Little Libra learned to pedal today. It’s even more basic than teaching her how to ride a bike. This tricycle has been in her life since she was a baby and she grew so accustomed to being pushed, she didn’t realize that she could do the pushing herself. She told me all her friends know how to bike except her. And she said it without self-pity but as a matter of fact. She didn’t think it was strange that she never figured it out or that her parents forgot to teach her. But because I am her parent and never did teach her, I dropped everything before she learns how to feel embarrassed which is what I was really feeling.

Teaching a kid to pedal is kind of like diagramming sentences. You intuitively know the parts of the sentence but you have to go through the motions of specifying each element. Personally, I learn through trial and error and observation. Soph is not a figure-it-out kind of girl, maybe because she’s so used to having things done for her before she makes a breakthrough, which is part of the reason she doesn’t have a real yaya. She has to know how to do things for herself. She’s capable and ever so trainable. Two and a half years of on and off yaya-hood already created a dependency on menial things (putting on clothes, shoes, socks, brushing her hair, packing away etc). Ultimately, it’s grown into a bad habit of being afraid to try, being afraid to fail and maybe just pure laziness. So part of my mission as a full-time mom is to teach her, coach her, believe in her and believe in myself that I can get through to her. It’s f***ing hard. (I curse at this one instance because that’s the only way to express how hard it is! )But you can’t hire anyone to make your kid competent….

Back to pedaling.

My first instinct was to push her knees so she’ll see how her legs move with the pedals. “Push with your legs!” And she did. She didn’t move. She grunted and pushed her legs and the pedals didn’t move. Then I realized pedals don’t move with your legs, they move with feet. I grabbed her feet and made them push the pedals forward.  First she used the balls of her feet to pedal but they were not developed enough to generate any strength. So we tried her heels and that was the tipping point. She made two to three full cycles and was so delighted that she couldn’t take her eyes off her seemingly magic feet. Her smile was wide and her dimples deep. It was as if she tasted victory, overcoming an age old nemesis, her own self.

And then she fell.

Her feet were pushing the pedals simultaneously and by some law of physics she toppled over. I told her that the feet need to take turns pushing. Taking one step at a time, her tricycle moved forward and closer to me.

Then she crashed into the wall.

Her eyes were on her feet not toward me. “Look at Mommy.” And she did as if posing for a picture and her eyes went back to her feet. I adjusted my instructions. “Look at where you’re going.” And somehow when her eyes had a direction, her hands followed and she steered clear of the walls.

I felt like she won Olympic Gold.

YEEESSSSS!!! With my fists clenched. High FIVE!!! The baby was hanging on my waist and I just had to put him down to stretch my arms up to the heavens. YOU DID IT!!!!


And in many ways, Soph and I are in the same bike so to speak. We’re both pedaling, inching forward, gaining momentum and falling backward every now and then. It’s taken me a while to get back here — to this space, this voice, this arena. It’s been over 6 months since my last post and over 18 months since I wrote regularly.  I have to deconstruct the act of writing all over again. I have to approach it in basics rather than this whole monster glob of guilt, doubt, fear, and failure. Read, write, edit. Repeat. One foot in front of another, eyes on the goal, head held high. My daughter teaches me in ways that she doesn’t even know.


Posted in Skills, The Mommy Psyche, Uncategorized | 10 Comments

A Christmas Toast to my Mom

This is just about the best gift I can give to my Mom — immortality!

From Smart Parenting December 2011:


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My First Cover Story

I covered Vicky Morales-Reyno for the December 2011 issue of Smart Parenting. How lucky was I to do my first cover story with such a candid, down- to-earth and practical woman. She is a beautiful person inside and out.


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The Mommy Meeting

My weekly conversation with Little Libra before I zip out for some alone time, errand time, work time, girlfriend time, or hubby time:

Little Libra: (Noticing that I’m not in my pambahay grub) Where you going Mommy?

Me: (Sounding important) Mommy meeting.

LL: (Wide-eyed) Can I come?

Me: (Tilting head, reaching out for a hug) Sorry. It’s only for mommies. Are you a mommy?

LL: (Resigned to her fate) O-k…Can I wait for you here at home?

Me: (Devious smile in my head) Ok , but only if you’re a good girl…

Introducing The Mommy Meeting…

Use as often as needed


Recommended for kids age 2 to 3.5 years who are extra clingy, inquisitive and tantrum prone. Guaranteed to get you out of the house whine-free, tear-free, hassle-free. Use as often as needed!

*Results not guaranteed for children under the age of two.

