Food

Wolf’s Happy Half Birthday Dinner at Kettle Eastwood

When I first decided to blog after giving birth, I didn’t want to write so often about food. However, I now realize that it is inevitable that I will talk about food here, because we LOVE to eat out. As in, not a week goes by that we don’t eat out. It seems a shame if I don’t share our gastronomic adventures!

To celebrate Wolf’s sixth month last June 27, we had dinner at Kettle. Unlike some parents who choose to give their baby’s first solid meal on the exact day that they turn six months, Casey and I have decided to delay solids until Wolf displays all signs of developmental readiness. And so last June 27, he merely watched us feast in his honor. And what a sumptuous feast it was! Kettle is known for serving great comfort food. We ordered the tried and tested bestsellers and were not disappointed. Rich, bold flavors satisfied our palates, and I’m sure Wolf was also delighted with the quality of his evening milk. Haha.

six month baby dinner celebration
Wolf’s Half Birthday OOTD ❤️
six month baby dinner celebrationsix month baby dinner celebration
Here are the dishes we ordered:

six month baby dinner celebration at kettle eastwood
Baked Brie, P399

There’s no way I wouldn’t have enjoyed this, as brie is my favorite cheese. Sweet creamy indulgence! The greens on the side complemented the richness of the cheese.

 

  

six month baby dinner celebration at kettle eastwood
Caesar Salad, P289

A hefty serving good for three hungry diners. The shaved egg added a nice twist to the usual Caesar salad.

 

 

six month baby dinner celebration at kettle eastwood
U.S. Angus Short Ribs, P539

Tender, melt-in-your-mouth meat, although the serving was measly. They should give more to justify the price.

 

 

six month baby dinner celebration at kettle eastwood
Buttermilk Fried Chicken, P559

Huge juicy chicken thigh fillets fried to perfection, served with honey and gravy. Up to four people can share this wonderful medley of sweet and salty! The cornbread was unfortunately really dry though, a damper to what would have been a perfect dish!

 
Lemon Iced Tea Carafe, P179
I didn’t get to take a picture of the carafe, but it was good for three. The iced tea was too sweet and we needed to dilute it with water. Oh well, at least there was more to go around!

 

 

six month baby dinner celebration at kettle eastwood
Checkered Cake, P229

This was a combination of red velvet and chocolate cake. It was not too sweet, nor too rich. It’s a good cake for those who don’t want a huge sugar rush and are just looking to end the meal on a sweet note. The slice was huge and good for three.

 

 
THE VERDICT

Peso Damage: P700 / head

Value for Peso: 4.5 / 5.0

Although on the pricey side, Kettle offers comfort food that is a notch above the usual overpriced franchised diner (IHOP, I’m looking at you). The dishes are fun, innovative, and memorable. Servings are good for sharing. This is a great place for casual dining with family. We will definitely be back!

six month baby dinner celebration at kettle eastwood
For now, Wolf is content with just looking at the food. ☺️
six month baby dinner celebration at kettle eastwood
Thank you to his Lola for the yummy half birthday dinner! ❤️
six month baby dinner celebration at kettle eastwood
Happy Half Birthday to our happy baby! 😍

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Parenting, pregnancy

Five Benefits of Enrolling in a Birthing Class

Last October to November 2016, Casey and I attended the birthing class of Rome Kanapi held at Ateneo de Manila University. The class consisted of six morning sessions every Sunday. Rome is a birthing class pioneer in the Philippines, specializing in the Lamaze method. She is a certified childbirth educator under the Philippine Association for Childbirth Education (PACE) and a member of the International Childbirth Education Association. Not only was she knowledgeable in her field, she was also very kind and approachable. What I loved about her teaching style is that she never pressured us into following a specific route for labor (such as going for fully unmedicated birth) even if that was her preference for her own births. She presented us with our options, but she always respected our birthing choices. It was a great experience and was definitely worth the investment. Below are the five major benefits we got from our birthing class.

1. It prepared both me and my husband for my pregnancy, labor, and post-labor. The topics covered were extensive, from diet during pregnancy, to massage and breathing techniques during labor, to changing diapers and carrying newborns, and so much more. Although some of the information can be accessed by reading books or articles online, other topics, such as labor massage, breathing techniques, and carrying newborns, are easier to digest when actually demonstrated. Also, there were tips and pieces of advice shared that could not have been found in books because they were gleaned from our facilitator’s experience with her own pregnancies and those of her former students.

2. It empowered both me as a mother and my husband as a father. It’s difficult being a first-time parent, and although we could have prepared by just reading on our own, attending a birthing class together better cemented our relationship as husband and wife and made us anticipate our new roles of father and mother. The class not only provided us with vital information but also was a safe avenue for us to share any of our concerns with other couples who could truly empathize with us.

