ABCs of my life

My Dearest Alessandra,

As I write down this blog entry, there are only a few minutes left before you turn 1.  I don’t know where the months went by, I can still remember vividly how surprised your Daddy and I were upon learning I was pregnant with you.  You see anak, Papa Billy just passed away at the time you were concieved.  We were about to commemorate his first month of passing when I took the pregnancy test and got the good news.  Everyone thought you were going to be a boy.  That’s why at first we named you Sierra, that was his other name.  But Papa made me realized through a dream that I shouldn’t pattern you after him, it would not be fair to you.  So we changed it to Essa when you were about 4 months.

 

When I was about to give birth to you, I was in labor for almost 21 hours (14 hours without epidural anak, I love you that much!), the doctor had a hard time bringing you down.  The popped my water bag already and you still didn’t want to come out, I thought I was going to deliver you by CS.  Your Ninang Jeng prayed with me at the Lamaze Room, and an hour after that, I gave birth to you.  Exactly 6:16pm, I heard the most wonderful cry.  Alessandra Bibit Capilos was born.  Daddy Jelson was so brave. He watched while you were being cleaned (although he really wanted to get mad at the nurses because he thought that you were not handled with care.  I was determined to give you everything I was not able to give Ate Stacey and that included breastfeeding (you have not tasted any formula since day 1).  Less than 6 hours after giving birth to you, I was already at the nursery trying to feed you.  Up until this very day, I am still nursing you and I intend to do so until I no longer have milk to provide you.

 

As you grew older, I see beautiful changes.  You are such a charmer.  You give us sweet smiles as you wake up each morning.  We see how independent you can be when it comes to learning.  You prefer flipping the pages of the book by yourself than reading them to you, discovering how things work than teaching them to you is a treat for you.  The smile you give each time you accomplish something on your own is priceless.

 

You have such a strong personality.  You make sure that even if you can’t really say the words yet, you “talk” (but most of the time you shout) to tell us what you want.  You follow instructions quickly.  It was amazing that at 7- 8 months, you can already follow 3-4 successive different instructions (simple ones like raise your hands up, clap, beautiful eyes, and bob your head).

 

I can probably go on and on about the great things I witnessed during your first year, and tomorrow, I’ll be adding another great entry to my memory.

 

We love you Essa.  Thank you for being our blessing.

Alessandra "Essa" Bibit Capilos

 

Today I visited GMA. It was my first time to visit there again with my two girls in tow (like I said, I never go anywhere without them).  Going back there felt like I never left it.  Only the expansion and new designs of the buildings brought me back that it has been more than 2 years since I was last there.

It was nice to show my kids (well mostly Stacey since Essa was asleep when we arrived) where I used to work.  I reminisced with Jelson how I used to walk up and down the stairs when the elevator lines are too long (which by the way, they still are), or how I missed dressing up and working up those heels, or the friendly feel of knowing someone wherever you go (Post is the biggest department, they now occupy 3 floors!).  As I walked around the familiar corridors, I felt like I was being transported at a time when I had less worries.  I remember those days when work was much easier to handle and the thought of where to have lunch excites you.  Oh how I missed my life then…

But after our meeting with my former bosses, I was informed that my baby was crying.  So I rushed out to the 5th floor lobby to find a pitiful looking Essa and a bored Stacey waiting for my hug.  And then suddenly, my life then was so far from me again and I am reminded of how blessed I am to be with the girls all the time 🙂

You make it all worth it 🙂

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Before getting married and having kids, Jelson and I agreed on a certain thing— hands-on parenting.  We knew that at least one of us has to give up going out of the house to work.  Thank God for Jelson’s very flexible schedule (horray for teaching college!) and I really don’t end up alone doing it everyday.

Today I got a call from a family friend whom I haven’t spoken to in a long while.  She asked how I was doing, about my family, and about work.  When I told her I was a stay-at-home mom, the immediate response was “so wala kang ginagawa?” (you’re not doing anything?).  I really find it offensive when people think that just because you stay at home and supervise the kids, you’re “not doing anything”.   But for the record, I do have work.

What is with this misconception that staying at home equals doing nothing?  Okay, let me walk you through my day.

1.  I stay up until about 1-2am for my virtual work.  My company is based in the Netherlands and have been with them for 3 years.

2.  I wake up at about 6am to prepare our breakfast and hopefully make some lunch for Jelson too (if he has a morning schedule for his other work).

3.  By 7am, I wake up the girls, have breakfast with them and prepare them for Stacey’s  morning class.  Stacey has summer classes, and of course this will be our schedule already starting June.

