Lucas Turns 2: 5 Baby Things I Miss (and 5 Things I Don’t)

Lucas turned two last March. It was also his second birthday in quarantine (let me rephrase that he has never had a “normal” birthday!). Again, it was just us, his ate, and some of our guys who were bubbled in our compound. We had a simple Pinoy celebration, complete with a sorbetes cart, pancit, lumpia, and Goldilocks cake. The little fella ran around while eating ice cream. He was so happy.

For dinner, we dressed up the house a bit for a Cars-themed meal. The boy loves Disney’s Cars now and adores Lightning McQueen. He also likes seeing fireworks (he calls “toktok” for paputok) so I bought mini sparklers for his cake and Dragon fireworks which we lit up after dinner. He was so happy.

This birthday is different. I’m sure Lucas still doesn’t understand the concept of birthdays, but I think he knew we were celebrating something that day. Only means that we don’t have a baby anymore. You know when moms say, “please don’t grow up too fast?” I don’t say that. I want Lucas to grow up at the right pace. Sometimes, I’m even guilty of wishing him to grow up faster, to hit milestones sooner. I check myself, but it’s really because I’m excited to see all the amazing things I know he’ll do one day. Mama’s here, I always tell him. I’ll always be here to watch and silently applaud and encourage him.

But today, I choose to reminisce the moments I’ve had with him as a baby. Before I officially close that chapter of my life, I want to put into words those precious memories I’ll never get back. Because the boy is growing up too fast, and it’s alright.

Here are 5 things I miss about having baby:

  1. Baby Smell. Ahh. This. Babies smell like a warm glass of vanilla-flavored milk on a cold, rainy afternoon. I wish I could bottle his baby scent to remind me of new mommy bliss. Now, my toddler smells like a real boy!
  2. Breastfeeding. I’ve missed this since he was 5 months old, when he just stopped and refused my milk. We tried re-lactating, but we weren’t successful. While having him weaned early does have its perks, I sometimes yearn for that special bonding only I can have with my son. SOMETIMES. ;-)
  3. Bath Time. Bath time used to be a relaxing routine. I put him on the tub’s net, we’d with bubbles, and then I’d dry him off with his towel. And then I’d massage him with honey-scented baby oil. Sometimes I’d sing him a tune. Now, bath time is a constant tug of war. Lucas hates bath time. He hates water. I think he takes after a cat! So now that he’s mobile, he’d refuse bath times until I get frustrated, and when he finally concedes, he’d be so scared of the water that he would thrash around and get me wet!
  4. Being able to hold him all the time. Sure, I’m happy Lucas is now walking and slowly becoming his own person. But sometimes, I miss that first few months when I was all he ever needed, for everything. I often marvel at how much he’s grown, and distinctly remember that I used to be able to carry him in one arm. Now I think he’s grown four times his newborn size!
  5. Waiting for the first words. And all the small firsts. The first time he said “Mama,” the first time he sat up, the first roll over, the first crawl, the first step. All these firsts are so precious. I hope I won’t ever forget them.

I’ve already packed and given away Lucas’ baby clothes. I may have kept a few for the sake of nostalgia, but I’m also really glad that the infant part is over. Maybe I’d be more sentimental if I’m younger, but I’m a middle-aged first-time mom. I’m so glad to call it a wrap!

Here are 5 things I definitely DON’T miss about having a baby:

  1. All that puke. The only time a baby doesn’t smell like an angel is when he’s covered in puke. And boy, Lucas was a puker. At one point, he vomited with so much projectile that I panicked and took him to the ER!
  2. All that heavy carrying. Going back to what I said about missing the feeling of holding him all the time–OKAY, maybe not all the time. He’s gotten so huge and heavy that I’m so relieved he’s now walking on his own!
  3. Waking up every 2 hours at night to feed. This may be the most challenging struggle I ever faced as a first-time mother. Late-night feedings, waking up every two hours in the middle of the night. I seriously thought it would go on forever. For moms still in this stage, hang in there. It will be over. Not before you know it, but soon.
  4. Wet poop and excessive diaper changes. We’re still not fully potty trained, but we’re getting there. We’ve definitely lessened our baby wipes consumption, and I can’t wait for the time when I don’t have to spend for diapers anymore!
  5. Baffling cries. I’m glad Lucas is also more expressive and communicative now. He says dede when he wants milk, poo-poo when he needs a diaper change, and he identifies what he wants. He can also effectively say if something’s ouchie, and WHY it’s ouchie. Bump head, bump knee, bump toe…Things are no longer a guessing game for us and we are less frustrated. I think he was most frustrated around 16 months, when he was already starting to want things but couldn’t say them. As a result, he would have tantrum bouts and I was always at my wit’s end. I am so relieved we passed this stage!

