Bunny’s McDo Celebrations Birthday Hooplah

Three months before her birthday, E and I discussed about bunny’s birthday. At first I wanted to just have a simple family dinner, I mean we really don’t celebrate the first birthday for the little one. I think it is more for the mum’s and dad’s, a pat in the back (HEY YOU SURVIVED ONE YEAR AND YOUR BABY IS ALIVE AND HEALTHY). E however encouraged me to throw her a small party, she may not remember it but we certainly don’t want to look back and feel bad about not celebrating her birthday with our closest friends and relatives, right?

So, we decided to check out Jolibee and McDonalds. Fortunately those two fast food chains opened nearby (just around 5 minutes from home) so we were able to visit before her big day. Bad things is that Jollibee had limited space (read here: no place for a birthday party) so we ended up picking McDo. At first I was saddened, I wanted her to have her birthday in Jollibee just because she likes the mashed potato and spag. This however was a blessing in disguise. After reading about reviews of Jollibee and McDo parties I discovered that more mums say that McDo is better. Most mums cited that Jollibee has a tendency to rush your party and is a bit more expensive. So, fate really wanted us to have the better deal (YAY!)

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The theme we chose for her birthday was the Adventure Time theme (this is also a plus for McDo because in Jollibee you can only choose from the Jollibee Theme or the Hello Kitty Theme – with McDo you have four options!). The giveaways from McDo also had this theme and of course the cake I requested from my aunt had to have the same theme!

adventure time cake

Bunny’s actual birthday hooplah in McDo was short and sweet. We just had around 50 of our closest friends and relatives. Of course, at first Bunny was a bit hesitant to go around and play with the other humans.

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I mean there were more adult humans than tiny humans like herself! She was particularly scared with my Uncle, can’t blame the kid he was super gigil with her! She kept on crying whenever my aunt or mum or even her dad carries her. She’s only comfy when I’m the one carrying her or when it’s my brother (her uncle monkey) carrying her (so young, but already with her preferences).

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The main struggle I had was whether she will like the spag or not, but oh well,  I think she likes it a lot and loves to eat it like a boss!

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The games were super fun, especially the one for the adult humans – the pass, dribble, exhibition. Complicated mechanics but they got it!

After the games and the eating part, the crew brought in Hamburglar! Of course I was a tad bit disappointed because I thought it was going to be Grimace, but again fate has its way of turning up things for the best. Alex loved him! She was smiling and dancing when he came in. Everybody seemed to gush when they saw her dancing and I was just there staring at her smiling and having fun.

Mum! Who is that person???

Mum! Who is that person???

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We sang to her after Hamburglar’s appearance, and although they asked me to say something for her I just said that I love her.

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I can’t really say anything else because the party area might end up like a tiny pool filled with my tears (happy tears of course). That tiny human changed me, her dad, and everybody else around her. It was a short, sweet, and fun party. I surely had fun and I’m sure that she had fun too.

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As usual, we blew out the candles for her and had a photo-op with Hamburglar. We weren’t rushed as well, compared to the Jollibee celebrations based on other mums feedback. Her guests were even able to have a photo-op as well.

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After the party, the staff fixed all of the gifts. We settled the remaining half of the bill after the party. All in all, we spent just around P20k for her birthday. We had excess food, so some guests were able to take home some as well (plus additional giveaway – the lunchbox and notebook). It was money well spent because we didn’t think about the venue, the food, the actual program. All we had to do was focus on bunny and our guests. How about you? Have you tried throwing a birthday at McDo or Jollibee?

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12 Months and Counting

Yesterday, my little girl turned one! (YAAAAY)

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I met my first big goal as her mum, which is to breastfeed her exclusively for a year. Great big pat on the back for me (woot woot!). I never really thought that I will be able to complete breastfeeding my tiny human for 12 whole months! Why? I usually hear moms saying (even my own mum) that the milk just goes away after 6 months or that the milk is not enough that is why they switch to formula or they get sick and switch to formula. While I totally understand mummies who mix feed or formula feed their tiny humans, I had set that goal of mine even before she was born and I was determined to keep at it for as long as I can.

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To say that my breastfeeding journey was a walk to the park would be an untrue documentation of my experience. I did go through a lot of downs which almost made me quit in giving her my liquid gold, but discipline, determination, and confidence in myself helped me push through. (ACHIEVE!) I mean, I experienced having an extremely low output (at 2-3 oz per pump) when I had to deal with extreme work deliverables paired with 5 hours of sleep. Still I pushed through and decided to help myself by going crazy over lactation treats.

treats

 

The biggest challenge I faced was acquiring chicken pox! In my mind, how will I continue breastfeeding my bunny when I have pox all over my body? Can I breastfeed her even if I have it? Can I still pump even I have pox? Will my meds be bad for her?

