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February 25, 2014 / thegirlwhotooktheleap

Mom Confession: We bed-share (safely)

I grew up sleeping next to my parents. It was never a thing anyone batted their eyelashes about in the Philippines. Its very normal and I would say it would be more unusual to find parents who put their baby to sleep in a crib in their own room. Needless to say I was shocked when I became pregnant and started talking to doctors and nurses and got lectures about the dangers of co-sleeping and bed-sharing. I was so scared that it made me get a bassinet and rethink my decision. So before Johnny arrived I decided to co-sleep instead and placed the bassinet next to my bed. Well when he arrived he just wasn’t having it. He was just more comfortable in mommy’s arms and mommy’s chest, and bed-sharing made nights and breastfeeding so much easier. I knew the risks of bed-sharing, and I was not a heavy sleeper and neither was I a smoker and a drinker (some factors of SIDS). Plus Tim was deployed for the first 6 months of Johnny’s life so he had a ton of space in the bed. It felt natural and great. We sleep great. Yes, there are times when I feel jealousy when I hear of other kids who have slept through the night since 2 months old, but well that’s not my Johnny. Johnny is 12 months old and still nurses a couple times a night. He’s just always been that way. Why would I deny him that need? People tell me that he no longer needs to nurse at night and this is just comfort nursing now, then my deny him that comfort? I feel guilty for working during the day and leaving him at daycare, and this is his chance to get more mommy snuggle time. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against those who put their babies in a crib, it just isn’t what works for us. My husband loves having him snuggled with us too, especially since he is still making up for all the time apart they had. What I don’t like is that I am made to feel guilty and forced to lie about our choices. Everytime I come back for a well-visit I get asked “Is he sleeping through the night yet?” and at first I was honest and said no, and I got a long lecture about how he needed to be transitioned to a crib, and we would both sleep so much better and its so much safer etc. I felt so guilty afterwards. The next two visits I had I ended up telling the doctor he was sleeping on a crib.. which technically isn’t a lie because he does sleep in his crib at the daycare. Just not at home. Sometimes I worry about the time when we actually do need to transition him. We have a toddler bed next to our bed which is ready for Johnny. I figure we will start the process when he is about 18 months old, but I will do it slowly. He’s only young once, and I know eventually he will be independent from mommy and daddy, but for now, we shall relish and savor all the snuggles we get from him.Β 

So what kind of sleeping arrangements do you guys have? And how did you transition your kid into a big bed? I would love to hear other people’s experiences. πŸ™‚Β 

February 24, 2014 / thegirlwhotooktheleap

“Is my child delayed?”

This is a question I get asked a lot by my mom friends, because they know my profession. And lately, this is a question I have been asking myself, because just like any other mom, I worry and I compare. My son is 12 months old, and he says “dada,” “mama,” and shakes his head consistently for “no.” He is able to respond to his name by turning his head, he imitates actions, he initiates contact by making noises or actions, he takes turns and can wave to “hi” and “bye.” He can pound a toy hammer and presses on the buttons of his toys appropriately. I say those are pretty good accomplishments for his age. But is it enough? He’s standing and walking assisted, but not on his own yet. He hesitates, I can tell he’s getting there, but he’s not ready. He wasn’t even self-feeding until this weekend. Prior to this weekend he has been eating only if I spoonfeed him or if he eats off my hand. He would touch food but he would not put it in his mouth, he would only play with it. With some mom advice I was given, I gave him the larger piece of food and I began to eat off his hand. Somehow this triggered something in him and he started feeding himself, just like that. I felt like he was telling me, “See mommy, I had it in me all along, I was just taking my time. Don’t rush me mommy.” We live in a society where we expect too much from children and we cant let them grow and learn on their own. This weekend my son taught me something, it was that I need to be more patient as a mom, and I need to savor each moment and stage because I know once he self-feeds, I will miss the moments when he depended on me to feed him. I can feel him slowly gaining more independence and courage, and while it makes me so proud, I am also sad because I know he’s growing up! Last Monday, he went down the bed on his own, and he also started using a sippy cup and grabbed my spoon and pretended to eat. Everyday he continues to amaze me with what he picks up and learns just by watching his surroundings.

