Our Favorite Books for Early Readers

I love reading to Wolf. All the research shows that reading with young children is the best way to develop their brains, and it’s truly amazing to actually witness the truth to that claim with my son. It’s especially apparent that Wolf absorbs best through books, because he’s an auditory learner. At this point, he’s memorized many of his books, and sometimes he reads aloud by himself or to me. He also likes referring to his books when he makes connections in real life. I’ve noticed that some books have stood out and are particularly memorable to him, and these are also the ones that were quite engaging. I enjoy reading them (almost) as much as Wolf does. Of course, after the nth time reading it, it’s not as fun for me, but kids love hearing the same stories over and over. It really helps when the books are well-written so adults don’t find the repetition too draining, and so children learn how to appreciate and tell good stories! So for parents on the lookout for good books for your babies and toddlers, these are what we highly recommend:

Chu’s Day by Neil Gaiman
Illustrated by Adam Rex

This was Wolf’s absolute favorite book as a baby. Even if he didn’t really talk yet, he loved listening to the words and looking at the richly illustrated scenes. And he would laugh over and over every time Chu the panda would feel like sneezing.

The Tooth Book by Dr. Seuss
Illustrated by Joe Mathieu

Wolf brushes his teeth at least twice a day. If we’re at home, he brushes after each meal. I don’t struggle to brush his teeth, because he knows through this book that brushing is good for our teeth, unless we want to end up like “Billy Billings, whose teeth have fifty fillings!” This book is wonderful, as most if not all Dr. Seuss books are, but it stands out especially to me because it makes my life so much easier. No toothbrush tantrums from this kid!

Ladybird Favourite Stories
Retold by Mandy Archer
Various Illustrators

I have nothing but praise for the way Ladybird books are written. The descriptions are so rich and vivid, and the plot flow is paced just right for young readers. The illustrations are also tasteful and cheery. This particular collection contains popular tales, such as Jack and the Beanstalk, The Pied Piper of Hamelin, and The Three Little Pigs.

The Missing Blanket by Cheeno Marie Sayuno
Illustrated by Tristan Yuvienco

This is a beautiful story about love and loss. It’s also a great way to acquaint kids with our country’s weaving culture. Because of this book, Wolf, at 2 years old, was able to grasp somewhat the concept of death’s permanence and impact. I know this because after reading this book (where the mother gets sick and dies), I got sick, and Wolf told me, “If you get sick, you can go to the hospital. I will not see you. But you will not die. You will get better. Then I will see you again.”

The impact of books on Wolf’s development is truly astounding. He absorbs new words and concepts almost immediately. He adopts positive traits that he sees in the characters in the stories, values such as patience and concern for others. I noticed that his sentence construction is also improving due to my reading to him. His sentences are getting longer and more complex. There’s a whole myriad of benefits to reading with kids, and I’m so fortunate I can do this for Wolf so often. We love discovering great books, so please hit us up with your own favorites!

Siren

A siren is a signal
There is a need greater than yours
A siren is a warning
Surrender or see blood on your hands

A siren is a temptress
Sweet final serenade
She will lure you
to the darkest pockets of ocean
Her soul lies at the bottom
Play deaf to her calls
she doesn’t need you
to drown herself

beach shoreline

On Motherhood and Success

Mom and baby swimming

Last weekend, we went swimming. I enjoyed looking at our pictures, because it was evident that I am already close to losing all the baby weight, which is one of my personal goals. One of my big fears when I was pregnant was that I wouldn’t be able to lose the extra pounds after giving birth. When I was younger, I used to be so naive, thinking that the best way to solve problems was to play it safe and try to avoid encountering those problems in the first place. Thus, I thought that to avoid getting fat, I would just never get pregnant.

I thought I would never get married or have kids. I wanted to climb the corporate ladder, earn a lot, and never get frumpy. Studying in an all-girls high school, I was taught that girls could be trailblazers in their careers. It was also implied that getting married and having kids were not goals worthy of an educated woman. Of course, they remained desirable aims, but it was not enough to be a housewife or mother. You had to work as well, because… women should be able to do it all!

