Parenting, pregnancy

Elin: The Best Online Shop for Maternity Wear

Last week was World Breastfeeding Week! I joined a celebratory promo hosted by my favorite maternity clothing brand, Elin. I posted a photo of my favorite items from Elin and captioned it with a description of how Elin has made my motherhood journey easier.

Here’s the photo:

This was the caption:
Back when I was still pregnant, at first, shopping for new clothes was a nightmare. I scoured various maternity sections yet always left empty-handed. I wondered why maternity clothes were so expensive yet so horribly designed that they made you want, not to buy them, but to burn them. 😅 Then I stumbled upon Elin, and the search was finally over for classic, flattering pieces that I could wear during and after pregnancy. My wardrobe is full of Elin clothes now, and pictured above are my two favorite items–my red New Sydney Tee for casual dates with my two boys, and my black Patrice Nursing Dress for elegant formal affairs. Breastfeeding in public is a breeze as long as I’m wearing Elin. Whether I’m running errands at the mall or attending a wedding, Elin has got me covered (pun intended). 😉 Every day is an Elin day! Thanks, Elin, for making us mommies look and feel fabulous! ❤️ #elineveryday #elinph #worldbreastfeedingweek

I was delighted to find out a few days ago that my photo was chosen as one of the winners! The prize was P2000 credit to spend on more Elin clothes. Oh yeeeaah! As soon as I woke up this morning, I went shopping! Elin is an online store, so it’s super easy for moms to purchase clothes.

Wearing the Marta Maxi Nursing Dress while eight months pregnant
The Marta Maxi Nursing Dress featuring six-month old Wolf!

I have several tops and dresses from Elin, and on the whole I’m very satisfied. The styles are timeless and elegant. No garish prints or tacky designs here! The fabric is also very soft and cool on the skin, suitable for our humid climate. However, because for some items, the fabric is on the thin side, it is better to hand wash or use gentle washing machine cycles on the clothes, as they are quite delicate. I learned this the hard way, when two of my dresses got worn down in the wash. Another downside of the fabric’s thinness is that for some items, the hemmed openings for nursing access cause visible creases in the top layer that covers the openings. Although I think this is no longer an issue for their most recent arrivals.

Minor issues aside, Elin is the best option for moms who want to look good and feel good. Mommies, especially those who are pregnant and nursing, no longer have to make do with unflattering wardrobe choices.

Here I am in the Carmen Nursing Dress just a week before my due date (39 weeks)! 😮
Carmen Nursing Dress at four months post-partum 

You know how people can throw offhand comments about how women during or after pregnancy “let themselves go?” Especially in our country, I hear a lot of comments like “Mommyng mommy na talaga siya” (She really looks like a mom already). When people say this, they are often implying that the woman wasn’t able to shed the baby weight or that the woman looks haggard or run-down compared to their former state of youthful bloom. People are so quick to make such insensitive comments. Now that I myself am a mom, I know that I would hate to be on the receiving end of such statements. So next time you think of hurling that veiled insult, I suggest that you compliment the mom for doing a great job raising her child. Baby pounds are really difficult to lose, and a mom has more important things to prioritize when caring for a newborn! Also, a mom who looks careworn is most probably a mom who was up in the wee hours soothing an upset baby. So share love, not scorn.

A mom who has put on pounds from pregnancy or who is exhausted from taking care of a baby does not choose to experience the negative effects of those circumstances. But she can look and feel better in clothes that help her focus on her baby without compromising aesthetic appeal. As much as I myself don’t usually enjoy buying clothes, pregnancy and breastfeeding forced me to update my wardrobe. With Elin, one of the biggest advantages is they can be worn even when no longer pregnant or nursing, unlike other maternity clothes that should carry this warning: “Caution: Highly Unflattering! For Pregnant and Nursing Moms Only, to Make Them Look Even Worse than They Feel.” Don’t know what I’m talking about? Visit any department store’s maternity section. 😂 But if you’re a preggy mom in the Philippines, save yourself the wasted time and effort. Go straight to elin.ph. 😉

