Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Thank you, San Pedro Calungsod!

The Philippines recently celebrated the canonization of it's second Filipino saint - San Pedro Calungsod!  The canonization was done last October 26th in Rome by no other than Pope Benedict XVI.

With all the excitement going around, I was sure that novenas would definitely be abound and since my sister was on a business trip to San Pedro's hometown of Cebu, I requested her to get me a novena prayer to San Pedro.

I had several prayer requests in mind like guidance for the business venture that my friends and I were looking into and of course, Nina's Otits Media (ear infection) which I discussed about in this post.

As soon as I received it, I began to pray the novena although admittedly, there were some days when I missed out on praying.  Still I knew that our new saint would be kind enough to intercede for us especially since an innocent child was involved.

Today, I was finally able to squeeze in a schedule with the ENT from our HMO network.  Although we waited far longer than the actual consultation, it was well worth it.  The result of his check up?  NO EAR INFECTION, THE EARDRUMS ARE CLEAR!!!  I wanted to hug the good doctor but I dont think he would have appreciated that so I immediately shared the good news with hubs.  Of course, we're still having the hearing tests done and I'm still praying that they come out well.  Not that we've noticed any problems with Nina's hearing but I understand fully well that the doctors want to be sure taking into considering Nina's medical history.

So from the bottom of my heart, thank you San Pedro!  Thank you also because it appears that my wish to have a Pedrito doll is now possible.  Ins't he a darling?

For those of you who are interested in the Novena Prayer,  allow me to share it with you:

Prayer to Blessed Pedro Calungsod

Blessed Pedro Calungsod,
student, catechist, young migrant, missionary, faithful friend, martyr,
you inspire us
by your fidelity in times of adversity;
by your courage in teaching the faith in the midst of hostility;
and by your love in shedding your blood
for the sake of the Gospel .
Make our troubles your own
(here mention your request)
and intercede for us before the throne of Mercy and Grace
so that as we experience the help of heaven,
we may be encouraged to live
and proclaim the Gospel here on earth.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

When Babies are Called Home

I read some sad sad news today from Facebook.  One of the Apert families whose journey with their almost three year old son I was able to follow, lost their little boy suddenly while he was asleep.  I can only assume that the cause must have something to do with breathing issues that many Apert kids experience especially during their sleep but I have yet to know what the real story behind is.

Despite the fact that I have never met this family in person, the very thought of losing a child saddens me.  It saddens me more because as a mother of a child with Apert Syndrome, I find myself being able to relate with these "strangers" with whom we only share a virtual connection with.

This afternoon I've constantly been trying to dry my tears just thinking about Zane and what his family must be going through.  I know that no words will ever be enough to comfort his parents and so I say a silent prayer for them, thinking at the back of my mind that it could have been Nina.

No one wants to let go of their children, but when God calls them back into His fold, we are reminded that these children have only been lent to us by Him and that we are their earthly guardians/parents and that He is their Heavenly Father.

I don't want to live in fear over things that could happen and so I force myself to be cheerful, not to be affected by this loss and trust in Him that for everything He has His purpose.

Meanwhile, I ask that you say a prayer for little Zane whom I know is now back with his Father, back to being an angel that he really is.  Please pray for his parents too, that they may find strength during these times and that they be comforted with happy memories of the life that that was shared with them.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Asking for EARnest Prayers

We had originally planned on scheduling Nina’s 2nd syndactyly release right after hub’s birthday especially since we were having a long weekend that time, not to mention the school semestral break.  Unfortunately, she developed a bad cold which progressed into a cough the week before the scheduled date so we had to postpone again.  Her doctors are adamant that whenever a surgery date has been set, Nina must be clear of any coughs or colds two weeks before the surgery date.  This is mainly to ensure that no complications would arise during the surgery since they need her nasal passages to be clear as for the general anesthesia.

Recently, the kids had been diagnosed with Allergic Rhinitis and Asthma (sadly both of which were inherited from me) and both of them have been placed on maintenance medicines just to avoid any episodes particularly during the pollen season and the wonky weather.   It was during one of those check-ups with the ENT that the doctor pointed out that Nina had an ear infection perhaps connected with her never-ending sniffles and the cough that went with it that time as well. 

For a person with Apert Syndrome, it is typical for the midface portion to be hypoplastic  or underdeveloped.  That being the case, when ear infections happen, sometimes the liquid/pus in the ear is not fully drained (because of the structure of the ear canal) and that could affect the person’s hearing.  To resolve the problem, tubes will have to be surgically placed in the ear to allow drainage. 

The doctor then requested for Nina to undergo several hearing tests so she could determine if tubes would be necessary in her case.  Fast forward months later, we realized that the tests were never done!  One was because hubs and I discussed that we should arrange for the test to be covered by our HMO but because the requesting doctor was not part of the network, we had to look for one that was.  But things started coming up and before we knew it, 5 months had already passed.  We returned to the first doctor and sadly that the infection was still there.  So now, the tests are imperative and urgent but I am still hoping for a miracle. 

