Arsenal of Distraction

You’ve seen it before: Wild-eyed parents, one inhaling food, the other running after a tornado cute, adorable toddler.

This is our life every time we go out to eat. Having an incredibly energetic one year old with an insatiable zest for sockets, trash cans and industrial fans, leaving the house is always one big production. I’m talking Broadway razzle dazzle here folks, not just local theater.

Which is why we have been forced to find ways to distract our little guy whenever he is in the car seat, high chair, or the great big outdoors. Sometimes these tricks work, sometimes his desire to grab the server’s apron is just way too strong. But here are our favorite manipulations tips for going out with an ultra-curious toddler:

Timing Is Everything

E hates being strapped down. He doesn’t last long in the car seat, stroller or high chair, and it can make leaving the house a stressful ordeal. So I try my best to time our trips with his nap time, that way he falls asleep in the car seat (after a little drama crying) and then by the time we get to our destination, he’s well rested and in a good mood. Make sure you get on the road during (somewhat) predictable traffic hours, so usually after lunch and just before rush hour are good times.

IMG_2198

He’s also in a better mood when he’s in a dry diaper, has a full tummy and the temperature in the car is just right before we strap him in. It also helps that Sophie the Giraffe keeps him occupied for a while. Speaking of Sophie–

Designate Toys

There are certain toys / gadgets / teethers that we only bring out during strapdown. A toy steering wheel for the car seat, a toy tablet and some coloring materials for meal times, and chew toys for when he’s in the stroller. Mind you, these are just the main events– you have to have little things for the trailers! Random things work, like pamaypays, small travel bottles, old remote controls. Anything with buttons and switches and things that are NOT TOYS. I swear, kids are so weird.

IMG_2050

Let Them Participate

These little critters are sometimes super excited to be all grownup. My guy HAS to have his own spoon, plate, and drink from a cup– just like us. He also takes the broom, mop or vacuum away from me when I’m cleaning. So now I make it a point to give him non-breakable, little versions of these things to make him feel like he’s participating and part of the group. This kid has major FOMO issues. You can just imagine what cooking time is like in our household.

IMG_2047

Music Calms the Beast

Elizabeth Mitchell is a fantastic musician and and a favorite in our family. She writes children’s music that even I enjoy, very folky and cute. I play her songs during the start of the trip or our walk (when he’s in the stroller), so he associates her music with going somewhere nice or fun.

Eat Fast and Wear Comfortable Shoes

Sometimes you just have to give in to the fact that you will not be eating a proper meal. During fussy phases, my husband and I take turns eating and then running around with the little man. It’s tiring, it’s frustrating sometimes, and it’s sad that you’re left alone at a table that’s covered in mess and crumpled place mats, but hey, at least you’re out of the house and those 3-week-old yoga pants, right?

In the meantime, I’m trying to enjoy this chaotic time in our lives. I’m thinking of it as collecting great stories to tell, and a personal test of character. My patience is at an all-time high, thanks to my son! Ha! Hope these things work for you, even for a little bit 😉

IMG_1641

The No Coffee Experiment

IMG_0355-0.PNG

The past two weeks have been pretty horrid for us, sleep-wise. Naps are awesome, but the night time brings with it a ton of wakings, frustration and obviously, lack of sleep.

I’ve been attributing this madness to his teething (4 little buggers are coming in), and we’re giving homeopathic teething gel and Camilia to help with his discomfort. His first stretch of sleep is the longest, from 2.5-3 hours straight. After that, it’s hourly until I finally bring him to bed with me. But even bedsharing no longer guarantees straight sleep like it used to. It does, however, guarantee me being kicked in the vagina, punched on the boob and spending a few minutes in the bathroom crying out to God and asking Him why I’m being punished this way.

Now during the day, my son is the sweetest, funniest, smiliest, cuddliest little ball of energy. Which is why the nights are harder still– I can’t seem to figure out what turns my lovely fella into an MMA fighter at night. Which is what has brought me to this point. Yes, this rambling has a point.

I love coffee so darn much, but today I decided to lay off it (one week at a time) to see if there is any change in Elon’s sleep habits. I doubt it actually has any effect but this is how desperate I am.

Today all I’ve had is two cups of chamomile tea and one long, throbbing headache. Withdrawal is the worst. I’m also really pissy and I want to kick a kitten. The worst part– elon kicked me a million times before finally falling asleep. I put him down in the crib but now I am currently nursing him back to sleep for the third time tonight– and he’s only been asleep two hours. UGH. This experiment better be worth it.

