Friday, December 31, 2010

A Better Version of Me

A friend got 5 free tickets to "Splendide: The Grand National China Acrobatics Circus" and I was glad she chose me to one of her lucky recipients because the show was amazing! I made a mental note to watch such show with my boys maybe when Nacho is turns three or up so he can appreciate it more.

I thanked our sponsor profusely for the invitation and then she goes, "I'm glad you made it. I thought you wouldn't accept because you're now a mom". Quickly I replied, "Hey I just had a baby but I'm still the same person!"

As we 5 ladies dispersed, I could not help but think about the remark. She's right, I have been begging off from a lot of engagements since I got pregnant. The series of reasonings include:
- "I'm not very presentable right now"
- "I'm lactating"
- "I miss my son"
- "I don't have a yaya"
- "I'm really tired"

They're all valid reasons but eventually... there was hardly any invitation. I was feeling so depressed recently and the few people I could run to were unavailable - I realized then that there really are very "few" of them left.

This coming year, I have resolved to do a makeover of myself:
- I will be fitter and healthier, and will run even by myself
- even when I feel shitty inside, outside I will try to look my best
- I will drive when I can and commute when I can't
- I will read more (and expand my materials beyond food blogs)
- I will write more
- I will be a better friend to my friends and make new ones
- I will travel more

But I will not lose sight of the things I'm doing right... I will continue to be a hardworking entrepreneur, a prudent homemaker, an understanding wife and a doting mom.


Monday, October 25, 2010

The Papa Also Rises

Over a midnight snack of leftover pasta and iced tea, Tats told me how worried he felt about Nacho... particularly how he would fare around other kids.

We came from a rare get together with 3 of my bestest friends from college: Tams who has 2 kids, Mau who's a new mom and Ivy, a bride-to-be in two months. Nacho wreaked havoc in Mau's house, challenged Tams' maternal instincts and terrorized Ivy into wondering if she can handle the whole motherhood gig. He made no connection whatsoever with any of the other kids around.

Being the only grandkid from Tats' side of the family (where we deposit our son 2-4x/ week), Nacho is more used to playing with adults than with children. Previous encounters with older kids usually ended up with the bigger ones grabbing the toys and Nacho moving away to his own play area (usually the stairs). Tats explained to me how it breaks his heart to see our son get upended but also feels proud how he moves on unaffected.

My husband wants what we had with our respective siblings - primary happiness within the family circle that the rest becomes supplementary. He cites the protective shields of Ethan&Yaz, Lois&Carlos - it would be great for Nacho to have a brother or a sister but not yet anytime soon. Right now we want to fill him up with our undivided love until he has enough to share around.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Weaning and Losing

As a first-time mother, I occasionally try to pry myself from entertainment reading (fiction, food blogs and travel magazines) and take to child-rearing literature… apparently there are tons out there preying on a big market of insecure parents like me! No wonder parenting magazines command higher ad rates than the seemingly aggressive Playboy or Cosmo.

Out of all the information mish-mash, the one that struck me was about how “a parent should not control a child but should set a clear path so he doesn’t get lost”.

There are so many things my husband and I want for our son but first we need to narrow our list down to specific and achievable core values we want to develop in him and we identified; JUSTICE, which sums up how he should relate fairly to the people around him, and PRODUCTIVITY, because the good Lord intended for mankind to make full use of His gifts. I don’t have a blueprint for execution yet but what I am sure of is I have to have a strong sense of self first before I can set my son off to anything.

The opportunity for check and balance of “me” came in the form of some friends deciding to merge with two teams to be able to compete in the Camsur International Dragonboat Festival – it was the perfect opportunity to assess how I would fare away from the two most important men in my life.

At 14 months I still breastfed Nacho, the race was in two weeks and I had no intention of taking “dairy express” breaks so I decided that it was time to wean him. He’s fine with daytime formula feeding but evenings were “our” time so on the first attempt at independence he angrily pushed the bottle away and cried out in hunger. After two agonizing nights and four bottles of wasted milk, Nacho finally accepted his defeat and with it the formula I have learned to prepare in total darkness.