Honestly, I don’t want Nina to have to go through any more operations.  I also know that the tubes in the ear can sometimes get clogged so it’s possible that the surgery isn’t just a one-time thing.  So while I’m scheduling appointments with an accredited doctor, I am also praying that the infection dies down and that the doctors will see that there really is no need for tubes to be placed in her ears.  Will you join me in praying for that please?

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Happy 3rd Birthday, Nina!

                                                                                                   October 16, 2012

Hi Sweetie,

     Because today is your birthday, I placed this on my Facebook status message last night:

Three years ago, a little girl was born and immediately our lives changed forever. She initially gave us quite a big scare but she has made up for that with the immeasurable joy that she brings to all of us.

Happy 3rd birthday, Janina! W
e know that sometimes things are difficult for you and we wish that we could shield you from all that (especially the surgeries, the stares, and the unpleasant comments) but that’s not the way it is. But always remember that in God’s eyes and in ours, you are beautiful and perfect in every way.

Happy birthday, sweetheart! Thank you for always bringing joy to our hearts. We love you very much!!!

     First of all, I know that by the time you do get to read this, you would have no idea what Facebook is but let's just say that it's the "in" thing as I create this post, okay?

     Now going back to my story, since I put up that status message, it's received 133 likes, 60 birthday greetings which do not include the birthday greetings on your dad's facebook page, private messages sent to us and those sent via text messaging (yes this will most likely be obsolete as well by the time you read this too).

     Do you know what that means?  Aside from the fact that you are well known among your mom and dad's circle of friends, it also means that a lot of people love you, care for you, and are inspired by you.  And for that, we are very proud of you!

     This year has been a triumphant year for you because aside from the fact that you have had less health concerns than last year, your vocabulary and talkativeness seem to have multiplied tremendously over the last few months.  Sometimes, it takes a while for us to understand what you are trying to say, but the important thing is that you are doing your best to win over your supposed speech delay.  For the times when we can't seem to understand you - please be patient with us okay?

     As an unofficial nursery student in NJHS, Teacher Emma has nothing but praises for you.  She often tells us that you are even more disciplined than your older classmates especially when it comes to following instructions, cleanliness and to behaving quietly during class.  I have a feeling that you have become her favorite student but let's just keep that a secret ;)  Had you been officially enrolled, I wouldn't be surprised if you came out with honors in the class.  Almost everyone tells us that you're such a bright girl - and that is something that we do know for a fact.

     Since you will be reading this many years from now, I thought you might want to know some trivia about yourself at three.  You love dogs and your favorite foods are: eggs (in any form - boiled, poached, fried, scrambled, qwek-qwek, etc.) hotdogs and spaghetti (which you call getti).  But even though you have your favorites, you will eat almost anything and proof of that was this evening when you were sucking on the calamansi while stating that it was "maasim" but going on about it repeatedly, even if, as you had said that it was sour.

     Your toothbrushing buddy is Daddy and Mommy is your yakap pillow whenever it's bedtime.  Even at this age, it already appears that you have inherited moms OCDC tendencies but that's okay because we know that it helps you push yourself to do your best always.  You enjoy being independent and even your teachers say that many times, you would push their hand away whenever they try to help you with something in school.  That also happens to us when we try to help you put on your shoes or whenever you do something with your hands.  :)  Yup, you're a big girl now but no matter what happens you will always be our baby.

     We pray that as you grow older, you will always feel the love and pride that surrounds you.  May you always strive to do your best in everything (as you are doing right now) and may you always remember that the true worth of a person is not determined by what's on the outside.  It's what's inside that always counts.  PS, please try to be less cranky towards your big brother.  Yes, he smothers you a lot, but that's only because he loves you very very much and that he takes his being a big brother to you very seriously.  So give him some slack, okay?

                                                                                                    We love you,
                                                                                                     Dad & Mom


Thursday, October 11, 2012

Almost Three!

Someone's birthday is coming up real soon!  She knows it because we've been singing "happy birthday, nina" to her and there are times when we catch her singing to herself and even pretending to blow the candles on the cake.

I still can't believe how big she's grown and how she has progressed from the time we brought her out of the NICU.  Miracles do happen and she's living proof of that. :)

Taken when she was about a month old
Comparing her then to how she is now, you would not even think that it was the same child.  Yes, she has grown so much and she has progressed so quickly.  And we are extremely proud of her.

If it were only possible to bottle the joy and happiness this little girl brings to our lives, we would have gladly done it and shared it with everyone.  But since we can't do that, we're sharing with you how this little girl never fails to bring a smile to our faces.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Dealing with the Comments

It happened again!  Same place, same pool – in fact, I was actually wondering if it were the same kid.

