Happy Jay-U-N-E … I mean, July

Alternative title: Dear Husband, thank you!

I wrote this post last month, intending to post it by Father’s Day. As usual, I’m more than a month late to the party … but I suppose it’s never too late to show gratitude and appreciation for your loved ones.

June is always a big month for me. It’s the time of year I always say, “WTF, half the year is over?!” and then I go broke because there are way too many things to celebrate. More importantly, June is the time of year I get to celebrate my superhero of a husband practically all month long, because not only is it his birthmonth and the month we celebrate our very first date many moons ago, but it’s also when the whole nation gives fathers the props they are due for a whole Sunday. So here’s my little PDA (public display of appreciation) for my roomie, my baby daddy, my best friend, my husband.


Jay is the folder of laundry and the washer of dishes when I have to work late. He is the bringer of doughnuts when I just don’t feel like flippin’ anymore flippin’ pancakes for breakfast. Every morning he wakes up super early so he can go to the gym and comes back just around the time we’re waking up. He chauffeurs Lucas to and from daycare almost every day of the week, and manages to squeeze in a full day of work in the corporate world.

He is the master of putting our restless son to sleep by singing R&B slow jams, and is the reason our kid knows all the words to “Lately” by KCi & JoJo (and also “Bound” by Kanye, but we’ll save that for another post). He is, without a shadow of a doubt, the fun parent between the two of us, and I have no shame in letting him have that title because he earns it day in and day out. Jay is the one who saves us from boring weekends, is always up for ice cream after dinner, and doesn’t believe in limiting our living room campouts to weekends only.  He is the complete opposite of me (completely laid back, slow to anger and quick to forgive) and the carbon copy of our son (silly, passionate and a pizza aficionado) in the very best of ways. I am, at the very least, blessed to be his partner.

So cheers to you, Jay – our corporate hustler by day and lullaby extraordinaire by night. We love you to Mars and back!


Our weekend in Arizona

Alternative title: “Some people are worth melting for.”

That’s a quote from Olaf the Snowman, for all you non-Frozen fans. But it also perfectly describes our time in Phoenix a couple weekends ago. All 106 degrees of it.

Five and-a-half hours of driving means that 1) we get a pass for eating McDonald’s, and 2) when Mommy forgets our beloved instruments, we make drum sticks out of paint sponges and guitars out of Legos.


So whywhyWHY Phoenix in the middle of a big heatwave? Because we wanted to celebrate Jay’s birthday somewhere we hadn’t been since our pre-married, pre-baby days. And if there’s anyone worth melting for, it’s him. :)

We ate entirely too much junk food, took long afternoon naps in our air-conditioned hotel room, watched a little too much reality television, and celebrated National Doughnut Day by floating around in huge yellow ones all day … and then eating actual doughnuts.


Morning stretches, ‘cuz fitness doesn’t take a vacation.

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It’s funny how much our criteria for a good resort changed when we became parents. Nowadays, before booking a hotel, I find myself asking questions like: Is it kid-friendly? Does their on-site restaurant offer high chairs? Can I request a crib for the room? Does the pool area have shade? Does it have a lazy river? (Actually, that last one was a requirement even during our pre-baby days, cuz lazy rivers are our jam.)

The Arizona Grand Resort exceeded our expectations in many ways. It was clean. Every room was a suite so it had a separate living area, giving Lucas ample space to run around and cause a ruckus somewhere other than the bedroom. It was walking distance from a cheesy, Western-themed restaurant complete with a slide inside (a slide!), complimentary cotton candy for dessert and a balloon man who made Lu’s dream come true by combining two of his favorite things: balloons and guitars. Best of all, their ginormous Oasis Water Park was a mirage come true in the Phoenix weather with water slides, a wave pool and an extremely lazy river that did not disappoint. And a bonus: a huge shaded area with beach chairs aplenty so we could escape the stinging sun rays when we weren’t in the water (we could’ve also rented one of their cabanas, but their shady spot was free). Another bonus: double donut pool floaties so the three of us could float down the lazy river together as one happy figure-eight family! It’s the little things, really.