Lactation does not stop automatically so on the fourth night when I offered to feed Nacho to empty the tanks, a confused look crossed his face and he pushed me away, my eyes welled up… it was the most bitter success to an accomplished mission.

I know now that my son will have to break my heart with every step he takes towards becoming a man. So for him to grow strong… I have to be stronger.

Friday, September 17, 2010

DOING THE HEIDI: Going Back to Pre-Natal Me

I’m five feet tall and barely hit the 100lbs mark. I’m still not sure whose fault it was that I ballooned to 145lbs on my full term – was it the whole bunch of bananas and jar of Skippy Superchunk Peanut Butter I always had in my office drawer or my husband’s genetic pool, he at 5’9 is the shortest compared to his brothers. My friend and I were strolling in the mall when she bumped into an officemate who took one look at me and eagerly cooed, “Uuuuy twins?!” I was already 10 months pregnant and knew I wasn’t going to go into labor as the x-ray revealed my baby’s shoulders to be as wide as the opening in my pelvic bone so I called my OB to schedule a C-section the next day. Her team pulled out my 8.7lbs son just right before he pooped.

Breastfeeding was the immediate choice, apart from the proven benefits to infants, it is also supposed to contract the uterus much faster. But with a voracious boy who fed off me every two hours, I also got hungry very frequently and ate like a construction worker. In despair, I stared at my dark, loosely deflated tummy covered in stretch marks and realized why aesthetic clinics dominate expressway billboards. But then there’s Heidi Klum, she has four kids and the last time she gave birth, even managed to get on the Victoria Secret catwalk after eight weeks! Disregarding Heidi’s multimillion ability to employ a fitness team, and discounting the possibility that her incredible mix of beauty and brains might have sprung from an alien race of alpha females…I decided that if she can regain her pre-natal body then so can I!

Losing excess pounds wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be but moving out of my mother-in-law’s house into our own townhouse and having to fire the nanny was. I breastfed exclusively (no formula), cleaned the house, cooked our meals and did the laundry while setting up an events company with a friend. In 12 weeks I was down to 110lbs but very close to the end of my wits.

Salvation came in the form of a very able househelp/nanny. With her around, my husband and I were able to go back to dragonboat rowing – I was never athletic but I took to this sport three years ago as a form of release from office stress. Cardio endurance is essential so in my team, we were encouraged to take up running which I loathed. I joined several 5k fun runs, it was when I decided I was ready to advance to 10k that I found out I was already a month pregnant. Given my history of miscarriage, the OB advised me to stop all strenuous activity. More than a year of being home-based, getting back in training was a reality check on how out of shape I was, for most parts I was panting for breath and could not keep up with the team’s pace!

I already look like I did before I had a baby except for the slight belly, loose skin and stretch marks that may never go away without surgical intervention but apart from the aesthetics, I need to work on being truly physically healthy. When I can, I run around the park in front of our house. Last May, I did 5k in a running event and clocked in at 28:40.

Before my son turned last August, I promised to run my first 10k. Last July I joined “Run for Life” and clocked in at 1:06:45… it’s my way of introducing him to a mom who will be able to keep up with him and a multi-faceted woman who will keep herself always interested and interesting.

Who knows… maybe a full marathon might not be an impossible dream.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

My 1 TV/House Rule

My 1 TV/House Rule

1. Having a TV in the room will make you stay cooped up in the room reducing opportunities for interaction in the household.
2. Watching TV while eating distracts not only from the meal but from opportunity to catch up with each other.
3. Always have spaghetti in stock - it's a quick and affordable way to feed surprise guests.
4. Doing the grocery with the hubby can be an alternate version of a date.
5. Full Cream Milk can substitute for All Purpose Cream.
6. Dishwashing Liquid can substitute for Baby Bottle Liquid Wash.
7. Honey can substitute for Maple Syrup but not vice versa.
8. An ugly view will not transform itself – take drastic measures if necessary.
9. You only have two feet so you should be able to live by a pair of slippers. Other pairs should be kept out of sight.
10. Plan your weekly menu lest you end up eating fried food until cooking oil starts coming out of your ears.
11. A filthy house for a day will not kill you.
12. Using commercial food sauces and mixes does not make you a lesser person.
13. If both husband and wife earn money for the household then they are equally responsible for running it.
14. If you want to be Queen then you should have your own kingdom.
15. If you want to be Queen then you should let your husband be King.