3. It provided us with a certificate of attendance honored by major hospitals. Some hospitals are strict when it comes to permitting the father to be in the labor room. They require proof that the father attended a birthing class. In our case, we did not need to present our certificate, but it gave me peace of mind to know we had it just in case.

4. It gave us access to many discounts and freebies from baby companies. Rome invited various company representatives to pitch baby products at the end of every session. The representatives usually gave freebies and discounts exclusive to attendees of the birthing class. We were able to save a lot of money on big ticket items for Wolf, such as his stroller and baby carrier!

5. We gained a solid parenting support group. It’s really valuable for us to have gained many mommy and daddy friends through our birthing class. We still keep in touch through our Viber group, and so we’re able to support each other as our babies reach their milestones. It really helps that our babies are all practically the same age (Wolf is around a month younger than most of the babies), and so we encounter the same issues simultaneously.

To learn more about Rome’s birthing class, you may contact Rome Kanapi at 63-917-541-5114.

Last week, we had our first birthing class reunion, wherein our babies were able to meet one another for the first time. It was expertly organized by our classmate Angel, who used to work in the events industry. We had lunch and a few activities (Name the Baby, Baby Fashion Show, and Music and Movement). It was really fun meeting our classmates again and seeing all our babies together. I’m already looking forward to the next reunion!

birthing class reunion with six month old babies
Spot us in red! Wolf was busy eating his hands most of the time!
birthing class reunion with six month old babies
Among the three boy babies, Wolf is the youngest and the smallest. ☺️
birthing class reunion with six month old babies
Wolf stopped eating his hands to comfort his crying classmate. 😘
birthing class reunion with six month old babies
Mommies, daddies, and babies wearing one color per family. We’re team red! ❤️
Dad with six month old baby
My boys! 😍
six month old baby in birthing class reunion game
Wolf in his purple royal garb! Our team won! 👏
Six month old baby with mom and dad
Wolf is defending his territory. 😅
happy family at birthing class reunion with six month old babies
Our happy family ❤️❤️❤️
birthing class reunion with six month old babies
All mommies with our adorable babies and birthing class teacher, Rome! 😍

Parenting

Why I Love My Li’l Kash Pump Bag

For the tiniest people in the household, babies sure need a truckload of stuff. From layers and layers of clothing, to diapers, to alcohol and wet wipes, leaving the house with a baby is a major operation. One advantage of being a breastfeeding mom is that unlike formula-feeding moms, you don’t need to bring bottles, water, and formula when you go out with your baby. On the flip side though, when a formula-feeding mom goes out without her baby, she doesn’t need anything extra, whereas a breastfeeding mom will need to bring a breast pump, storage bottles, and accessories for expressing milk!

It’s important to invest in a pump bag to protect your breast pump and your milk. You can’t use just any bag. It needs to be insulated and designed to accommodate your pump and pumping accessories. Unfortunately, most pump bags don’t come cheap, costing P2,000 and above. Well, that’s not cheap for me, because as I mentioned before, I’m not into keeping up with the latest fashion trends, and so most of the bags I use are gifts I get for Christmas. Haha. I didn’t want to shell out more than P2,000 for a bag. There had to be a more affordable option!

Luckily, I stumbled upon Li’l Kash, a local brand that sells pump bags for P1,000 (for the mini pump bag) to P1,500 (for the power pump bag). The mini pump bag is designed to house smaller pumps, whereas the power pump bag has more space. Fortunately, my pump is a Spectra 9S portable double electric, and so I required just the mini pump bag. There are many designs available, but each design is produced in small batches, and so the designs get sold out easily. That’s why as soon I spotted a design that I liked, I placed an order. I ordered online through Baby Mama, but you can also order directly from Li’l Kash.

Breastfeeding mom with pump bag
Me with my cute mini pump bag! ☺️

I’m very satisfied with my purchase. The bag was thoughtfully designed, with two compartments to separate your pump from your stored milk. Both compartments are insulated, allowing you the freedom to store your milk in either compartment. The bag is also structured so that the tubing of your pump does not get squished, thus extending the life span of your pump accessories. The structure also allows you to use the bag as a makeshift pumping station for when there is no pumping room available (such as when I pump in the car). I also love how lightweight and compact it is, making it easy to bring around anywhere. It’s so small that it looks like a cute lunchbox! In fact, it can be used as one when you’re no longer breastfeeding. 

Pump bag
The upper compartment where I store the milk bottles
Pump bag
The lower compartment where I store my breast pump

I got the chance to use it in my former office when I needed to report briefly before I made the decision to resign. 

