Back in the day (the day being my life pre-Squish), I would make sure that I made time for myself. In those days, me-time activities were very self-indulgent. I would spend hours in a coffee shop doodling, reading, or writing. I would binge watch television shows or movies. I would get a massage, manicure, or a foot spa. Heck, I would spend evenings jogging taking long walks around a nice neighborhood. And me-time was always more fun when Mikey was around!
When Squishy was born, I was afraid that I would never be able to have me-time again. But we were able to re-introduced me-time slowly. It started when Squish was 3 months old. Mikey would take Squish with him in the mall and I would go off to get my eyebrows done or get waxed. Or I would take Squish with me while Mikey had a haircut. But at that point, we would take it an hour at a time.
At around 5 months, I was able to have a work meeting that lasted for about two hours. Max and Mikey sat at the table across the restaurant. Late last year, we realized that we could leave Max with his Lola Myrna for 2-3 hours at a time. Now that he’s eating real food, he only needs to breastfeed when he’s about to sleep. So Mikey and I pilot-tested it during one of his breaks in November. After breakfast, we snuck out for coffee and some couple time. When we got back, Max was clingy, but he was perfectly fine!
I took advantage of it during the holidays. I had so many errands to run—I needed to go to my old University a few times and I had to get a lot of Christmas shopping done. I asked Lola Myrna to watch Max in the morning a few times. I just needed to be back home in time for his nap (at around 1:00 PM). I would usually leave at 10:00 AM and I’d be back by 12:30-1:00 PM. Mikey and I even got to have a 2 hour anniversary eve celebration when we left Max with his Lola Myrna during dinnertime.
At first, it’s difficult to stop thinking and worrying. I used to take me about an hour before I could chill and enjoy my freedom. It was especially hard when I had to do Christmas shopping. I felt so guilty the first two times I did it that I ended up buying him toys.
It’s much easier to have *me*-time when it’s for work. I don’t feel as guilty. Today, I finished my work faster than I anticipated so I had a good two hours left for myself. It’s funny how efficient you become when you’re a mom and you feel like all the time you have for yourself is borrowed.
I texted Mikey to thank him for giving me some time last night to prep (it made work so much easier). He told me that I should reward myself. When he said that, the possibilities seemed endless for a few minutes:
What should I do? Should I get my nails done? Should I order another cup of coffee and read my book? Should I get a haircut? A movie maybe?
While I was figuring out what to do, I remembered that we ran out of Chuckie and fresh milk for Max. And there were other things I needed to pick up as well. So I took out my note pad and drew up a grocery list. Hahaha. My me-time has evolved into efficiently getting my work done so that I can take a leisurely trip to the groceries. This is my life now. Haha.
Despite the change, there’s very little to complain about. When I was waiting in line at the checkout counter, I was going through Timehop and ogling at baby Squishy’s photos. Things are different now, but Mikey and I had the privilege of choosing all of this. And while there are times when we miss our old life, we really wouldn’t trade these Squishy Days for anything.
The holidays came and went. I’m so grateful for the time my little family got to spend together during the break. We even had the chance to mend our Christmas hangover with a quick trip to Tagaytay.
There’s so much I want to write about, but I didn’t want to spend too much of Mikey’s break doing something that didn’t involve them. But now that Mikey’s at work and Lola Myrna is taking Max for a walk in our apartment, I can guiltlessly type away!
December was jam-packed with parties and dinners and errands! But I think that one of the highlights was something that had both very little and very much to do with Christmas—Star Wars: The Last Jedi!
The Last Jedi was the first movie I saw since I gave birth to Squish. I think I was at the beginning of my third trimester when I last saw a movie (maybe one of the X-men movies?). After that, I was too big and bloated to sit for 2 hours straight.
There have been movies (and plays that I really wanted to see since Squish was born, but because I was breastfeeding him and I was his primary caregiver, none of them seemed important enough for me to leave my baby for a few hours. And Mikey, being the trooper that he is, generally went on this movie diet with me (save for a few plays that he went to see). But we told ourselves that when The Last Jedi came out, we would find a way to go see it.
