. To my son a box is good for about 7 days. You must be thinking, “how can that be? Isn’t that too little?” Remember, this is just an alternative.. It only supplements when I am unable to directly feed. But just think about it… How much is formula canned milk? Its 9 to 10 times the price of this one.

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In Sarangani, the focus of the agricultural program will be on naturally grown food which is really the kind of produce God intended for us. But today most of our food come from genetically modified sources. They are also causes of cancers and other degenerative diseases. So, going all natural is the best!

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Overall it has been such a relief to find something suitable for my son. Unfortunately this milk is not available in Gensan or Sarangani. We have to fly them in from Manila for now (until purchasers of our groceries here find it worth bringing in.)

Thank God for quality products like Silk that help moms with kids who are lactose intolerant.

Photo project

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I learned about photobooks from an online shopping site. Ok, after being a mom, I don’t have much leisure time. One of my outlets is to check things I want online. Thus, I bumped into Photobooks.

Every mom must be spending lots of time taking photos and videos of their baby. Most of these photos are just taking up disk space in our computer or in our phone. Then laziness sets in that mommy no longer prints these photos and just posts them on facebook or Instagram. Or worse, leave these in their memory cards. The only time we regret leaving these pictures there is if our computer crashes or our phone gets lost!

Photobooks makes it easy for you to safe keep these photos by printing them on nicely designed albums that looks more like a book. It gives you a really easy software to work with. You get to choose backgrounds, picture layout templates, put texts, and even stickers. Its can be real fun if you are the type who likes to make scrapbooks. This is a digital version.

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Unknown to many, even my own wedding photos were not printed into a wedding album until last year (or 7 years later). I was too lazy and did not find a good software and quality paper and printer. Well, with photobooks, it gave me ease and just simplified the process. The good thing with Photobooks is that once you have finalized your design, you submit it online and pay online! Then in about 1-2 weeks they mail your customized album straight to your home! Its easy. It is convenient.

They also do posters and they have other printing options. I’m really recommending this to moms. They are having a sale as of this time. Go check them out at http://www.photobookphilippines.com

Keep those memories!

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Dreamworks Package

When we went to Macao in November, we got a Dreamworks Package from Holiday Inn Hotel. It included a Shrekfast and tickets to Ice World. It made my baby enjoy Macao. Often times we associate Macao with just Casinos, but there is more to Macao.

It will be Joshua’s first time to attend a themed breakfast. I felt so excited. The breakfast would include live appearances of Dreamworks cartoon characters. It will be Joshua’s first time to see cartoon characters up close too!

So we were promptly there at 8 am. We opened the breakfast hall and the lively decor and music got us excited. Since we were the first to get in, the welcome of the dreamworks team were high fives. Joshua was smiling, saying “hi” and he just returned the high fives like a basketball player entering a game. They also provided his own high chair.
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Their food was sumptous and themed as well. Look how cute!
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The best part was the show. The kids and parents alike loved it! Shrek, Fiona, and Puss in Boots were there…
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The other characters that performed dances were Kung Fu Panda, Madagascar, and the Dragon from “How to train your dragon”. Loads of fun!

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Ok from the looks of it, mommy enjoyed the most!!! Hahaha! It was a good family experience! Macao is a kid-friendly and family destination! Dreamworks Package still available until January. Contact Go Sarangani Travel at gosaranganitravel1@gmail.com for more information.
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Child proofing your space

My little guy happens to be a very fit baby.. He is exclusively breastfed and very active toddler. He was only 2 months when he started the tummy crawl. In time, he rolled over and crawls better. Then suddenly, he cruises and just becomes very mobile and curious. As a mom, with these developments, I began to see the accident-prone areas in our home.

First on my list is securing Joshua from the hard floor. I had to pad the floor in Joshua’s room with rubber tiles. This way it cushions him from falls or painful rolls.
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Next, I had to address the furniture in the room. Joshua learned to get support from drawers and cabinets for him to stand up. To prevent finger accidents, I had to find several household preventive tools.

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You can buy these from the hardware store and they are stick-on locks that stops drawers and cabinets from opening.

