02 January 2017

First New Year with Our Little One


We welcomed the brand new year in our cozy little home six floors above the ground. Minutes before the clock struck 12, I was snoozing away in our bed with Zeya beside me. I didn't have the heart to wake him up. We were at a party hours before and the bubba must be exhausted from all the noise and cheers. 

R gently woke me up whispering "It's only a few minutes now, Mommy."  Eyes still heavy from the deep sleep brought about by breastfeeding hormones, I joined him in the living room. R did all the preparation, the cleaning and the cooking. Our New Year meal consisted of a humble ready-to-cook chicken, leftover takeaway from the party and a bottle of chardonnay, significantly simpler than the previous years'. 

We watched a New Year countdown from our Mac and peered outside for any signs of fireworks. Pretty much negligible. We kissed and hugged as the clock showed 12:00 AM. Same as the past five New Years we've celebrated together since we got married, we welcomed the year with a prayer. 

I couldn't remember the exact prayer my dear husband uttered, but this bit stuck with me:
"Lord, we welcome you in our lives this 2017."
That pretty much summarises the direction we want to stir our boat to this year. We want to invite Him in our home, in our lives, in our dreams. HAPPY NEW YEAR, dear family and friends. :)
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Photos taken on the afternoon of January first, taken for memory-keeping our first New Year as a family.  :)

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30 December 2016

Free Date in a Five-Star Michelin Restaurant

30 DAYS OF GRATITUDE | DAY 30

Since it's our sixth year anniversary today as a couple and we didn't have any fancy celebration (hint: we're saving up for a house), let me just reminisce the only romantic date we had this year after Zeya was born. I'm grateful for this date because of three things: 1) it marked the end of a difficult season at work for R; 2) it's our first time to dine in a 5-star Michelin restaurant; and 3) it's FREE! (sponsored).


We found Chapter One tucked in a basement under the Writers Museum on Parnell Square. The interior was minimalist but elegantly decorated. R forbid me to take photos inside using our trusty DSLR, so the rest of the photos were captured via iPhone. :)


It was the 26th of May. I was still deep into the fog of the newborn stage whilst a foreboding fog at work had lifted over R. Having said that, we both needed a little break, and to drink and be merry even for just a night. 

***

The first order of business---menu. We decided to try the tasting menu which consisted of sample portions of many different dishes served in several courses. We loved the idea of satisfying our palette with a little bit of the restaurant's bests and a glass of varying wines after each course. 


However, R was driving. U-huh! Our mistake, we should have taken a taxi. Now that meant I was the only one who indulged in wine! Poor lad went the non-alcoholic way. 


First course: Japanese pear tapioca with St. Tola goat's cheese, organic spinach, mushroom juice and Irish shiitake. Chapter One is known for showcasing the best of Irish produce. So each menu features a local produce. Thumbs up to this cause and to the food.

And in case you're wondering, no, I didn't memorize the menu. It's here. We were googling them away while eating away. :)


And the wine that went with it:


Second Course: Charred cured mackerel and packed Carlington oysters with apple and lovage dressing and oyster cream. Another thumbs up. 


Only my second and I was already tipsy and goofy.


Third Course: Wood pigeon terrine with pickled damsons and mirabelles, foie gras parfait and warm brioche. Whew, these terms here!


My wine glasses. As much as I wanted to remember the beautifully named wines while they were being served, I couldn't. They all sounded French to me. :)


Fourth Course: Pig's tail stuffed with Fingal Ferguson's bacon and lobster, basil puree and mustard fruits with the wine. Of course.


Fifth and Sixth Course: At this point, I couldn't pair the menu names to the actual food anymore so I would just post the photos of the remaining courses we devoured.


But the dessert? This was a piece of heaven!


And I managed to snap a photo of us at the dining table ever so discreetly.


Also, we managed to ask a staff to take a photo of us just before we left.


The best part of this dining experience was being told after that all was taken care of and paid for. The fruit of my husband's hard work and dedication. 

Truly grateful for this experience which just about covered all the other monthsaries and anniversaries we celebrated simply and quietly this year. Grateful for the past six years. Grateful for R. :)

29 December 2016

Our Breastfeeding Journey

30 DAYS OF GRATITUDE | DAY 29

Striking anywhere.
It is without a doubt, the hardest thing I've ever done in my life. Much harder than pregnancy and giving birth combined. But here we are, nine months in and we're still breastfeeding! { happy dance } I am grateful we've come this far when I thought we'd only last a few days.

Nursing a little reindeer on Christmas; photo being shared here with the permission of his dad. :)

Did I really intend to breastfeed from the start? Yes. But if I came in to the delivery room ready to battle labor---I asked around, I researched, I exercised, I practiced J breathing like my life depended on it, I prayed and all---I wasn't prepared at all when I stepped onto the breastfeeding ground.

Much tears and blood were shed, literally, the first few days. Over the next few weeks, we battled low milk supply, clogged ducts, stubborn thrush, wounded nip, blistered nip, colicky cries, reflux and the most worrying of all---slow weight gain. With the right support and by God's grace, we've overcome all of those, one breastfeeding session at a time.