If you’ve been following this blog, you would remember that I wrote about an incident that happened to us last year while we were at this same beach resort.  This weekend, while spending some time with family, it was as if we had a replay of events.  

Hamilo Coast in Nasugbu Batangas
There was this very lively chatterbox of a boy who decided that I was to be his playmate at the pool.  Actually, I was more of a passive sounding board to him, which was not new to me since Kuya does this to me almost all the time.  Apart from showing me his treasure (15 pieces of shells taken from the beach area), the little boy asked me what my order was for his make believe fast food resto. As with my kids, I decided to play along and ordered French fries.  Would you believe he charged me $450 for it – yes, in dollars!  (Perhaps he forgot he was in the Philippines).  Of course I told him it was too expensive and that was when he noticed my little girl. 

He asked me “why like that” pointing to Nina.  I asked him what he meant about the “why like that” comment and he repeated it and then as if to explain further, put his hands on the sides of his face and pulled them down, adding that her eyes were like that of a puppy's. 

at the indoor playground
Look, I know my daughter is cute, I will not object to that, but she is definitely not canine looking! 

Again, being at a loss for words, I simply told him that of course she did not look like a dog and that we all look different from one another.  Perhaps he felt that a long lecture was next or maybe his attention span could not take anything more than that and the little chatterbox moved away in search of some of the pebbles and shells that he threw into the pool, much to my relief.

Some time after that, while I was out of the pool and Nina was with her Yaya, I heard some kids ask her as well why Nina looked different and because I told Yaya to be tactful in dealing with those comments, she turned Nina away and commented that in fact she was a beautiful baby while giving her a kiss (great job, Yaya!)

I know we could have done way much better but incidents like this always catch me when I’m off guard.  In as much as I know I need to explain to them (the young ones most especially) that all children are made differently and that Nina was born with Aperts and went through an operation, but sometimes too much information might distract them from the lesson that I want them to learn.  Perhaps I arm myself with witty counter-statements that would at least create a impact on these kids so that the next time they meet someone who looks different, they would know what to say.  So how would you do it?  Do you have any witty lines in mind?

With Kuya and her cousin Migs

Oh yeah, a few minutes after I ranted about the incident on Facebook, I saw this post on a friend's wall.  Everything happens for a reason so I know that I was meant to read this post:  

Wherever we go, there will always be people who will judge us (physically, mentally.. everything). It will HURT... but this shouldn't bring us down because God made us this way. All we have to do is to pray for those kind of people, surrender them to God (no evil thoughts.. for it will not bring glory to God..It will not please Him) and be thankful to God for designing us the way we are now. 

~"I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know them well." - Psalm 139:14

It's a difficult learning process - for me especially.  But I know I'll get there.  But it is without any doubt in my mind that my daughter is a wonderful work of God and that in His eyes (and in mine) she is perfect.  No matter what other people may say.

Hey, I still need those witty comeback lines so that I don't punch someone's face the next time this happens, so help me God!  Leave a message if you have any :)

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Hopes and Dreams

Aside from this blog, I created the Apert Manila blog  hopefully to give Filipino parents of Aperts children with a touch-base / resource page.  Janina's doctors then suggested that I diversify the page to address not only the concerns of Apert families but all those with Craniofacial Syndromes.  Unfortunately, I realized that blogging is way much harder than I thought it would be.  Although I've managed to come up with posts on this page, to my great regret, it has become almost impossible for me to come up with the informative / educational posts on the other blog.

Hopefully I will be able to find a way to create more posts for both this blog and the Apert Manila blog.  Our dream is to eventually start a support group for families dealing with any kind of Craniofacial Syndromes.  Perhaps in the long run, we would even be able to help support / fund the surgeries of needy families to give their children a better chance.

Our household help told me one time that Janina was very lucky to have been born to our family.  They explained that had she been born to a family from their province, she would not have the opportunity to get the surgeries and medication that she needed.  They said that many times, children with disabilities from their provinces would either be left untreated or at worse, left for dead because the parents could not afford to bring them to the right doctors.  The thought saddens me because after seeing the joy that our daughter has brought to our lives, it would be a pity of other families would not get to experience the blessing that their child, regardless of his or her condition, would bring them.

So wish us luck in our endeavor and pray that we will have the strength, the means and the resources to put all these into reality.

For the meantime, please go on reading Apert Manila and do let me know what else we can do to improve it.  If you know of any families dealing with Craniofacial Syndromes, please encourage them to get in touch with us through this blog our through my Facebook page.

Monday, September 10, 2012

How Do They Do It?

I just realized that it's been a while since I last made a post here.  The truth is that I've made several drafts on my laptop and several more in my head.  But then things just start coming in and everything seems to need more attention and then before I know it, either the topic is outdated or I've complete forgotten about it.  Which makes me wonder... how do mommy bloggers do it?  How do they manage to write up a lengthy and interesting article while managing their household?  I often convince myself that I can write something while the kids are asleep.  But even during those times, the more "important" stuff still gets in the way.