Eat, Drink & Be Merry at Home

Growing up in my grandparents’ strict household in the province, I didn’t understand why meal times was dedicated solely to eating when there were many other things we could do to make it more fun like sit cross-legged, watch TV, listen to music, read comics etc.

It was a long wooden dining table that my three sisters and I shared with Lolo Ping, Lola Cobay, eldest Auntie Juliet, youngest Uncle Pupu, beauty queen cousin Ate Coring, plus the househelp du jour. We brought only ourselves to the table and left only when our plates were as clean as when we started eating with spoon and fork on one side. Then we’d go about our individual tasks of clearing the table, washing the dishes, sweeping and mopping the floor - the dining room would be spotless with nary a trace of the feeding frenzy that just took place. Nobody was late lest he/she forfeits the meal altogether because although there was always enough food… there was never any left over.

Despite the protocols, our meals were full of animated chatter. Lolo Ping with his snooty American nose always ate with his back straight – his lips would break into a mischievous snicker when he delivers his killer one liners. Ate Coring was a demure colegiala who never went on dates without a chaperone – but all poise fly out the window as she cracks the craziest jokes on the table. Being “the fat kid”, I was always the last to finish (thus the absence of leftovers) constantly amazing them all with my storage capacity. With her twinkling eyes, my Lola Cobay often clutched her belly in laughter.

When my lolo died, we gradually dispersed. My sisters and I moved to Manila to be with our Mom while the others started their own families leaving my lola with a succession of other grandkids. But my dining practices remained and my pet peeves include people who leave food on their plates and those who text or watch TV while eating.

Now in my own household, dinners have become sacred – TV and wi-fi are turned off, cellphones and toys are set aside. Studies show that people who eat while doing something else tend to chew less and consume more. But health and etiquette aside… dining has become our time for appreciating the food on the table and the presence of one another.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Near Death by Pigsa

This morning I got the biggest scare of my life.

I'm on my 3rd and nastiest pigsa (boil), i treated the first two with gumamela poultice just like what my lola did back in our province. Luckily our neighbor has a shrub so Riza gets me a steady supply although I'm not sure she bothers with the trivialities of asking for permission.

Everybody's suggesting I take antibiotics but I'd have to stop breastfeeding Nacho - I was sure he'll adjust but I just wasn't ready. Yesterday I got feverish either from infection or the erratic weather, but more than anything I was feeling the unbearable pain from where the boil is, my swollen inner thigh. I resolved to take Citromax, extra strong antibiotics to be taken once for only 3 days.

I thought I’d walk off my ails so off I went to the drugstore then the grocery. A wave of nausea washed over me and by the time I reached the counter to pay, I already broke into cold, clammy sweat. I called Riza to come fetch me then I sat and waited by the tables in front of the food kiosks. Apparently I was pale as paper so the grocery staff came over to make me sniff White Flower liniment. They kept fussing over me and I felt embarrassed attracting so much attention even from other customers. I insisted I was ok until suddenly, my body went rigid, my toes curled and my hands rolled into gnarly fists. I had to ask one of the staff to open my box of Citromax because my fingers were already useless. I saw Riza from a distance but when I called out my jaw stiffened. I managed to tell her to call Tats and to the dozen people around to call for an ambulance. The ambulance wasn’t available so they called a cab and lifted me in. On the way to the hospital, Riza massaged my hands one after another and I just cried thinking about Nacho who’s just turning a year old in two weeks.

It was frightful to lose control of my body while my mind was on red alert. When we finally arrived in the hospital’s ER, the guard wheeled me in and I tried to explain to the nurses that my body seems to be paralyzed. The nurse pricked my finger for blood but nothing came out. My mother and brother in law arrived with his girlfriend who's a registered nurse, in tow. I was fine after about 15 minutes before Tats came, I guess the antibiotics finally kicked in and I just felt embarrased how all the trouble sprang from a humble pigsa.