On our last night we had dinner at a cute little pizza place that was also  dubbed by Oprah as the best pizza in the country, and then we spent the next morning melting at the Phoenix Zoo.IMAG9647 2014-06-10 09.20.31 IMAG9674_1 2014-06-10 09.23.19 IMG_20140607_163914

Today, whenever we ask Lucas to tell us what we did that weekend, he excitedly proclaims: “‘Zona! Doughnuts! And swimming! And eight! (remembering the eight-shaped pool donut we floated in all weekend) Count on a toddler to sum things up perfectly.

Thanks for the hot and sweaty times, ‘Zona! And thanks for providing us with beautiful Quantum-Leap-themed landscapes all the way home.


Carry-on essentials for toddlers

Alternative title: How to survive a flight with your two-year-old

A few months ago we flew to Hawaii for a family wedding and vacation. We’d already been on three plane rides with our son (one of them a 16-hour international flight), and I learned a lot from those flights. But THIS. This would be his first as a full-fledged toddler, with his own seat (now that he was past the two-year-old mark), so I knew this flight would be a whole different ballgame. Flying with a walking, talking child requires a new level of preparation and patience. More specifically, it requires a new arsenal of toys, snacks and activities to keep him entertained, comfortable and well fed. I love the concept of a “busy bag” that I’ve been seeing all over the Internet and will be sure to borrow some of those ideas for our future trips. Here are some of the must-have items that I’m really glad I carried on board during our six-hour, non-stop flight to paradise: toddler-carry-on-essentialsToddler carry-on bag. When I first saw this Popatu “trolley” rolling backpack at Nordstrom, I really really reeeeeally wanted an excuse to get it for myself my son. Luckily, at this age, he’s all about being independent so I could finally justify him getting his very own carry-on luggage. It’s super light, doubles as a toy for roll-happy children, and is the perfect size to pack most of the things in this list (with room to spare). It also doubles as a backpack, although that doesn’t really matter right now because he much prefers pretending it’s a vacuum cleaner and “cleaning” up the entire airport. But I have confidence that when he’s a little older, he will finally realize how cool it is to wear an airplane on your back. IMG_20140318_184441 Favorite blanket. Planes get cold, yo. I used to underestimate the importance of a good quality blanket for traveling (and in general), but now I know better. Slightly larger than our usual go-to Aden+Anais blankets, this toddler-friendly sized blankie by Candy Kirby Designs is our new fave because it’s so lightweight, so breathable and super soft — enough to keep him warm but not too warm. And when it’s not being used, it barely takes up any space in his bag.2014-03-18 11.25.33 Duplo Legos. A friend of ours gave Lucas a Duplo set before our trip and he was smitten. So we brought them on board and it kept him entertained not only on the plane, but at restaurants, in our hotel room and during our long car drives.

Alphabet stickers. ‘Cuz when you’re sticking them all over your entire body and airplane seat and anything else within reach, you might as well learn your ABCs. IMAG8506_1_1 Bite-sized snacks. I didn’t want to pay $12 for a cheese plate and there was a big possibility my kid wouldn’t find airplane food very appealing (perish the thought), so I made sure to pack lots of munchies to keep his stomach happy. The best airplane snacks are the ones that are pre-sliced and won’t leave a sticky mess. Our stash, all Ziplocked individually and ready to go, included Annie’s pretzels/cheddar bunnies, veggie chip sticks, Snapea crisps, Hawaiian rolls, tangerines, grapes, cheese sticks, banana chips and Belvita cookies. Some of these were new foods he’s never tried because nothing calms down a fussy child more than OhMyGoshAreThoseCookiesShapedLikeAnimals?! But every kid is different and, surprisingly, my son wasn’t even a fan of animal cookies. So whether you go the healthy route, the lollipops-because-it-keeps-them-quiet route, or a mixture of both, bring a good variety. Lots of it. And if they end up rejecting the Snackimal cookies, well, all the more for you.

Mini water bottles. Lucas refuses to drink anything EXCEPT WATER … and he’s been that way since he stopped breastfeeding at one year old. Staying well hydrated in a pressurized cabin is important, but airplane water is gross and when I’m traveling, the last thing I wanna do is wash a sippy cups, valves or straws. Mini water bottles are so handy because they fit conveniently in our carry-ons, I don’t have to worry about leaks or dirty dishes, and I just throw it in a recycling bin when he’s all done. Fortunately my son was a pro at sipping water bottles by the time we flew, but I brought along some disposable bendy straws just in case. In my experience, TSA is pretty lenient with liquids (specifically unopened water bottles) when they see you wrangling a child through security. Worst case scenario is they’ll subject your drink to a 5-second litmus test and you’re good to go.