Breastfeeding mom with pump bag
I was allowed to pump in our conference room. 😊
Breastfeeding mom with pump bag
Nowadays, I use it whenever I have string quartet gigs but can’t bring Wolf along because the venue isn’t conducive for babies. Most of the time, I have gigs in places wherein there is no suitable pumping room, and so I pump practically anywhere with the help of my handy dandy pump bag. The bag has definitely made my breastfeeding journey easier! It’s such a good buy, and I highly recommend it to all breastfeeding mommas. Happy pumping!

Breastfeeding mom with pump bag pumping milk
Pumping while waiting for our turn to go onstage
Breastfeeding mom with pump bag
My pumping tools all in one li’l bag! ❤️

Parenting

Wolf’s Adorable Newborn Photos 

Recently, I wrote about our fun maternity shoot experience. We were so happy with the shoot that we decided to book Ida again for Wolf’s newborn shoot. A newborn shoot is a relatively new concept, wherein a baby is photographed very early on in their life. In Wolf’s case, we had his shoot when he was just shy of two weeks old. His fingers were still peeling!

Newborn baby sleeping Newborn baby sleeping poutingNewborn baby sleeping yawningNewborn baby sleeping smiling Newborn baby sleeping in basketNewborn baby in swaddle
Newborn shoots are difficult to execute, because the delicate state of the infant always has to be the highest priority. You can’t force infants not to cry, not to sleep, or not to feed. Also, infants need to feed really frequently, and they also poop really frequently. Haha. Once again though, Ida rose up to the challenge and delivered more than we expected. She and her two assistants were experts at positioning Wolf in his sleep and lulling him back to sleep whenever he would stir fretfully. When it was time for Wolf to nurse, Ida would take photos of me breastfeeding. Everything was done efficiently and with the baby’s comfort in mind.

mom and dad kissing newborn babynewborn baby in swaddle sleeping in mom's chestdad biting feet of newborn baby mom breastfeeding newborn baby

dad with newborn baby's poop on shirt
Wolf marked his territory! 😂
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The pictures were, once again, just gorgeous. Ida also includes in her packages illustrated photos, a really adorable idea especially for baby shoots.

newborn baby is sorted into slytherin at harry potter shoot
Oh look, he takes after Mom. 😎
newborn baby in basket with wolf illustration newborn baby sleeping with wolf illustrations newborn baby sleeping with wolf illustration
Looking back, I’m so happy we have beautiful pictures of the newborn Wolf, because babies grow and change features so rapidly! They really grow up too fast. I remember how displaced and sad I felt when I realized that I needed to resign from work to care for Wolf, but I know now that I’m really lucky that I get to spend so much time with my baby. It’s so rewarding to cuddle him, play with him, and be the one present as he reaches his milestones. When he was a newborn, all he could do was cry, eat, pee, poo, and sleep. Now he can also babble, shout, drool, roll over, grab things, wriggle-crawl, smile, and laugh! I remember when he discovered each of those new skills. I was the one there to smile and cheer him on. Those moments were priceless, bringing me joy that more than made up for all the times I felt tired and overwhelmed taking care of such a helpless being. Honestly, pictures can only scratch the surface in preserving the wondrous experience of raising a child. I’m just so fortunate that, being with Wolf 99% of the time, my heart is overflowing with memories with my baby boy. He won’t be a baby forever!

newborn baby in swaddle
Wolf at two weeks! 😍
five month old baby in red cardigan
Wolf at five months! ❤️ How time flies!

Parenting

Wolf’s Baptism and Burger Bash

Last February 19, 2017, Wolf was baptized into the Catholic faith. It was his first ever party, and so I wanted it to be special, but I also didn’t want to break the bank. I wanted to stay within our budget of P40,000 yet still have a memorable event. I’m happy to report that I was able to do both. Below are my tips for those who want an affordable yet unique baptism.

1. Compare church fees.
Church baptism fees range from free (for public baptisms) to as high as P4000. Call the parish offices to get their updated rates.

our lady of pentecost parish baptism
Wolf was baptized at Our Lady of Pentecost Parish’s simple, open air baptistry.
our lady of pentecost parish facadebaptism baby manila philippines
baptism baby crying
Wolf was grumpy after a rough night. 😅
baptism candles DIY blue ribbon and twine
baby baptism carried by godmother
Wolf with Ninang Meimei and my mom
sleep-deprived new parents
Sleep-deprived parents 😅
baby baptized with holy waterbaby baptism carried by mombaby baptism with priest

2. Choose a restaurant for the reception, and consider foregoing the usual choices.
We decided that a restaurant would be more cost effective than an events place, because a restaurant does not have to be styled so much and does not charge a rental fee (you just have to meet their minimum consumable amount for food and drink). If you want the baptism reception to be unique, skip the usual restaurants–Max’s, Aristocrat, Mom and Tina’s, etc. Have it at a restaurant that’s significant to your family in some way. In our case, we picked our favorite burger joint, 8Cuts Burger Blends. We’re huge fans of burgers, and we suspect Wolf is a burger boy too! Why? Watch Wolf’s baptism video to find out.