So I researched and researched, and I did find the answer thanks to the breastfeeding groups I was a member of. I persisted in breastfeeding her. My aunt, mum, dad, and e took care of her while I was sick. I pumped in the morning, but eventually direct latched her just making sure that I cover my whole body and just expose ’em mountains. I will hand her off to my mum, dad, aunt, or e after. I wasn’t allowed to carry her or kiss her or hug her until the pox faded. At night, before we enter our room I sprayed lots and lots of Lysol and again covered my whole body, just exposing ’em mountains as she slept next to me. This was us for a week and a half. Thankfully she never got the pox, and I succeeded in breastfeeding her even if I had the pox. (If you have it and your breastfeeding, suggest you continue breastfeeding. Chicken pox has a two week incubation period meaning your tiny human was already exposed to it so she actually needs your milk more!)

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Now, even if I hear other people telling me that I don’t have milk anymore and should switch to formula I just say no. I still have a bigger goal in mind, which is to breastfeed her for 2 years. I have learned from my experience that you need not have expensive electric pumps or a freezer filled with breast milk just to succeed in your choice to breastfeed your tiny human. What you need is:

  1. Confidence and support – this is the most important thing, mommy! You need to believe in yourself, that you can do it. When you believe in your body’s capability to provide for your tiny human you will see that your milk will keep on flowing. Of course you will need support from your hubby. Don’t mind what other people say, but you should get him on the same boat. Thankfully E is very supportive, he is a registered nurse so he knows the benefits of breastmilk
  2. Discipline and Determination – This is second most important must have mum. As a working mommy, I have scheduled pumping sessions. Thrice a day, every 3 hours. So that’s at 10 AM/1 PM/4 PM. Of course there are times when I miss out on a pumping session, but I make sure that I make up for it the next day. It’s a law of supply and demand at work here. When you pump you empty the milk out which triggers your body to produce milk again. You should also set goals for yourself, just so that you will be determined to keep at your breastfeeding journey milk
  3. Water, lots of water – Drink as many as you possibly can. Seriously! You need it. You will even fill that thirst that seems to never go away every time your tiny human nurses or when you pump. (Just as if you are in a dessert for days)
  4. Support Group of Breastfeeding Moms – This I found through Breastfeeding Pinays and Breastfeeding Advocates Group on Facebook. I learned a lot of things from mums and also got support from mums here.

I’m finished with my first big goal, now I am back to my tiny goals. Aim now is to meet 15 mos!

3 months to go

90 days

2,160 hrs

129,600 minutes

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Bunny’s First Halloween

As always, the office had this Halloween Trick or Treat celebration. As a first time mom I was super excited to sign up and bring bunny, for the very first time, to the office. I was super excited that I was the first one who signed up on our list. I wanted to go all in for this first trick or treat. I know that there are lots of costumes up for grabs at the mall and the toy store, but I wanted her costume to be unique to help further maximize her cuteness.

For about 2 days I searched for the perfect costume for her (thank you internet, thank you pinterest, and thank you buzzfeed). I even asked her ninangs and the help of my team to decide what her costume will be. I then saw this post from Buzzfeed about adorbs costumes for Halloween. As I was scrolling down I saw a photo of a baby girl (well really a toddler) dressed up as boo! Boo from Monsters Inc, not the pink shirt and shorts but when Mike Wazowski and Kitty dressed her up as a little monster. After seeing that photo I decided that she will be Boo for her first trick or treat. I mean DIY-ing that costume won’t be that hard, right? RIGHT?

Oh goodness, was I wrong. More on this on my DIY post for the Boo costume. After deciding that she will be boo I read lots of DIY posts, tweaked it in my own silly way and after 2 sleepless nights, I came up with this costume:

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Continue reading →

Breastfeeding and TV Shows

I love watching telenovelas, local and foreign. One of my favorite shows currently is Jane The Virgin.