I’m giving it one week. Then I’ll try to extend to another week. I will try my best to diligently write down the effects to see if caffeine has been the culprit all along.

So here we are, day one caffeine- free. And I want to stab somebody.

Nautical Birthday Bash!

I feel like such a grown up with the passing of this milestone- planning and executing my son’s first birthday party! It was tiring, it was so much fun, it was full of food, love, awesome presents and noisy kids and hugs and kisses too. Just the way it should be 😊

We originally wanted a picnic style birthday party, but none of the outdoor venues we wanted were available! I guess that’s the first lesson I learned: book early. Especially since Elon’s birthday is in December and people are having parties left and right.

So we settled on Blue Whale Grill in Fun Ranch in Pasig. It’s accessible, spacious and laid out well. Plus there was a play area for the kiddos which made them very happy.
IMG_1325.JPG

Since the decor was mostly ocean- themed, we ran with it and went nautical. Simple, clean and easy to find decor inspiration!

The service of Blue Whale Grill is AMAZING. I went there early with my husband and one of my best friends so we could set up, and ended up barely lifting a finger. I took out all my DIY stuff, gave instructions and their super helpful team set everything up for us. It was so efficient! So that was definitely a huge factor in my happiness that day.

It was a really simple set up though! And everything was handmade 🙂

For the backdrop I just used crepe paper and balloons. I cut the paper into small strips and pasted them on to corrugated board which made it easier to transport and later on thumb tacked it onto the backdrop. Balloons of the same color were tacked on to the top part. There were supposed to be more balloons but people started coming in so we only ended up with one layer!

IMG_1331.JPG

I found some great printables online and made some nautical buntings.

IMG_1326.JPG

My super talented and generous friend, Reggie Mendoza, offered to make Elon’s cake. She did a SUPER job with it too! Three layers of awesomeness right there! I also found the cardboard letters from Invitation House.

IMG_1329.JPG

IMG_1333.JPG

For the grown ups’ giveaways, we had nautical cupcakes in chocolate, vanilla and carrot flavors. My mother-in-law is wonderful and she ordered these lovely babies for us.

IMG_1330.JPG

IMG_1334.JPG

For the kiddos, I put together “edible fishbowls”. Basically, it’s a glass jar with lid, filled with crushed graham crackers for sand, blue sprinkles for the water, some rock candy and white chocolate knick knacks for the fish. It was simple, easy and cute! Yummy too 😊

IMG_1327.JPG

IMG_1328.JPG

That’s it! We kept the program simple – dedication ceremony, eating time, a couple of games and then singing and giveaways. I think everyone had fun and went home full 🙂 we definitely did!

IMG_1332.JPG

In fact, the little guy was so tired he was totally knocked out, and when he woke up it took him a while to reboot, haha.

IMG_1335.JPG

IMG_1336.JPG

This was super fun to do but I think I’m waiting til he’s 7 before I plan another big party for the little guy! 😂

Year One: There Was A Lot of Poop

Oh yeah, poop was everywhere alright. Especially the first couple of months when he would poop 4-5 times a day. And when he was feeling extra special, up to 8 times a day.

I got poop on my thighs, under my nails, on my belly, on my arms, all over my shirt, all over my shorts, on the couch, in the bed, on the car seat, in his sling– where his little butt landed, poop would get to it.

IMG_7597.JPG

Oh but it wasn’t just poop folks. There was spit-up too. In my hair, on our shirts, our backs, all over the car floor. Seriously, those little babies can expel a motherload of fluids. I did not wear anything nice the first three months because I knew it was going to get ruined! Not that I had the energy for looking nice anyway.

IMG_6883.JPG

But you know, it ends. They eventually learn to burp themselves, and pooping lessens significantly. It doesn’t get any less messy, mind you, especially when solid food comes in. But you do get really good at cleaning up and anticipating messes. You become a lot less anal about things getting sticky and finding mushy graham crackers in your hair. Eventually nothing grosses you out, and you can start wearing nicer clothes because you’re now awesome at dodging flying food.

elonkrisbed

And then that little squirmy lump starts to change quickly. First he’s on his tummy, worming around and reaching for things. And then he’s on his back scooting from one corner of the bed to the other. And then there’s rolling over and over and over which turns into a leapfrog of sorts and one day they’re crawling towards you, with a silly grin and drool on the chin. As if that wasn’t quick enough, suddenly that little person is standing up, cruising your furniture, getting into your underwear drawer, playing under the dining table, turning over all the toys.