Nacho is currently bawling his eyes out not understanding why I can’t feed him. I called my sister asking permission to nurse since it has been 11 hours already since I took the medicine – she shut me up by explaining how dangerous it can be. Right now I try to take comfort in the fact that we only have to endure this for 3 nights, at least I still have the rest of my life to spend with my family.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

I Am Mother

I cannot say this often enough about parents... we love them, we hate them then we become them.

My Father's Day gift to Tats was a balloon twisting workshop in UP Diliman last Sunday. It was a seven hour session yet he still wanted the entire household to be around so I prepared for a Sunken Garden picnic for Nacho, Riza and me. Alas, parking is no longer allowed along the oval rim and it was mighty inconvenient to lug Nacho with his stuff, the banig, food and drinks from the car. Given my very limited navigational skills, I drove around the campus once and decided to go back to the ISSI Building where we deposited Tats.

The workshop was at the third floor so I was delighted that on the second floor was a very spacious hallway. There we laid out our picnic paraphernalia complete with iPod and speakers spewing Mother Goose and Filipino nursery rhymes. Nacho quickly went exploring his tiled new playground down on all fours - kids on Bible study break came over to play with him. Tats came down with his first creations; 2 balloons inside a big clear one and a balloon bouquet that really did look like a flower.

We took a quick snack of the sandwiches and pasta dish we brought. Then one look at Nacho's dusty limbs told me that a wet towel just wont do so I whisked him to the Ladies' Room and gave him a quick bath over one sink. Refreshed, we laid on his cot and a momentary latch rendered him knocked out! Riza fell asleep on a bench too when torrential rains poured complete with thunderclaps and lightnings but the two were unfazed.

Seeing my contingent in deep sleep despite the refugee-camp set-up, I could not help but remember my mom. She always brought baon (packed food) wherever we went... and although it always seemed like she carried too much classified into appetizer, main course, dessert and chichiriya, the containers were always empty by the time we got home.I particularly remember the millenium countdown (2000) event at The Fort -it was just a vacant lot back then and the commute was inconvenient enough that my mom still had me and my sisters carry food baskets and a picnic mat. Seeing people our age in full gimik gear, we three girls wished the ground would crack open and swallow us unseen. But true enough, when fireworks lit up the midnight sky, we were comfortably spread out on the mat with yummy food within reach while the rest had to crane their necks to witness the pyro extravaganza that remains unparalled to this day.

When Nacho woke up, I read him a book while Riza packed up and loaded most of our stuff in the car. Then Tats came down with balloons on his head, around his arms and in his hands. The seven hour wait was not as grueling as I feared it would be. But perhaps I've become more patient for my family... just like my mother was to me.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Mrs. Gump

Now I totally get it... Mrs.Gump on her deathbed saying, "God put me on this earth to become your mother". Back when I saw the movie I thought, how sad for a woman to base the significance of her existence on the child she bore... sure Forrest was a wonderful human being but he's still a separate person... was she not important on her own? It was also the same year when Sushmita Sen uttered her response that the "essense of a woman" is in her ability for childbirth bagging her the crown of Ms.Universe 1994.

I am scared shitless that I might screw up as a mom. My son is turning a year old in August and it bothers me that he's temperamental and intensely stubborn. When he wants to be carried and I don't want to give in, he can cry for what seem like hours while throwing an accusing look at me. I've had some success with setting his feeding habits, making him comfortable in water and introducing him to nursery rhymes but the systems I build would easily fall apart in one unsupervised day. I fervently pray that he grows up to be a good, healthy and happy person but I have no idea excatly how I can make it happen.

