Shocking the System (For Squishy)

A few weeks back, important race-related issues began flooding my feed. My first reaction was pretty selfish. I thought, “everything is so crazy. Is this something that I even have the mind space for right now?”

Almost instantly, I get an answer: my silly little three-year-old walks into the kitchen and asks for a glass of milk.

Yes. I should, at the very least, absolutely have the mind space for it. Because Max would not exist in this world if racism was something I was OK with.

So I’m really grateful that Stan agreed to share his experiences in Mikey’s podcast.
I spent years struggling with the reality of never being Chinese enough and, at the same time, never being Filipino enough either. I wish that I knew someone like Stan when I was growing up—someone who wasn’t afraid of starting difficult conversations about what it means to be Chinese-Filipino.

I am a proud Chinese-Filipino woman raising an amazing Chinese-Filipino son with my kick-ass Filipino husband. By no means are we perfect or exempt from having prejudices, but we have to try to be better.

These episode of Mikey’s podcast are our attempt to start a conversation with the hopes of becoming better.

Our language shapes our reality, so maybe it’s time to start learning new words.

If any of this resonates with you and you feel like talking about it, please don’t hesitate contact us! ❤ 


Episode 3|Episode 4

First Squishy Days Unboxing Video

So, we spontaneously decided to record an unboxing video this morning. I apologize for my unkempt hair and house clothes, but we had so much fun doing this.

There are very few things that can perk me up before my first cup of coffee, but the cheap + books combo can definitely do it.

It’s kind of long (about 11 minutes), so feel free to stop watching when we get annoying. Hahaha.

This was our third shipment from Booksforless.ph. We ordered it on a Tuesday and we got it on Friday. Pretty good turnaround time.

I’ve been reading about Charlotte Mason’s strategy of using “living books” as a learning tool, so I got really inspired and went on a book binge.

I have to admit though that some of our favorites don’t really fit into the “living books” category. I also don’t think that you can really use this tool across all subject matters. But Max soaks up so much during our read-aloud time, and dabbling in some Charlotte Mason seems like a fun way to shake things up a little.

The Cheapest Book Lover Ever

I absolutely love a good deal. Unless it’s the groceries, I have a hard time buying things at full price. The same is true for books. I love books, especially children’s books, but they can be quite pricey here in the Philippines.

If you buy them new from regular bookstores, they’re usually Php 400.00-800.00 (USD 8.00-16.00) each. So a trip to the bookstore can easily eat up my modest freelancer’s paycheck.

So whenever I could, I would always ask Mikey to give me an hour (or three) so I could shop at Booksale. Booksale is a chain of bookstores that sells secondhand books. They always dedicate a huge section of their store to kid’s books and I could find books for as low as Php 15.00 (USD 0.30) and they’re usually capped off at Php 300.00 (USD 6.00).

When the pandemic and lockdown hit though, I had to be more creative with my bargain book shopping. Over the last month or so, I found online shops that sell and deliver pre-loved books. Here are the three online shops I successfully bought from.

3 Tried and Tested Online Sellers of Secondhand or Discounted Kids’ Books

1. Books for Less

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Second batch of books ordered from Books for Less (still waiting for my first batch).

I loved shopping in Books for Less even before the pandemic. They didn’t have as many physical branches as Booksale, but they would do a lot of pop up stalls in malls every now and then.

I was so happy when I found out that they launched a website during the pandemic. They add new titles every now and then. They have classic best sellers, like Eric Carle or the Dr. Seuss books. But they also have one-off odd ball ones like Dancing With Jesus by Sam Stall.

Here are some other details about this seller:

  • Payment options: PayPal, GCash, and Cash on delivery (COD)
  • Delivery: Store-organized
  • Shipping fee: Standard fee of Php 150 for Metro Manila addresses.

Favorite thing about this seller: Unlike most secondhand book sellers, they have a dedicated website where you can just keep adding titles to a cart. I like this because I’ll add all the titles I want first and then go through them again before I checkout.

Confuzzlement: Their payment verification process for Gcash payments is kind of confusing. The website says you just need to send verification to another mobile number (different from the GCash number where you send your payment to). And then you’ll receive a reply from the second number to re-send the verification to their FB Messenger account (and only then will your order be processed). So even though I paid already, it took another day for them to pack and ship my orders.

My second order also arrived before my first order, so that was confusing. As of writing, I only have my second order. I’m still waiting for my first order.

2. Bookery for Kids and Mums

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A few of our favorites from Bookery for Kids and Mums.