Take for example the fact that last month (August) was Breastfeeding Month.  While it was during the time when I was weaning Nina from breastfeeding, we still managed to join a group that had Breastfeeding pictorials taken - just to have a momento of such a special time in our lives.  I had started making my post on that, but as you may have guessed, something else came up and the post got shelved.

So, to all the mommy bloggers reading this post, I tip my hat off to you for doing something that for me seems impossible!  But I hope that time will come when I can figure out your secret so that this blog will be alive more often.

Until that time comes, here are some photos taken from that event, just to let you know that we're doing wonderful (although quite busy).  Hopefully, I'll be able to come up with an interesting update soon.

For now, enjoy the photos and remember, September is Craniofacial Awareness Month!  

Thursday, August 23, 2012

One Fine Weekend

During day three of a 4-day weekend here in Manila, we decided on a quick trip to the zoo so that the kids would have a special weekend somehow.  It would have been a great time to go out of town but because hub’s office does not follow the local holidays, he didn’t have a long weekend like we all did.  In fact, we only had the morning of Monday free because hubs had to work that evening so we needed to give him enough time in the afternoon to catch some sleep.

The zoo, we felt, was one of the best places to bring the children because it allows them to enjoy themselves and learn at the same time.  Among the zoos we had visited were the Manila Zoo (which was on the top of our list only because they were the only ones with an elephant),  Ark Avilon (a bit expensive but interesting because you can feed the animals and their area is very clean and the animals are healthy), Tagaytay Highlands (also expensive but we had a sponsor then but the animals really looked emaciated except for the pot bellied pigs) and Residence Inn (a bit far but very nice).  Among those places, it seemed that Ark Avilon and Residence Inn maintained their animals quite well.  Obviously, we have done our round of the zoos here in Manila and that has left us with 2 remaining options: Avilon Zoo and the Malabon Zoo.  Malabon Zoo was a hands down choice for us because the entrance fee was only P120 per head compared to the P400 per head fee for Avilon Zoo.

In terms of appearance, I felt that the Malabon Zoo could use a lot more improvement (like better signages, paticularly about the animals and less quotations that I believe are hardly even read).  But compared to Manila Zoo, their animals looked well maintained/fed and their surroundings were much cleaner than Manila Zoo. It was also an added bonus that the place was filled with trees that kept the walk ways shaded and cool inspite of the humid Manila weather.  Malabon Zoo is the only one that has a live Grizzly Bear in its care – and it was quite impressive even if the bear practically ignored the people ogling at him and the kids roaring at him.  There were a lot of different varieties/species of fish and birds as well and lots and lots of tigers.  Of course, there were two layers of screen around most of the animals so it was quite safe for kids to roam around the premises.  Our children enjoyed seeing the tigers up close and would try to get their attention by roaring out load.  I guess the tigers have gotten used to all the attention because they too barely paid attention to our two tiger-wannabees.  Some of the tigers were in a glass enclosure so we were able to take photos where it seemed as if the tiger was actually just behind the children – cool! 

The kids also enjoyed feeding the ducks, the deer and the fish with the animal feed that you could purchase from the premises at only P30/bag.

In Manila Zoo, there was one area where you could have your photo taken with the colorful parrots.  In Malabon Zoo, you can have your picture taken with the pythons and an orangutan named Marimar.
Marimar the Orangutan

My answer was a quick no to the offer to have a picture taken with the pythons but hubs and Kuya were up to it so we they readily went up the stage to have their photo taken.  I was concerned that Kuya would freak out but as it turned out, he was very brave even when the snake was placed on his dad’s shoulders.  When the black one was added, Kuya suddenly cried out loud and started struggling to get loose.  Apparently, the tail of the yellow python found its way to his belly button and was trying to find a cozy spot.  It was cold and because Kuya was ticklish in the belly button area, he was not at all comfortable with that feeling.  That was the only reason why he cried!  

Even our yayas were brave enough to have their picture taken with the snakes.  It was only Nina and myself who declined and even if we were the only ones, I maintain that I don’t regret having missed that opportunity at all.  No thanks!

All in all, the kids enjoyed their weekend extension.  We only stayed at the zoo for about 2 hours – just a  short trip but it was worth every minute.  Lesson learned:  there are a lot of activities for families to do on a long weekend that won’ cost you an arm and leg.  The most important thing is that you get to bond together and create happy memories that you and your children will remember for a long time. 

Friday, July 20, 2012


I've been exclusively breastfeeding Nina since she was born and it has been a source of pride and joy for me to be able to do that.  When she turned 2, her pediatrician felt that she was underweight and needed to gain more pounds especially with her forthcoming surgeries so we were forced to supplement with formula milk.  But, it was always a given that come night time - it would be her time to directly feed from mommy.