4. Before 8am, we leave the house and I put out the food to be cooked from the feezer to thaw.

5.  Stacey’s class is 8-10am, and basically, I stay in school with Essa.  While waiting, I nurse and put Essa to sleep.  Once she is already asleep, I do some notes on my tickler for things to be done with our business and if Jelson is with me, we get to discuss about our business.

6.  Leave the school at 10am and cook lunch by the time we get home.

7.  Feed the girls, deal with Stacey’s tantrums, and Essa’s impatience at the dining table— alone.

8.  Give them a bath and shower, with the hope that I could all do these in time for their 12:30pm nap.  This is my favorite because I finally get some rest, too.

9.  3pm, after waking up from their nap, we have snacks and playtime.  An hour and a half of play later, I prepare for dinner.

10. By the time I finish cooking dinner, Jelson will have been home (Thank you Lord Jesus!) and I get to have a little rest to check my emails.

11. 6:30-7:30pm is dinner time and after which, Jelson and I take turns giving the girls their sponge bath.

12.8:30pm bedtime story and put the girls to sleep.

13. 10pm clock in for work and stay up again till morning.

14. Repeat step 1.

Sometimes I really do wish it was true that I am not doing anything— maybe then, I’d be able to finally get a haircut, sleep until 12nn, or even watch a movie… But hey, we stay-at-home moms just have all the time in the world, don’t we? 🙂

Do you often get a “NO!”  response from your child?  Ever had to deal with crying and bawling at home or even in public?  Do you shout to reprimand your child until you can feel the veins on your neck popping out?  Then welcome to the world of parenting a two-year-old and above child, or what we call the “Terrible Twos”.

According to Erik Erikson (yes, I can still remember some from my Theories of Personality subject in college;  plus, my sister gave me a copy of Erikson’s psychological development stages), the age of 2- 3 years old, the age when the “Terrible Twos” start, our children are going through a Psychosocial crisis of Autonomy vs. Shame & Doubt.  They are trying to develop their independence that’s why more often than not, they choose to do things on their own. So the tantrums are not really just some random thing that they do just to push us to our limits 😉

I’m probably not alone here because most parents, especially those who stay with their kids the whole day, have to deal with this as soon as their child hits the challenging toddler years.  And I was so crazy to be excited when our daughter became a toddler.  So, what do we do (oh how I wish I could say “did” and be done with it) when we are attacked by these vicious and recurring tantrums?

1.  Shouting child vs shouting parent

–  If there is one thing I have learned so far from this age, a shouting parent will not go anywhere near resolving the issue when the child is already shouting.  Yelling will only worsen the situation.  I remember we were at the poolside of Marriott and Stacey started screaming because she didn’t want to go up yet.  Calmly I tried to stop her but she wouldn’t and just continued with it.  People started looking at us and in my rush to stop her, I raised my voice and that’s when she cried all the more.  It’s hard to contain emotions, but you will have to learn also how to try and be calm when your child is already frantic.

2.  Timeout/ Corner/ Face the wall

– Going to the corner or facing the wall is a “Timeout” for your child.  This time away from you will eventually calm down your child.  I use this when I know that I can’t keep my cool with my daughter.  Rather than shout back, I tell her to face the wall to think about what she did.  This also gives me time to compose myself and calm down too.

3. Ignore/ Cry it out

– Ignoring your child’s tantrums (best done at home so that you don’t have to deal with those annoying stares) and wails will help him/her realize that crying does not get to you.  As my mom always says, “Mapapagod din yan (They will eventually get tired)”.  Let your child cry out her frustration.  Some find it terrible that I do not immediately pacify my daughter when she cries but just like us, kids need some space too.  But please make sure you do not let your child cry nonstop for more than 10 minutes.  Otherwise, someone might report you to Bantay Bata (that’s an organization for abused children).

4.  Ask and Let them Realize

– This is a little harder to do with toddlers who are not yet talking.  But one thing I have noticed is that telling them what to do makes them do the exact opposite.  Dictation for them means not being able to do what they want.  So, turning it around, I ask “Is that right?” or “Are you supposed to do that?”.  This way, you are not really imposing on your child but letting them think and realize what they have done.  If you get an answer that you are not looking for, ask further “Why do you say that?”.   How they answer will give you a view on how your child looks at things.

5.  Consequences

– I always tell my eldest daughter that everytime she repeats an action that we have already reprimanded her about, there will be consequences.  For instance, we tell her not to play with the plates and utensils on the table (playtime sure does not end even at the table, right?) because she might poke her eye with the fork or might break something.  If we catch her again doing it, we will ask her to leave the table and come back when she is ready to follow.  Consequences will be viewed by your child as threats only when you do it.  So don’t give consequences to actions that are too harsh and you can’t mean.  Otherwise, your child would think that it won’t happen and would just continue with it.