I’ve been buying from Bookery for Kids and Mums even before the pandemic started. They have a great selection of pre-loved books and new, low-cost editions of more recent titles.

Usually, the owner of the shop will post available titles in batches on Facebook. You go through the photos of the book and comment “MINE” if you want them. It gets pretty intense when new uploads are available—kind of like a bidding war.

I had a specific title in mind for my latest transaction with them, so I just messaged them directly to check for its availability. They had the title and it arrived at our place in two days. It was pretty amazing!

Here are some other details about this seller:

  • Payment options: Bank deposit (BPI, BDO, PNB, and Security Bank) or GCash
  • Delivery: Store-organized
  • Shipping fee: Depends on delivery location (they use Lala Move or ABest Express for Metro Manila deliveries)

Favorite thing about this seller: As Facebook stores go, her store is pretty organized! They also reply pretty quickly. I don’t have trouble navigating through her titles. I also love the variety of titles they carried in the past two years. I think I got most of Max’s “How Do Dinosaurs…” books from them.

3. Book Boutique PH

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I got all of this for Php 745.00 (USD 14.85)—including the shipping fee!

I discovered Book Boutique PH accidentally when it popped up on my Instagram feed (the ad spies are working). After a quick perusal of their Instagram page, I switched over to their FB page because they updated that more regularly.

Just like Bookery for Kids and Mums, they have a first-come-first serve commenting system. But apart from this, you need to take screenshots of the books you want and send them via FB Messenger as well.

They have an interesting selection of books. I found Japanese Children’s book which are always quirky and fun! They also had a bunch of Rosemary Wells books too.

Here are some other details about this seller:

  • Payment options: Bank deposit (BPI), Palawan/Cebuana/LBC pay, and Paymaya
  • Delivery: Store-organized
  • Shipping fee: Depends on delivery location (they use J&T Express)

Favorite thing about this seller: I love their week long reservation policy. If you want to take advantage of it, you have one week to shop for books. That way, you can make the most out of your delivery fees incase they add new titles during your reservation period.

Confuzzlement: Certain photos have comments that are hidden (I think it’s set to “show relevant” rather than “show all”), so sometimes you don’t know if the books are already reserved/sold. They verify this pretty quickly though when you chat them up on FB Messenger.

While I always try to honor Max’s natural interests, I have to admit that I try to sway his interest towards books whenever I can. Heck, we’ve been reading to Max even before he was born. I’m just glad that we’ve found an affordable way to keep getting him books even though we’re on lockdown. ❤

Warm Bed Smells

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Hello again dear void. I started this blog because writing helped me navigate through my topsy turvy transition into motherhood. I haven’t updated it lately though. I started a few drafts highlighting our last few travel adventures, but I never got to finish them. 

I’d like to think of it as a good sign. I’m either able to manage my stress better or I’m busy with work (work that I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to do as a stay-at-home parent).

But with everything that’s going on right now, I find myself starting at this blank screen again. In a crazy turn of events, we’re entering our fifth week of an enhanced community quarantine here in the Philippines. 

What does that mean for us? Basically, we’re only allowed out to buy essentials like food, water, and medicine. Only one member from each family can leave and they need to bring their quarantine pass whenever they go out. For us, that’s Mikey. I don’t know how to drive, so he’s been going to the grocery/drug store for us every other week. 

We’re OK though. Maybe I should have started with that. We love our little apartment (and each other). We’re lucky that a work-from-home is an option for us. We’re close enough to groceries and drug stores, so it’s easy enough to run out and replenish our fridge without going through government checkpoints. We even managed to buy a cheap washing machine because all laundry services have been suspended). 

All things considered, we’re really more than OK. But I still worry. I told Mikey that I think I would be less worried if it were just me and him. But we have Squish. Of the many things I worried about as a first-time parent, a global pandemic was not one of them. 

There was no book or chapter in What to Expect When You’re Expecting to help prepare us for this. Though, I’d like to think that we aren’t failing Max completely. I wish we could add more greens to his meals and be less reliant on screen time for his entertainment. But he seems to be the same happy and silly toddler (and he loves having Mikey at home all day). 

Max is at a great age where you can totally reason with him, so he doesn’t complain much. He gets that there’s a virus out there that we’re trying avoid. When he prays though, he wishes the virus would go away so he could have some Xiao Long Bao again. Hahaha. 

Kids are amazing, aren’t they? They’re more resilient than we give them credit for. Squish is a great reminder of the everyday joy I would miss out on if I let the internet/news consume me. So I don’t. I try to keep informed, but I stop myself from refreshing my feed too often. 