At school, you learn that most in middle-class society expect mothers to work and take care of the household. No one ever tells you that managing a household is a full-time job in itself. There are no promotions, hefty bonuses, or awards for years of service. There are no fancy titles or corner offices. And without any extra help, it will take up all of your time and make having a corporate position impossible. Two years ago, I was forced to resign from a job I liked, trading foreign exchange at a bank. I had no one who could help me take care of my newborn son. And so from full-time banker, I became a full-time mother.

With my new position, I was on call round-the-clock. Bonuses were frequent but in kind—hugs and kisses throughout the day—honestly, the best kind of bonus ever. Automatic tenure made this position very secure. However, the only chance of promotion involved constant power struggles between the real boss (me) and the boss baby. Two years in, I don’t know if my superiority will ever be fully acknowledged.

Ever since I became a mom, I have begun to base my life choices on what I believe is best for my family. I refuse to equate staying home with a child with less income. On the contrary, I believe having a child should inspire us to find multiple income sources and opportunities for passive income. I was a banker, but it was actually when I assumed the job title of mother that I became more motivated to grow our wealth. I am happy to say that in that aspect, we have taken concrete steps that I perhaps wouldn’t have taken this early on without the pressure of having a dependent.

If back in high school, I used to define success as climbing the corporate ladder, now, becoming a mother has changed that. Success for me now is having the free time to do the things you truly want to do. Success is being able to work smart instead of work hard. Success is spending a quarter of your day on work, and the rest on quality time with loved ones. Success is having your money work for you and not the other way around.

Swimming

Raising a human being is truly a difficult job, and I am incredibly lucky to be able to do it full-time. Every day, my baby boy looks up to me. Every day, I hope I am doing right by him, helping him become a good person.

Children are incredibly perceptive. They learn from what we say, but even more from what we do. If there is one trait I want my son to admire in me, it’s ambition. It was difficult for me to shed all the baby weight, but I set a goal, and I am almost there. I want my son to look at me and see a person comfortable and confident in her own skin. It was heartbreaking for me to give up corporate life, but I found other sources of income, and I will find more down the road. I want my son to understand that his parents will always seek ways and means for the family to live life to the fullest.

Postpartum mom weight loss

At one of my lowest points last year, I broke down alone, feeling cheated by fate and utterly worthless. Then I thought of my son, fought against the hopelessness, and took action. I was extremely vulnerable, but I would willingly expose myself to that productive pain over and over again, for our future. I want my son to look at how our family stares down defeat, ala Arya Stark, and says, “Not today.”

Life’s setbacks make the ambitious even more resourceful. I hope that I can set a good example, so that my son finds fulfillment in constantly growing and learning. Becoming a mother taught me that while life will throw so many obstacles our way, facing them head on is what will make us stronger and wiser. I hope that my son becomes successful, and by this, I mean fulfilled with anything he sets his heart on—whether it be advanced degrees, fatherhood, business, and/or advocacy work. I hope he grows up realizing that success comes in many forms—some are bright and flashy, whereas others are unassuming and steadfast. I hope he sees and celebrates those many forms achieved by himself and others. And I hope he can look at his mom one day and say, “I learned so much from her. She inspires me to grow constantly.” That, for me, would be the ultimate success.

Mom and baby swimming

Happy Mom’s Day, super moms! 🤱🏻 How has motherhood changed your idea of success? ❤️

#motherhood #success #work #grind #money #passion #business #momlife #mommy #parenting #family #postpartum #weightloss #stretchmarks #mombod

A Response to All the Excess Baggage

I previously posted this on Facebook, but I’ve decided to post it also here.

It has just recently come to my attention that my ex (hereon referred to as “X”) has been talking about me on YouTube and in an online blog in an extremely unfavourable manner. I am far from faultless (and I’ve long apologized for the pain I caused), but I do know that many of the things X has said are far from the truth. We share many common friends, classmates, and even teachers, and so in the interest of airing my side, I would just like to respond to certain things that X has claimed about me.