I’m wearing the Patrice Maxi Nursing Dress here. I was nursing Wolf in this photo! When I’m wearing Elin clothes, people usually think he’s asleep, but he’s actually breastfeeding. 😄
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Parenting

Sweet Dreams

I once dreamt of becoming the president
Ruling the land with grace
Benevolent toward my people

I once dreamt of becoming a saint
Leading thousands in worship
Singing hymns and making miracles

I once dreamt of becoming an astronaut
Voyaging beyond the unknown
Saving the future

All those dreams
remained figments of my naivety
Worlds away from the reality
of growing up

All I dream about now
are tiny shoes and cribs
and my fair baby
falling down

I am jolted awake
and he is safe in my arms
breathing softly, thank God

He stirs and nestles against me
Smiling in his sleep
as I kiss his forehead
It's so quiet
yet overwhelming

Is there anything more profound?

Parenting

Wolf’s First Solid Food

Today marks Wolf’s 7th month! To celebrate, we decided to let him have his first taste of solid food. Although he is not yet able to sit up well unsupported, he has been eager to participate during meal time by avidly watching me eat and sometimes even grabbing my spoon. He has been showing interest in food, and so I wanted to let him have a taste to see how he takes to it.

Wolf is patiently waiting for his food. ☺️
A healthy humble offering to his Little Lordship!

 

I decided months ago that his first solid food will be fresh avocado. Why avocado?

  1. Avocado is a super food and is even said to be “nature’s perfect food,” as it contains healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals that aid in developing baby’s brain, strengthening his immune system, and supplying him with essential nutrients.
  2. Avocado tastes good but is not overwhelming. It is soft and creamy, with a very subtle hint of sweetness. It is advisable to start with a bland food so that baby does not reject bland food later on (ex. If you start with mango, baby might want that level of sweetness all the time). Avocado on its own is not too flavorful, and that’s why many people eat it with sugar or condensed milk. I enjoy eating it alone though. I can think of no other fruit that is more similar to milk than avocado, and so I surmise that it is an ideal first solid food.
  3. Avocado is natural and unprocessed. One popular first baby food is infant cereal, but these are usually heavily processed and may be more difficult for baby to digest. As much as possible, I want to feed Wolf fresh, whole, and natural food.
  4. Avocado is the only natural baby food I know of that contains more fat and calories than breastmilk. Many people think that once babies begin eating solids, they will bulk up faster. Most of the time, this is actually not the case, because breastmilk has more calories and fat than most food given to babies. I constantly monitor Wolf’s weight to ensure he stays within normal range and doesn’t lose weight again. As much as possible, I want to give him solid food that’s high in good fat and calories. Avocado has more than twice the amount of calories and around four times more fat than breastmilk, and so I think avocado will help Wolf continue his healthy weight gain.
  5. Avocado is in season during May to September, which coincides with Wolf’s 5th to 9th months, the time of his first exploration of solids. It’s best to go with what’s in season when feeding babies (and adults too). This way, you get a variety of healthy, fresh food, just as nature intended.

 

Wolf’s first solid food, yummy avocado! ❤️

So how did Wolf like it? Well, I can say that for now, he still prefers breastmilk. Haha. He did eat without making any fuss, but he ate just less than a tablespoon before losing interest. Granted, I nursed him before feeding the avocado, as is advised for babies below one year old. After he warms up to the activity of eating solids, he’ll gradually increase his appetite for them. Baby steps!