IMG_1157

You close your eyes for a bit, because you’re oh-so-exhausted from the late nights due to teething or gas or overstimulation or cognitive developments or what have you. So you lean back and close your eyes for a bit, but you’re going to wish you didn’t because by golly gee, when you open your eyes that little rascal is walking.

oh, nope, no, he’s running. Dear God, there is running happening in the house. A lot of running and falling and bumping and when did it happen that you suddenly have a toddler?

IMG_1159

A one-year-old, silly, crazy, hyperactive, inquisitive, needs-to-get-into-everything toddler.

And just like that, your first year as a new mom is over.

Processed with VSCOcam with b1 preset

There was nothing glamorous about it. In fact, there was a lot of ugly crying – in the bathroom, in the bedroom, on the couch, in the car – the type of crying where snot rolls down your face but you don’t care because you’re too tired and it’s too hard. It’s too hard, I can’t do this. Man if I had a peso for every time I said that, i’d totally be wearing new MAC lipstick right now (so, basically, a thousand times).

Thankfully, I didn’t go through that first year alone. The grace of God is infinite, my family is so supportive, my friends are amazingly understanding, and my husband – oh my dear, poor husband who received the brunt of my frustrations – he is the reason why I haven’t gone insane. And here we are, year-old parents with so much to learn and somehow, still so much to give.

Niki and Kris - 2508

The first year of parenthood is full of poop folks, don’t take that lightly. But it’s also full of the reasons why life is worth living. You are going to laugh like you have never laughed before, especially when your kid learns to play with you. You are going to experience heaven every time you sniff his head, his armpits, his milky breath. I know that sounds gross but trust me — babies are made of unicorn farts and rainbow glitter. They smell AH-MA-ZING.

IMG_9122

You are going to realize that your heart is so much bigger than you thought it was, with so much love, and patience, and grace. You’re going to rediscover your capability to give when you have nothing left, and your superhuman ability to function on 3 hours of sleep broken up into 5 chunks.

You’re also going to notice the sweetest, simplest things. Like how his hair is so soft, and how it fluffs so gently when you twirl him around. You’ll see every tooth grow bigger and stronger everyday, how his little toes curl every time he steps on a new texture, how his chest rises and falls when he’s sleeping so deeply. You’re going to fall in love folks. And it’s going to be the kind of love that you have never felt before, and it will never stop.

IMG_1156

That’s what our first year has been like. Elon has brought so much love and change and amazement into our existence. Everything i’ve ever done, everything i’ve ever been through – it’s all worth it because it brought me to my husband, and it gave us him.

prof p

Happy birthday little buddy. Thank you for making us parents. Thank you for changing our hearts. I am so excited for how the world will change because you are in it, how you will affect the people around you, the things you will love and accomplish. And don’t worry, i forgive you for all the poop.

Happy first birthday, honey. We love you to the moon and back and back again.

Processed with VSCOcam with t1 preset

Running On Fumes

If there was one thing I wish I knew now, it’s how to balance how much of yourself to give. The problem (okay, one of many) with being such an intense person is I don’t know how to ration myself sometimes. And so when I am given a role or a job that I so badly want to excel in, I throw myself so wholeheartedly into it that I often find myself burnt out, exhausted and a crying, heaping mess when I realize I can’t do it all.

So, this motherhood-wife thing. Well, hot damn. I knew it was going to be tough, but I didn’t know it was going to be soul-crushing at times. I pour out so much of myself all day long that I often have nothing left for myself. I know it comes with time and practice, but I wish I knew how to pace my self. How to love on myself enough so that I don’t end up feeling like I’ve got nothing left to give. My son deserves a sane, loving mama, not an exhausted, impatient one. But I have to admit, I’m tired, and I wish I could go somewhere for a refill right about now. Something needs to change soon.

Finding Patience In Perspective

So, last night was a rough night. My little guy has been sleeping better lately, especially during naps. But we still have some nights in a row where he will wake up at a God forsaken hour and decide he wants to play for a couple more hours. To a mother who hasn’t slept normally for almost a year, this is insanity.

I’m sad to say that last night, my attitude wasn’t stellar. I raised my voice a couple of times, saying “WHAT DO YOU WAAAAAAAANT” over and over, while he kicked and squirmed out of my arms and fought to get to his play area. When you’re tired and sleepy and aching, wrestling a baby at 2 am is going to wear your patience thin.

After an hour of fighting, I finally took him from my frazzled husband (who was trying to rock him to sleep with no success) and plopped him down onto his play area and let him play it out. I sat there, watching him, quietly fuming and having thoughts of running around screaming in the street.