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My son is very observant. He sees how many times in a day I plug my gadgets in electric sockets. Obviously, he would come near the sockets and tries to put his fingers to inspect it. Haaaaah! I stop him from one socket then he crawls to the next! To solve it, there are these wonderful plastic covers that can be inserted in sockets. These are just great to have!
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Another innovative invention of a mom is this screen cover for electric fans. I got this from a mom bazaar in manila. This is brilliant! It stops fingers from getting through and I super love this!

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Safety is really key with a toddler. Child-proofing your space just relieves you from worrying about the next accident. It is always better to be on the side of prevention rather than being sorry.
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Those pearly whites!

I remember getting a bit worried when Joshua was 6 months old that his teeth has not come out yet. I hear stories of kids getting their teeth earlier. I must confess I felt slightly worried that I did not have enough calcium thats why his teeth was not here yet.

Of course the expectant MOMMY-me was looking at Josh’s every drool, providing his teether for his hardening gums, and letting him cut biscuits with his toothless jaw. I guess you can say as a first time mom you want to see the results according to the books!

So yes, not on the 6 month did his two lower teeth come out, but rather almost 9 months! Joshua and I were on a plane to Manila when his tantrum was unconsolable. Not even breastfeeding or breastmilk can appease. I was pretty stressed and tired on that ride because my son would not stop crying. This tantrum lasted beyond the air plane ride, to occassional crying between meals and play time. Worst, was at night he would awake fully crying and I started to suspect that it could be his teeth coming out.

True to that premise, Josh was in pain. He would feel relief from ice-cold candies as a pacifier. But I think one of the best discovery is the Xylogel. Recommended by my pediatrician, you apply this gel type paste on affected gum and it would somehow give an anesthetic numbing from the pain. When Joshua awoke the 2nd night in tears, I applied it over his gums and he slept well!

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I never thought it would be this way because my twin sister’s kids never had problems with their first tooth coming out. But since our experience was different it is good to know we have options to address the painful entry of those pearly whites!

Now as an exclusive breastfeeding mom, I am amazed at the resiliency of our physical anatomy to adapt having those new teeth around as I continue nursing my baby. Its not a horror story as I expected.

The great thing with this new development of Joshua’s new pair of teeth, is Josh’s new food adventures. His pearly whites help him cut through cheese, fruit, and other solids. This indeed is a blessing and great fun to watch!

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Personal Pick – Infant Breakfast

My friends ask me what I feed Joshua. He is not a fat baby (might be a genetic thing because my family are a bit skinny). Joshua however can eat and is a very active baby. Ever since his interest for solid food began, he was on a journey to try different kinds of food.

For breakfast everyday, we start with breakfast cereal. Cereals for babies are the powdered type of breakfast mix that requires hot water. Once mixed with the hot water it turns into a thicker batter ready to be eaten by your baby. There are several brands out there. The more famous one is Cerelac.

I have read somewhere that cereals can cause constipation to your baby. But its not the cereal per se, it could be the iron fortified as an additive to the cereal that can cause that. So, I have always done this mix… Cereal+oatmeal mix. This will give my baby enough fiber that solves the constipation issue.

I also did a bit of checking on the cereals out there. To be honest, Cerelac has an overly sweet flavor. Well, in my opinion, I don’t want my son to get used to so much sweets. So I have found other alternatives.

My next choice is Promina. It is a cereal made in Indonesia. It has no preservatives, no coloring, no artificial sweeteners, nor msg. It is also fortified with vitamins. It was sweetened enough and just right. Our favorite flavors are brown rice with milk and mung bean with milk. They also have chicken with vegetables flavor and it is more a lunch kind of cereal.

Then still I looked for options that did not have sugar. I found a brand made in the Philippines. Nutri-Del is a dry infant cereal with no sugar, no salt, no preservatives, nor artificial coloring and fortified with vitamins! With this one you can regulate how much sugar you put on your baby’s cereal. They also have several flavors

As usual, I always mix in a bit of oatmeal to the cereal. I like Australian Harvest instant oats. It has good quality oats that plumps up well with hot water.

As an additional tip I learned, avoid feeding your baby with honey. Though I probably served my son oatmeal with honey several times. I did not realize it can cause danger to him. According to my research honey can cause botulism bacteria and babies under one year old have a difficult time fighting it. But I thank God, Joshua seems fine. I totally stopped serving him breakfast with honey in the mix.

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This is the breakfast personal pick that my baby likes. Its good to alternate what my son eats, so he can widen his palate and enjoy all kinds of food when he grows older.