Now that Max has three full meals a day, it’s easier to leave him. He really only needs to breastfeed when he’s about to sleep. And he’s down to one long nap a day. But I still feel bad about leaving him. When I leave him with his Lola Myrna in the morning to run errands, I can barely relax. I keep worrying about him. It takes about an hour and a half for me to acclimate to my new freedom, but by then, I’m usually done with my errands and I’m on my way home. Mentally, it’s easier for me to leave Max with Mikey.
Mikey really wanted us to see the movie together. Our friends even offered to babysit Max for us. But I told Mikey that if I left Max with anyone else but him, I wouldn’t be able to enjoy the movie. I would keep checking on Max. So we decided to take turns and watch the movie by ourselves. Mikey saw the movie on opening night (December 13) while I stayed at home with Squish. And I saw the movie the next night. Mikey and Squish hung out at the mall while I watched the movie. I told Mikey that it would be easier for him if they stayed at home where Squish can roam freely with little supervision, but Mikey had a few errands and was drunk on coffee so he was pretty confident that everything would be fine.
We had an early dinner at a restaurant near the cinemas. And the boys walked me to my movie. I was very excited. I’m not sure if I was more excited because of the movie itself or because it was the first movie I would watch in a year and half where I knew that I would not be interrupted.
When we bought the tickets, I was a little scandalized by the price. It was Php 450.00 for a ticket (about USD 9.00). The last time I saw a movie, I think it was less than half the price! But we went to one of those fancier cinemas that had La-Z-Boys and seated less people. They even had a butler service and gave us free popcorn! I guess it was worth the splurge since that was how I broke my movie fast—and it was Star Wars after all!
It turns out, it was the perfect movie to watch too! It was an escapist film full of characters that I’ve been invested in since I was a kid. I really enjoyed the pacing of the movie! I was so worried that I would fall asleep halfway through (just because I hadn’t had uninterrupted sleep in about a year and a half), but I didn’t! I was on the edge of my seat the whole time—crying and laughing and aww-ing! I left the cinema pumped up and fire bellied. I was armed with a new mantra for life and parenthood (thanks Rose!):
“That’s how we’re gonna win—not fighting what we hate, but saving what we love.”
I was so excited to see my boys! I found them at a restaurant having a second dinner. Mikey was eating chicken wings and feeding Squish potato soup. They looked war-torn, but happy. (Apparently, Max suddenly had a distaste for his stroller, so Mikey had to chase him around the mall while pushing the stroller around. Hahaha.)
Star Wars was a gift that kept giving to this homely stay-at-home-parent! The high lasted all throughout the whole break (and even up to now!). Mikey and I geeked out over it with our friends online (Hello, Star Wars Appreciation Group!). And we loved all the Star Wars themed presents Max got. It’s a great time to be a fan! ❤
Maybe one day soon, Mikey and I will be able to go on a date and watch a movie together. But for now, I’m happy that we have a game plan for when either of us really wants to see a movie.
Squish’s sleep is something that worries me every now and then. He still nurses 2-3 times at night. He doesn’t wake up fully, but he will stir and lift my shirt up to latch.
We’re also at a point where I’m the only one who can put him to sleep. When I leave him with his Lola Myrna in the mornings, even if he’s sleepy, he won’t nap until I come back. Mikey can’t put him to sleep either. Even if he’s on the brink of sleeping, he fights it. But as soon as he gets on the boob, he’ll close his eyes. Sometimes he’ll only latch for a few minutes and then he’ll fall asleep.
Thankfully, Squish sleeps pretty deeply at night. Mikey moves around a lot (and so does Squish), and he stays asleep through most of it (except for the night of the great snore fest). Unfortunately, he’s a lighter sleeper during the day. I don’t know what it is about him, but he will stay asleep in the most uncomfortable positions just as long as I’m next to him. But as soon as I get up, I have 15-20 minutes at most.
We’re still not sure about what to do with the whole weaning situation, but we’re trying to consistently enforce a bedtime routine so that Squish will start associating sleep with these activities. Here’s what we do:
Bath time. There’s an old wives’ tale here in the Philippines that highly discourages bathing babies at night. There’s absolutely no science behind this (especially in our tropical country—it’s not like the temperature significantly drops at night!) so we choose to bathe Squishy at night. By the time we give him a bath, Squish is done with all his meals, so we get to wash off all the hidden food particles lodged in the funniest places. My favorite reason for bathing Squish at night is that Mikey gets to give him his bath. Squish loves the water and his Papa is gone for most of the day. I love seeing him have fun with his father. We recently started using Johnson’s bedtime baby bath. It’s supposed to give you an extra hour of sleep, but it doesn’t really work for us. It smells really good though.