Despite all his accomplishments, I do see other babies his age who are maybe talking more, eating better or walking unassisted. So is my son behind? Not necessarily. Other children maybe “ahead” in some aspects, but it does not make my son “behind” or “delayed.” It just makes my son an individual who does things in his own time. Milestones are there for a reason, its a general guide, but its not the holy grail.

However, these things need to be taken with a grain of salt. Obviously if my son is almost two and not walking or talking more, then yes I will become concerned and I will seek help from professionals. One personal pet peeve of mine are the typical statements like “Oh my son didn’t talk till he was 3! He’s fine! He will talk when he’s ready!” (said to a mom with a non-verbal 3 year old). While this may be true, there needs to come a time where you need to think about seeking intervention. When there is already an obvious delay, seek help!!! Do not even hesitate, I cannot stress enough the importance of early intervention. And the sooner they seek help, the sooner they can catch up and become dismissed from services. Also, as a mom, I feel like you always have that gut feeling, that maternal instinct. If that is telling you that something isn’t right, tell your pediatrician and find a local SLP. An evaluation from Birth to 3 or EI is more than beneficial. At the very least, they can equip you with language stimulation techniques and help ease your mind. πŸ™‚

So I guess my take home message is this, don’t expect too much too soon, and don’t expect too little too late. Makes sense? Remember that no two children are the same. Everyone develops differently and in their own time, but you also need to know when its time to step in and do something about it. Lastly, talk to your children constantly! Read them books and ask them questions. Sing to them, label everything, narrate your actions. You’ll be amazed at how much they pick up on what you say and do. πŸ™‚

I think ASHA sums it up pretty nicely in this article, its all a matter of determining whether its just a child being a “late bloomer” or if its a language problem. And here’s an excellent article on milestones you can refer to πŸ™‚

February 20, 2014 / thegirlwhotooktheleap

Just another diaper review!

First off, I do not cloth diaper. Believe me I thought about doing it plenty of times, and maybe for baby 2 I will actually take the plunge but for the first 4 months of Johnny’s life we lived in a college town and my apartment had no washer and dryer plus I was still in grad school full-time, so that was a no-go. Then we travelled for 2 months to the Philippines and used sposies there too. Then we came back, Tim came home and he was still adjusting to having a son to take care of so I did not want to force him to cloth-diaper (He wasn’t keen on the idea. I am hoping to convince him when we have baby 2 to try it) πŸ™‚Β So there, I use sposies and I have probably tried a few brands out there. Luckily, my son does not have a picky butt and does well with most of them.. I am basing my review on three things, cost, quality and effectiveness.

PAMPERS

Johnny used Pampers Swaddlers when he was a newborn, and they are great. Soft, I love the classic look and the wetness indicator works well. My only beef with Pampers is the cost.. they are so expensive and don’t seem to have as much high-value coupons and sales as Huggies. Johnny hardly ever leaked with Pampers. Having said that, I hardly ever use this brand because I can’t really justify the cost. Quality and effectiveness are top-notch for me.

HUGGIES

I will divide Huggies into 2: Little Movers and Snug and Dry.

I buy Huggies a lot because they seem to have the most sales. If you coupon in CVS, you can get Huggies practically free (Well not really, but for much much cheaper). Without coupons and store sales, they are as expensive as Pampers but with the savings they come out pretty much equal to or cheaper than the store brand diapers. I love the softness of Little Movers, I love how it forms on my baby’s butt, the designs are cute and we have not had rash or leak problems with it.

SNUG AND DRY

Snug and Dry is okay… It’s not as soft as Little Movers though. I don’t like it as much, but they are still one of my go-to diapers. It really is snug, the elastic on the waist really follows the shape of my baby’s butt. Same price as Little Movers, so I tend to go for that since I find it much, much softer.