Lately, I've been having some health issues that required my intake of a certain medicine which was not advisable for breastfeeding moms.  Of course, I initially chose not to take the meds so I could continue to provide milk for Nina.  But, their dentist had recently advised us that we needed to make sure that her night time feedings are lessened and that the last thing she does before going to sleep was to brush her teeth.  If I continued to breastfeed this would not be possible because aside from the fact that she's latched on to me until she falls asleep, most of the time she's latched throughout the evening!  It's come to a point where in these past few evenings it has become harder for me to pry her away.  I often have sneak out of bed to sleep on the floor so that she wouldn't latch on and also so that I can get some sleep.  But then after just a few minutes, she wakes up and cries for me and I have to go back to our bed.

So, I finally decided it was about time to wean her.  We tried to condition her about it the first few evenings but it didn't work.  I tried placing Calamansi but the taste didn't seem to bother her at all.  Eventually, we were able to find a solution that worked.  I started last night but wasn't quite as successful.  But tonight, it worked perfectly.  To top it off, Nina now sleeps while hugging me!  And that's one position that I can't and will not even complain about.

Yes, I think she has been weaned.  Aside from finally being able to take my prescribed medication, perhaps now, I can sleep better :)  Come to think of it, with a baby as sweet as her hugging me, how could I not?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Marked Improvements

It's been a while since Nina started with her speech therapy classes.  Although I was initially not that pleased with her therapist because I felt that she was unable to maximize their (expensive) 1-hour sessions, I have to admit that she has contributed a great, great deal in Nina's progress.

These days, our little girl is like a parrot constantly mimicking what we say and what we do.  She has always been quite observant but these days, she constantly tries to make use of her growing vocabulary to point out objects and places around her.  We were surprised at how clearly she was able to say "umbrella" one time as well as other words like "fishy", "ayaw ko" (I don't like) and "hati tayo" (let's share).  Her teachers are surprised as well.  Of course, there are some words that are still difficult to understand but I know that with constant practice and with God's grace, she will continue to improve.

We are particularly proud that she has maintained her independent nature and would most of the time, refuse our offers for assistance, insisting that she be allowed to do things by herself, in her own way.  Yes, she is stubborn, but I believe that it's her stubborn determination and independence that helps advance inspite of the challenges she has ahead of her.  Now that's what you call a WINNER in the making!

Nina, you make everyone around you so blessed and so proud to be a part of your life.  You really are an inspiration!

our Little Miss Sunshine

Not Her But We

Whenever people see how far Nina has gone with her development, there will always be someone who would eagerly tell us that hubs and I make great parents and that she has improved greatly because of us.  Comments like these make me cringe - mainly because I know that we aren't perfect parents.  Now don't get me wrong, and this is not false humility but really - as parents, we can only do so much.  Yes, it is a fact that we try our best to do what we can for Nina, but I feel all these would be nothing if it weren't part of His bigger plan.

I personally believe that everything that happens has been planned even before we were born.  Our daughter has a mission on earth, and we, her parents have one as well.  In as much as we try our best to fulfill what we think is our purpose - if He does not anoint our actions and our decisions, these would be nothing.

They say our daughter is lucky to have us as her parents.  While that may be true, I say that we are even luckier to have her come into our lives because she has taught us so many lessons in life that we never expected, and has given us so many things to be grateful for.  So who is it that is blessed?  I'd say it was we rather than her... and all this is because of Him who never, never fails us - no matter how doubtful and unworthy we are.

Sunday, June 24, 2012


Okay, so she kept me up most of the time last night because she was practically latched the whole evening.  During the times when I would be able to pry her away, she’d wake up and would start crying for me.  So much for a good night’s sleep.

This morning, while hubs and I were praying before our breakfast, Nina saw us and immediately went to the corner and knelt down to do this...

Now how can you not fall in love with this little angel and how can you stay mad at her?!
Hmmm... I so love being a mom! (even if it means sleepless nights)

Friday, June 22, 2012

Teeth Care

When Nina was born, she had two lower incisors’, one of which was moving.  It surprised a lot of people (us included) but it did not really bother us.  However, the doctors cautioned us that because one tooth was unstable, there was that danger that she could swallow the tooth and/or choke on it.  So we were advised to see a pediatric dentist.
just a few days old, her teeth showing  at the lower gumline
At that time, we had not brought kuya to see a dentist yet so we had to rely solely on the dentist that was recommended to us.   Imagine our shock when that dentist simply pulled down Nina’s lip, took a peek and told us, “yes, that has to be removed”  -- and then subsequently charged us P1,000.00 for that 1 minute diagnosis.  Geez, even I can do that!  Besides, even the untrained eye would be able to tell that the tooth needed to be extracted.  When she extracted the tooth (which only took 5minutes since the tooth was very loose) she charged us another P1,000.00.  If we hand known it would be that simple, I would have just asked my sister-in-law, who graduated from Dentistry, to do it for us!  Talk about highway robbery.  After that incident, we stayed clear from any pediatric dentists.