Lotion/Balm + Diaper + PJs. I usually end up scooping up a crying Squish from his bath. (We’ve started signalling the end of bath time with the clean up song and we start to put away his bath toys. It helps a little.) After drying Squish up, the first thing I do is slather Aveeno Baby Eczema Therapy lotion on him (or on nights when his skin is acting up or seems extra dry—Aveeno Baby Eczema Therapy Nighttime Balm). And then I put Ihle’s Paste on his butt. Put on his diaper and then his pajamas.
Last playtime. If he still seems energetic, we let him play a little bit. We turn off the main bedroom lights and leave a lamp on. We try not to do anything exciting anymore. He usually plays with his toys on his own. Sometimes, I’ll play his sleepy time playlist. I usually sit in bed and after a few minutes, Squish will want to join me in bed.
Bedtime Story. The first thing we do in bed is read to Squish. Right now, we’re reading How do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight and Goodnight Moon. Usually, we’re doing this while he breastfeeds. He’ll unlatch when he wants to engage (like when he wants to point at the red balloon or wave goodbye like the dinosaur at the end of the book).
Baby Massage. It’s not really a massage, but we like to put Vick’s BabyRub on the soles of his feet, his forehead, and his chest. The rosemary and Lavender scent is so comforting. It’s our new favorite!
Bedtime Story encore. Sometimes, Max will reach out for one of his books and make us read it to him again. Sometimes, he’ll make you skip to the part he likes. Haha.
After the stories and massage, Mikey and are quiet and Max is usually nursing. If he’s quietly nursing, he’ll be asleep in 10 minutes. But sometimes, when he’s still pretty amped up, we turn off the lamp and let him roll around in bed in the dark until he’s ready to nurse to sleep.
We’re hoping that if Max learns how to associate sleep with these activities (rather than nursing and being close to Momma), it’ll be easier to put him to sleep. So far though, he just seems to enjoy the activities. We’ll wait and see if it starts to work. Haha. After all, this is a marathon and not a sprint.
It’s been a while since I last posted. It’s Christmas! Every time Max does something new (which is all the time now), I feel like writing up an entry. But Squishy-the-toddler is both easier and more challenging than Squishy-the-infant. Plus, November was pretty eventful! Mikey had a bunch of breaks and we really enjoyed our little family-of-three bubble! We even took an impromptu trip to Baguio again (the ride up was effortless and made us seem like parenting pros; the ride back down was the total opposite). But maybe more on that later.
Being a mom to Squishy-the-toddler brings me so much joy. It’s tiring and there are days when we can’t seem to get ANYTHING right, but I love watching him grow and learn and essentially become himself. Squish is still generally happy, but he’s learned a whole new set of emotions and can cry on demand! It’s really funny until he decides to use for something other than entertaining his lame parents (ex: screaming from one end of the department store until the exit because we needed to go and he can’t play with the toy car anymore).
We’re still working on the weaning (he does not like formula at all, so we’re focusing on real food), but I’ve been able to leave Max with his Lola Myrna from the time he wakes up until his first nap after lunch. He still needs to breastfeed to fall asleep. But I’ve had three mornings all to myself where I could run errands in my old University workplace, get a cup of coffee, AND do a little Christmas shopping. These little pockets have been really good for my soul. Mikey thinks I should do it once a week. I’m not there yet, but it’s comforting to know that I can take off every now and then. I feel like I have a new weapon in my arsenal.
There are days when it seems like Max is an uncontrollable tornado, but there are days when he’s the chillest baby. He’s able to focus more and he can play with a set of toys for longer. I can also leave him with a show playing on the TV and he’ll just sit on the couch and watch. Sometimes, I’ll be watching something on TV and he’ll just sit next to me. It’s very nice.
Today, while Lola Myrna was cleaning the kitchen, Max and I sat on the couch and watched the Christmas tree. He pointed at the different ornaments and he would “say” something about it. I love Christmas! And it looks like Max is enjoying it too! Whenever we pass by a Christmas tree, he points to it. When you ask him “where’s the Christmas tree?” he’ll point at it. When he sees the big, fancy decorations in a mall, he’ll squeal and point.