LUVS

Cheap, works great, but I am not a fan of the smell and design. We do use it though, especially for the daycare. A box is pretty reasonably priced. I wish they would make a scent-free one, its so obnoxiously strong. Quality is good too, and its effective, and cost is a definite plus.

UP AND UP (TARGET)

Not a fan, but cost is great! Even cheaper than LUVS. I find them too hard and stiff. They are effective but my son seemed uncomfortable in them. I think the quality is not as good. But we did not have leaks with this brand.

PARENT’S CHOICE (WALMART)

These are actually not bad, but I also find it of lesser quality. What I mean by this is that it works, but you can tell the difference when you compare it with others. Not as snug, and tabs aren’t as tight. We actually did leak with this brand. Probably would not recommend this for overnight use. Cost is great, cheaper than the rest.

SIMPLY RIGHT (Sam’s Club)

I found these to be pretty terrible, sorry. Almost no elastic, you had to just rely on the tabs to keep it in place. Would not recommend it.

HONEST CO.Β 

I call this the disposables for the rich people, lol. They are very expensive, I know its more environmentally-friendly and I appreciate that fact. I have to say I do love the prints and the quality of it. If I had the money, I would subscribe monthly! I have 2 months worth of these diapers because I used a sale coupon and had some referral cash, and I am very pleased with the softness. It’s thin but surprisingly absorbent. I feel that my son’s butt can breathe lol. Probably my favorite, but would I use it for long-term? Sadly no, because the cost is too much! They do offer a trial, which I recommend, you can sign up to try it here and could always call and cancel your subscription if you choose not to continue it.

So there’s my quick but honest review from just another busy working mama! I wish I could be more detailed and give pictures, but this is it for now πŸ™‚ I would love to hear stories about the kinds of diapers you use, and your experiences, especially for the ones I haven’t tried πŸ™‚

February 18, 2014 / thegirlwhotooktheleap

Protected: My little man is ONE :)

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February 12, 2014 / thegirlwhotooktheleap

Citizenship

I cannot believe I am about to file in 2 months!Β 

Crazy how time flies..Β 

I can still remember creating this blog 3 years ago in my bedroom in the Philippines and I was still worried about the K1 and AOS process, and now here I am!

Which just goes to show that every journey does come to an end, and I for one cannot wait for my visajourney to end.Β 

So how is everyone? I will post my citizenship guide soon. So far I have accomplished step 1 which is to file my taxes for 2013, which means I now have the required 3 years of tax returns.Β 

Anyway, I will write back soon. For now, I am going to prepare for the upcoming Snowmaggedon here in PA! We are supposed to get a foot of snow tomorrow!Β 

December 29, 2013 / thegirlwhotooktheleap

When Johnny met daddy, and a look back at my 2013

I feel somewhat ashamed that I haven’t written a blog post since July, but not really.. I think when you read this you will know why. I know in my last post before this I remember saying I shall start blogging more, but when your husband returns home from deployment and meets your son for the first time, life sort of takes precedence. My life since he returned has been a whirlwind, but it has been nothing short of sweet and perfect. But let’s backtrack for a second, and let me tell you about his homecoming..

I flew back from the Philippines July 13th and I remember it being such a bittersweet feeling to leave again after not being home for over 2 years. But the excitement of knowing I was days away from seeing my husband again was truly overwhelming! He had arrived stateside Mid-July and was doing his out-processing as I flew back, so though we didn’t know when he would actually come home, we both knew it was simply a matter of days away.

I had made quite a few preparations for homecoming. The first was finding the right outfit for lil J.

20131230-022207.jpg This is the outfit I decided on, which I found on Etsy. πŸ™‚ The next part was finding someone who could take photos so that we could immortalize that moment. I couldn’t imagine a moment more precious than a father meeting his son for the first time. Luckily, one of the other women I had gotten close to whose fiancΓ© was deployed with Tim, was a photographer and more than agreed to capture this moment for us πŸ™‚ Her name is Amanda Archer, and she does amazing work!

