Musings

Pariah

you claim that i’m
a class of my own

not like the other
fair conventional
beauties
you publicly adored

i’m unique
the only one
you romanced quietly
then ignored

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Parenting

My Top Three Shows for Kids

I have been a parent for less than two years, and so far, I consider my parenting style to be more on the free range end of the spectrum. I never worry too much when Wolf gets sick, I always let him make a mess while he learns to eat by himself, and I let him sleep long even if it means a later breakfast.

If there is one thing I do try to control, it is Wolf’s screen time. I believe that parents need to place strict limits on young children’s media use. Babies and young toddlers are at a developmental stage wherein passive media consumption offers no learning value. In line with the guidelines released by the American Academy of Pediatrics, I waited until Wolf was 18 months before letting him watch shows, and even then, I did not make it a daily activity. Normally, per day, he gets as little as no screen time at all to a maximum of 25 minutes (the length of one episode of shows for small children is usually less than this). The exception is when he is sick and needs to nebulize three times a day, and screen time is the only way he will sit still long enough to nebulize. On such days, he exceeds 25 minutes, but I do my best to keep total screen time under an hour.

I am also very particular about the shows that I let Wolf watch. I look for shows that are interactive, have good storylines, have characters worth emulating, and are paced appropriately for Wolf’s age. This last criterion is something that I see other parents overlook but I think is really critical. I’ve come across many shows that are deemed appropriate for young viewers but are actually way too fast-paced and overstimulating. These shows have too many flashy images and superfluous sound effects that actually cause distress to young brains. When I preview a new show, I also watch Wolf’s face carefully. If he seems overwhelmed, the show does not get my vote. If he becomes engrossed to the point that when I ask him something, he cannot respond, I also deem it inappropriate. I find it of utmost importance that even during screen time, Wolf and I can engage in conversations about what he is watching. That way, his consumption is not passive. He can verbally identify the objects in the shows. He does not just sit and watch. He reacts to what he is viewing, and that is how I know that his brain is somewhat able to process the show.

Even considering that I expose him only to high quality shows, I realize the stark difference in his development between when he watches shows and when we read together. It is night and day. 100% of the words he has learned is from reading and actual conversations with adults. He has not learned any new words from watching, although he is able to recognize and identify objects that he has learned when they appear in the shows. And so as much as possible, I limit his screen time—both the amount and the type of shows he watches.

I know that not all parents, especially those who are working, have the time to scrutinize which shows are good choices for their young kids. And so I have come up with three shows that I recommend for toddlers to assist parents who are on the lookout for high quality shows. These are all available on Netflix. I will discuss the factors that make these shows high quality. Being a musician, I will also talk about the superior musical qualities of each show. Haha.

The Furchester Hotel

The Furchester Hotel

The Furchester Hotel is the latest series of Sesame Street, which is the show that holds the distinction of being named specifically by the American Academy of Pediatrics as high quality and recommended for young viewers. The story follows a family of monster puppets and their misadventures in managing their half-star hotel business. Every episode features a conflict (dubbed a “Furchester catastrophe”), several attempts to solve the problem, a “monster idea,” and then a solution. The show strongly imparts key values of perseverance, resourcefulness, and cooperation. There is also a lot of singing, and the musical style does not take after the usual sing-song nursery rhyme tradition of many kids’ shows. The songs are fun, jazzy, and cleverly written.

Kazoops!

Kazoops!

A Netflix original, this show revolves around the Kazoops family. The main character is Monty Kazoops, a boy with a pet pig and a huge imagination, which he uses to think outside the box and challenge preconceived notions about the world. The rest of his family are all unique and interesting characters. From his hyper grandmother who loves to surf and paint to his sister who is a budding rockstar, the Kazoops family demonstrates to kids how the world is our oyster, and there are so many wonders to explore if we “just imagine.” Every time Monty goes on an adventure in his mind, there is a song unique to the episode’s theme. The songs are usually accompanied by an acoustic guitar and feature laidback, folksy voices, reminiscent of campfires and roadtrips.

Puffin Rock

Puffin Rock

Another wonderful creation by Netflix, Puffin Rock follows Oona the puffin and her little brother, Baba, as they grow up and explore their home, an island on the coast of Ireland. There is a narrator and beautiful 2D animation, making this series the closest to an actual book among my three recommendations. Through their adventures, Oona and Baba learn about other animals on the island and the value of friendship and family. This show is like a mini Discovery Channel or Animal Planet because of the many interesting facts about animals that it presents. Even adults are able to learn new things about various animals such as puffins and seagulls. The animation is a treat for the eyes. It is like watching a painting in motion. The theme song is a dreamy number that succinctly encompasses the beauty of the animation and gentle temperament of Oona and Baba. The theme song is so good that I look forward to hearing it again and again! Haha.

