I'm sorry, my dear readers - yes, all six of you (there were only four of you before but, yes, you are slowly but surely growing, so yay!) - that I haven't been updating that much lately. I've been catching up on sleep, on friends and on family, among other things, and not necessarily in that order.
I finished my Christmas shopping early, just to get that out of the way. I bought my godchildren their presents, and wrapped them myself. I get a real kick out of being all Martha Stewart this time of year. However, unlike Martha Stewart, I can't bake to save my life so I just ordered a dozen boxes of homemade chocolate chip cookies from my friend. This was part of my pledge to support, small local entrepreneurs. I then gave these out to colleagues - mostly The Husband's - and to friends, and neighbors. I didn't put bows on these. I just put leftover holiday postcards. My mother had more moolah to spare and wanted the stuff she gave out to be fancier, so she ordered ten boxes of cupcakes from The Cupcake Theory. The stuff there aren't exorbitantly priced but they are really special. Mom said the recipients were more than happy. (Of course, nothing but the best from my friend, Arvy, who owns and bakes for The Cupcake Theory)
There were no lavish purchases this year. We just bought stuff we needed to be replaced. We bought an LED 32-inch TV, yes, but only because our old one is well, old. We'll place that in the little girl's room as the new TV is in the living room. We'll have it mounted on the wall only after the holidays as things are still in a state of (happy) chaos.
The last working day of 2012 for me was on the 21st, and I had Christmas dinner with two of my favorite girls - Alveel and Raen. We just really click because we have so much stuff in common. For one, we're all moms and we all became moms in our twenties. I love these girls to bits and we can really just talk - in two languages - and giggle the time away. There is no dull moment. We had a buffet dinner at the new Quest Hotel's Puso Restaurant. I swear, we ate so much. Then we gave each other gifts. We capped the night off with tea at La Marea.
It's a 'me' sammich! Flanked by Raen on the left and a pregnant Alveel on the right in Puso Restaurant
photo grabbed from Raen's Facebook
Then it was my sister's 23rd birthday lunch. We went to Kotobukiya. I also had Christmas lunch with my good friends, Arvy and Graeco, at La Tegola Cucina Italia. The Husband tagged along. We had a blast catching up and exchanging presents.
The Circle of Trust: Graeco, Arvy and me at La Tegola Cucina Italia
photo grabbed from Graeco's Facebook
I also took the little girl to see Santa Claus at Rustan's on the last day of school before her Christmas break. We waited for an hour or so because we were early, so I ended up shopping for her and her dad, even if I wasn't planning on buying anything. Oh well, it's okay. Kaelana was thrilled to be able to see Santa. I thought it was perfect because her present from 'Santa' had Rustan's gift wrapping. It would make sense for her to see the jolly bearded man there. Here she is in her school uniform. Santa looked at her and saw how skinny she was and asked, Have you been eatin'? My daughter just nodded and climbed onto his lap. Then Santa said, Oh, you're heavy.
Without me really knowing it, Christmas Eve rolled around. For noche buena, we had three cheese spaghetti with mushroom, and Alveel's bakareta and mango icebox cake. My little family just relished being together. We watched movies, we laughed, we read in bed, we told stories. My little heart is happy and content.
Christmas Day was simple and meaningful. I woke up early with Kaelana to open her present from Santa. I had to actually wake up earlier to eat some of the cookies and drink the milk she laid out for him the night before. I also ate some of the candies for the reindeer. Of course, she assumed that Santa and his hooved friends devoured the goodies, and not me.
The Husband is off to his last work shift of 2012, and we'll both be back to the office in 2013 yet. We're leaving for Iloilo tomorrow afternoon so tonight and tomorrow morning will be spent packing. My entire family is there right now at my maternal grandparents' ancestral home. The whole clan is going to Boracay for our annual reunion, and it's going to be loads of fun.
I'll try to blog, tweet and update you while I'm there... NOT.
Let's spend the holidays focusing on our loved ones, shall we? The internetzzz can wait. Merry Christmas! Happy birthday, Jesus!
Four months after giving birth to our little girl, The Husband planned a trip to Bohol for the two of us. He used to be a drummer for a local reggae band and had traveled all over the Visayas and Mindanao for gigs. He was a bit surprised when I told him I hadn't been to the nearby island of Bohol. We went there in December of 2005, and whaddayaknow, I have recently unearthed some photos of our stay in beautiful, breathtaking Panglao Island, Bohol.
the view from our beachfront room
perfect weather even in December
Haha. We were so young here!
our first Havaianas!
The sun was brighter because it reflected off the white sand
the tide and a starfish
sun kissed in our little beach hut
and more exploring!
There was an attempt to climb some rocks but one can't go very far without the right equipment. It wasn't safe to do so, in the first place.
Our company has roughly 6000 employees. There is always a huge Christmas shindig at every year's end, and everyone looks forward to it. The themes vary each year and the after parties are always epic. The Husband and I - yes, we are colleagues - attended this year's party primarily for the raffle prizes. They always give out amazing prizes. Think trips, a ton of gadgets and an assortment of appliances.