New toys. Another tip I’ve seen and will definitely follow in the future: Wrap up new toys as gifts and let them open it during the moments they’re most likely to throw a shitshow (for us, it was before the plane even took off). I recommend going the cheap route here because you don’t want to risk losing a brand new expensive, shiny toy during your travels (or your child losing total interest in it after five minutes). Dollar Tree and The One Spot at Tarjay usually have great inexpensive toys to choose from, but I also recently discovered the party favor section at Party City and wowwwwwww jackpot: stickers, mini cars, notepads, temporary tattoos, slinkies and a bunch of other “junk” toys I don’t mind throwing away or losing because they start at 35-freaking-cents!

Writing utensils and paper. New and shiny toys are nice, but it’s also good to stick to the basics. I will gladly draw 268 balloons for my son if it keeps him calm and happy on the plane. And I say “writing utensils” because he prefers writing with clicky ball-point pens over crayons (who can blame him?). But for the parents with normal children who like crayons, I’ve heard that triangular ones are particularly handy during flights because they won’t roll off the seat back tray table. Genius.

Tablet. Are you hungry? No. Thirsty? No. Sleepy? NO. Are you totally over your Legos after playing with them for an hour? YES. Okay, enter our trusty tablet. I’m by no means an anti-iPad mom, but I do try to make our tablet a last resort because I made the mistake of giving him my phone once and now that’s all he wants to play with. During the last hour of our plane ride, when we’d exhausted all our snacks and toys, the tablet was our sweet, sweet lifesaver from Tantrumville, population Lucas. Before our trip, I loaded up a few new games for him to play in case he got bored of his “usuals.” Some of his favorite apps are Endless Reader, Sago Mini Pet Cafe, the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse app and Lazoo Zoo.2014-03-18 15.44.04 Finally, here are few other intangible essentials to bring on board when flying with a toddler:

  • A couple Ziplock bags full of non-apologetic smiles. Flash them at any passengers who, without shame, give you a sneering look or sigh loudly under their breath when they find out they’re about to sit next to a child. They’ve either never had kids or were the type of parents who decided that traveling with their children was too much of an inconvenience. I said it!
  • An oversized luggage full of patience for when your child just wants to run up and down the aisle and absolutely positively refuses to sit in his car seat, screams when the window’s open because it’s too bright and also when the window’s closed because it’s too dark, and all of the above times ten. I’ve learned that expecting my toddler to sit still and behave perfectly for six straight hours was a little unrealistic on my part, so I try to prepare for the worst and hope for the best.
  • A really open mind that will keep you sane optimistic from killing yourself when your kid is screaming to get off the plane and you’re counting down the seconds till the wheels touch the ground … and to remind you that the destination is truly worth the journey. Especially for parents with toddlers. And especially when your destination is Hawaii.

IMG_20140318_190556IMAG8451download_20140329_233216IMAG8543DSCF3020IMG_20140319_170832IMAG8560_1_1IMG_20140320_134713IMG_20140320_135839IMAG8461_1download_20140329_2333352014-03-20 08.49.49 What are your tips and carry-on essentials when flying with a toddler?


Alternative title: I’m still alive.

Oh, hey … remember me? I’d like to reintroduce myself as the author of this blog, but first let me blow the dust off of it.

I don’t know about you, but I feel like the past four months have blurred together into one long word. I wish I could say there was some exciting life event that kept me away and that I had a better excuse for neglecting my personal writing, but the truth is it’s really been just a series of your everyday, run-of-the-mill things. Holidays, birthdays, the end of winter, the beginning of spring, vacations, staycations, work situations, family obligations, and every other –ation you can think of, all squished in between the expected craziness that comes with raising a toddler. You know, life.

In short (and in my very best whiny voice): Blogging is haaaaaaaard. 

I’m pretty sure I broke the first rule of good blogging, which is that you have to do it regularly and often. I had every intention of writing last week, the week before that, and all 10 or 12 weeks before that too. But every time I started thinking about putting my fingers to the keyboard, I was already tired. Over it. Suffering from major case of typer’s block. Senioritis. I’d-rather-do-something-else-itis.