As Nina grew bigger, we noticed that her teeth were not as nice as Kuya’s.  They were beginning to show some stains although we weren’t quite sure if these were stains or cavities.  It was only after Nina’s cranio surgeon (Dr. Tansipek) requested us rather hesitantly, to see a pediatric dentist that the alarm sounded off.  He explained that because there may be a need for him to do cranio work on Nina around 7years old, it was important that her teeth are kept in good condition since the cranio work would affect her teeth as well.
Nina before her recent visit to the dentist

Upon the recommendation of Dr. Tansipek, we headed off to Dra. Fina Gupit-Lopez of the Pediatric DentistryCenter along Banawe Street in Quezon City.  We were greeted by a young and cheerful doctor who was perfect with the kids (such a far cry from the 1k dentist we previously went to).  Both hubs and I (as well as the kids) immediately warmed up to Dra. Lopez.  Not only was she great with the kids, she was very patient with them even if it was obvious that she wasn’t exactly having an easy time.  To top it off, the fees charged by the clinic were so much more reasonable than the fees charged by 1k dentist.  Thank God we found them!

So now, Nina’s teeth have been treated with fluoride and sealed to prevent any further damage.  Our next step is to wean her from the night time feeding so that the last thing she does before going to sleep is to brush her teeth.  We’ve been trying and for about a week, hubs was able to put her to sleep without her asking to feed from me.  And then suddenly, we were -- and still are, back to square one again…  hopefully, we’ll be able to figure out a way to wean her with minimal resistance.  Perhaps it's because generally their facial construction has been affected by Aperts but we find it difficult to get her to open her mouth wide enough so that we can thoroughly brush her teeth.  It's especially hard for us to get to cleaning her front teeth because there doesn't seem to be enough skin for us to pull up/out to expose the incisors.

This is what Nina's teeth look like now.  The pink stuff is the sealant that the dentist applied, the green stuff is what she ate ;-) and the small peg of a tooth seems to be part of what the 1k dentist pulled out (yup, she did a miserable job despite the fact that she charged an exorbitant price for it).  There are times life throws you a curved ball and you don't necessarily get what you paid for.

well treated and protected teeth

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Summer Activities

Kids all over Manila are having their summer break right now and with school out, I just needed to come up with some activities at home to keep the kids entertained rather than have them sit in front of the television the whole day.

The weather has been incredibly hot since April so naturally, we just had to bring out the inflatable pool.  In as much as we’d like Nina to have as much swimming time in the pool, we needed to be careful that she didn’t catch a cold since her colds tend to progress to a cough and then at times to pneumonia.   Poor baby, she couldn’t swim as much as she wanted to.  Our strategy was that we allowed her kuya to get in the pool earlier than her and after say 10-15 minutes, then she could join him.  Then to avoid any jealousy, they had to get out simultaneously.  Of course, for Nina it was much harder to get her out and we’d often end up with a crying baby who would say “miming” in between sobs. 

Considering our fear of her catching a cold, we couldn’t let them go swimming everyday so one weekend, we decided to take them out to Tagaytay Highlands where I used to work.  I had fond memories of the Animal Farm in Highlands back then, especially of the orangutan named Chino since he was kinda cute and would often have photo ops with the children.  Of course, that was something like 10years ago so imagine my shock when I saw how huge Chino had grown!  Still the kids enjoyed themselves and that was what was important.  Aside from seeing the animals up close, they got to ride on a horse (both real and imaginary) and they got a kick out of that as well (tho not literaly).

We also included them in a free summer pre-school given to kids where I work.  The experience was nothing new to Kuya since he attended the program last summer and some of this year’s students were his classmates last school year.  Nina on the other hand, although it was her first time, did not have any adjustment problems and proved herself ready for school.

Of course, we still did the usual drawing, play doh, building blocks, coloring and puzzle activities, but I was running out of ideas - quickly!  

Then I remembered finger painting!  My friends had given me a recipe for homemade fingerpaint but with Yaya 1 on vacation and me trying to catch up on work and cooking, there was simply no time for me to make it.  So I got whatever was available in the bookstore.  Luckily, we had a big roll of paper in the house which served as their canvass as well as protection for our floors.  The end result?  Let’s just say that for Nina it became a combination of Finger Painting and Body art.  She had lots of fun tho.  So with just a few weeks left, I still want to think of other activities that they can do… any suggestions?

Friday, May 11, 2012

Dear Kuya

So you thought that Mommy’s blog would be all about Nina… well  think again!  I can’t let your let your 4th birthday go by without documenting it my usual mushy way so indulge me a little okay?

