Musings

A Letter to my Ex-Best Friend

I don’t expect that you will get to read this. But I am writing this for myself. You know how my thoughts need to get written down so I can make sense of them, and then preserved, so I can learn from them.

I saw pictures of your wedding posted by a common friend. The pictures made me think two things simultaneously, one quite shallow, and the other worth pondering:

  1. If I were still your best friend, I would have advised against the size of your hair accessory. You would have taken my advice.
  2. I would have been happy to be there, but I’m just as happy not being there.

The second thought warrants elaboration. I have let most among our common circles assume that the reason we stopped being friends was my fault entirely. I guess that could be argued, because although it was you who burned bridges, from the moment I made the decision to begin dating your crush, I knew that you would interpret my actions as a betrayal you could not overlook. Never mind that he never reciprocated your feelings, and, more importantly, that you yourself were seeing someone else at the time (consequently, your husband now). That circumstance should have made our friendship survive my “betrayal.” It’s like how in Riverdale, when Veronica and Archie told Betty that they were dating, Betty was totally cool with it, because she was with Jughead.

Alas, you chose not to remain friends. I believe that at the time, although you were very happy with your boyfriend, a part of you still clung to the possibility of ending up with “Archie.” Why else would our relationship have affected you so deeply? As long as he remained available, you were not ready to give your heart fully to anyone. But you would have been such a bad match. Opposites, much like the two of us.

I watched you harbor your feelings for so long, and I always knew as much as he did that you ending up with him would have spelled disaster. I watched you turn resentful as your feelings remained unreciprocated.

Then one day, you asked me out to lunch, and I knew that day was different. I remember how you brought me to a fancy restaurant that I hadn’t tried before. You could hardly contain your smile, and as soon as we had placed our orders, you broke into a full grin and said, “I met someone nice.” I could tell he was different from the previous guys you dated. I detected no trace of settling for second best, no hint of a subconscious desire to be distracted from the one you couldn’t have. It was apparent from the beginning that you were really into this guy. Even then, I could imagine you one day marrying him.

It’s funny how at first, we may think that our story has taken a turn for the worst, only to realize later on that the conflict was needed to ensure our happy ending. I remember how as schoolgirls, we would spend hours after class, conjuring up our own fantasies, exploring all the what ifs.

Well here’s the biggest “what if” of our lives. What if I had not begun dating Archie? Would you have ended up married to the love of your life? Or would you have clung to the hope of feelings finally reciprocated? Would you have spent more years asking “what if?” We will never know now. But it was a solid possibility. After all, it’s the “what ifs” that are difficult to forget. Had I not dated Archie, had there been a tiny shred of hope that you could end up together, you may have missed your chance to experience love with no skeletons.

I dashed all hope that we would remain friends. It was a sad ending to a truly beautiful friendship. But inadvertently, I also cleared the rubble from the path leading to something even more beautiful–your ultimate happiness. If we were still friends, I would have been at your wedding, maybe telling all the guests about how giddy you were when you told me you had met such a great guy. But if we were still friends, you might not have had that special day at all. Who knows? It’s not a cookie cutter world. So I am happy I was not at your wedding. You deserved that day of pure, boundless joy.

I wish you all the best.

All the love of a stranger,

Veronica

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Food

Our Breakfast Date at Refinery

Now that I have a baby, one thing that I miss sorely is mobility. I used to be able to do whatever I want and go wherever I pleased. Spontaneous road trips were something that Casey and I used to do a lot as a couple, but now, I need to consider whether places are baby-friendly, and activities need to be spaced out so that Wolf doesn’t get exhausted.

I used to go to great lengths to come up with surprises for Casey during all the special occasions. I remember that even when I was six months pregnant, I charged through a heavy downpour to buy him a gift for his birthday.

