"Kamukha ng tatay noh?" 

Those were the doctor's exact words when I gave birth to our daughter two days ago. 

I rolled my eyes in disbelief.

That was the most difficult pregnancy and the most painful (albeit the fastest and shortest) labor experience I ever had. Tapos magiging kamukha lang ng tatay?!

"Not again!" I thought.

But how am I supposed to contest this?
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My Trafalgar Law hoodie arrived a few days ago. It reminded of the first time I had laid my eyes on this badass tattooed doctor with a goatee *gasps*. It was law at first sight. 

I have also been binge-watching and catching up with One Piece lately and I remember the fun times I had with Jan at the Tokyo One Piece Tower three years ago. I feel so bad I wasn't able to blog about it, especially when the only One Piece theme park in the world already closed its doors for good last July 31, 2020 (eff you, corona). 

March 23, 2019.
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Although there is no solid evidence that Facebook hears our private conversations, I am still convinced it does. And as much as I hate the snooping, I am still on it because I see it a necessary evil. 

Truth is, Facebook did help me emotionally, mentally, and even financially. And if not for the suggested pregnancy and birthing articles that keep on popping up on my newsfeed since it is what Jan and I mostly talk about, I would not know that Push Presents actually exist.

To those who have no clue what it is (since it is also not a known practice here in our country), a push present (also called a push gift) is a present a partner or family gives to the mother to mark the occasion of her giving birth to their child. In practice the present may be given before or after the birth, or even in the delivery room.  (Source)

Most push present ideas suggest flowers, clothes, bags, or anything the mother loves. The ones that remain most popular are jewelry. But I think those gifts that help make the first few weeks with a newborn extra cozy and easy, like a bed sheet with at least 500 thread count (as if the mother can sleep pa noh?) or automatic appliances, are better.

I already gave birth twice and I would say push presents may not be necessary because the new addition to the family is already a gift better than anything else. But now that I knew about it, I honestly like the idea. I think it's thoughtful and sweet.

So, needless to say, I made a list of MY PUSH PACKAGE

Note that I said package because one present is not enough to honor the difficulties of going through all the discomfort, weird cravings, food aversions, raging hormones, labor pain, and pushing a 6-pounder human through a smaller-than-a-fist hole (CS moms count too).

And that is just the easy part.

Nobody tells you about the horrors of pooping and sitting down after giving birth, of sleep deprivation that would last until God knows when, of probably losing the sex drive, but most especially, of motherhood.

And frankly, everything I have mentioned above does warrant a momma-you-did-an-amazing-job-you-deserve-this present. It's a bonus that can make a sore momma feel better.


I do not desire for anything extravagant, not even something that is sentimental. I just want whatever makes me feel like a human and not some milk-making machine. So here goes in the exact order:

1. Tokyo Tokyo bento meal 

Funny how this made it on my list. I don't remember what I ate after I gave birth to my eldest child, probably a hospital ration food. With the second one, I just had a 7-11 rice meal. A lot of food establishments temporarily ceased operations due to the alarming number of Covid cases back then, so choices of food deliveries from my favorite restos were also very limited. 

I hope it's different this time. Well, after denying myself those midnight runs to the kitchen whenever I think I'm hungry, the first thing I want to do after giving birth is EAT A LOT.

2. Whole body massage

Need I say more?

3. Foot spa and pedicure

I haven't been able to reach my toes for four or five months now. I know how much my feet badly need all the pampering and cleaning.

4. Brazilian wax

I have been bare down there ever since I was offered free sessions in 2014 (blogger perks, yay). I love how it makes me feel clean and sexy all the time. Haha. 😁

The last time I have shown my intimate bits and let every hair around it stripped by a total stranger was pre-Covid, two years ago. 

I just miss how refreshing and freeing it is. 

5. Total wardrobe overhaul

Every time I get pregnant, my body is altered in some way forever. For sure most clothes would no longer look flattering on me after I give birth. And I know it could take a while before I get back to my pre-pregnant body. Does anyone want my crop tops and body-hugging tees?

For someone who's turning 37 with three children, I now want something that screams "mature" but at the same time "stylish, comfy, and still hot". It will be a huge boost to my self-esteem and a good practice for dressing well in PTA meetings when the time comes.

Hence, the thrifted dresses.

Popping anytime now. No sleep. Hagardo Versoza. Laspaghetti beauty.

That's it.

I have a strong feeling that I will not have the luxury of time to do these once our daughter is out. But if there is one thing that is realistic for me to have, I would love a bowl of miso soup or authentic takoyaki or a half dozen of choco wacko right after this one last giant push. 😉

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I thought I would have a long, uninterrupted sleep last night because for the first time in almost two years, I let our toddler sleep with my mom. 