But while playing, he would walk over to me, give me a quick hug and a nuzzle, before going back to walking around and clapping his hands (a current favorite activity). Each time he came to me, I felt a little better, a little more pacified. An hour of that, and he was finally ready to go back to bed.

Last night was an example of a mother being human, but I woke up today feeling extremely crummy about how I acted. As our helper took him out for his morning walk, I spent some time in prayer – a quiet moment I was desperate for. As per usual, God was spot-on and here is the verse I read:

Galatians 5:22-23
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”

I was reminded that no matter how hard I try, my human nature is geared towards the sinful and worldly. In other words, it’s easy to lose your temper, give in to impatience, raise your voice. We know this, and at the moment it feels good to give in to anger and shout and swear and stomp your feet.

Thing is, regret comes after and you end up beating yourself up for not doing better.

The verse reminded me that asking God, his Holy Spirit, to come and change this nature, is the only way to overcome it. I can’t, and should not expect myself to be able to keep it together 100% of the time. Thankfully, God doesn’t need sleep the way that I do, and I can always go to Him when I am feeling frayed at the edges.

It took a while, but I forgave myself for last night, as I have to do several times in a week. And hold on to the truth that I am a work in progress and God always, always finishes his work.

Also, it helps to remind myself that Elon is little for such a short time. He’s going to need me this much for only a few more years– I should embrace it while I can.

IMG_0703.JPG

Babywearing Wonder

Image

Wearing your baby is amazing and I wish I had done it earlier in Elon’s very young life. I would have been able to accomplish more, and it probably would’ve boosted my confidence in my Mom Skills because i’d be more in tune with his every beat. I started wearing him more often in the last couple of months because I finally figured out how to use my MamaWay Ring Sling . Elon’s neck was also strong enough so that I could wear him tummy to tummy, and I swear it changed my life.

There are a ton of reasons to wear your baby. My favourites are:

1. Worn babies cry less. In cultures (such as mine) where babies are constantly carried and physically reassured, they don’t find the need to cry about much, unless they’re hungry or sleepy or uncomfortable, and even then the crying fits don’t really last long. Since baby is in such close proximity, it’s much easier to see their cues and respond to it immediately. And don’t worry — you won’t spoil your baby! Wearing them so close to you helps them focus on learning about the world around them, instead of fussing and worrying about being left alone. They feel reassured that you’ll be right there with them and in turn become more confident children.

2. Hands free movement. You can blog, shop, work, eat, clean up around the house a little bit and maybe do some laundry! This is especially useful during growth spurts or mental leaps, when babies are extra clingy and needy. Seriously, this makes me wish that I started wearing Elon as early as 2 weeks old! But he was still so little and fragile looking that I didn’t feel comfortable smushing him into a sling. It would have been a lot easier on me though, since the little bugger became a catnapper when he turned 3 months old, and we didn’t have a helper around the house. So young and already so against naps!

3. Sleeping on the go. I am a very social person and I HATE being cooped up all alone in the house. A lot of my postpartum ugly crying was because of cabin fever. All I wanted to do was go out and be around people, have adult conversation or watch a movie with my husband. But then there was this little guy who needed to take naps or else he’d get too overstimulated and then all hell would break loose. Ever since I started wearing him, I’ve been a lot more confident about taking him out and about with me. So when I see him start rubbing his eyes or yawning, I scoop him up into his sling, look for a quiet corner and after a couple of minutes of him protesting he’ll be fast asleep against my chest. His eyes and ears are covered so I can go about my business and not worry about the outside world disturbing his nap. I get to go out AND my little guy isn’t overtired, which means no meltdowns! Win-win!

I think they sleep so well in slings because it reminds them of being in our bellies. It must be so familiar, the rhythm of our walk and the beating of our hearts. Must be the most comforting thing amidst the chaos of this big new world they’re now living in 🙂

5. Easy access to the ladies. This one took a little bit of getting used to, but now with just a little adjustment and some sleight of hand, I can breastfeed little E without anyone really noticing. I walk around the mall while doing this and the masses are none-the-wiser, haha. Although to be perfectly honest, I prefer breastfeeding without a cover. If only people aren’t so scandalised by public breastfeeding! :p

There are a ton more scientific data that supports baby wearing, but these are the reasons that make me happy and I hope it helps you too 🙂 There are tons and tons of different kinds of slings and carriers, with different ways of wearing and types of fabric. Research and try out the ones that will suit your baby and your lifestyle. Happy babywearing, awesome mamas!