However, for his birthday this year, which was last August 26, I could no longer prepare extensively, because with Wolf, I had less time to sneak around. I had to go back to the basics, scale down, and think simple. What would Casey enjoy that would be easy to plan? The answer was glaringly obvious–breakfast! We both adore breakfast food. So I searched online for nearby restaurants that serve great breakfast fare. Thanks to the Zomato app, I stumbled upon Refinery. As soon as I saw their menu, I placed a reservation without a second thought. Bacon? Pancakes? Coffee? Check!

We went to the branch in Promenade, Greenhills. We ordered Pancakes and Bacon, Angry Pasta (sausage, bacon, mushrooms, and tomatoes), and Bacon French Toast. Yes, all dishes had bacon. Bacon is life. Haha.

The pancakes took long to come out, because they had run out of batter. The waiter said that their stocks are low because demand is not that high for pancakes. This was a red flag, but we ordered pancakes anyway because they are a favorite of the birthday boy. As predicted, the pancakes were nothing to write home about. The waiter also informed us that they had run out of portobello mushrooms for the pasta, and so we opted to add more bacon instead. And since Casey doesn’t eat mushrooms, he had no complaints. The pasta was pretty good, al dente and tasty with just the right amount of spice. It was a tad too rich, but most likely that was due to the absence of mushrooms. But the star of our brunch was the Bacon French Toast. Served as a sandwich, it was the perfect balance of sweet and savory. Highly recommended!

We also enjoyed our drinks, a cappuccino for him and a matcha latte for myself. And of course, Wolf was happy with his bacon milk!

THE VERDICT

Peso Damage: P650 / head

Value for Peso: 4.5 / 5.0

Refinery is a relaxing place with great breakfast food and good coffee. We visited at 10 am on a Saturday, and the place was half full but not noisy. A bit more affordable than Wildflour and less crowded than mainstream coffee shops, Refinery is perfect for leisurely breakfast dates. With an impressive selection of alcohol, Refinery also seems like a nice option for nights out with friends.

Parenting

How Virgin Coconut Oil Helped My Baby Gain Weight

Wolf was a relatively heavy newborn at 3.5 kg, but he was slow to gain weight from the very beginning. At one point, he was even severely underweight due to complications encountered while breastfeeding. We were able to address the issues with the help of lactation counselors, and his weight gain improved. When he turned six months, he was well within the normal weight range for his age, and we were able to achieve this on breast milk alone.

The newborn Wolf:

Wolf at six months:

Given our history with weight issues, I was anxious about starting him on solids. You may wonder why. You may be thinking, “Wouldn’t you be eager to start feeding him solid food so he can bulk up?” It is a common misconception (which I also held before) that babies will naturally gain weight faster once they begin eating solids. In fact, the opposite is usually true. Weight gain tends to slow down as babies take in food other than breast milk. One reason is from six months onwards, babies become more active and eager to explore their surroundings, thus burning more calories. This obviously cannot be avoided. Another reason is that ounce for ounce, breast milk has more calories and fat than most solid food for babies, and so solid food tends to bring down total caloric and fat intake of babies. It is this second factor’s consequences that I could mitigate to a certain extent.

It was easier said than done, though. According to this article, there are few solid food options for babies that come close to breast milk in terms of calories and fat, and I can count them on one hand — avocados, bananas, sweet potatoes, and rice. I had heard though from a lactation counselor that her pediatrician suggested virgin coconut oil (VCO) for her baby who was slow to gain. VCO has high amounts of lauric acid, which is the the same type of healthy fat found in breast milk. That’s why many milk formulas contain VCO. So I decided to try adding VCO to Wolf’s diet.

Wolf at seven months, before eating his first solid meal, avocado:

When Wolf began solids, I would add a teaspoon of VCO to everything he ate, especially if the food that he was eating was not calorie or fat dense (such as carrots). By doing this, I was able to keep his weight gain on track. You may ask, how am I sure that it was the VCO that kept him gaining well? On Wolf’s eighth month, I became complacent. I stopped adding VCO to his food. To my dismay, Wolf did not gain anything in three weeks! I then added VCO again to his diet, and in less than a week, he gained 300 grams.