  1. X claims I taught X how to smoke and drink. For the record, I never pressured X into doing any of those things. I never even suggested X try them.
  2. X claims I was extremely selfish. Definitely, I was not perfect. But I was generous in the ways I knew how. I spent all my money on X, especially when X ran away from home. I spent all my free time with X and gave gifts often. Not used to being showered with affection, X always (consciously or not) reciprocated by trying to do even more, bending over backwards to cater to me to the point that it became unhealthy.
  3. X paints me as materialistic, asking for new items like clothes even when X’s budget was tight. I never requested new things from X. X was the one who insisted on buying me things even when it was difficult to afford them. X was not that good in managing money, but I never pressured X into spending for any of my wants.
  4. X claims my own sisters said X deserved better than me. As I have confirmed with them, they did not say that.
  5. X claims I blamed X for everything that would go wrong. This is not true. I vented out often to X, as is normal in relationships. I sought emotional support. What we were not aware of then was X’s mental illness. It was only after things ended that X was diagnosed with anxiety and depression. These conditions may have been a big factor in X getting so affected when I was in a bad mood. X spent four years trying to be the main caregiver in the relationship, when actually, it was X’s own self and mind that needed the most care.

I am not trained in psychology, and so I do not know if X’s decision to publicly share the details of our relationship and my supposed wicked character is actually helpful in the healing process. It’s been almost 10 years, an awfully long time to dig up the past and one’s own version of events. I have my fair share of dirt on X as well, but let me try to be the bigger person and not reveal it in retaliation. This post’s purpose is only to clear my name, not drag X’s name down too. I just hope that those in our common circles that come across X’s account are able to find out my side as well.

Guys, I may be far from perfect, but come on, I’m not evil. Haha. I’m portrayed as one demon in X’s life, but it’s been so long that I can’t help but feel that the real demons are all in X’s mind. So here’s to hoping X finds peace.

And now… for the hashtags! (I could think of many really great but kind of mean ones, but… bigger person. Bigger person. I am the bigger person. Haha). Friends are welcome though to be mean on my behalf. Hahaha.

#xfiles #xcessbaggage #publicdisplayofaffliction #maturity #mentalhealth #depression

Fitbit Charge 3: One Month Progress Update

Last month, Casey and I bought Fitbits so that we could begin tracking our daily activity with the goal of leading a less sedentary lifestyle. After one month of daily use, I am happy to report that we have achieved visible results. While we made use of all the tracker’s features, the extent varied according to which features were more helpful to our individual situations. Casey used the heart rate monitor and step counter to help him get effective run sessions and ensure he reached 10,000 daily steps. I made extensive use of the food log and heart rate monitor to aid me in losing weight and ensuring my walks burned a respectable number of calories, which to me is just a modest minimum of 100 calories per session, as I bring Wolf with me on my walks.

Mom and baby exercise

It is quite challenging to get some decent exercise in with a toddler that tires easily and stops to look at every single thing on the road, but I figured out a way to keep my heart rate up during our walks. I jog in place for most of the time. It definitely makes me look silly, but I believe the results are worth it! Haha.

Just for comparison, here is a picture from my boudoir shoot last year, back when I was completely sedentary, placed beside my most recent picture taken the other day.

Before and after one month fitbit use

And this is my most recent front-facing picture. It’s amazing how there is already a noticeable difference in my body just after one month of light daily exercise of 20-30 minutes and food logging.

Mom weight loss one month

After one month of round-the-clock use of the Fitbit Charge 3, Casey lost 1.5 kg, while I lost 1.6 kg.

Dad weight loss
Casey’s weight loss after one month
Mom weight loss
My weight loss after one month

We didn’t do any extreme diets or strenuous gym workouts, just mindful eating and jogging around the village. Baby steps! We are not aiming to lose weight rapidly, because what is more important to us is being able to live a healthier lifestyle for the long term. Here’s to our continuous progress!

Mom weight loss after one month