One of the toughest times in our breastfeeding journey were the times when Zeya was crying inconsolably, all day every day, a.k.a. colicky days. It was confidence shattering. I heard from well-meaning friends "baka konti lang milk mo kaya umiiyak," or another like "baka kulang milk mo kaya hindi tumataba" and "mag mix-feed ka na para tumaba." (Short translation: I don't have enough milk). There were days I almost believed these statements to be true.

But Zeya has latched on well from day one. He has produced sufficient wet and dirty nappies. He's been healthy all throughout with only one fever on record, his first vaccine, and only one instance of colds. He has been hitting all his milestones fairly on time, even earlier. At nine months, he's now standing up on his own and I'd say, he'll be walking without support soon enough. If my milk was not enough for him, I don't know where he's gotten all his energy to be this physically active and well. :)

***
Just some photos of our breastfeeding journey.

Snuggled after a feed
In my nursing/gliding chair, one of the best purchases we made.
Feeding on the go, thank God for well thought of breastfeeding nooks in the shopping centres
One of the best feeding rooms in Dublin shopping centre

***

I can write on and on about our breastfeeding experience. But here's the more important thing I'd like to share to you. As with every struggle I face in my life, I take it as a faith exercise. Breastfeeding is no exception.

Countless times I fell on my knees begging God to increase my milk supply so that Zeya would fatten up like other babies. Well, as you will know God checked my heart. The Lord taught me to just focus on my baby and avoid comparing. As we adults are different, the Lord created babies in different sizes and shapes too.

The Lord also taught me to trust my body the way He intended it to function. Just as I trusted my body in the unmedicated labor I went through when I gave birth, He was asking me once more to trust that I am capable of nourishing my child by nursing him. I was after all, fearfully and wonderfully made.

Through all our breastfeeding struggles, I realized God has been shaping up and strengthening my mommy heart. He was teaching me to surrender this to him, that He's got this. That He has made it a bit harder for me to humble me lest I bragged that I was doing oh so well as a first time mommy. That  all throughout my motherhood, I'll hear varying voices but it's up to me to sift through the mix and do what's best for my family.

***

I'm ending this long post with a grateful heart. Grateful for my 10-month long maternity leave which enabled me to exclusively breastfeed. Grateful that we are closer to our goal of breastfeeding Zeya for a year. Grateful that he is slowly but steadily catching up. Grateful for the community of people I met, online and otherwise---lactation consultant, midwives, and a host of breastfeeding mamas. Grateful for the good, for the pain, for the humor, and for the nourishment this breastfeeding journey never fails to provide on a daily basis. :)

28 December 2016

Sunday Graces and Summer Hues



It was one beautiful Sunday morning in August, the sun was shining bright, the sky a cheerful blue, the breeze a little colder but still summery. Our activities for this particular Sunday had been carefully planned out the night before---we'd go to church in the morning, eat lunch somewhere nice and baby-friendly (breastfeeding-friendly too), and go to Howth, the north side of Dublin Bay for some seaside sight seeing. 

Sunday morning came. We woke up a little late because Zeya woke up late (yes, let's blame it on the baby, shall we? :)) and I didn't have the heart to wake him up because an additional 15 or 30 minutes in my sleep is already a heaven on earth! So I slept some more until our human alarm clock whimpered beside me, a sure call for milk or attention. Or both.

After two hours of frantic preparation, most of it was making sure we had everything for baby's needs, we were finally crammed in the car, all set and ready to go. The only problem was we were running extremely late. How late? Let's just say, church service started at 10 AM, we were just about to leave the house minutes before the clock struck 10. As Rolando turned the ignition on, I gently uttered, "We are so late babe," for which he agreed quietly  "Yes, we are". We both knew we weren't attending church anymore. Rolando keyed in a new destination in our car's GPS. An air of guilt hovered around us.

This was the kind of Sunday when you needed grace more than any other day. Grace not to bicker and blame on who caused the delay, or who did not remember to check the nappy bag's contents, or who did not eat breakfast fast enough.  Grace to get through this season of sleeplessness and messiness. Grace to love each other beyond our parenting hits and misses, including missed Sunday Services. Grace to find our groove as a little family of three.

Grace. Yes, we needed an extra ounce of it that particular Sunday. I'm grateful that my relationship with Him isn't based on the things I do or fail to do but on His grace.



***

So off to Howth we went. A little earlier than planned. We hiked the Howth Cliffs twice in the past when we were still child free. It was surreal stepping back with a baby in tow.

It was sunny but blustery when we stepped out to the Summit so we bundled Zeya up making sure he's protected from the wind and the sun. The Summit was a sight to behold. The sprawling gorses (yellow) and heathers (purple) against the blueness of the sky and the seafoam shade of the sea make up for a lovely summer postcard.

As I forgot to bring the DSLR, I used iPhone 6 to capture memories that day. I seem to keep forgetting things since Zeya's arrival. Yet another reason to practice grace upon myself.

I leave you now with these photos. I have to make a mental note to myself to go back again next year. Same time, same weather (hopefully), to relish and capture these lovely summer hues once more.


More breath-taking views of the cliffs, the gorses and the heathers and the famous Bailey Lighthouse.