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Photo from https://www.facebook.com/cwjanethevirgin/photos/a.1437123226536834.1073741826.1425838674331956/1648467442069077/?type=3&theater

I really like the story line of a pregnant virgin, due to wrong insemination, and how she copes up with her life and her plans with the unplanned pregnancy. The story has a very light take in life, and how it can sometimes be like the ones you watch in mexican telenovelas. Has a lot of ups and downs, but still continues because that is just how life is. Anyway, one of the reasons why I liked it even more was because it highlighted Jane’s desire to exclusively breastfeed Matteo. This is very new to me because local shows here in the Philippines seem bent to highlight formula milk as part of their story line. It will always be like this:

Mom and dad fights because mom will ask dad for money to be used to buy formula milk for their child

or

Single mom or mom needs money asks a relative for money to buy her child formula milk

This is a bit disappointing because it is becoming a repetitive theme. I know two shows from ABS-CBN that used this story line instead of promoting breastfeeding (Nathaniel and Ang Probinsyano). The question in my mind is why this is becoming a part of their programming instead of promoting breast feeding? I just wanted to put it out there, you know. Because it doesn’t really help us breastfeeding moms push forward the advocacy of normalizing breastfeeding. Why? Because even media outfits highlight formula feeding (believe me I don’t have anything against formula feeding because Alex was given formula for two weeks) instead of mixing it up and adding breastfeeding to their main story line.

Now this is why I like Jane The Virgin. From season 1 it became a show that felt closer to what some moms experience – going to classes and even discovering baby wearing! What made me fall in love more with this show is the first two episodes (well granted that they only aired two episodes, but those two were just packed with amazing real mommy goodness).

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Photo from https://www.facebook.com/cwjanethevirgin/photos/a.1437403416508815.1073741828.1425838674331956/1648912748691213/?type=3&theater

For the first episode, let us set aside the part wherein Matteo was kidnapped. Jane felt for a time that she wasn’t being the best mom that she can be to Matteo. Why? Because they were having problems, with her milk coming in and with Matteo’s latch. This is such a big issue that breastfeeding moms experience, even I experienced this and sadly I resorted to the top-up method. This is the reason why Alex was given formula for 2 weeks, I didn’t believe in my body’s capacity to produce milk (sadly I became a member of Breastfeeding Pinays a few months after I gave birth to Alex). This top-up approach is not really beneficial for mommy and baby, because mommy won’t be able to respond well to baby’s need to eat therefore lesser milk will be produced. This is why Jane said that it is not an option for her (good for your Jane!).

Jane instead attend a lactation class, wherein she was told to shove her boob whenever Matteo latches to help improve her latch. But still Jane wasn’t confident that her body is producing enough milk for him. Why, you may ask. The silly baby is feeding every 30 minutes, which after Rafael’s research is because he was cluster feeding! Ah, made so much sense and lo and behold Jane’s milk came in and Matteo gained weight (as shared by his pedia after his second check up).

Now, this is where I would want to say thank you to the writers of Jane The Virgin. What you did for that episode and the whole deal when Jane struggled to breastfeed Matteo was amazing. It is something that moms can relate to and at the same time it helped normalize breastfeeding (and even share what moms experience). This is something that I hope and wish local shows would do, promote breastfeeding. Normalize it so that moms would discover another alternative to formula milk. This is so that moms will be curious about it and be able to discover the choices that she has in feeding her new born child (so that she will not automatically think of formula milk as the default route).

As a last note, I am not against formula feeding or mix feeding what I am for is informed decision making which seems to be lacking nowadays. To share, again as I mentioned already Alex was formula fed, mix fed and eventually was exclusively breast fed until today. The decision to breastfeed her was because I wanted to provide what I think is best for her after doing as much research as I can.

 

Back to Work

Last Monday was my first day back to work. I thought that I was going to be a mess at the office, surprisingly I wasn’t. I think this is because I love what I do and I availed of the afternoon nursing mom schedule that allows me to go home an hour earlier than my schedule (so I get to go home at 4:30 pm everyday because I go to work at 8:30 AM).

The first day was actually a breeze but it was my little bunny who struggled. She cried a lot the whole time I was away and wouldn’t take the bottle. They had to squeeze the milk out of the bottle just for her to feed. 🙁 No after five days she is slowly learning to latch but she still waits for me to come home and feed.

I know that we will soon get there and that she will learn to latch soon. I still give her breastmilk and my tandem to help keep my supply up is moringana and the yummy mommy treats!

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I was afraid that once I go back to work my milk supply for bunny will go down, but it actually increased after 4 days of eating the lactation treats. So my plan is to always have a stash at work to keep my supply up because I plan to breastfeed bunny until I can. To help me also store my milk properly and safely after each pump I use Honeysuckle’s milk bags. I tried the first year’s milk bags and I feel it is not as sturdy as the milk bags of Honeysuckle.

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I usually go home with 2-4 bags, depending on the time I get to the office and if I have a meeting. My usual output is anywhere between 11-13 oz while I’m away from Bunny. The way I store the bags is that I freeze the ice packs I got from babymama (the anti-bacterial ones) and stash the milk first at the office ref. When it is time for me to go home, I use an insulated lunch bag and put the frozen ice packs + milk bags. So far, it has helped keep my stash super cold even if I had to attend a meeting. It was able to keep my milk stash cold for almost 6 hours!