Christmas starts early here in the Philippines—decorations are up by September. So by now, Max has seen many gorgeous, tall, bright, and full trees. And with the exception of Uptown Mall and their scary teddy bear tree, everything else has been pretty magical and beautiful. But nothing beats our tree at home.
Our tree at home is skinny and it’s perched on a small side table because it’s kind of short. We don’t have that many ornaments yet (I’d really like to fill it up in the coming years). And because Squish is a toddler and has successfully pulled down the tree once (or twice), we have strategically placed chairs, ottomans, and boxes around it so that it’s safe from cute toddler hands. It’s not the most instagrammable tree, but it’s my favorite.
My mom bought this tree for our family when I was in the fifth grade. Back then, our family had serious financial problems (serious enough for the bank to take away our home years later). So, we didn’t have a lot of money to spend on frivolity. When it was time to take out our old tree, we found out that the base had broken apart (it was a 13 year old tree, so it had a nice long life). My mom knew that I loved Christmas trees, so even if we didn’t have a lot, she went to the mall and found a tree we could afford. When she came back home with it, I didn’t care that it was short and thin. It was the most beautiful tree in the world.
My mom gave the tree to me when Mikey and I celebrated our first Christmas together as a married couple. I love that I get to keep this tree and share it with my family now. And I love what the tree represents—that some of the most meaningful things in life aren’t the biggest and brightest and newest and shiniest. This is something that I want Max to appreciate. It can be challenging because Max is really loved—he has so many people who want to give him the best of everything. I just hope that he doesn’t grow up equating love and happiness with the big and the bright and the new and the shiny. I hope that he overflows with joy and love regardless of what he has.
It’s 17 days until Christmas and our social calendars are quickly filling up (not to mention Star Wars, OMG how are we going to do that? I haven’t seen a movie since Max was born!). It would be easy to get lost in the busyness of the season, but I’m really excited about the traditions that we’re starting to build as a family. Despite the craziness of the past couple of weeksmonths years, seeing Max’s face light up when he sees a Christmas tree reassures me that all is well, and all shall be well.
I don’t intend for this to be the last Squishy Days of the year, but in case it is—may your holidays be filled with joy and laughter and love and food! Merry Christmas!
By the time I was 26 or 27, I began dreading birthdays. There was an internal clock that would scream: “You’re not achieving enough!” or “You need to do more!” or “What are you doing with your life!”
There was a lot of existential drama and discontent. And it was pretty much year-round, but birthdays amplified it.
This is my second birthday as a Mom. Last year, I was still figuring out how to survive each day with a one month old baby. (Honestly, now that I have a toddler, I can’t believe that I was so scared of a new born, lump on the bed baby!) Today, I’d like to think that my head is screwed on a little bit more securely. At least enough for me to be able to take this pause and sober up amidst all the chaos.
Unfortunately (or fortunately), there’s very little time these days for me to indulge in existential drama. Max is a handful! And even though we have a little more help these days, I still drop everything every time he wants my attention. When he is preoccupied with a toy, his grandparents, or his Lola Myrna, I take that time to use the bathroom or catch up on the world (or, if I’m really lucky, read a book).
This new mom-hood phase is a nice bubble. I love our little family of three. And it’s easy for it to be all consuming (check out my Instagram feeds—yes, plural). But lately, I’m starting to feel like myself again (I wonder if it’s because I finally fit into my pre-pregnancy jeans?). And every now and then, when we’re out and I’m cognizant enough to notice the nicely dressed woman who looks like she just came from work, there’s a tiny twinge of jealousy. I imagine her heading to a nice restaurant (maybe Cibo) and having a quiet dinner with a book (or a notebook and a bag full of pens). I suddenly miss those days when I could just hop on the train and guiltlessly treat myself to alone time. And then I become retroactively thankful for my twenties and the independence it afforded me. The drama seems so silly now.
I snap back to reality in no time because the toddler needs another bite of dinner or the toddler’s about to get too close to the escalator. Or the toddler does something hilarious. Life is happening all the time and motherhood is the opposite of boring.
