Wolf at 18 Months

Wolf turns 1 and 1/2 years old today, and he has become so interesting to observe! He toddles around really fast, he can identify more than ten parts of his body, he can catch a ball, and he voraciously eats almost any food we offer!

Baby in high chair

One of the things I am most happy about is his growing vocabulary. He now knows how to say more than 20 words. I have always been frustrated that my parents have no idea what my first words were (chalk it up to my being the second child?), and so I have made it a point to list down Wolf’s first words. I even made a video compilation. Haha.

Baby riding carBaby wearing Batman shirt

To further ensure that I have his first words on file, I will list them down here as well. Haha. Presenting… in order of appearance… Wolf’s First Words! 🙂

  1. Mama
  2. Papa
  3. Banana
  4. Bath
  5. Button
  6. Batman
  7. Puffs
  8. Ball
  9. Ice cream
  10. Star
  11. Car
  12. Backpack
  13. Chair
  14. Shoes
  15. Tita
  16. Train
  17. Ball
  18. One
  19. Two
  20. Three
  21. Ninang
  22. Hi
  23. Bye

Still Life

Who am i
a one-legged soldier drafted for war
facing bullets without needing worn-out sympathy
eyes shut waiting for sweet release

Where am i
alone in an untrodden forest
drawn to dreams of rabbitholes that lead nowhere
waking up trapped in skin
that sags from pretending

What am i
just a pebble that makes no ripples
when sacrificed to the pond
or a twig that makes no sound
when crushed under a weary foot

Mommy Brains are Not Dull Brains

Recently, a relative asked me when I plan on returning to work. I said that Casey and I haven’t really discussed a timeline, especially since we have not had a helper stay long enough for me to consider working full-time again. He then said that I haven’t worked for so long, and I might go stale. A few days later, a friend asked me if I experienced mommy brain. I asked her to clarify what that meant, and she said it’s when new moms become so overwhelmed with taking care of their babies that they lose touch with the world, and their brain deteriorates somewhat. I just looked at her and said, no, I’ve never experienced that, but deep inside I felt offended. Both instances revealed to me a condescension toward stay-at-home parents.

Child care has been undervalued for centuries, and sadly, it remains so to this day. I know a lot of people would still say that taking care of a child is not as mentally stimulating as being part of the work force. This notion is deeply ingrained yet sadly misinformed. It continues to be perpetuated by people who may not have had enough experience on both sides of the fence. Speaking as someone who has experienced both, I have several rebuttals to the idea that child-rearing is a mental walk in the park compared with corporate life.

  1. Many full-time jobs entail long hours of being idle. In the eight hours of work at the office, a good chunk is not actually spent being productive. I know that this is true for many in the corporate world. Now you may be thinking that staying at home with a child involves a lot of idle time as well. It could be so, but that would depend on the stay-at-home parent. At home, you don’t have a boss hovering over your shoulder to check that you’re doing office-related things, and so free time can be truly productive. When my baby is asleep, I often use the time to read, write, or trade stocks. Or sometimes I nap beside my baby, which is very productive as well.
  2. Many full-time jobs are unavoidably routinary. Daily tasks remain essentially the same, to the point that people merely go through the motions at work, and most actions become almost automatic. When you’re so used to doing certain tasks, your brain does not get that effective a workout. The same can be said for housework, but like I mentioned earlier, the amount of mental stimulation one can get varies depending on how much one actively seeks it. This actually holds true whether you have full-time office work or stay at home. The difference is that arguably, you have more leeway to plan your day at home, and so if you wish, staying at home can open up more opportunities to sharpen your mind.
  3. Raising a child involves a lot of brain activity. Meal planning, creative storytelling, singing and dancing, exploring—these sound fun and easy, but they require resourcefulness, innovation, patience, and discipline, which are high-level mental and emotional exercises. “Mommy brains” are not dull brains. They are brains that are challenged every day by their boss babies. Can’t take my word for it? Science is on my side.

Mommy and baby at Kidzooona

To be clear, I’m not saying that being a stay-at-home parent is more mentally challenging than having a full-time office job. I’m just saying that both roles can be mentally challenging, and that assuming that staying at home with the kids equals rotting brain cells is wrong. For those who think being a mommy doesn’t exercise the brain, well, just imagine taking care of a human other than yourself, and on top of that, realize that the human cannot even make his needs known directly.

Feeding a toddler

Take meal time, for example. You’re not a mom. You’re hungry, and so you eat a Subway sandwich, which is what you felt like eating. The end. Meal time is simple and requires minimal mental effort. Compare this to if you are a mom. You’re hungry. Your baby is hungry. You make him a sandwich. He eats a bit then starts spitting it out. You ask him if he wants a banana. He says “nana” and so you peel a banana. He takes a bite, spits it out, spreads mush on the table and smiles at his work of art. He then bounces up and down, grunting, and you realize he needs to poop. So you wait for him to poop, clean him up, then offer chicken and rice, which is what he wanted after all, but how would you know? Chicken is hard to say! Finally, an hour later, you get to eat his leftovers, which are not what you wanted but are all you have time and energy left to eat. On the bright side, at least you got to eat. Haha.

Also, take note that my experience is just the tip of the iceberg. I can only imagine how my brain will be tested once Wolf learns how to answer back!