I know, I know … somebody call the wambulance already.

But on the very good side, during these last few months of my unintentional break from blogging, I also took a much needed mental vacation. I finally resumed a healthier work-life balance. My hours returned to normal, I’ve been coming home in time to cook dinner (or, more likely, eat out for dinner) and tuck wrangle my son into bed, I spend weekends with my laptop completely shut off, I’m back in touch with friends, and, quite frankly, I did a whole lot of nothing. Don’t get me wrong: I still find myself without enough hours in the day to do all the things I want to do. But it’s usually because I’m chasing after my kid or having Lord of the Rings movie marathons during our midweek living room campouts. Also, I’ll take a pile of dishes over a pile of paperwork any day, and I’d much rather be up at midnight over a stubborn toddler than an international conference call. Hooray for exhaustion and chaos being confined to the home!

Still, it’s time to stretch my typing muscles again because they are extremely out of shape and itching to get off the couch. At some point I’d like to recap Lu’s second birthday, our family reunion in Hawaii, and a few hundred other things. But no promises because I might get all busy again taking a very important nap. For now, here are some snapshots of the last four months that have gone by in the blink of an eye. Belated Happy All the Holidays and Everything Else That Happened in FebruaryMarchAprilMay!

IMAG7876_1 IMAG7877_1_12014-02-01 15.26.12IMAG8040_1_1 DSCN2933PhotoGrid_1393714858146IMAG8451 IMAG8562 IMAG8956 IMAG8965 IMG_20140410_194224_1IMAG9124_1 IMG_20140420_221526 2014-05-04 16.47.30

Aaaaaaaand we’re back!

Lucas, 23 months

Alternative title: ABCs, 123s and vroom-vroom-vrooms


It’s been a hot minute since I did an update on our little man. But pretty soon he’ll be two (two … TWO! Hold me), so I wanted to take advantage of the last time I’ll be counting his age in months. Maybe.

A lot has developed these past six months, but the biggest update is that sometime around Fall, his vocabulary exploded. Today he can count to 10 (and repeats “toon-teen” for every number after ten), recognizes most colors, sings his ABCs and calls out the names of everyone in our family. He loves words and points out letters of the alphabet everywhere he sees them, from his books and toys to store signs and my laptop keyboard. He says please and thank you (sometimes without us telling him to). He’s a boss at making animal noises (ask him what sound a wolf makes). And he’s learning the art of negotiation with the phrase “one more” (which coincidentally sounds a lot like “una mas,” so maybe he’s learning Spanish in his sleep).

Best of all, we never have a shortage of “eye-yoo”s (I love you) and big, audible kisses from him upon request. He is an overall sweetheart … except for when he’s throwing major shitfits because he doesn’t wanna go to bed or sit in his high chair.

Favorite words: NO, outside, cold, hot, bless you, plane, bird, bug, again, one more, mess, uh oh, awesome (thanks, DJ Lance Rock), ice cream, butt, fart, amen, and Jesus (right now every statue or anyone with a beard is “Cheesis”). He also loves reciting everyone’s names during our bedtime prayers, including his own (“Cacas”).

I just realized I used the words “fart” and “Jesus” in the same sentence.

These days he is a sponge and a human parrot (a spongy parrot) who will soak up, remember and repeat everything he hears and sees. This makes for some interesting moments, like when Daddy is screaming profanities at the TV during a UFC fight, or when Mommy drops the F or S bomb in every other sentence. (And the Parents of the Year award goes to…)

Slap-on-the-forehead moments: Pointing to a guy bending over and shouting “bu-butt!” And saying “vroom-vroom” every time he sees someone on a wheelchair.

Favorite things:

Take & Toss straw cups • slip-on shoes • mini drum set • B-woofer guitar •
LeapFrog phonics factory • My Pal Scout • play food • washable crayons

(Not pictured: my wallet, our phones, empty medicine bottles and my nail polish)

He’s also a huge fan of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, the Small Potatoes songs, the Ting Tings’ happy birthday song, and most especially the balloon song by the Postmarks. I’ve already decided that for his second birthday I’m just gonna fill up every inch of his room with balloons and play this over and over again all day long.