This year's event fell on a Sunday, and coincidentally, the little girl had her third quarterly exams the next day. We couldn't stay out late, and we were honestly very tired. The last work weeks of the year are chock full of brain-drying year-end reports, rigorous final appraisals and whatnot. Well, to cut the long story short, I didn't get to win anything when they raffled off the prizes, but the night was fun, nevertheless.
That's me, second from left, with some of my friends
The Husband and I fell in love by the sea. We live in perpetually sunny, beautiful Cebu where gorgeous beaches abound. It's no wonder the little girl loves the water, too. I found these photos of Kaelana's first ever beach trip at eight months old. We spent the whole day at Costabella.
She loved the water and wasn't scared at all! Look!
Don't you just love her little pink bikini?
She loved the sand!
When the tide was low enough, I took her to look at the sea shells and the little fish.
I had breakfast with one of my good friends, Belle, today, and as usual, we talked about a lot of things. I'm not going to enumerate them here but most definitely, I have realized one very important thing: that people, when they don't understand something but are desperate to appear 'in the know', because they thrive on intrigue and drama, will tell lies and put forth their own twisted versions of the story.
I believe in creating family traditions. I believe in celebrating milestones. I believe in being grateful.
When my little girl was six months old, we threw her a half a birthday party. It was just a small gathering of family members and a few friends. We had ice cream, spaghetti and cake. What's a birthday without cake? If we decide to have another little one, I'll throw him/her a half a birthday party, too!
That's my mom and a six-month-old Kaelana in a green polka dotted ruffle dress with matching lace socks. Almost-a-year-old cousin, Matt, was fascinated by Kaelana's gold charm bracelet.
My mom is obviously a stage grandmom. We were singing Kaelana a happy birthday here with Matt and his mom looking on. Note the zero candle. Heh.
Here's the half a birthday girl! Isn't she a cutie? Those chubby cheeks and long lashes are too adorable.
The after party
Here's my mom and dad doting over their two grandchildren. They got a kick over the little girl's half a birthday too.
Exactly 14 days before Christmas! Are you excited? I am!
I love how there are social functions to attend left and right during the holiday season. I'm normally aloof and I prefer to be alone, but there's just something about the festive December days that makes me actually enjoy socializing.
Last Saturday, December 8th, we had a department Christmas party held at the City Sports Club. It was fun. My right elbow is still bandaged but, I swear, it didn't hurt so I was okay. I just didn't join the games.
That's me sticking my tongue out. As you can see, I lost some weight from being sick and from being confined in the hospital for five days. Those are some of my good friends from work.
There are five trainers in the photo above, two instructional designers and a quality analyst. Who's who?
all photos from Graeco - who suddenly has a camera
I've always been very vocal about what a big Manny Pacquiao fan I am. I am not here to dissect the fight he lost to Mexico's Juan Manuel Marquez. All I'm going to say about the match was that it was good and it was clean, and both boxers fought with integrity.
My dad is a boxing aficionado. Boxing's the only sport he watches. We are a family who roots for Pacquiao. His loss yesterday felt so tragic that I wanted to cry.
This is all I have to say:
You are a champion and will always be one. In this day and age when people get to where they are by sucking up, by putting forth mediocre wok, by taking short cuts and by being ungrateful to the people who helped them in the first place, you simply did it by showing sheer perseverance, hard work and heart.
Only to be told by our company physician at the clinic that I cannot be given a Fit to Work because I was still sick - that I still had an infection as evidenced by the rashes. I also had a wound on my right elbow that was showing signs of being highly infected. He recommended I get admitted.
So I did. I was confined in the hospital for the past five days. And I was miserable.
I had to get my antibiotics intravenously and my infected elbow wound surgically drained and removed. I missed the little girl tremendously. I was in pain, depressed and tired.
I was discharged yesterday. I am grateful I'm okay now. Please, infections, stay away from me from hereon.
Last Sunday, The Husband noticed pale red bumps on my back which I quickly dismissed as nothing. It turned out it was SOMETHING - a pretty huge something. I developed a 39.6-degree fever Monday at dawn with chills. I thought my head was going to explode.
In the morning, the bumps had spread all over my body and the fever was still sky-high so I was rushed to the emergency room. (I am so HAPPY we live five minutes away from the hospital) They drew blood and I was asked to submit a urine sample. An hour later, we got the results and the ER doctor said I had viral exanthem signifying German measles.
I was told to go home and rest up and take plenty of fluids. I was more than happy to oblige because I felt so tired, like I-fended-off-a-gauntlet-of-rabid-Fifty-Shades-of-Gray-fans tired, and my joints were six kinds of sore. I had no appetite and everything I did try to eat tasted like cardboard. The doctor told me viral infections of this sort just went away on their own. Where could I have gotten it, you ask? Well, they couldn't say because it could've been from anywhere, basically. We were also told to just control the fever so paracetamol had to be taken every four hours. Worse, they told me I could be contagious. Worst, they're also considering the possibility of dengue. Apparently, these viruses are tricky to pin down and they don't want to take any chances.