I hope this post can help others better appreciate the value and challenge of parenthood. I don’t know if I will ever return to a regular office job, but even if I don’t, please realize that my mommy brain will remain in tip-top shape, thank you very much!

Mommy and baby at Kidzooona

Beating the Heat with a Vornado Air Circulator!

Many people love to be around babies, but if you’re taking care of one night and day, it can get boring, especially in the early months. At first, they really aren’t capable of doing much. Sleep, eat, poo, pee, drool, burp, repeat. But as they get older, they begin to pick up more skills, and observing their development is fascinating.

Since Wolf turned a year old, he has been hitting new and more exciting milestones. One of my favorites is how he has learned to recognize songs by just their tune. Previously, I would always sing “I’m a Little Teapot” and he would do the actions, but one day, as I was merely humming the tune, he recognized it and did the actions. I then tested him by humming other songs, and he recognized them as well, doing the corresponding actions for every song. I found this particularly amazing, because I never actively sought to make him recognize and differentiate tunes. He is absorbing so much more than I realize!

At this stage, Wolf is also beginning to show snippets of his personality. So far, he has been quite a sociable baby, deriving pleasure from entertaining both familiar people and strangers. However, he is particularly averse to boisterous behavior, and has often cried when people near him laugh too loudly. He is always quick to recover from crying, and he is generally very mild-mannered. He loves to explore and test limits by purposefully going where he knows he’s not allowed. That naughty streak is all part and parcel of toddler life, and so I would usually take it in stride. However, recently, he took interest in constantly attempting to stick his fingers in between the grills of our stand fan! We could not be lax about this. We covered the fan with a net, but that was not the end of our fan woes. The other day, he managed to tip the whole fan over, and thank God no one but the fan was harmed! I was just a meter away from him when it happened. I never took my eyes off him, but he did it so fast that I had no time to react. And he was only going to get faster at doing it. So we took the stand fan out and brainstormed possible solutions.

We came up with three options: a bladeless fan, a ceiling/wall fan, or a desk fan. The bladeless fan I decided was too expensive (around P20,000 for the entry level ones at True Value). I didn’t want to get the cheap ones being sold online as they probably are not powerful enough and won’t last long. On the other hand, a fan to be mounted on the wall or ceiling would pose a hazard in case of an earthquake. That left us with the option of getting a desk fan. Casey’s concern with a desk fan was that they are usually not that powerful. Is there such a thing as a desk fan powerful enough to keep my sweaty baby comfortable in this summer heat? Apparently, there is!

We decided to get the Vornado 633 Air Circulator. At around P4,000 for the mid-size model, it’s not cheap, but it’s definitely cheaper than a dreaded trip to the emergency room! So what makes the Vornado fans so special? Unlike regular fans with airflow limited to the direction they’re facing, Vornado circulators create powerful and constant airflow in all areas of the room. The Vornado 633 was the ideal fan for us, because:

  1. It could fit on our desk in the corner, away from our curious toddler’s path of destruction.
  2. The grill design is safer than that of regular fans, because there are less areas for little fingers to fall through.
  3. Whole room circulation meant that Wolf could walk around the room as he pleased, and air would still reach him.

Vornado 633 Air Circulator Vornado 633 Air Circulator

I find that our Vornado works best circulating cooled air. I turn on the air conditioner together with the Vornado, and then after half an hour, I switch off the air conditioner, and the Vornado does a good job keeping the room cool for several hours after. As I type this, it’s nearing lunch time. It has been three hours since I switched off the air conditioner. Wolf is on one side while I am on the opposite side of the room, and we are both feeling a constant breeze from the Vornado. It’s May 2, right smack in the middle of summer in this tropical country, we have just a fan on, and yet neither of us are sweating. Now, how cool is that? 😎

Vornado 633 Air Circulator Vornado 633 Air Circulator Vornado 633 Air Circulator Vornado 633 Air Circulator

Me Love Cookie Jar Milkshaaake!

I love cookies, and I love milkshakes, but seldom have I come across a cookie milkshake that’s particularly extraordinary. Most cookie milkshakes I’ve tried are run-of-the-mill oreo milkshakes. But just recently, I discovered a cookie milkshake that had me singing praises at my first sip.

The Lost Bread menu

Casey, Wolf, and I were just wandering around Megamall looking for dessert when we stumbled upon an interesting place — The Lost Bread. We ordered French Toast Cubes and were not that impressed, but I fell in love with their Cookie Jar Milkshake! It struck the perfect balance between cookies and a milkshake, with both desserts taking center stage. It was rich and creamy but not overwhelming, and the cinnamon was a stroke of genius. The cookies that adorned the mug were not the chewy kind, but their crunch complemented the smoothness of the shake quite nicely. The cookie dough that surrounded the mug was a welcome bonus for cookie lovers!

The Lost Bread menu

I got the baby size, because it was my first time to try it. Had I known it would be that awesome, I would have gone all out full size, calories be damned! Haha. I wasted no time taking a decent picture, and so all I have is this badly angled shot that is a far cry from the impressiveness of the real thing!

The Lost Bread Cookie Jar Milkshake

Of course, Wolf really liked it as well, being a cookie monster like his mom. Even Casey, who is not that into sweets, said it was good, and sipped from my shake more often than I would have liked. Haha. Next time, I’m not sharing! Coookiiiie! Milkshaaake! Om nom nom nom nom!

Cookie Monster meme