Posted in Conversations, How-To, Mom Inventions | Tagged , | 4 Comments

Crossing Bridges

Little Libra turned 3 years old, 3 days ago and she’s crossing bridges– literally. At her favorite playground, a bridge with criss crossed chains and holes big enough to slip through separate the low, boring baby slides from the high, bumpy big kid slides. When she started walking, crossing the bridge was out of the question. Then she got curious so I had to cross the bridge myself and hand hold her to the other side. Then she kind of got the hang of it and I stayed on the ground, assisting her with my hands, completely stressed that she’d slip, hit her chin and crack her lip. Until finally she saw other kids cross independently. She summed up the courage to try it on her own. Courage and confidence are different things. The courage coincided with her competitive streak. She did it but needed me an inch away to catch her. When she became confident, I could be 5 feet away and just needed me to applaud her. But today, she not only crossed the bridge, she slipped (as my heart flipped) held on and pulled herself out of trouble– all on her own, with a smile on her face. No trauma, no crying. That’s when I knew that my three year-old crossed the bridge from a baby to a big girl.

Just in time too. She’ll be an Ate in January. And I want/need her to be a role model.

So here are bridges we need to cross by the end of the year:

  1. Saying goodbye to the bottle. The doctor had advised me to start this at 2 but I didn’t have the heart. Now that a baby is coming, the distinction between herself and the little one is clear. Does she want to do things a baby does? Am I marketing to my own kid? Probably.
  2. Sharing her room. With a 3 bedroom condo with very small helper’s quarters, using the third room as a bedroom is impractical. It needs to be the multi-purpose playroom, laundry area, helper’s sleeping room. There’s a reason I made her room unisex. I wanted it to be shared and I was sure I’d get sick of a pink. So we’ll be moving her toys to the other room slowly. But she only relented when I promised I’d spruce it up a bit. So we’re adding curtains. Smart idea on her part.
  3. Easing out the night diaper. She uses one diaper a day and that is only at bedtime. I’d like to relegate her diaper budget to the baby. Again, diapers are “for babies.” She’s a big girl and can use the toilet. This is more arduous on my end. Getting up with her 2-3 times a night isn’t fun. As luck may have it, I don’t get up at all during this pregnancy. So this is the hardest bridge we have to cross and I have a feeling it’ll involve a lot of wet sheets.

But what about the bridges we’ve crossed by 3? I’m proud to say that she is:

  1. Enjoying pre-school. It took her about 2 weeks to say goodbye without crying and then 3 months to get really comfortable with her school family and let her hair down. Now she’s singing, dancing and making kwento about all our family adventures to her teachers. Sometimes she wants me to leave the classroom immediately as if there’s a secret she doesn’t want me to know about.
  2. Flowing through her morning routine. She used to hate waking up, taking a bath, dressing up, eating,. brushing her teeth, putting on her shoes and hurrying out the door. It was a chore to get her to move from one task to another. A CHORE. But after 3 months, the mornings are more peaceful and stress-free. She’s objecting less, obeying more—after some reasoning/negotiating/pleading. The real secret is relentless repetition. No change of sequence allowed. Sometimes, she’ll want to spice it up by eating before showering with a matching tantrum. But it doesn’t work. Changing the sequence is a recipe for tardiness. I had to remind myself that she can’t read time. When asked what time it is, she looks at the clock and says confidently, “Two hours.”
  3. Making friends. She’s no longer on the sidelines, looking from the outside. Her personality has blossomed! With the confidence that she has friends at school and at our building, making new ones is a snap. She usually has her props—a toy or some food, inches closer to her prospect and eventually shares. Voila! Friends!! Sometimes, she just smiles and runs circles around the kid, stops, makes eye contact and runs around again. This is her word-free way of inviting a kid to a round of habulan. (Of course, it can also be interpreted as early signs of flirting- yikes!). Or she just starts singing an unchained melody of Twinkle Twinkle-Row your Boat-Wheels on the Bus-Tomorrow, until another kid picks up on the repertoire and sings along. The girl is Putting. Herself. Out. There.

Last week, I got really sentimental that this 3rd birthday would be the last time Little Libra would be treated as a baby. Poor kid. Whether she likes it or not, she’ll be an Ate and more will be expected from her. But now that I’ve seen the milestones she has reached at 3, I think she can handle it. (Knowing her, the seniority card will be in her play book in a year’s time!) Of all the bridges we’ve crossed together since she she was born, having a new baby is by far the biggest challenge, demanding the most from her. But I feel like she’ll welcome her fiercest ally with more aplomb than I expect. I see us crossing this bridge together as a unit rather than me standing on the side waiting for her to summon the maturity. With my own big girl assistant at my side, starting all over again with an infant doesn’t seem as daunting as it should. (Fingers crossed!)

Happy 3rd Birthday my Love.  You’re officially an Ate in my eyes.