Finally, the actual homecoming.. How did we want to do it? We’re we meeting him at the airport or the armory? Was he driving home and surprising us there? After giving it much thought, Tim and I decided that it was best for Tim to meet us at home and we wanted to surprise Tim’s parents as well. I had told them that we were driving to the armory to meet Tim but he was really coming to see us. I knew that homecoming was as much for them as it was for me, and it was important for me that they were part of the moment. Now that I am a mother as well, I cannot imagine the pain and worry of a son leaving for deployment, so I knew that this day was as special for them as it was for me.

Finally I got word from Tim that July 20th was the lucky day! Together with Tim’s sister, Bee, we quickly made arrangements for a surprise party! Amanda arrived about noon time and we awaited Tim’s call that he was close. Surprisingly I was very calm that day, I had such a peace inside me. It was an incredible feeling. I just remember looking at little J and thinking that he may not know it then, but that that was the day his life would change because he would finally feel his daddy’s hugs and kisses. I was so excited for him!!

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Finally I got the call that he was near!! We tricked his parents and grandparents to go out by telling them that Amanda wanted to take a family photo. As soon as they walked out, Tim’s car arrived and he stepped out. You could hear the collective screams, smiles and everyone’s excitement as they all rushed near him. Seeing him was so surreal and that was when I froze. I stood there and let everyone get to him first. He looked at me and smiled as he hugged his parents and siblings. And we both knew that in a moments time we would be in each other’s arms again. It was magical.

 

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It was an incredible and wonderful day. I have tears in my eyes as I look back and write this. I think it’s fitting that I wrote this today, a few days before the year ends because it’s made me realize once again how blessed and grateful I am. Grateful and blessed to be able to spend this holiday as a complete family.

The past few months since he’s returned has been a blur. We moved to a new home and unpacking and decorating has been keeping us busy. ThAt part isn’t easy when you have a baby who is now crawling.

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We also got a second car for me to use for my new job, which by the way is going really well. I’m currently assigned to a school district and am almost halfway through my clinical fellowship year πŸ™‚

But more importantly, for the past few months we have been together. We have witnessed Johnny’s milestones together, spent holidays and weekends as a family as made so much memories!

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Lil J and Tim are like the best of friends, it’s like they were never apart at all! πŸ™‚

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Life has been kind to me, I am blessed with two amazing boys to have in my life. All the struggles I’ve been through to get to this point have been worth it. I’m hopeful that 2014 will be kinder and bring on more amazing memories, challenges, love and joy.

From my family to yours, merry Christmas and a happy new year!

July 9, 2013 / thegirlwhotooktheleap

The tale of the missing noa1

I don’t know if you can recall but last April I wrote that my biometrics letter came in the mail but my noa1 never did.. I called uscis to have it resent and it still did not show up. Strange right? I called again to ask for it to be resent again and they told me they can’t resend it twice. Here I am baffled at why I wasn’t receiving it in the first place. I opened a po box specifically to avoid that issue because I lived in college housing and I was moving soon so I didn’t want to disrupt the process.

Anyway I was told by the uscis representative that I can ask for the i551 stamp through an infopass appointment. She told me that it would be easy to get one and shouldn’t be given a hard time so I scheduled an appointment the Monday after graduation.

That day eventually comes and I brave the trip to downtown Philly. I head to the uscis office and lo and behold, the officer almost refused to give me one! First she said I needed to just call back and have it resent and when I told her that they wouldn’t she said I should insist. It was such a terrible experience, she left me almost in tears! I ended up getting one after begging and showing her all my documents like Tim’s orders, the biometrics letter, I even showed her the form for my teaching certificate just to prove that I was like a good person. She eventually gave me one that was valid for a year but told me never again to use a po box for uscis because it will be returned to sender.

So there’s my experience and a warning to all- stay away from po boxes for uscis purposes!