We mashed the avocado and mixed in a bit of breastmilk.
Wolf anticipating the feast ahead!
His first bite!
Nom nom nom
I’m sorry for the mess, Mom!
Just kidding. I’m not sorry at all! Mwahahaha!
Parenting

Aller Plasma Toy Sterilizer: A Must-Have for OC Moms and Dads

The joy I have felt being a mom is incomparable to any of the previous highs of my life. However, the expense of raising a child is also, unfortunately, unparalleled. Wolf is not yet even one year old, yet I already feel like I’ve spent more on him than I have on myself for my whole 27 years of existence. Haha. God is just so good that He continues to provide for us. So far, we are able to afford the things we need and want even without me working full-time. 

I suppose, being a low maintenance girl, it’s a bit difficult for me to get used to spending on someone extremely high maintenance. Babies really need so many things! Buying stuff for a baby is especially tricky, because many fancy products that are marketed as must-haves may not actually be necessary. Parents have to be discerning about where to allocate their hard-earned cash. Does the baby need a crib with built-in music and vibration, a crib with a changing station, or can he just sleep in a cardboard box like the babies in Finland? Haha. Do we buy the stroller with 360 degree wheel rotation, the one with newborn support, or the one with a detachable bassinet? There are really so many options, but compromises have to be made when we purchase big-ticket items, if we are to set aside money for the future. 

One thing though that I do not compromise on is Wolf’s health. His vaccinations are always up-to-date and administered at a private hospital, Asian Hospital (we could actually save a lot by getting them at government health centers for free, but the brands of the vaccines used in those health centers have been known to cause unwanted side effects). I invested in a double electric breast pump, because I am exclusively breastfeeding Wolf and plan to do so as long as he desires it. When it is a matter of health, I am ready to fork over the cash. And so when my cousin and fellow mommy Roxanne suggested we check out the Aller Plasma Toy Sterilizer for cleaning Wolf’s toys, despite its high price, we purchased the sterilizer without a second thought. It’s a must to be fastidious about sanitation for Wolf, especially because diarrhea is very common among babies his age, as they tend to put everything in their mouths. 

Aller Plasma Toy Sterilizer in blue
The sterilizer comes in blue, pink, or white. I would’ve preferred the white one, but only the blue and pink ones were being sold at a discount. Boo.

The Aller Plasma Toy Sterilizer uses plasma (ionized gas) to quickly and safely sterilize items at room temperature. This type of sterilization is the same type used to purify water and decontaminate surgical instruments! Because the sterilization process does not involve heat, water, or chemicals, it is safe to use to sterilize any type of material. The Aller Sterilizer is really handy for sterilizing irregularly shaped materials that are difficult to clean manually (as are many of Wolf’s toys). It is especially nifty for sterilizing battery-operated stuffed toys that cannot be washed, such as Wolf’s favorite musical seahorse. It can be used to sterilize other stuff too, such as make-up brushes, towels, and even cellphones! The sterilization process takes just 15 minutes and consumes just 3 watts per session, and so toys can be sterilized before every use.

Aller Plasma Toy Sterilizer in blue
Spot Mr. Seahorse! ❤️
Aller Plasma Toy Sterilizer in blue
The sterilizer doubles as a toy box too. I love how it keeps Wolf’s toys clean and organized!

I am quite satisfied with my purchase. I don’t have to worry about Wolf exploring everything with his mouth, because I can ensure that all his toys are squeaky clean, down to the molecular level! There is only one minor inconvenience, and that is the design of the lid, which can be tricky to close without getting your fingers caught, as the grooves are inconveniently located in front and at the back, and not at the sides. With practice though, one gets the hang of closing the box without self-injury. 
Aller Plasma Toy Sterilizer in blue
Placing the grooves at the sides instead of the front and back would have made placing the lid much easier!
Aller Plasma Toy Sterilizer in blue
Just plug it in and switch it on. It shuts off automatically (signaled by the light going out) after sterilization. It’s so convenient!
THE VERDICT

Peso Damage: P7,750 (promo price, discounted by P1,000)
Value for Peso: 4.75 / 5.0

For OC moms like me, the Aller Plasma Toy Sterilizer is worth spending on, because it gives me peace of mind. I can let my baby explore freely knowing that all his toys are stripped of disease-carrying germs. I see the device as a necessary investment, as I’d rather spend a few thousands now than tens of thousands later on hospital bills. As they say, prevention is better than cure, and better safe than sorry!