Again, my aim is to breastfeed her as much as I can, it is hard especially I am working. But I think all it needs is dedication from my end + lactation treats + storage milk bags and I will be able to do it! I just think that everything I do is for her.

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Returning to Work

I will soon go back to the office. This fact saddens me because I want to stay at home and take care of bunny. However, I know that I really have to go back to work so we can start saving up for her future. To be honest, I have considered being a WAHM, a work at home mom. I know that it is possible because I have been doing it since January, but for now I will try working full time first.

Look ma, I can lift my head up on my own!

Look ma, I can lift my head up on my own!

One of my worries in returning to a full-time job is missing special moments of bunny. Her first word, first time she crawls, first time of everything. Perhaps this is the reason why I have been taking lots of photos of bunny and lots of videos as well. I even told E that I want to purchase an extra camera or tablet for my godmother who will take care of bunny. To this he said that we can buy an extra tablet.

Bunny discovering her hands!

Bunny discovering her hands!

I’m even afraid that she will not recognize me when I get home, to this E just told me that bunny knows who I am and shouldn’t worry that much about it.

I know to some it may sound selfish, but I also want to go back to work for myself. Not because I don’t want to be with bunny, but because I want to be happy as I pursue my passion and have my family with me as I do so. If in the case that I will find it hard to not be with bunny 24/7, I will try to talk to my superiors and see if it is possible for me to work at home for a few days and be at the office some days. If not, I probably will consider being a full time WAHM. I mean, who can resist the urge to be with this cutie everyday?

all smiles for momma

all smiles for momma

Breastfeeding Working Momma

Only a few days left and I will have to go back to work. Before I gave birth to my little bunny I’ve always thought that it will be easy for me to go back to the office. Back then I was pretty sure that I’ll be super bored and will crave going back to the office after just a month. I was wrong. I found myself crying a few nights ago dreading the thought of leaving her and working.

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E and I talked about our options. He said that he can work for us but he will need to go overtime every day. I told him no, I will go back to work. My decision to go back to work is because I want to be a good example to my little bunny. I am not saying that stay at home moms don’t give a good example to their babies, they do too in showing that family is important. In my end, the reason why I think that going back to work is a good example for her is because I will show her that a woman can go for her dreams and have it all. A family life and a successful career. Aside from this, I want to help provide a better future for her. We are still thinking which educational fund we will get for her, but we will decide soon. Getting one earlier is better than later.

Preparing for Work

A few days ago I checked my email, and I have 1400+ unread emails! 1400!!!I am not even sure how I got 1400+ emails. Well perhaps that’s because I normally receive 100 emails per day, must be also a “perk” of being recently promoted. I have been slowly sifting through all of my emails. Ah, but it still keeps coming! I already asked my juniors to help catch me up by sending me updates about the brands that they are handling.

Breastfeeding Bunny

With my breast pump and nursing pads ready, I am determined to keep my little bunny exclusively breastfed for at least 6 months. I am almost at the mid point of my goal, since I will go back 2 days short of her third month.

This has become a priority of mine because I know that exclusively breast feeding her is good for her health. To date the only time we bring her to her pedia is for her vaccine shots. Even if her grandparents are sick, she never caught on to what they have. Ah liquid gold!

I know that it is difficult but I know that it can be done. Two weeks before I return to work I will start storing breast milk. Breast milk can last up to 8 months if stored and frozen properly (do note that you must only freeze freshly expressed breast milk). That is why starting next week I will collect and freeze! Bunny doesn’t feed at night since she started sleeping for 8-10 hours straight. Sometimes she still does, but more often than not I wake up with engorged breasts (ouch!).

In another post I will share my journey to have bunny exclusively breastfed, ah it was a bit hard at first but we made it!

Freelance Writing

I have been in maternity leave since December 2014. Since I am leave, I do not receive any compensation from my company. I guess this is the norm here in the Philippines. Since I didn’t have any salary, E and I agreed that I can only resume with my online shopping for bunny when I get back to work or when I get writing gigs.

At the back of my mind I knew that I will do everything that I can to get gigs, but because I had a c-section I gave myself the whole of December to rest.

Spending time with my little bunny and E

Come January I started looking for freelance jobs through:

  • Elance
  • Odesk
  • Freelancer
  • Craigslist

To be honest, it is hard to secure a writing gig, especially in Elance, Odesk, and Freelancer. I have yet to secure a job from the three sites, but I am not quitting. I just submit applications one after the other. I still have hope that I will get a job after some time.