Hug them extra tight tonight, Mamas. They really do grow up too fast. As they should. But we could always have the memories. <3


Lucas’ 1st Birthday: Camp Quarantine

We decided to push through with our planned camping trip for the boy’s birthday. With the community quarantine strictly enforced though, we just had to camp at home! Sharing with you how we celebrated our son’s special day. Like his conception and birth, his first birthday is one for the books!

Enzo and I woke up early to prepare. We didn’t have guests, but we wanted it to still look festive. After all, Lucas is at the stage where he’s amused with everything that he sees–lights, hanging stuff, trees, animals, etc. I was able to buy a dinosaur “happy birthday” banner right before the quarantine announcement. We hung it above our dining table and it became our theme for lunch. Enzo got a few banana leaves which we used as a table runner to make it look more, er, Jurassic? :)

dinosaur themed birthday

I cooked spaghetti and hotdogs on sticks. Very Pinoy birthday.

And the cake! I ran out of cocoa powder and I couldn’t find any at our nearest mini-grocery. Good thing they sold boxed chocolate cakes! This one’s from Magnolia, and it’s actually good! I still had chocolate bars in my pantry so I made ganache for the frosting. We topped with a used candle (good thing I hoard stuff!) and a Godzilla toy. Because I insist that Godzilla is a dinosaur, lol.

As for the gifts, I re-wrapped (using old magazine pages) some of Lucas’ favorite toys and books so he could open presents. I got the idea from a Montessori mama that I follow on Instagram. I agree that at Lucas’ age, he doesn’t need new toys and he won’t appreciate them anyway. But I do want him to have the sensory experience of opening and tearing wrapping paper. Lucas was thrilled!

Enzo pitched a tent in the boy’s room and we stayed there after dinner. It was missing stars, trees, and real grass but it was a special memory for us as new parents. Wow, has it been a year? Raising a child is not easy, now more than ever. The world is changing right before our eyes. What challenges will we still face, what hurdles will we encounter? Many more, I am sure. But this boy, our wonderful boy, is a reminder that there is beauty after every battle and that whatever it is, this too shall pass. <3

DIY: Sensory Board for Baby

Day 18 of our “enhanced community quarantine.” We’re holding up pretty well, despite not being able to access delivery services and go to huge grocery stores for more food options. We miss having the option to go out, see new things and experience new places. And we miss our family!!! But in the grand scheme of things, our “difficulties” are nothing compared to what other people and our frontliners are dealing with. So we stay put, and hope to lessen their burdens.

Here’s an easy DIY idea for those who have babies or toddlers that’s perfect to make if you’ve got lots of time in your hands— a sensory board! The husband made this just before the baby turned one. We call it a “kalikot” board, which is Filipino for fiddling. It’s meant for babies who are getting curious of their surroundings. Aside from entertaining them, the different objects on the board should stimulate their senses.

It’s fairly easy to make, too! The husband made this as a cabinet that opens up, which we could hang in the boy’s room in the future. But you can use any simple flat board, just make sure to choose a sturdy one. For this, and so you can screw the objects, wood is best. Ours is 24″ x 32″ in size. 

As for the things to put, you can literally use stuff that you already have in the house. We put a calculator, magnetic board, color wheel, battery-operated lights, bells, different locks, a switch, and a faucet. Other great ideas for tactile objects include sponges, zippers, rope or shoelaces, and a clock.

Try making one for your little tot! What DIY projects are you making during this time of social distancing? Share ideas in the comments below!