For my pre-birthday treat, Mikey gave me pockets of alone time! I got my hair done (a good 30 minutes of reading time + free coffee from the salon—yay!) and my eyebrows waxed (free because it’s my birthday month—double yay!). I even got to go around the mall by myself for a little while waiting for Mikey and Squish to come back. It did wonders for my soul!
My actual birthday treat was even better though—dinner at an old watering hole (nostalgia is love) and walking around an almost empty mall with Mikey and Max. AND Max sitting happily in his stroller almost the whole time! When we got home, my boys sang happy birthday and presented me with my favorite cupcake. Mikey also got me new shoes (or kicks as the kids call it these days) and make up! Kind of perfect for the whole I’m-feeling-like-myself-again theme. Hooray for birthdays being fun again! ❤
When Mikey and I got married, I knew I wanted to be with him forever. But I was still wary about the idea of growing old. I was terrified of aging and becoming slow and weak. But all of that changed when Squish came into our lives.
I know that I keep expressing my heartache over how quickly time is passing with Squish. And that’s still all true. Time IS going by so quickly. I still remember when we brought him home from the hospital and he was this tiny little thing that would just stare at me. Now we have a happy, walking running, and babbling one year old!
But many times at night, I find myself looking at my husband from the far end of my side of the bed (there’s a tiny human occupying a lot of space in between us) and missing him. I just miss him. Even though Mikey spends all of his non-working hours with us (and I bet we used to spend more time apart before Squish was born), but when we’re together now, our couple-hood is rarely the center of attention. Thankfully, it’s usually eclipsed by something amazing—parenthood. The best example I have is when Squish sees Mikey and I cuddling, he runs to us and tries to squeeze in. Please don’t get me wrong. IT’S WONDERFUL (and oh so very cute). I get to cuddle with my two favorite people in the world on a daily basis. Life is good. And I really believe that this is how it’s supposed to be right now.
So now, there’s a part of me that’s really excited to grow old with Mikey. I see us alone in bed again, a bit greyer…maybe less agile, laughing our heads off or stalking Max’s Facebook (or whatever it will be by then) page. I see us going on road trips and buying pasalubong for Squish and his family. I see lazy, long brunches with our friends. I see our apartment morphing back to all its pre-Squish glory. I see us babysitting our grandchildren so that Squish and his spouse can take a breather.
I never would’ve thought that the answer to my fear of growing old was to have a baby. Hahaha. Oh well. Now I can go back to savoring the present (right now, a baby napping in a shirt that I should really retire).
My one year old (!!!) is finally down for his first nap of the day and I can type without Squish trying to reach for my laptop. If you’re as obsessive about your child’s development as I am, you notice a lot of restrictions ease up at the 12-month mark. You don’t have to worry about SIDS as much (although Max started regularly co-sleeping with us at 5 months) or food restrictions (like honey, eggs, and dairy). It’s so ingrained in mothers from older generations too—a lot of times, my mom will say that we should wait until he’s a year old to do certain things.
I guess that’s why it’s such a momentous occasion for so many people. Here in our country, people spend hundreds of thousands (sometimes millions!) of pesos for first birthday parties. Sometimes, it’s likened to throwing a wedding. My mom wanted us to throw something similar for Squish, but I couldn’t get myself to spend so much money on a day that Squish won’t remember. So we opted for small gatherings with different groups instead of one big party. So far, Squish has blown candles on four birthday cakes and he’s scheduled to blow one on one last cake this Sunday. Hehe. We’re glad that we did it this way because Squish really got to spend time with our friends/family in each gathering. We’ll save the big party for when he’s older and expresses the desire for one.
The first year of your child’s life is when they develop the fastest. There were days when Squish felt like he was a different baby after every nap. He was changing so quickly! Now that we’re at the end of that first year, I don’t think he really exhibited anything completely new this month, but he’s building on what he’s learned from the past months.
He’s still talking a lot! But now he really converses with us! He’ll choose a syllable (Ma, Da, Ta, or Pa) and repeat it with different tones and intonations if you talk to him. Sometimes, it’s almost a sentence long, sometimes, it’s like a paragraph! It’s very cute! He’s most talkative in the morning when he wakes up. That’s actually how I know that he’s ready to start the day. He’ll stir, try to breastfeed, and then he’ll emerge from latching with a speech. It’s like he’s telling me everything he dreamt of that night. He’s also really talkative when he thinks you’re not paying attention to him. When I’m on my phone or watching a TV show, that’s how he chooses to engage with me.