Favorite activities: Being outdoors. Watching us cook in the kitchen. Saying hi to every kid he passes. Reading. Going down the slide. Pointing at everything in the sky (planes, birds, stars, the moon). And using any object remotely shaped like a drum or guitar as that instrument. He will bang on anything from our pots and pans to the takeout boxes at restaurants, and one time we caught him strumming his Fisher Price corn popper like a guitar and singing at the top of his lungs up and down the hallway.

Least favorite activities: Being inside, shopping at the mall (though he doesn’t seem to really mind Target – a kid after my own heart), brushing his teeth, hearing the word “no,” staying in the cry room at church for more than 5 minutes, and going to sleep before 9. Help me.

Favorite foods: Watermelon, strawberries, cheese crackers, Hawaiian bread, cheese sticks, Greek yogurt, Cheerios, frozen yogurt, eggs, pizza, spaghetti, rice, apples and chicken from Chipotle (again, after my own heart).

Whew, that was a lot. And that wasn’t even half of it. The overall theme here is that he’s growing up so fast and constantly surprises us by how observant he is and the new things he learns every day. I wish I could capture every single moment: how he pronounces certain words, how he holds his spoon and even how he drives us crazy enough to warrant a timeout. Seemingly everything he does nowadays either makes us laugh, beam with pride or both.  Like the way he calls his grandma “Mang-ang,” says “fiffa fee” every time we pass by something that looks like a Christmas tree, and thinks that everything on the ground is a “bug.” Or how he plays with a spoon and bowl of water in the bathtub and says he’s cooking “eggies” or “noo-nuhls” (noodles).  Or how he grabs my hand to put against his cheek when he’s in his car seat or crib so he can sleep on it. And how he sings along to the balloon song (aka says the last word of every line), and insists that everyone join his drum-and-guitar band.

This is such a fun age and I don’t want to forget any of it. Am I ready for next month when he turns two? Vroom.


Good night, room

Alternative title: How to sleep train your child … or not


Last month we decided (and by “we,” I mean “I”) that it was time for Lucas to start sleeping in his own room. You see, when he was born, we co-shared and he slept in his crib next to our bed. This was our arrangement for 16 wonderful months. During our summer vacation and after we moved into our new house, we co-slept since we still had to finish putting his nursery together (Is it still called a nursery if he’s not a baby? Whatevs) and, frankly, we got really comfortable with the new arrangement. After all, next to us he slept like a … baby.

But then I started to notice that I wasn’t sleeping so well anymore. I had many late nights of working at home, which I couldn’t really begin until he was fast asleep because he insisted on me lying next to him. I couldn’t do laundry, wash the dishes, take a shower … you know, the things I didn’t have time to do during the day. Over time, it became painfully clear that we needed our bed back.

So one night, we put him in his crib, I left the room, and then my husband and I huddled around the baby monitor and held our breath. Much to our surprise (and sadness), he was totally fine and slept great. What. The. Fuck.

What happened to the tantrums? The stubborn and relentless cries for his mama? I had prepared myself for what I thought would be a long, tear-filled night. But the only tears that came out that evening were from me. It wasn’t supposed to be that easy and he was supposed to reach out for me as if to say, “No, this is unacceptable and I still need you right here with me.” How dare he go right to sleep and act like everything was ok.

But you know that saying, “Be careful what you wish for?” Yeah. ‘Cuz if you’re wondering if that first night was a fluke …

It was.

Some nights he’s really good about sleeping by himself, but most nights I literally have to sit next to his crib and put my hand on his cheek until he’s asleep. Most nights he ends up in our bed before the sun is up. And on a few nights, when I’m just too tired to fight the bedtime battle for two hours, Jay will walk into our son’s room and find this:


Let’s title this photo, “You do what you gotta do.”

I know he’s capable of sleeping on his own because he does it every day at daycare. But at home he’s different. When I’m around he’s different. I’ve accepted the fact that the whole learning-how-to-sleep-on-his-own thing, like most parenting things, is going to be a gradual process for all of us.  That sometimes, we both get the best night’s sleep when it’s next to each other. And that, for now, I am literally my son’s security blanket.