Fortunately for me, I was able to secure a gig through Craigslist! So far, I have been working with a site owner on and off. He will ask me to re-write things and I will get paid in USD. I have maintained a good working relationship with him, of course I want him to continue throwing short term writing gigs at me. Aside from that,I am also now working with a content provider to write different types of articles. I have checked out the profile of this person, and he seems legit.

Photo from http://www.mywritingblog.com/2014/10/guest-post-writing-tense.html

Photo from http://www.mywritingblog.com/2014/10/guest-post-writing-tense.html

There are risks in getting jobs from craigslist. I have experienced this first hand! I was promised 100USD for 35 articles. At first, it seemed legit, she said that her name was Amanda Palmer. I submitted my daily tasks and even revised some because it was part of what we had agreed upon. However, when I sent my invoice to her she never replied to me anymore. I felt so bad after, guilty as well. I shared this with E and he said to just let it go and just be careful next time.

I can stay at home and be a freelance writer, I have discussed this with E. In my mind I wanted to be with our little bunny as much as I can. However I knew that I would have to go back in the office, because I wanted to be a good role model for bunny. I want to show her that she can do anything that she wants. This does not mean though that I will stop taking on freelance work, I will time to time. The money I will earn will be used to buy more stocks or more clothes/toys for bunny.

Oh, and yes. Because I earned extra cash from freelancing we were able to buy bunny toys and clothes. Of course E eventually asked me to not buy too much, but it is super hard not to spoil my little bunny.

Bunny’s Rocker

Super colorful things for bunny’s crib!

Financial Independence for You and Your Family

I have been working for more than 4 years and for most of it I wasn’t able to save as much as I can. I do not regret it though because I spent most of my hard earned money traveling as much as I can. I will likely continue traveling again once my little girl is big enough to travel with her dad and I. However, traveling will not take the front seat now, it will be limited now since my aim is to build our wealth. I do not aim for my little unit to be super rich. I just want us to have financial independence.

Photo from http://teensgotcents.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/iStock_000018645830_Small.jpg

I honestly don’t want to be stuck working on an 8-5 job for 20 years knowing that I can save and invest. I am no expert when it comes to finance but I want to learn as much as I can about it. So when I found out that I was pregnant I read as much as I can and below are my steps on gaining financial independence:

  1. Open a bank account
  2. Every pay day save first before spending (at least 20-30%)
  3. Get insurance
  4. Start investing in the stock market
  5. Open a Unit Investment Trust Fund

So far I have 1-4 done on my list after a year, but the road to choosing which insurance policy I will get and opening my account in COL Financial took me over 9 months (same as the length of my pregnancy).

For my insurance policy I considered many factors and ended up shortlisting two companies: PruLife UK and Sun Life. I then asked for quotations from both companies to compare the difference. Took me almost three months before I finally decided to go with Sun Life.

Perhaps you are wondering why I got an insurance plan first before investing in the stock market. It is pretty simple. I want to get protected first before I invest, meaning  should I get sick or die at least I will leave E and my little one something. Also, from my observations I realized that people often lose their money due to sudden sickness or death.

After getting an insurance plan my next step was to start investing in the stock market. I know that a lot of people are afraid of putting their money in the stock market, but see I used the term invest. Meaning I don’t plan to do active trading, I will invest my money there for a long time.

Investing in the stock market is easy, you just have to open an account in COL Financial and start buying stocks. It is the part of choosing which stocks to invest in that I encountered a bit of difficulty. I am not a risk taker so I need to know as much as I can before I invest my money.

Fortunately Brother Bo has the TRC or the Truly Rich Club! I signed up for it and it gives me the information that I need to know which stocks to buy. At long last I am not at a loss on which stocks to buy and when to sell it. Aside from this, I get daily messages which are very encouraging and enlightening!

Image from http://i61.tinypic.com/2vhzynb.jpg

Now in my list, I still have unit investment trust funds. But I will revise that list putting my little one in as well:

  1. Open a bank account
  2. Every pay day save first before spending (at least 20-30%)
  3. Get insurance
  4. Start investing in the stock market
  5. Open bank account for Alex
  6. Open a Unit Investment Trust Fund – under Alex’s name

The goal is to open Alex’s bank account when I get back to the office and also link it to a UITF. This money will be used for her future (college funds).

I encourage all working moms out there to also strive for financial independence. Do it one step at a time and perhaps soon you can stay at home and let your money do the work for you. Just Save-Insure-Invest!