Wolf at eight months:

VCO has many other uses aside from promoting healthy weight gain in babies. It can be used to supplement the nutrition of adult diets, moisturize skin, massage baby, prevent and treat diaper rash, minimize cradle cap, help heal minor cuts, condition hair, and so much more! With the many benefits, VCO is surely a good buy for every household. I’m such a believer that I’m even considering using VCO to cook our food at home. I doubt Casey would agree though (he hates coconut). But hey, he should hate it just a little less, now that it has worked wonders for Baby Wolf! ❤️

Uncategorized

Hotel Kimberly, Tagaytay: A Great Choice for Quick Family Vacations

This is my long overdue review of one of my favorite hotels in Tagaytay, Hotel Kimberly! This was the venue of my officer training program culmination in China Bank. This was also the venue of the annual outing of the Manila String Machine (MSM), our awesome music family. We stayed there overnight last July 21 to 22.

Casey, Wolf, and I stayed in a Deluxe Room. The rooms of Hotel Kimberly are simple yet elegant, with comfortable beds and spacious bathrooms. Most importantly, they are quite consistently clean. This makes the hotel an excellent choice for families with small children.

Wolf was already a fast crawler when we had our outing last July, and so we brought his crib, which we were able to set up beside our bed (proof that their rooms have ample space). The bed mattresses are on the firm side, but we found them quite comfortable even if we are used to the softness of our memory foam mattress at home. One negative comment I have about the room is that the placement of the ledge in the bathroom for toiletries was not ideal, as it was too far from the sink and the tub.

It was Wolf’s first time to swim at the outing, and I did my best to make sure he enjoyed. We bought him full swimming attire, taking care to get a long-sleeved rash guard to help keep him warm. We also waited till the sun was not too harsh but still present to keep the water temperature tolerable. A heated pool would have been great, but unfortunately, the hotel’s pool did not have heating.

I think Wolf enjoyed his first pool dip. Although he didn’t smile much, he didn’t cry either. We took him out after ten minutes and brought him straight up to the room to bathe in the tub. However, to our dismay, we found out that the water heater in our room was not working! We immediately called room service to sort out the problem. They were able to get the heater to work in around 20 minutes from the time we called, but that is a long time for a baby who came from the pool. I just hugged him the whole time to make sure he stayed warm.

After swimming, we hung out in the hotel lobby, which was decorated nicely and had comfortable couches. Wolf’s first dip left him super tired, as children (and adults) often are after swimming. He was so tired that he fell asleep mid-picture. Awww.

For dinner, our table had yang chow fried rice, tinapa fried rice, tawilis, pakbet bagnet, and liempo. We were only four, but two among us were hungry daddies. Haha. The food was good but not remarkable. The tawilis, unfortunately, was not crispy. The hotel hosted a bonfire with marshmallows and movie night, but we missed it because we were too busy having dinner. Haha. After dinner, we went to the game room, which we found was too noisy for Wolf, and so we went up to our room instead and watched Transformers before settling down for the night. The swimming sufficiently tired out Wolfie to allow him (and his mom) to sleep for four hours. Hallelujah!

We got up bright and early the next day to avail of our buffet breakfast, which consisted of arroz caldo, chow mein, dilis, fried chicken, longganisa, tocino, rice, bread, fruit, eggs, and bacon. I wished they had corned beef though, which is my favorite breakfast food! Again, the food was passable but nothing to write home about. In particular, I enjoyed my omelette with everything in it — ham, cheese, onions, and bell peppers.