Food

My Unlimited Dim Sum Birthday Feast at Jasmine

Last Sunday, July 9, I turned 27! I remember how when I was in grade school, while my classmates aspired to be married by 28, I thought that it was such a young age to settle down. It’s so funny now how I’m not yet even 28 and I have a husband and son! But so far, I have no regrets. I am loving my life right now!

In our family, it is tradition for my dad to treat me and my sisters out for lunch or dinner on our birthdays. This year, I chose to go to Jasmine, a Chinese restaurant in New World Hotel, Makati. I chose Jasmine, because I wanted to eat unlimited dim sum. My first choice was actually Shang Palace in Makati Shangri-la, but their unlimited dim sum offer isn’t available on Sundays. Being buffet veterans, we arrived at Jasmine a few minutes before 11:30 am, which is their opening time for lunch. When we do buffets, we’re there from opening till closing, which in this case was 2:30 pm (What? Just three hours? Not enough tiiime haha).

unlimited dimsum at jasmine new world hotel makati
I say “buffet” but actually, Jasmine’s unlimited dim sum is not served buffet style. They give you a menu, and you can order as much as you want for a fixed price per head (P988). I suppose this is because dim sum  should be served fresh. I was able to try 25 out of the 33 items on the menu. Not bad!

unlimited dim sum menu at jasmine new world hotel makati
Jasmine’s Unlimited Yum Cha (Dim sum) Menu as of July 2017
hot and sour soup at unlimited dimsum at jasmine new world hotel makati
Hot and sour soup. A bit more spicy than usual.
Seafood spinach soup at unlimited dimsum at jasmine new world hotel makati
Seafood with spinach soup. Nice and lightly flavored.
siomai unlimited dimsum at jasmine new world hotel makati
Siomai. Filled with fresh shrimp and topped with tasty crab roe. Very good!
Yang chow fried rice at unlimited dimsum at jasmine new world hotel makati
Yang chow fried rice. Fragrant and lightly flavored. Good to balance out the richness of the other dim sum.
Hakaw at unlimited dimsum at jasmine new world hotel makati
Shrimp dumplings aka hakaw. Fresh, plump shrimp in delicately chewy wheat flour wrapper. Excellent!
Radish cake at unlimited dim sum at jasmine new world hotel makati
Radish cake. Tasty, with just the right amount of radish. Very good!
Mixed mushrooms dumplings at unlimited dim sum at jasmine new world hotel makati
Mixed mushrooms dumplings. Was more of a vegetable dumpling since it had just around 5% mushroom. Nothing spectacular.
Pork dumplings at unlimited dim sum at jasmine new world hotel makati
Glutinous pork dumpling and pan-fried pork dumpling. They looked the same and tasted the same. A bit too oily for me.
Spareribs tausi at unlimited dim sum at jasmine new world hotel makati
Spareribs tausi. Tasty and not too salty.
Asparagus dumpling at unlimited dim sum at jasmine new world hotel makati
Fresh asparagus dumpling. The asparagus added a nice twist to the classic dumpling.
Xiao long bao at unlimited dim sum at jasmine new world hotel makati
Xiao long bao. The wrapper was too thick and floury, and the filling was nothing special. A far cry from Din Tai Fung and Lugang. I guess xiao long bao is like ramen.. you need to get it at restaurants that specialize in making it!
Barbecued pork puff at unlimited dim sum at jasmine new world hotel makati
Barbecued pork puff. Really tasty and not as sweet as those of Tim Ho Wan. Melts in your mouth. I had like six of these babies! Excellent!
Chicken feet at unlimited dim sum at jasmine new world hotel makati
Chicken feet. Good but nothing groundbreaking.
Seafood taro puff at unlimited dim sum at jasmine new world hotel makati
Seafood taro puff. I was not expecting to like this, but it was surprisingly really good! It had just the right crunch, complemented by rich and creamy filling. Excellent!
Wonton at unlimited dim sum at jasmine new world hotel makati
Wonton. Good but there was too much wrapper, which made each piece too oily.
Wagyu beef mango roll at unlimited dim sum at jasmine new world hotel makati
Wagyu beef mango roll. Delicious and innovative, though a bit oily. Very good!
Chicken bun with black mushroom at unlimited dim sum at jasmine new world hotel makati
Chicken bun with black mushroom. This looked ordinary but tasted good! A nice break from all the pork!
Minced beef balls at unlimited dim sum at jasmine new world hotel makati
Minced beef balls. The beef was too blended to the point that the texture was not that appetizing. I didn’t like this one.
Mashed fish balls at unlimited dim sum at jasmine new world hotel makati
Mashed fish balls. Quite tasty, and not your ordinary fish ball.
Machang at unlimited dim sum at jasmine new world hotel makati
Machang. The rice had a good chewy texture and everything was rich and flavorful. Very good!