And that rounds up my top three shows for kids. I hope you guys enjoy watching these with your kids as much as I do! I’d love to hear your recommendations too, so hit me up with any of your personal favorite shows for kids.

Musings, Uncategorized

My First Boudoir Shoot

A boudoir shoot is an intimate photography session, often with subjects posing in lingerie or nude. The word “boudoir” is French for “bedroom.”

Having always been quite liberated, a boudoir shoot has long been something I wanted to do one day. I first thought of giving my husband boudoir pictures as a wedding gift four years ago, but back then, I did not have the time to schedule a shoot.

Last August 26, my husband turned dirty thirty, which granted me another opportunity to gift him boudoir pictures. I did my best to make it a surprise by scheduling the shoot when he wasn’t around. But alas, on the shoot date, he came home unexpectedly early and caught me in full makeup! I said I had a lunch party, which of course he didn’t believe, as I don’t wear full makeup to such events. Nevertheless, he could not for the life of him figure out what I was up to. When I gave him the pictures on his birthday, accompanied by a flirty little dance, he was suitably surprised and of course pleased.

My photographer for the boudoir shoot was none other than our family’s go-to photographer, Ida Roccio Ferrer-David. She did my maternity shoot, Wolf’s newborn and baptism pictures, and our family portraits. As always, she did a great job with my boudoir shots. She made me feel comfortable and relaxed even while I was baring so much skin. She was able to execute the mood and theme I described, which was sultry night vs morning afterglow. We followed my photo pegs and several other pegs she suggested in line with my ideas. She was also very good at directing my poses, which may perhaps be due to the fact that she herself has modeled for several advertisements (that’s actually also something I’d like to try, but I haven’t been making time to go to the VTR sessions). She took us through the boudoir shoot at a leisurely, relaxed pace, allowing me enough time to rest in between poses.

Do a quick Google search of “boudoir pictures” and you will find that it’s incredibly easy to end up with tacky boudoir photos. But as I’ve mentioned before, Ida is consistently able to produce tasteful, elegant shots that I had no doubt she could deliver classy photos once again.

I think that a set of boudoir photos is one of the best surprises I’ve given my husband. Based on his reaction to his birthday gift, I am sure he’d agree! Perhaps it’s not for everyone, but if having a boudoir shoot is something you’ve been considering, go do it. As long as you get a capable photographer, you won’t regret it! Below are a few of my boudoir pictures. These shots, along with several much more provocative ones, gave my husband a very happy dirty thirty birthday!

Boudoir photo

Boudoir photo

Boudoir photo

Boudoir photo

Boudoir photo

Boudoir photo

Parenting, Travel

How Travel Benefits My Baby

From the get-go, I did not hesitate to bring Wolf around with me wherever I went. I first took him to a restaurant when he was just two weeks old. I took him to a classical concert on his third week. At three months, he would tag along to my wedding gigs. He had his first road trip and pool experience at six months. He has been to Japan twice—once at ten months, and again at one year, five months.

Baby eating in high chair

Some parents prefer to shelter infants and refrain from bringing them outside often. I am inclined to do the opposite; I believe that the more of the outside world my baby experiences, the better. It was my instinct to allow Wolf to explore new places and meet new faces early on. Now that Wolf’s an older baby, his personality and constitution are becoming more evident. I can really appreciate now the benefits that Wolf has gained from his explorations. Travelling often has aided in Wolf’s development of the following traits:

  1. Wolf is sociable. He never went through the “nangingilala” stage of babies (stranger anxiety), wherein babies become fussy or inconsolable around strangers. He eases up to new faces quickly, and he often finds pleasure in entertaining others with his antics.
  2. Wolf is well-behaved. He can endure long trips in his car seat, and he doesn’t complain as long as he is full and rested. He is also used to eating out with us at restaurants, where he is comfortable sitting in a high chair and eating alongside us. I do not allow him any screen time while eating, and he knows how to be content enjoying the meal with us and interacting with the other diners.
  3. Wolf is healthy. He is always quick to recover from a cough or cold, and being sick does not dampen his pleasant disposition. He has never needed to be hospitalized for any illness. I believe that his regular exposure outside, combined with my willingness to breastfeed anywhere, have both played a part in toughening up his immune system.
  4. Wolf is talkative. At one year and seven months, he knows more than 60 words. Many of these are words that he was able to say when travelling. I noticed that although I introduced several of these words early on through reading to him, it was often when he would see the actual objects outside that he would learn to say the words. He learned to say “tree” when he saw trees in Tagaytay. He learned to say “meow” and “butterfly” when he saw cats and butterflies in Baguio. He learned to say “train” after riding numerous trains in Japan.
  5. Wolf is confident. Much of the time, I bring Wolf outside so that he can be where I am. At such a young age, Wolf is happiest and most reassured when he is with me and his dad. When we go out and I let Wolf lead the way, he is always excited to walk ahead, but he also looks back to make sure I’m still there. Then he smiles and toddles on boldly. He is empowered to explore, because he knows his parents are at his side, happily watching him find his stride in the world.Baby in butterfly sanctuary

I realize now that my baby’s name, Wolfgang, is so apt. His name means “travelling wolf.” Indeed, he has gone on many excursions with us, and he will definitely go on many more. Here’s to our wolf pack’s next adventure!

Family in Japan

Food

My Birthday Lunch at Le Petit Soufflé

For my dad’s treat this year for my birthday, I searched on Zomato for highly recommended restaurants that I haven’t tried. I stumbled upon Le Petit Soufflé, a French-Japanese fusion restaurant, and was suitably intrigued. At first, it may seem that merging French and Japanese cuisine is a long shot, but having been to Japan, I think it actually makes sense. Japanese bread and pastries are absolutely to die for. They use the best egg, creamiest milk, and richest butter to create wonderful baked masterpieces. I could just imagine how that passion for patisserie can flawlessly be incorporated in delicate French dishes such as soufflés.

I called to reserve at their Century City Mall branch for July 8, Sunday, which was a day before my actual birthday. Unfortunately, I found out that they do not accept reservations on weekends. We decided to walk in at 11 am, figuring that we could beat the lunch crowd. Indeed, we were the first ones there, and we were able to secure one of the few long tables. The ambience was quite nice, with warm lighting, indoor plants, and comfortable seats.

Le Petit Soufflé

My family loves to eat, and while we normally eat a lot even without an occasion, birthdays are an excuse to eat even more! Haha. We ordered Furikake Pomme Frites, Kinoko Frites, Cheesu and Matcha Puffs, Sesame Crusted Tuna Salad, Classic French Onion Soup, Classic French Toast, Squid-Ink Rice, Porc Bourguignon, Foie Gras Mac and Cheese, Japanese Beef Curry Soufflé, LPS Carbonara Soufflé, Vegetarian Shoyu Soba, Hambagu with Truffled Cream and Mushroom, Kiddie Burger, Vanilla Bean Soufflé, Valrhona Guanaja Soufflé, Cream Cheese Soufflé Pancake, and Valrhona Grand Crux. Whew! I was able to taste all those dishes, and they were all delicious! They also all looked amazing. I have pictures with each dish. While other people have their pictures taken with celebrities, I have pictures with food. Haha.

Le Petit Soufflé foodLe Petit Soufflé food

The thing about fusion cuisine is that if it’s played too safe, nothing new is created, but if it gets too adventurous, disaster abounds. Le Petit Soufflé is neither too safe nor too daring. It is fusion done right. I was really impressed by how they were able to strike the perfect balance between Japanese and French cuisine. For example, the shoyu soba, which in Japan would be served with a light water-based broth, was served with an oil-based drizzle and a variety of greens. It was a whole new dish that was flavorful, elegant, and flawlessly executed. As were all the other dishes. In particular, I found exceptional the Classic French Onion Soup, Classic French Toast, LPS Carbonara Soufflé, Hambagu with Truffled Cream and Mushroom, and Vanilla Bean Soufflé. The drink I ordered, Iced Matcha Latte with Matcha Ice Cream, was also very good.

Le Petit Soufflé shoyu soba
This was the shoyu soba. Nom nom!
Mom and baby
My blue jean baby 💙
Family at Le Petit Soufflé
Happy tummies!

THE VERDICT

Peso Damage: P800 / head (yeah yeah we ordered a lot haha)

Value for Peso: 5.0 / 5.0

Le Petit Soufflé is the first restaurant to get a perfect score from me. I just adore brunch fare, Japanese cuisine, and French cuisine, and this restaurant is a spectacular medley of all three. I have only praises for this gastronomic wonder. Eat here and be merry! Itadakimasu! Bon appetit!