8Cuts Burger Blends baptism reception

8Cuts Burger Blends baptism reception menu
Our menu cards provided by 8Cuts
8Cuts Burger Blends baptism reception
Nom nom nom! 😋
 

3. Trim down your guest list. I know this is incredibly difficult to do in our country wherein it is customary to invite family and extended family, but this is a must if you want to stay within budget. Besides, I think keeping baptismal celebrations small is acceptable especially because people are aware that new parents would have had already shelled out a lot for the baby’s birth. For Wolf’s baptism, we invited just immediate family, Wolf’s godparents, and our wedding godparents. Our total headcount was 35 guests.

our lady of pentecost parish baptism with godparents
Wolf with his godparents
our lady of pentecost parish baptism with grandparents
Wolf with his grandparents
our lady of pentecost parish baptism with family and friends
Wolf with family and friends

4. DIY and go digital with invitations. I was able to create the invitation by editing templates online, and we sent it out through Facebook. Zero printing expense!

our lady of pentecost parish baptism invitation
Wolf’s baptism invitation

5. DIY decorations and giveaways. I was about to hire a stylist for the baptism because I’m no good at arts and crafts (think stick figure drawings), but one of Wolf’s godmothers, Michelle, said it would be such a waste of money, and volunteered to be in charge of it. What a lifesaver! She bought potted herbs, which were placed on the tables and doubled as the giveaways for guests. My sister, Jica, who is also Wolf’s godmother, set up a photo booth area and placed pictures of us with Wolf around the restaurant.

8Cuts Burger Blends baptism reception 8Cuts Burger Blends baptism reception

8Cuts Burger Blends baptism reception DIY photo booth
My Mama Maeyet, my niece Shibby, and my sister Melay at the photo booth area
8Cuts Burger Blends baptism reception DIY photo booth decor
8Cuts Burger Blends baptism reception potted herbs DIY decor and giveaways

6. Keep entertainment short, sweet, and simple.
No one expects huge production numbers at baptism receptions. People just want to enjoy good food, revel in fine company, and admire the cute baby, of course! To give Wolf’s reception an extra twist, we asked our friends from the Manila String Machine to play a few classic rock hits and movie themes. Our family and friends were treated to string quartet renditions of The Beatles’ Come Together, AC/DC’s Back in Black, the theme from Game of Thrones, and a medley from Star Wars, among others.

8Cuts Burger Blends baptism reception Manila String Machine string quartet special events
With our Manila String Machine family
8Cuts Burger Blends baptism reception Manila String Machine

7. Don’t forget to assign or hire a photographer.
Make sure you have pictures of the event to show your child when he or she’s old enough to appreciate them. We got our talented friend Ida to cover the event.

8Cuts Burger Blends baptism reception with godparents photographer ida roccio ferrer-david
Wolf with Ninong Chino, Tita Ninang Ida, and Ninong Kitt
8Cuts Burger Blends baptism reception with grandparents
Wolf with his Lala and Mamala
8Cuts Burger Blends baptism reception baby
Wolfgang just shy of two months 😍
8Cuts Burger Blends baptism reception grandfather
Wolf’s Lolo Joey
8Cuts Burger Blends baptism reception godmother
Wolf’s Ninang Jica
8Cuts Burger Blends baptism reception godfather
Wolf’s Ninong Chino
8Cuts Burger Blends baptism reception godmother
Wolf’s Ninang Michelle
8Cuts Burger Blends baptism reception beer
Start ’em young! 😂
8Cuts Burger Blends baptism reception with family
Wolf with Casey’s family
 

8. Join contests for a chance to win freebies for your event. Follow local mom support groups like Mommy Mundo. I joined one of their contests on Instagram and won free video coverage from Little Big Day by Jason Magbanua. Watch Wolf’s awesome baptism video here. 😊

We were able to stay within our budget and at the same time give Wolf a one-of-a-kind baptismal celebration. Our guests enjoyed meeting our baby, bobbed their heads to the live string quartet music, and savored the scrumptious burgers. I’m so happy that I can say with confidence that Wolf’s first party was a howling success!

8Cuts Burger Blends baptism reception parents and baby 8Cuts Burger Blends baptism reception parents and baby 8Cuts Burger Blends baptism reception parents kissing baby