I guess the lesson here is that you do what works best for you. Flip the bird to anyone who thinks their way is the only way. Don’t let anyone pressure you into thinking one method works best, no matter how passionate and reputable the source, because chances are you’ll hear the total opposite shit from another, equally passionate and reputable, source. Forget what the “rules” dictate, because the only rules worth listening to are the ones that your instincts help create. But if you really want some guidelines to go by, here are a few tried and true bedtime tips:

1. Sometimes it’s fine (i.e. totally necessary) to stay up way past bedtime and have a pajama party in your room.


2. Beds are overrated.


3. A mother’s touch is not.


5. And, again: Do what you gotta do to get a good night’s sleep. Even if it means curling up next to your kid in his crib and hoping the mattress doesn’t break under the weight of one toddler and one adult (petite adult, but still).


I used to think that my son being extra needy around me was annoying, inconvenient and such a burden. Sometimes I still do. But I’m slowly learning to appreciate it instead because in my heart of hearts I know he won’t always be this way. Someday he’ll be fine sleeping by himself, and it won’t be a fluke. Someday, instead of asking for my hand to put against his cheek, he’ll be asking me to leave his room so he can be a sad little emo teenager by himself, writing in his journal about how his parents are ruining his life. And on that someday, I will give anything in the world to wake up next to this.

lucas-sleepingSweet dreams, friends! Excuse me while I go to my son’s room and check on him for the fifth time tonight.

2014: Time to breathe and stop

Alternative title: Not waiting to exhale.

If you haven’t noticed, it’s been nearly two months since I last published a post. After a whirlwind month of November, I decided to take a little break from documenting all the major (and minor) life events of our family and soak in all the holiday madness spirit instead.

2013 was such a go-go-go year for us in terms of accomplishing some lofty goals (like buying our first house), celebrating big milestones (like my son’s first birthday and his mama’s 30th), and clocking major airline mileage (to the Philippines, Australia and Maryland). It was also a really trying year, both professionally and personally. In 2013 I tried way too hard to do everything and be everyone to everybody. I held my breath so much in anticipation of what might be that I suffocated in my own insecurities. As a result, I always felt exhausted, never really felt satisfied or accomplished no matter how much I did, and took it out on the people who least deserved it.

Although I’m not really a fan of New Year’s resolutions, I kind of like the concept of having one word/phrase to aspire to. So this year, my mantra is to breathe and stop.

breathe-and-stop(Or stop and breathe, really, but “Breathe and Stop” is one of my
favorite Q-Tip jams so we’re gonna go with that.)

I’m not saying that we’re not gonna have another crazy year ahead. We still have big goals, travel plans, celebrations and a multitude of other things that will keep us active and busy for the next 12 months (not to mention a little boy on the verge of being two who is going to keep us on our toes forever and ever). What I am saying is that, in the midst of it all, I need to pause, look at the bigger picture, and exhale. I need to let go of the things I can’t control … or, what’s more, let go of what I want to control. Here are some ways I’m gonna try to breathe and stop more in 2014 and onward:

Less task-hoarding. More prioritizing and delegating.
Less working at home. More working on creating a home.
Less late nights at the office. More living room sleepovers.
Less complaining. More praying.
Less nagging. More praising.
Less multi-tasking. More relaxing.
Less worrying about the future. More living in the present.

So, when I’m making so many lists within lists that even the simplest of goals becomes unrealistic and unattainable? Breathe and stop. When I’m about to lose my shit because my son is throwing his third tantrum of the hour? Breathe and stop. When my inbox is so full that I want to pull an Office Space scene and give my laptop a major beatdown? Breathe and stop. When my husband’s doing the dishes and I notice he’s loading the dishwasher incorrectly in a way that’s different from how I would do it? Breathe and stop. (You’re welcome, babe.) When I need to go pee but first let me take care of this load of laundry real quick and just one sec while I check this Facebook notification and hold up I just need to finish writing this email? For the love of God, woman, breathe and stop and PEE! (Side resolution this year is also to not develop kidney stones or urinary tract infections. How’s that for a lofty goal?) And so on and so forth.

And because accountability is fun (yay, accountability, weeeeeeee!), I plan to document this journey on Instagram. Follow along if you like. And feel free to get on my case if I forget to #breatheandstopjamez. :)

Happy New Year!