Machang at unlimited dim sum at jasmine new world hotel makati

Machang at unlimited dim sum at jasmine new world hotel makati
My surgeon papa insisted on expertly dissecting the machang to show what’s inside. Haha.
Asado siopao at unlimited dim sum at jasmine new world hotel makati
Asado siopao. Nothing extraordinary.
Butchi at unlimited dim sum at jasmine new world hotel makati
Deep-fried sesame ball aka butchi. Not too sweet. Delicious!
Chocolate glutinous rice dumpling at unlimited dim sum at jasmine new world hotel makati
Chocolate glutinous rice dumpling. Rich chocolate filling paired with a nutty and chewy exterior. Very good!
Butchi at unlimited dim sum at jasmine new world hotel makati
Butchiiiii ❤️
Mango cream sago at unlimited dim sum at jasmine new world hotel makati
Mango cream sago. Creamy and refreshing. Great end to the meal!
unlimited dim sum at jasmine new world hotel makati
These are just a few of the dishes that we gobbled up like it’s no one’s business. 😎

The food was quite good, but one issue we had was that the serving time was a bit slow, especially for our beloved hakaw (shrimp dumplings)! We had to follow up several times. I think it took long because hakaw is really a crowd favorite.

A significant drawback was that the offer did not include any drinks. I think that for P988, they should include at least one round of drinks. We ordered a pot of tea at P428, which the waiter said was refillable. We later found out, as the tea became progressively watered down, that they were just refilling the water without placing fresh leaves. For P428, they should replace the leaves every time the pot is refilled!

After our meal, the waiters sang Happy Birthday and I got a complimentary slice of cake. I don’t think they usually sing to birthday celebrants. I suspect that my dad coaxed them into doing so for me. Haha.

happy birthday at unlimited dim sum at jasmine new world hotel makatiHappy birthday at unlimited dim sum at jasmine new world hotel makati

THE VERDICT

Peso Damage: P988 / head (unlimited dim sum)

Value for Peso: 4.25 / 5.0

Jasmine’s unlimited dim sum offer is more expensive than many mainstream buffet restaurants, but if you are a fan of Chinese food, you will get your money’s worth here. Go here if you value quality over quantity. With only 33 items on the unlimited dim sum menu, picky eaters will have difficulty getting their fill. But if like me, you are an adventurous eater, you will appreciate both classic dishes like their shrimp dumplings and siomai and special creations like their wagyu beef mango roll and seafood taro puff. Maaan now I’m hungry! Can someone treat me again? It’s still my birthday week! 😂

Happy birthday unlimited dim sum at jasmine new world hotel makati
My favorite foodie buddies! ❤️
mom with baby at unlimited dim sum at jasmine new world hotel makati
Happy mommy, happy baby! 😍