I understand now that Mrs. Gump was not referring to her significance in the eyes of other people but rather to herself. She was able to raise an incredible human being which to a mother... trumps a successful career or even marriage.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Nacho Lakwatsero

Last weekend was crazy!
8am Bank (Mkti)
10am – 3pm Work (QC)
4pm Grocery (Mkti)
7pm The Ultimate Taste Test (Taguig)

5:30am Pilipino Star Ngayon Fun Run (Pasay)
8am – 1:30pm Car Tune-up (Mandaluyong)
3pm – 5:30pm Aqui’s 1st Bday (QC)
8am – 1pm DragonBoat Regatta (Mla)
1pm – 6pm Lechon Fiesta (la Loma)

Nacho was a social butterfly and he loved being everywhere!
We’re off to Nasugbu, Batangas tomorrow so we’ll see how this weekend measures up!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Single Girl's Kitchen

This is for career girl/ sports enthusiast Sumi who recently moved out of the Motherhouse and into her very own place… a woman cannot live by tuna sandwich alone!
Invest in the Basics
Living on your own is COSTLY! You begin stressing over the utility bills and start to actually read the labels on your grocery items (price, weight, content etc.). You can only consume so much canned goods until processed meat start coming out of your ears and eating out no matter how cheap the restaurant will add up to be more expensive than when you do your own cooking. You don’t have to transform into Martha Stewart to be able to feed yourself but you do need to have the basic equipment.
• Plates, Cutlery and Drinking Glasses – at least 6 sets
• Refrigerator – can anyone live without one?
• Two-burner Gas Stove – it consumes less energy than electric stove
• Cookware – start off with the basic 3: a stock pot, sauce pan and skillet all with covers and preferably non-stick ones
• Cutlery Set – kitchen knives in different sizes will prove very useful
• Accessories: long-handled utensils, tongs, chopping board, strainer

Primary Stock
If you have these in stock then you’re guaranteed to be able to whip up something to feed yourself until you have ample time and money to get all that you want from the grocery.
• Seasoning, Condiment etc: salt, sugar, pepper, soy sauce, vinegar, cooking oil, garlic and onion
• Dairy: cheese, butter, milk, cream, mayo
• Carbs: rice, pasta, bread
• Protein: eggs, canned tuna or sardines, processed or frozen meat -fish/ chicken fillet, ham, sausage etc.
• Veggies: lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber and bell pepper

Quick Recipes
I’ve come to terms with my limitations when it comes to cooking – if it’s too darn tedious then I’ll just eat it somewhere else… thus I may never cook my beloved Kare-kare in this lifetime, thankfully they serve it fantastically in my mother-in-law’s house and in Dencio’s.

If you’ve never cooked a day in your life then don’t be intimidated, nobody’s going to judge you but yourself. To the very least, you can always just put together a sandwich, no rocket science there.

Cooking for yourself will mean that there will most likely be leftovers so your food should store well and must still be appetizing when reheated. So Sumi, go over my Excel file with an open mind. I’m pretty sure you’ll take to cooking like you do with sports – methodical at first then you just let go and have fun!

(cute photo from

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Spiced Chocolate Covered Cookies

I recently attended the "Jumpstart Your Freelance Writing Career" workshop at Powerbooks in GB4 which was very substantial and entertaining - I hope to eventually write about it but for now this is about the wonderful dessert they served courtesy of Dessert Bar. The variety was wide but the simplest one tickled both my fancy and my tastebuds, Chocolate Covered Oreos with a hint of sea salt and chilies!

I figured, how hard can it be? So last weekend I bought Jack & Jill's Cream-O and Presto Peanut Butter Cookies, chili powder and a block of chocolate bar from Cook's Exchange. I chopped up the block and steamed it using the fondue bowl I got for a wedding present. After adding salt and chili powder until the mixture tasted just right to me then one by one I dipped the Cream-Os first followed by the Prestos and laid them on plates. The mixture was getting too thick as I was going along so I blended in a little chocolate milk which darkened it significantly. I refrigerated the covered cookies and after about 15 minutes, scrapped them off the plates - lesson learned, line the plates with wax paper so it's easier to remove the cookies, most of mine cracked apart.

Oh well, they don't look much but they taste pretty yummy! =)

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Pork Belly Cuapao

Picked this recipe from one of my favorite blogs, Market Manila but tweaked it a bit for simpler preparations.