My Pregnancy & Birth Story on Video

This time last year, I went to the hospital for an ultrasound. We came home with Lucas a few days later. That baby is now a little dinosaur. He reminds us that there is always hope even in the most turbulent times.

We documented those nine memorable months in home videos. Those were challenging times, but wow did we make it fun! For those who are pregnant now, in the midst of this COVID-19 pandemic, my thoughts are with you. Things may be different and difficult these days, but to quote a line in Jurassic Park: “Life will always find a way.”

Sharing our video with all of you. If you can, please like and subscribe to the channel! :)


Baby’s Room Tour

Lucas is turning one in four days. We had planned a fun camping trip with his cousins. Enzo had a grill made, we ordered picnic blankets, prepared a few games and prizes, I ordered souvenirs, and reserved a venue. Sadly, that is not going to happen.

It’s been a crazy tough week for everyone. In our part of the world, we are in an enhanced community quarantine. A lockdown, basically. Because of the increasing threat of COVID-19. NCoV, Coronavirus, or “veerus,” our president calls it. My family and I are all safe, grateful that we have ample food and essentials in the house. While we entertain ourselves with funny memes about this pandemic, we are seriously anxious about things. The husband’s work–our livelihood–is dependent on live shows and mass events, which for sure will change once this is all over.

It’s just been a week. We’re in it for the long haul. As they say, it will get worse before it gets better. For now, we’re using this time to plan our next steps and making the best of what we have now. Enzo has been busy tinkering with his tools, while I finally had the time to clean, fix, and take photos of the baby’s room.

Nursery Room Tour

I read several books on Montessori parenting when I was still pregnant. While I’m not as strict as other Montessori moms, I do appreciate many of its principles. One thing that I practice is the concept of having a “prepared environment.” The goal is to promote independence and encourage learning through exploration within boundaries. A baby’s room should be safe, simple, clean, and orderly.

A prepared environment is this: even if you leave the baby alone for a few minutes, he’ll be safe. You may find him crying, hungry, and with a soiled nappy. But he’s safe.

This is really important for me because how many times did I have to take a few moments to pee, have a drink, or talk to the phone? Sharing a few details of how we assembled this area, for mamas who are planning to do the same during this crucial time of social distancing:

1. Large floor mat with a thin foam

Maria Montessori also advocated mats over beds. I agree. More floor time for baby means he’ll develop motor skills and independence faster. However, Lucas still sleeps with us in our room, on our bed. When he does sleep here though, we just lay him on the mat. We ordered that from Shopee. The bed here is more for when we have guests sleeping over because we only have two rooms in the house.

2. Mirror with a bar just beside the mat

Here’s another Montessori principle that we adopted early on. Having a mirror beside a baby’s sleeping mat encourages self-awareness and space consciousness. We put a bar when Lucas was around six months, just as he was trying to grasp things and pull up. This bar is life-changing. He’s been happily pulling and standing up since he was six months!

Pikler Triangle with Ramp

3. Pikler triangle with ramp

Dr. Emmi Pikler was a pediatrician and infant educator, and she believed in the child’s innate ability to learn through independent playing. She designed a climbing triangle, now known as a Pikler, so babies can learn to navigate spaces at their own pace. Like the bar, this has been life-changing for Lucas. He was already pulling up when we first introduced the Pikler to him, but he seemed uninterested at the time. We didn’t force him. “Observe more, do less,” as RIE parenting advocates would say. After a few weeks, we caught him attempting to climb up–one to two steps at first until he mastered going to the top. We attach the ramp from time to time to practice his uphill crawling.

We also did not show him how he’s supposed to use the Pikler. Sometimes, Lucas drops toys inside the triangle and crawls through it as if it’s a tunnel. We’ve had a few frustrations–he gets trapped most of the time–but if I didn’t interrupt, I’ll see him solve his own problem and get out after a few attempts. It’s amazing how imaginative babies are when they’re learning.

A few moms who have seen this Pikler at work on my IG have asked me where I got it. Enzo actually made it using dimensions I found online. We actually wanted to order from an online seller but found the price too steep. I’m lucky my husband is a carpenter. If you want to have one made, DM me and I can send the dimensions. :)

Walker Wagon

4. Walker wagon

Montessori also discouraged the use of contraptions such as traditional walkers. According to her studies, babies develop motor skills in a specific sequence and it’s crucial not to restrict or skip these steps. A walker wagon provides babies the freedom of movement to develop their standing and walking skills at their own time. I ordered this wooden wagon from Happy Story Co.