It’s  hard to believe how fast time flies and how quickly you are growing.  You used to be my baby but now you start to complain whenever I call you my baby.   Come to think of it, when it comes to Nina, you show us that you really are a big boy now.  We are so proud of how well you look out for your sister.  You’re doing a mighty fine job in being a Kuya.  Whenever I see how you attentive you are and how concerned you are for Nina’s welfare, I always have this great sense of pride blowing up in me.  Many times I’m tempted to point out what you do to other people and tell everyone else that you’re my son.  Thank you, for making us proud, for assuring us that you will always be there for your sister.  Just the other night, I saw you wake up in the middle of the night and place a blanket on your sleeping sister – now  else in the world can I find a 4 year old doing that?! 

We are also happy that you’re slowly learning to be independent by taking a bath without the help of yaya, or by brushing your teeth, drinking milk from a glass, and lately eating by yourself.   I also love the fact that you no longer have “accidents” in the evenings  (Tipid na kami ni Daddy sa pag-bili ng diaper).

This year, you showed Dad and Mom how active you can be but at the same time, you also showed us how obedient you can be at the same time.  I know I scold you a lot of times but it’s only because I want you to be safe especially since at this age, you still tend to cry whenever you get hurt or get into an accident.  You also did very well in school this year!  You made it to the top of your Nursery class and you didn’t give mom a hard time whenever study time came.  Congratulations, babe!  I’m amazed at how quickly you learn things (especially when you put your heart to it) although at times, I have to admit that I do get frustrated especially when you forget your lessons and would rather play than study. 

receiving his award for being top in his Nursery class

This year, you had a lot of favorites:  the Disney Cars characters (particularly Lightning McQueen – that’s you and Mater is Daddy’s character).  You’ve also been addicted to Angry birds (oh how you can play that game so well that you sometimes get more 3-stars than mom!).  You also like Thomas the Train, Kung Fu Panda (and you do a mean kungfu panda dance) but over everything else, you still love your Elephants!  And your favorite color this year is Red (actually it has been since you were small) but you love it now, more than ever to the point that your favorite bird in the Angry Birds game (on the ipod) is the red one.

When school opens this year, you’ll be going to a big school – Miriam.  It’s the same school of Ate Chawie and now, Kuya Migs will be going there as well together with Ate Abby.  It’ll be a big change for you but Dad and I decided to enroll you there so you would learn to be more independent and less clingy to mom.  I just know you’ll like it there.

So on this, your 4th year… dad and I just wish that you would continue being as loving and as sweet as you are right now.  Stay as obedient as you are but please try to cry less often, okay?  Remember that Daddy, Nina and I love you a lot and that we will always be here for you.  Happy birthday, honey!  We love you very very much.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

It Runs in the Family

my dad
There’s a tagalong term that is often used in our house and it’s the word “sutil”.  The dictionary refers to it as obstinate but at home we use that term to refer to someone who is playfully naughty.  When my dad was alive, this was the best and only way to describe his sense of humor.  Years later, I find myself unknowingly marrying a man with the same endearing sense of humor as my dad.  It therefore comes as no surprise that my 2 kids seem to have inherited this particular trait. 

Nina’s Kuya had long earned the title of sutil because just by his smile alone, you would already think that he was planning some prank against you.  My dad was like that as well.
naughtiness X 2

What surprises us is the fact that for Nina, she has been displaying her naughty antics as early as now…  a perfect example happened just this afternoon when hubs asked Nina to bless or “mano”.  For Filipinos this is a traditional manner of showing respect to one’s elders – something that we would like the kids to continue practicing.  Nina must have noticed that her dad was in a sleeveless undershirt.  so, instead of raising hub’s hand to her forehead, she poked his underarm instead to tickle him!  How can a 2-year old come up with something like that?!  Who’s to blame?  Genes… that’s the only thing I can think of.  Incident’s like these make me wonder in amusement what kind of antics my kids will get themselves into for the years to come.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

We're Getting There

It's been almost a month since Nina started with her speech therapy classes, and I must say that she's doing a pretty good job.  Initially, she used up the 1-hour session crying over the fact that she wasn't allowed to either nurse from me or because neither I nor her Yaya would carry her.  This afternoon, she barely even noticed that we had left her alone in the room with her teacher.  That's progress as far as I am concerned.

She's also begun to say a lot more words.  The teacher proudly told me this afternoon that the words "apple" and "cup" were very clear when she was asked to repeat them.  The other week, we were so proud of her because when she saw us open the cake box from my sister's birthday, she said "Wow, cake!" and it was VERY clear!  That to us, is yet another answered prayer, another miracle.

Of course, it's still a long way to go for us and I know it wont be easy.  But with the determination that this little girl has, I know that we will get there, slowly but surely.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Challenges and Blessings

2012 appears to be a very challenging year for us but so far, all signs show that no matter what happens, everything will work out somehow.