1/2kg Pork Belly (cut into 0.5" thick strips)
6pcs. Cuapao
Hoisin Sauce
Spring Onions (diced)

1)Marinade Pork Belly in Soy Sauce, Pepper and 3pcs. Calamansi for 1hr.
2)Pre-heat oven for 15mins. Roast meat for 30 minutes over medium heat.
3)Steam cuapao buns until warm.
4)Slice Cuapao Buns in half and spread Hoisin Sauce over one side.
5)Place Pork belly slices and Spring Onions in the middle.

Makes for a filling snack or meal.

Happy eating!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

herb & spice girl

I made Roasted Rosemary Chicken with Potatoes for the first time and it turned out quite tasty. I'm glad it was the "pacham" recipe of the day Lana came over for dinner. Much to my delight, she and Tats seemed to enjoy every morsel that I totally forgot to take pictures.

My mouth waters every time I see Jamie Oliver pulling fresh leaves right off his little garden to whip up the most delicious-looking dishes. I've always been threatened of using herbs and spices for cooking, sure I like them in my food but I'm not one to religiously study culinary alchemy and there are just so many species out there that I may never be able to figure out which one should be used for what.But deep inside I know I want a garden too.

Inspired by the success of my Rosemary Chicken, earlier I went into one of the many greenhouses that line the streets of BF Homes and asked if they sell racks on which they place their potted plants. The owner happened to be there, Mrs. Fajardo said she had them custom-made about 15years ago but she didn't mind me taking pictures and so I did. She also told me about her herb garden at home, how boiled Tarragon leaves aid digestion and that the Nim plant is more effective in warding off mosquitoes than Citronella. I take it as a sign... I am meant to have a garden of my own!

Afterall, I did help out my grandfather tend to his vegetable farm, it's one of my most cherished childhood memories. I remember taking some dried seeds, planting them in our backyard and they thrived every time. I also smoked our mango tree in the afternoon to drive away pests and to this day, it never fails to bear fruits that are more succulent than the usual.

I'm giddy with excitement for my new project, i hope to actually get it off the ground!

Monday, April 5, 2010

My Little Kitchen

It was only after we bought a refrigerator and a gas range that we declared our place to be livable. It has been six months since we moved in and our house still needs fixtures for the livingroom, bedroom and bathrooms… but my 2sqm kitchen is pretty much complete.

Tats and I have been married for four years but most of our wedding presents just saw the light of day and found their places in the kitchen like the non-stick pots and pans, electric grill, storage containers, spice rack etc. Cooking has become a task I actually enjoy doing even without househelp around. My culinary knowledge is very limited but I’m quite particular about certain stuff like having only freshly ground pepper (really, what’s the point when the aroma is lost), brown instead of refined sugar and whole wheat instead of white bread.

For a first time homemaker we have pretty decent meals especially when Riza joined our family. She’s a good babysitter and housekeeper but as a cook, she’s quite fantastic! After gorging on her exceptional takes on the classic tinola, nilaga, mechado, adobo, pochero, lumpia and arroz caldo, I just gave her instructions for curries, pastas, omelets and she often hit the bullseye. Riza’s sinaing na isda made by cooking fish over kamias and pork fat on hot coals for at least eight hours until the bones are soft enough to eat, is a much anticipated event which gets costly when we give to everybody asking for some… and so we’ve stopped making announcements and now share our prized treat in batches (in laws this week, friends next week etc).

Following our expanding guts, we started moving out of our comfort zones thus our “pacham” (pachamba = experimental) recipes that we can eat without rice like buffalo chicken wings, fajitas, salads and tortilla wraps. We’re on our first month now and it’s not at all torturous as I expected.

Big sistah, Anne, suggested I come up with a revolving 5-week menu for more efficient planning and budgeting – I did just that and it saves me time, money and tons of neurons. Food prepping has become fun that even Tats has taken to cooking once in a while.

I love my little kitchen not only because it’s where we whip up the food we take so much pleasure in, but also because of the nifty treasures I didn’t know I needed but now wonder how I ever got by without ‘em - gifts from friends who’ve been in the homemaking business longer than I have.

Monday, March 29, 2010

i'm alive again!

oh my goodness, for some reason, having a gmail account have screwed up my access to this blog which i created linked to my yahoo!

it's been ages but i hope to have the energy to make up for lost time =)