Well, two CBCs, three sick leaves and four doctor's check-ups later, I'm recovering well. If I wake up tomorrow with no fever then I can go to work.
I spent yesterday SMSing two friends - one was a bride-to-be, and another was a first-time mom. The former was asking me how to word her invites and the latter was asking me what to do for diaper rash. I'm no expert on both subjects even if yes, I've been a bride twice (can I say that on the grounds that I got married twice? To the same man, mind you, because we had a civil wedding ceremony in 2005 and Catholic wedding rites in 2009) AND I'm a mom. Well, I realized I just like helping out my friends. My mom-friend then texted, "Thanks for the help. Know what, you should write a blog entry on this." Well, I did, and here it is.
Here are some baby products which helped save my sanity when I was mom to my newborn (and I was twenty-two and didn't really know much):
We didn't let our little girl wear disposable diapers too much when she was just at home. We let her wear the washable cloth ones from Chino Pino. Still, she developed diaper rash. Hers was the mild kind, thankfully, and her pedia said that it's because baby's skin is super sensitive so it's pretty common. A neighbor gave us a tube of Desitin and the diaper rash healed and cleared up in no time. It's mild and soothing, and I've been recommending it to my friends ever since.
Our little one developed red bumps on her cheeks. My mom bought her a big pump bottle of Cetaphil. It's so mild and gentle, and so effective that the red bumps went away without any trace. We used this for her body too. Kaelana continued to use this until she was about five. Now, we've switched to Nivea Tenderly Soothing Soap and J&J Baby Soap.
We used this for going out and for going to the beach. Now because, the little princess is seven we use the regular variety - still SPF 50 but not the tear free formula anymore. She wears sunscreen everyday.
photo from drugstore.com
There you have it. Go and give your babies some lovin'!
* Please consult your pediatrician before using these products with your little ones. It's good to listen to other people's advice but one must first trust her instincts and most importantly, the advice of experts.
I live in the Philippines where we don't celebrate this American holiday. However, I work in an American business process outsourcing company so we're very familiar with it. I also trained American English communication and culture for eight years in the same company (I was a trainer before I moved to my current post as instructional designer) so yeah, I'm very aware of it, if I may say so. Heh.
Thanksgiving is about being grateful, and being with family and friends. There are so many things I am thankful for. I thank God for:
♥ The little girl
She is my inspiration, my greatest love, my all. I am thankful that she is a consistent honor student ever since she started school, that she has many friends, that her teachers adore her, that she is being a little girl - concerned about her bike, her toys and One Direction.
She has an ear infection right now (otitis media) and is feverish but we hope and pray her prescribed antibiotics zap the nasties away. Get well soon, love.
♥ The Husband
Despite being a grumpy old man sometimes, he really comes through for me, for us. When he does something, he always does it with me and his daughter in mind. Like, he'll buy grapes out of the blue because he knows we love them. Or he'll go for a resto of our choosing, no matter what. He makes sure the car's in tiptop shape, the shower's working perfectly and we're safe and secure. He sees to it that that his family is comfortable, well-fed, and happy.
♥ My parents and my family
They are the most doting, sweet and generous grandparents a little girl can ask for. They take Kaelana to Timezone, paint with her, and tell her stories. They're not JUST grandparents who spoil their granddaughter with gifts and material things, but they really spend TIME with her, stay up late when she's sick and go to all her school activities. My mom brings Kaelana to her prayer meetings, to grocery shopping and to her office. My dad gives Kaelana piggyback rides, draws with her and calls her just to say he loves her.
My siblings and my nephew, Lucas - Kaelana's absolute best friend in the whole universe - love her dearly and we are just extremely blessed.
My aunts and uncles, my grandparents and my awesome cousins just really make me feel to be so lucky to have been born into a family who supports each other and who values togetherness. Why do you think we have yearly reunions in December? Did I mention that this year it'll be in Boracay? Also, it'll be our second Boracay reunion. Ye-hesss.
ze parental units
my family minus my antisocial brother, Francis, and with my cousin, Joan
with a third of my cousins at last year's reunion at our grandparents' ancestral home in Iloilo;
I loved training with all my heart but I felt the need to try something new because I believe in always broadening your horizons and upgrading your skills. Ultimately, I want to be in Talent Development, and I've always been very vocal about that. For now, Instructional Design is my happy place and I'm learning a lot.
♥ true friends
I don't need to elaborate because they know who they are, and I am thankful to have them.
Can you believe Jaycel and I have been friends since we were toddlers? She was four and I was five, and we didn't even know what 'friends' meant at that time. I guess you can say we're practically sisters.
the Triangle of Trust un
the Triangle of Trust deux
spot us three with The Husband and our other good friends
my secret-keeper/personal make-up artist/go-to gal pal, Alveel
I love my friends!
♥ Lastly, I am grateful for the goodness in people, for dreams that inspire, for the blessings we constantly receive and for the gift of life.