This morning, I woke up earlier than my two boys. I squiggled out of Max’s snuggle, plopped myself on top of Mikey, and inhaled. We were all enveloped in warm bed smells. I didn’t realize how long it was since we regularly had quiet mornings like this. So today, for warm bed smells, I am grateful. 

(Now on to my lasagna. The toddler says that I’m the most beautiful and goodest cooker, so I’m putty in his hands when it comes to his food requests.)

Three Year Old Squishy

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Our three year old Spider-Squish! ❤

During our last visit to the pediatrician, I was carrying Max and another little boy came up to us, pointed at Max, and said: “what a cute baby!”

I just smiled, but Max didn’t think it was funny. With a stern face, he answers the little boy: “I’m not a baby! I’m a big boy! I’m three years old!”

We officially have a three year old! How did this happen? How did we get here? We’re officially on his last year as a toddler. I almost can’t believe it. I still remember holding my little lolo alien baby in my arms.

His third birthday celebration lasted for about a month. We’re not big on big birthday parties so we had a bunch of intimate gatherings throughout the month. Some planned and some accidental, but all equally wonderful.

Max’s first birthday party was at school! I can’t believe we’re having school parties now! It was really simple. I got some cupcakes, juice boxes, pizza, and Jollibee Chicken Joy and spaghetti.

We brought small goodie bags for Max’s classmates, but they loved the cupcakes! I sprinkled some M&Ms on top of them and they went nuts over it. I guess you can’t go wrong with M&Ms and toddlers.

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M&Ms FTW

On the eve of his birthday, Mikey and I set up a small salubong for him. It’s a little tradition we have, and I hope we can continue it until he’s older. We got him a donut (because we ran out of his birthday cupcakes) and we set up his birthday gifts. He blew out the candles and opened his gifts in a frenzy.

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Squish’s birthday donut

We got him a toy cash register and while he was playing with it, he said: “best gift ever!” I like getting him generic toys because I feel like they age better than toys associated with movies or TV shows. Mikey’s the opposite, so he eventually got Max a big Optimus Prime for his birthday too.

On the day of his birthday, we took him to play in Adventure Zone. The yearlong membership was his birthday gift last year and we don’t plan on renewing it again because he’s so busy with school now. As we watched him play, we were feeling sentimental about how much he could do now. He could barely slide by himself when we started. Just like last year, we ended up having a Xiao Long Bao dinner in Din Tai Fung.

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We love the plates they have for kids in DTF.

Mikey planned an impromptu playdate with some good friends, and they ended up in Adventure Zone again the next day. They had so much fun that Max fell asleep right after he had a few bites of his Shake Shack cheeseburger.

He had so much fun that he came down with a really bad cough. He was coughing through his big birthday lunch with my family the next day. But it didn’t stop him from playing with all his new toys with his Ninong Charleston.

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With Ninong Charleston

His last birthday celebration was with his Lala who helped us end the month with a bang. His Lala took him to Toys R Us to pick out his birthday gifts. We also had a great dinner at Sakura Yakiniku, Mikey’s favorite restaurant—and now, one of Max’s too.

Maybe when Max is older and he expresses his desire for a big birthday party, we’ll finally throw him one. But for now, his month-long celebration was pretty perfect.

When Max was about to turn two, everyone warned us about the terrible twos. As the year progressed, I kept thinking: it’s actually not so terrible. In fact, it’s pretty magical. I didn’t want to say it out loud because I was worried about jinxing it.

But now that the terrible twos are over, I can finally admit that it was amazing! I mean, of course there were hard days and I’ve locked myself in a kitchen out of frustration a couple of times. But I got to witness him grow so much in a year. I watched him become more independent and expand his vocabulary. Last year, he only spoke in two- or three-word sentences. These days, we can hardly get a word in without Squish interrupting.

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Squish showing off his robot family

Our world looks so different these days. Max is in school, and, on top of my writing gig, I’ve taken on a research position in my old university. I miss those days when Max and I would spend most of our time at home. It’s been tough to work in family time, but I hope that things will normalize within the month. But maybe more on this later.

Today, I get a rare morning off at Starbucks while I wait for Max. I can finally finish writing this post and watch an episode or two of Downton Abbey. In about half an hour, I’ll start packing up so I can walk back and pick up Squish. A three year old. Who goes to school. WHEN DID ALL OF THIS HAPPEN?!

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How was this three years ago???