5. Bookshelf and knickknacks

On the other side of the room, we have a shelf and a comfy chair I used for nursing. We’ve had that tall bookshelf since forever, and while most Montessori rooms you’ll see have low-lying shelves, we decided to just use our existing one. I just put all the books and toys at the bottom rows, so Lucas can easily reach them when he’s playing.

On the upper rows, we have some classic books we hope Lucas will be interested to devour once he’s reading. That cute portrait is made by a former colleague who’s now a mom of three. You can ask her to paint your baby or godchildren (drawings make the cutest gift!)–see her other works at Selah Soul Art.

We love this room because it’s safe and we can leave Lucas on his own here with minimal supervision. I’ve even napped while he’s awake, playing on his own. If you’re keen on setting up your own Montessori nursery, I strongly recommend that you read this book. Also, follow other moms who have done it so beautifully. I personally follow How We Montessori.

How are you spending your quarantine time, mamas? Are you also busy with baby projects? Share them in the comments below!

Lucas’ Simple Dedication and Thanksgiving Party

Wow, we’re two months into 2020 and it feels ages since I opened this little space. Last year was a roller coaster of highs and lows. Battled APAS, gave birth, started a new job, lost that job, dealt with family shakeups and a major illness–all in one year. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. When I count my blessings, however, the biggest one remains this boy.

“Lucas,” we named him without knowing that he literally was the light we turned to when the night was darkest.

So on Dec. 21, right before 2019 ended, we gathered our closest friends and immediate family members for a simple and intimate dedication and thanksgiving party. This post is two months late, but I’m sharing some snippets of that wonderful day because I want to remember being so, so grateful. Grateful for friends and relatives who have tirelessly and generously supported our journey to parenthood. For my family, for their unwavering love, prayers, and sacrifices. Despite all the hardships we faced last year–from Lucas’ birth to family issues–we came out victorious. Indeed, the Lord’s mercies are new every morning.

We held the party at Marita Restaurant at the Grand Cobo Events Place. We love that restaurant for its tasteful interiors and spacious al fresco dining area. While we really just wanted a nice afternoon merienda with friends and family, we ended up sprucing the place a little and went with a Hundred Acre Wood theme. For one, I have a lot of Winnie the Pooh stuffed toys from my childhood. And then, the husband had a set of life-sized Pooh, Piglet, and Tigger statues lying around in his shop (they made it for a previous event). Also, Lucas loves his two Heffalump stuffed buddies and he’s always clutching and chewing on their trunks.

We set up a photo wall with a neon sign of Lucas’ name, rented out ice cream and taho carts for the kids, and called it a party. 

My dad sharing about the purpose of baptism in our faith

Pastor Andy Javier, our old friend from college, and Lucas’ ninongs and ninangs.

It took me three full days to make this simple, 8″ cake. Without a yaya, I could only sneak in baking while the boy is napping. It was a struggle, but I’ve baked countless cakes for other kids before and I always dreamed to make a cake for my own child one day.

We DIYed most of the details, including the invitations, decor, cake, and souvenirs. For the godparents, we gave out leather valet trays made by Enzo’s mom and scented soy candles that I made. My mother-in-law also made elephant keychains out of scrap leather for our guests.

The weather was good and the place was beautiful–kids ate ice cream and ran around while the adults got to eat and talk.  Best of all, Lucas was a real trooper. He didn’t make a fuss, napped for a few minutes, and enjoyed the company of people. It really was a perfectly laidback day, just like how Enzo and I are. We hope Lucas will grow up to enjoy simple and meaningful moments in life like good food, sunshine, and great conversations. <3


Lucas’ Dedication & Thanksgiving Party details

Venue & Food: Marita Restaurant at the Grand Cobo Events Place

Ice Cream & Taho Carts: Party Food Cart Rentals

Set-up & Decor: Nikko Metal Works

Cake & Giveaways: DIY