I didn’t include spanking because I still believe that should be the last option.  I spanked my daughter before but explained why.  They have to understand that the act of hitting was not a random act of meanness but a consequence to their action.

Kids are like us too.  They are thrust in complex situations that can be too overwhelming that’s why they do and say things that tick us.  Sometimes, I still have difficulty dealing with Stacey’s tantrums and mood swings.  That  I just want to shout it out and be in control of things.  But every time I hear a sincere “I’m sorry Mommy” from her, I melt and whisper a prayer to God “Please, less tantrums tomorrow than today” 🙂

The day has finally arrived when Stacey goes to school.  And how did I deal with it?

Staceys school supplies

We excitedly prepared and bought everything on the list provided by the school.  I can’t believe we were buying school supplies to be used by our child in school.  It didn’t sink in that much apart for my random bursts of “I think I’m going to cry” (and not because of the prices of the items).  Still didn’t sink in much when I was labelling each crayon/oil pastel/markers (yes, individually labelled).  Not even when we placed all the things inside her bags, because I even had time to take pictures.  It was only when I finally prepared her pillow, extra clothes, and slippers did it finally hit me that I am going to entrust my child for 2 whole hours to another person other than a relative.  Then I cried.  Hopefully at school I don’t have to deal with tears anymore.

My little schoolgirl ready to go

Today was her first day and she woke up really early.  She was giddy about going to school.  Probably also because her cousin Ate Moira will be with us when we bring her to school.  Thank God we were running late (although we woke up early, I had to feed, bathe, and clothe 2 kids plus myself. oh joy!) so we only had time for quick pictures and no more crying from me.

As we entered The Growing Place.  I could already hear wailing kids asking for their mommies/ daddies.  I was afraid Stacey would be one of them.  But my brave girl followed her teacher without hesitation.  I was even able to take a quick picture of her inside the class.  And when she saw us from the side when she went out to play in the tree house with her classmates, she waved at us so proudly and shouted “Ate Moira, Mommy, I’m sliding with my classmates!”.

When they were dismissed from class, Teacher Rachel told me that Stacey was so good because she followed directions, read three books, cried only once when she wanted to play instead of eat, and finished her snack first.  Indeed, my little girl likes the new environment and is adjusting just fine.

Mommy and Stacey

This afternoon, before putting Stacey to sleep, I asked her for the nth time if she enjoyed school.  I was starting to feel a bit lonely that she didn’t seem to look for me at all.  Although it is great that we didn’t have to go through the bawling, still there is a tugging feeling inside me that made me sad because she adjusted immediately. I’m a crazy mom.  So, I went again “Stacey, did you have fun in school today?”  She looked up to me from the bed and said “Yes mom.” I was about to turn back and nurse Essa when she said, “I missed you inside the school Mommy” and that was all that I needed.

Stacey may be a little schoolgirl now, but she will always come home to me as my baby.

My daughter’s such a drama queen 🙂

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My happy baby "Essa"

Today my little Essa turns 9 months.  As each month passes on to her first year, I can’t help but look back on how much she has grown and how much I wish I could have given more.

Being the second child, Essa has to learn about “sharing” at an early age.  She shares toys, clothes, and most of all, our time, with her sister.  Try as I may to be fair and provide her with the same quality and quantity of attention that I was able to give Stacey, it’s hard.  Unlike when Stacey was a baby, I was able to focus taking care of my eldest and attend to all her needs.  Now that I have two kids, giving similar care to Essa has proven to be a challenge.  Apart from sharing with her sister for my attention, Essa also has to deal with our “take the kids with us” activities.  This means disrupted sleeping patterns, new environment, and a lot of exposure to dust/ bacteria and other OC moms like me worry when outside.  Thank goodness I do my work (and blogging) when she’s already asleep and she doesn’t have to contend with that.  Essa is such a trooper and would be all smiles even after a long day.

Essa is a very active baby.  Posing for the camera comes naturally to her.  She also gets excited exploring new toys and books.  Nursery rhymes and songs give her delight that she claps and bobs her head to the beat.  She’s also a hearty eater like her Ate.   She eats 3 meals and a snack  everyday with mommy’s milk :).  I  enjoy nursing her.  She doesn’t like bottle feeding so whatever bruises I get from her two new teeth, I just have to endure the pain.  After all, when the time comes that she’ll have cow’s milk, I might have separation anxiety too.

Looking at her as she sleeps, I wish I could have done more for her.  Read her more books, teach her more songs, or cuddle her until she sleeps.  She’s growing up so fast and all I can do for now is make the most of our “shared time” together.

Happy 9th month my Essa. I love you always 🙂

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