Janina has been attending speech therapy classes especially since she’s very much delayed on this aspect. The pediatrician also told us that she appears to have verbal apraxia.  According to, Childhood Apraxia of Speech is a motor speech disorder. For reasons not yet fully understood, children with apraxia of speech have great difficulty planning and producing the precise, highly refined and specific series of movements of the tongue, lips, jaw and palate that are necessary for intelligible speech. The root word "praxis" means planned movement. To some degree or another, a child with the diagnosis of apraxia of speech has difficulty programming and planning speech movements. Apraxia of speech is a specific speech disorder.

One of the challenging aspects of her attending speech therapy is actually the cost as a one hour session costs PhP 700.00 or approximately $16.00.  We meet the therapist twice a week so that’s roughly around P5,600.00 or $127.00 a month. On top of that, her big brother will be going to the big school by next school year and because we value quality education, we opted for a school whose tuition fee does not exactly cost peanuts.  So far, we’ve been able to make ends meet and I know that with His grace, we will survive the year. 

Inspite of these challenges, we have so much to be thankful for.  When Janina was born, she was diagnosed with PDA and ASD.  Simply put, the doctors found that her heart had a hole which they hoped would eventually close by itself.  Recently, the pediatrician noticed that Kuya’s chest seemed to be getting bigger, somewhat like that of a pigeon’s and she also noticed he had a heart murmur.  So we brought the two to the cardiologist (especially since it was time for Janina to have a follow up check-up).  The doctor recommended that they both get an ECG as well as a 2D Echo.  Upon hearing those words, my mind starts computing costs once again particularly because we  were advised that these would not be covered by the health insurance because they fall under congenital conditions.  But again, we tell ourselves that the most important thing is still the health of our kids and we go on with the procedures for both. 

When the ECG was done, the pedia said that everything seemed to be okay (breath of relief) but that she wanted to have the 2D Echo done just to be sure.  Today, we had the 2D echo done for both and amazingly, both of them have been issued with a clean bill of heart-health!  Praise God!!!  I’ve been praying and praying over this and I’m so glad that our prayers were answered.  My heart and my mind tell me that our answered prayers are all with the help of Mama Mary.  Maybe it’s because I am now reading the third installment of Mama Mary and Her Children by Fr. James B. Reuter, or maybe because while we were waiting for our turn to have the 2D echo, who talked to me about Mama Mary, the Bible and all the conversions he heard about. 

Yes indeed, it’s another Mama Mary miracle for me and I’m sure that there will be more to come :)

Sunday, January 1, 2012

The Year 2011 in Review

2011 was a big year for Nina and for us as well.  Having recovered well from her 1st Cranial Vault last year, the doctors set the date for her syndactyly release.  The date was finally set for June 7th at 7am and so we were admitted at Cardinal Santos Medical Center the day before.  Her first operation was done at the PGH but because Dr. Teng Castillo (the plastic surgeon/hand doctor) whom Dr. Bernie Tansipek would be working with was no longer affiliated with PGH, the surgery had to be done in Cardinal Santos.

I would say that one of the hardest things for us was the fasting requirement prior to the surgery.  Because Nina is breastfed, she is used to latching on to me in the evenings.  I’ve become her evening pacifier so to speak.  Fasting for surgeries usually require that a patient does not take any liquid for something like 10 hours before the surgery!  But we were lucky the anesthesiologist was considerate and allowed her to take in BM up to 6 hours before.  After the 6th hour, hubs and I switched places with him sleeping beside Nina and me sleeping on the bunk so that she wouldn’t look for me.  Thank God we survived that night with little crying.  Maybe I should try and see if I can still teach her to take in the pacifier even at this age because I know that as she grows older, this fasting thing will prove to be even more difficult.

Apart from her surgery, one of the biggest obstacles we had were bouts with pneumonia.  We almost spent Christmas eve in the hospital because of that.  Thankfully, our pedia allowed us to go home with strict instructions for her to be nebulized every 3 hours and that she was in no way to engage in any strenuous play.  It was a challenge but it was definitely better than spending Christmas eve in the hospital.  I’m so wary of her getting coughs and colds these days simply because I’m always afraid that it might turn into pneumonia again.

On a positive note, our biggest blessing this year (apart from having one another) was Nina’s incredible development from being assessed with Global Developmental Delay to only having Speech Delay in a matter of 6 months without any therapy whatsoever.  A miracle indeed!  Another blessing was the fact that we were able to overcome the many unexpected expenses we had this year – most especially the surgeries.  Hubs and I are both blessed with jobs but even with our incomes combined, it’s a miracle that we even manage to get by.  Of course, credit goes to our family members who generously help us out during these times.  So glad to have a wonderful support system and a loving family behind us.

To summarize the year, 2011 was a big challenge for the family, but with God’s grace, we were able to overcome every obstacle, hand in hand with humbled hearts and smiles on our faces.  We know that 2012 will be an even better year with the love of God, our family and friends.  Merry Christmas and a Blessed 2012 everyone! Here's wishing that you feel loved and blessed every moment of 2012!