After breakfast, we traipsed over to the hotel’s mini farm. It was quite impressive, with a larger variety of animals than I had expected! One of the animal caretakers toured us through the farm. He was very friendly, and he knew so much about all the animals. My favorite parts were the rabbits and sheep, while Casey was most interested in the chickens and hydroponics. We were able to feed the sheep, because we made sure to visit during their feeding time. We noticed one sheep was separated from the rest. The caretaker said that the sheep’s mother died after his birth. He was bottle fed away from the flock, and when the caretakers brought him back, the other sheep began to bully him. So he became an outcast. Poor baby. We chose to feed him instead of the other mean sheep. Haha. The rabbits were very popular with all the kids, and we almost bought the grey one. They were really so cute! The farm also had three horses, and one was available for kids to ride. I would say that for families with small children, the mini farm is a must-see at Hotel Kimberly.

We checked out at 12 noon and visited their souvenir shop, which, frankly, had nothing interesting or of value to me. This is probably the area of the hotel that needs the most improvement. After checking out, we had lunch at Bulalo Point before heading home.

We had a great time relaxing and bonding with our MSM family at the hotel. With clean, well-appointed rooms, a big pool, and lots of fun activities, Hotel Kimberly is at the top of my list for a family vacation in Tagaytay.

Parenting, pregnancy

The Quiet Joy of Having a Baby

There are many women who choose not to become mothers. For them, motherhood is just not among their life goals. I used to be one of those women. Back in high school, while my friends would fantasize about their ideal weddings and come up with names for their future children, I shuddered at the thought of getting pregnant, giving birth, and becoming dumpy for the rest of my life. Haha.

Then I got married to an amazing man who was a great cook and handy with tools — in other words, a very domesticated guy. Needless to say, he wanted kids. I entered into our marriage fully aware of this and willing to set aside my anxiety to grant his desires. As we grew more in love, I also grew more at ease with the idea of raising his babies. I realized that the reasons I had before for not wanting children — the fear of getting fat, the dreaded sleepless nights, the endless crying — were surmountable with a loving partner by my side.

More than two years into our marriage, we decided to do away with birth control. A month later, I got a positive pregnancy test. We didn’t expect it would happen so soon, but I was happy that we didn’t have to deal with the stress of trying several times to conceive.

While I was pregnant, many people asked me if I were scared of giving birth. I always replied that I was more scared of what would happen after the baby came out. Caring for a baby seemed like such a huge responsibility to me, with the disadvantages outweighing the benefits. I was imagining non-stop crying of the baby (and mommy), poop everywhere, utter chaos on bad days and mundane routines on good days. Suffice to say, I had a very bleak picture of what it meant to be a new parent.

Boy, was I wrong.

Perhaps I was too jaded. I often err on the side of pessimism, and it keeps my expectations in check. I dreaded too much and hoped for too little. Now, as I reflect on the past eight months caring for my baby, I feel like I’ve hit the jackpot. I didn’t expect being a mom to be this.. enjoyable! Yes, there are sleepless nights and round-the-clock diaper changes, but all those chores are rewarded with the most adorable coos and smiles that make the fatigue worth it. And the number one reason I had before for not wanting to conceive, which is that I didn’t want to gain weight that I wouldn’t be able to shed post-partum, is now no longer an issue, because in these eight months, I’ve successfully returned to my pre-pregnancy weight.

I am just in my twenties, and I have so much of life still ahead of me, but I can say that having a baby is the most incredible, humbling, rewarding experience thus far. My advice for women on the fence with having kids is to take that terrifying plunge. The experience is much more wonderful than it seems. The “bad” side often gets the limelight, and we tend to think of infants as how they are portrayed in movies — synonymous to wailing poop machines. But the good, no, the great side, is too often overlooked, perhaps because it is quiet and tender — the warmth of your baby falling asleep on your chest, the delight on his face as he learns to sit up, the wonder with which he becomes aware of his fingers and toes.

Babies find joy in the smallest things. They teach you, not only to love another human unconditionally, but also to rediscover and love the world. I do not regret and don’t think I will ever regret having a baby. Some days are exhausting. Some days are chaotic. But all days are amazing.