While I don’t really understand what his sentences/paragraphs mean yet, it’s amazing how he can clearly communicate his thoughts and desires! When he’s playing and he wants to nap, he’ll come to me and hug me and put his head on my shoulder. When he’s walking around and he gets tired, he’ll stop and hug my legs. He’ll point at the things that he wants. He’ll laugh when he thinks you’re being silly. He’ll even laugh on cue when Mikey and I are laughing at something, like he’s in on the joke too. And the communication goes both ways, because he seems to understand us too! When I ask him to put things in certain places, he usually does it. Or when I tell him to come with me, he’ll drop everything and follow me. He also follows dance moves on Sesame Street! He’ll clap when Elmo sings if you’re happy and you know itand he’ll follow along Elmo and Ernie’s Pat-a-cake! He also added a new move to his twinkle twinkle little star routine—he now makes a diamond shape with his hand when you sing the line like a diamond in the sky. It’s so cool!
A cute thing he’s been doing with ANYTHING that fits in his hand is pretending that it’s a telephone. I am guilty of using my cell phone all the time when I’m with him, so he knows what it is already. Anytime anyone says hello, he’ll put his palm on his ear and start babbling. My mom gave him a small radio remote control and he pretends that it’s a cellphone all the time. Sometimes, it’s a foam block or a shoe or a spoon.
I think we’re failing though in making him understand what NO means. Hahaha. Because a lot of times, I think he sees it as an exciting prelude to getting what he wants. And he knows when you’re going to say NO. He loves playing with stickers and sticking them on the wall. Another thing that he loves doing is eating them. Or at least he pretends to eat them! He’ll look at me with a sticker on his finger, he’ll slowly bring the sticker close to his mouth, and as soon as I say “NO, Max!”, he’ll pull the sticker away and giggle. He will do this a couple of times until I finally take the sticker away. He also does this when he gets close to nooks that he’s not allowed to go into.
The few days before he cuts a tooth, he will become very quiet and clingy. He’ll want me close by whenever he’s playing and it becomes a bit harder to feed him. It’s not a dramatic change, but I only really notice it when the tooth is out and he’s back to his normal kulit self again. But I do notice him squeezing his cheeks in more. At this point, he has two upper teeth and two lower teeth. Teething is tough. I wish I would take away all of his pain.
He shuffles from frenzy playing (which is basically going around and examining whatever catches his attention) to more focused playing (where he plays with the same object for an extended period of time). I’ve been reading up on the Montessori philosophy and Max is already showing interest in a lot of the recommended activities for toddlers. I don’t want to go all out and buy new things, so we’re working with what we already have. His favorite is a long plastic cube here he can slide in small wooden shapes into. It’s pretty cool to watch his attention span develop. But apart from that, he’s also in a packing and unpacking phase. He’ll unpack all the toys in a box and repack it. If it’s something he can take with him, he’ll carry boxes, bowls, or bags full of his toys around the house with him. He will then unpack it in different locations. Our home is so messy. Hahaha. But it’s going to get messier soon because there are 12-months-and-up art materials that I’m excited to dive into! Sorry Mikey!
Lately, his naps have been a bit erratic. He can’t really nap if there are other people in the room or if we’re out (unless he’s hours overdue for that nap). There are days when he drops his afternoon nap and he’s just wound up all night. But unless he’s teething, his night time sleep seems to be smoother. Even when he wakes up in the middle of the night, it’s not hard to get him to sleep again. Sometimes, all I have to do is hug him and he’ll fall asleep. But I’ve really enjoyed watching him sleep. He looks like his infant self when he’s asleep and he’s so toddler like these days that so it’s truly a treat for me.
Now that we’re done with the first year (huhuhu), I’m not sure how much progress he will be making at each month’s mark anymore. A lot of the weekly/monthly development websites stop at 12 months/52 weeks and jump to the second year. So I have to figure out a meaningful way to document Squish’s development throughout his second year. But it’s been so much fun documenting his first year! Child development is AWESOME! I can’t believe I get to see it up close! ❤
We’re officially going to start mix feeding in the coming week! Please send us happy weaning thoughts!