Posted in Family, The Mommy Psyche | Tagged , | 3 Comments

Made it Again!

I’m thrilled that I made it in another issue of Smart Parenting. I couldn’t have done this without all support from family, friends and of course, you. Thank you for taking the time to read my blog.

From Smart Parenting August 2011:

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My First Break…in a looooong time

I’m so thankful that Smart Parenting has section called the Mommy Diaries that allows real moms to share their own stories, sort of like tales from the battle field. Thank you to Editor-in-Chief, Mia Fausto-Cruz, for giving me my first break as a (determined to be ) serious writer. It’s been ten years since I’ve had something published and my first as mother.

From Smart Parenting July 2011:


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Luvin’ La Luz

Top 10 Things We Loved about La Luz Resort:

1. Beautiful blue waters just 2 hours away from Manila

La Luz view

Pure blue waters

raft anchored in the water

The raft was perfect for sunbathing

La Luz view

No escaping the blue waters

toddler with sunglasses

Don't forget your shades!

2. The constant breeze -  couldn’t. stop. falling. asleep.

favorite hair do

The pig tails were flying around like flags on a pole

3. Starry starry nights – We were lucky that weekend – the sky was a canvass and God painted a kajillion stars

toddler playing with shadows
Couldn’t capture the stars… But Little Libra officially met her shadow for the first time on that starry night.

4. No TV or swimming pool -so lots of time for puzzles, books and beach play. The beach is pebbley so aqua shoes are a must for the little ones.

puzzles at the beach

The beach and puzzle combo. Who would have thought she'd be more patient with puzzles at the beach?

toddler life vest

Mini life vest = Major peace of mind!

sand playing and aqua shoes

Don't leave home without aqua shoes! Got these at SM for just P250.

5. Pets allowed – Little Libra met a beagle named Gustav. She thought if she fawned over him enough, she could take him home–like the way she got Cocoa.

Gustav the beagle

First meeting

dinner with gustave the beagle

Dinner Date. Chaperoned of course.

gustav the beagle gets the biggest smiles from toddler

I hope this is not a precedent for the boys in her future.

6. No fuss meals – There are 4 four buffet meals all day so you don’t need to worry about food. Personally, I don’t like thinking about my food all the time so I was happy to just eat what’s there –and it’s abundant. Plus, kids under 7 years old eat for free!

7. Free wi-fi -So we still get to read the news, catch up on emails and check facebook. But La Luz is really the best place to read and doze. Time is deliciously slow.

8. Simple but complete accommodations  – There’s a separate toilet and shower, strong water pressure, hot water, thoughtful storage compartments, strong aircon, and clean white linens. Works for me!

9. Easy road trip – I’ve grown to prefer road trips with Little Libra to avoid hassles with airports and luggage limitations.  I also like the idea of flexible departure times as opposed to chasing flight schedules. And not having to spend extra airfare for yaya is a huge plus.

10. Mommy came home relaxed and rejuvenated – Traveling with my toddler is not always a vacation for me but this one was!

We are definitely going back.

toddler in tunic

Cheers! See you at La Luz!

Thanks to Tita Tet and Tito Jason for a wonderful time and the gorgeous photos:)





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Dad: How old are you?

LL: Two!.. How old is Mommy?

Dad: Thirty-two.

LL: Like me!!

Dad: No. Thirty….Two

She runs to me in the room.

LL: Cheers Mommy!

For the next couple of years, my daughter will  think we’re the same age. When do they learn to count to thirty?




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Zoobic Safari

We had a fantastic time at Zoobic Safari last weekend. It has been about four years since my last visit, our first time with Little Libra. Check it out with your kiddies before the summer ends!

Zoo at Subic

Zoobic is new and improved!

sagfari animals

These are just some of the animals you'll meet inside


Welcomed by Daddy's alter ego

camels from Australia

Feeding the camels from Australia...

bearcats from Palawan

and the bearcats from Palawan. These guys smell like pandan and freshly popped popcorn.

hungry baby goat being by bottle

This kid was hungry!

crocodiles at Zoobic

The crocodiles fighting over the chicken.

a hundred crocodiles at Zoobic


I go loco over this croco

I go loco over this croco. I wonder what the croco in the toilet concept is all about!?

Deer antlers

I fell in love with the antlers. You can tell the age by the number of horns they have.

We skipped the savannah with the ostriches and the jeepney ride feeding the tigers. I don’t think a two year old could handle seeing a tiger fighting for food thisclose. She was pretty shocked when we took these shots:

tiger at zoobic

This tiger was about 9 feet away from us.

tiger being fed a bottle of milk

I think her face says it all. Fascinated more than frightened.

Have fun!




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