But that much needed rest never happened. I was so uncomfortable with this belly that could pop anytime, the perpetual back pain, the need to pee every fifteen minutes, and the unbearable heat.

Us exactly. Image via Pinterest.

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But unlike Eve, the devil had nothing to do with it.

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I swear. Jan and I never ever thought that one day we would be called landlords. 

We think it's a title only given to the asset rich, cash rich. Since we are neither, becoming a landlord has never really sunk in even though it has been seven months since we had our first and brand new house rented out.

Don't get it wrong. Unlike true landlords, we do not earn from it. The rent goes straight to the housing loan that we will be paying for at least two decades. But since it is highly unlikely for us to live there for now, the renters will be paying the mortgage for us.

Good move, 'di ba?

May 2021. This was last time we visited this place to check that everything is ready for the new occupant.
I kind of miss this house, honestly.

A few months ago, I joined a private Facebook group made for landlords all over the city who discuss everything rent related. The topics go from tips and guides to rates to management to the legalities to experiences. And it was only yesterday when I found myself browsing through posts and reading the comments about the horrors of having tenants too horrible for words.

There are tenants who demand for more than what they pay for. Tenants who steal. Tenants who trash the place. Tenants who bother neighbors or those who constantly squabble with other tenants. Then there are those who habitually pay late, those who do not pay and refuse to leave, and those who do not pay and leave without notice. And worse, there are those who do illegal activities.

English precis: Tenant rents a house, turns it into a laundry shop,
then leaves the house leaving behind a hefty amount of unpaid bills (probably 4x the rental fee).
WTF, right?

All this time, I thought that becoming a landlord is an easy way to make money where you can just watch the rent checks roll in. Now I understand why most landlords are stricter with their terms. Beyond committing to the upkeep, one must be psychologically, mentally, and emotionally ready to deal with tenants regardless of behavior.

So far, the worst experience we had was when we kept the unit on hold for someone who then changed their minds two weeks later, without even bothering to see the actual unit first. I know it's their right. But they could have at least shown courtesy by informing us that they're backing out. A lot of time was obviously wasted and we have turned down a number of potential, probably better renters then. 

We were told that given the demand, we should have done it on a first-pay, first-served basis or at least limit the reservation to only three days tops. 

We were clueless amateurs, I know.

But we let it pass knowing there are others who were seriously interested. The house was new and desirable (tiled, with grills, with space for a carport, near a mall, located in a flood-free area, and situated in a good community), so it's no surprise that it was immediately occupied. 

Our current tenants are far from a landlord's worst nightmares. Thank goodness we were not wrong about them after evaluating their decency level basing merely on how they chat and their outward charms after meeting them twice. Haha. 

Although I am confident that they will do just fine, I still have the urge to visit the house. Not that we would come unannounced and bother them. Pero yung padaan-daan lang to check if the house is still intact. Haha. 😅 But of course, we're not doing that.

Anyway, after an hour of scrolling through those landlord-tenant stories, I realized how tenant-centric our Rental Agreement is. We are quite lenient and considerate with our terms and conditions. We are also not too strict about due dates—which I hope will not be abused. Thankfully, our tenants have not been late with their payments yet. 

As new "landlords", Jan and I still have a lot to learn. And we'd probably start embracing the fact that we could experience a horrible tenant one day. But I oh-so hope we won't because it will either teach us become better at dealing with such or it could turn us into one of those tough meanie, awful, and inconsiderate landlords the tenants warn you about.

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Women my age don't get knocked up easily. Or so I thought. It takes a lot longer to get pregnant again. Or so I was told. So we made love unprotected. And surprise, surprise! It only took less than two months to miss a period. While the news was one of the best we received, it honestly got us a little bit alarmed than excited.

Oh shit, are we ready for this? 

Obviously, we're not. But anytime from 4 to 7 weeks now, we will have two handful kids with a 19-month age gap, and a twelve-year old who will probably start to disagree with me in everything sooner or later. 

I haven't really been writing regularly on this blog like I used to. But if I turn this into a parenting blog, I'm pretty sure there will be so much to write and share. A lot of things happen every day when you try NOT to get a toddler killed as he expresses his free will and goes all feral; imposes his preference to play electrical plugs and sockets over his actual toys; exhibits his speed faster than lightning to get him to places he shouldn't be like the bathroom, kitchen, or outside; or shows his determination to become the next Spiderman as he climbs on surfaces impossible for our 36-year-old bodies with 63-year-old back pains to reach. 

But then, I'm already far too busy fussing about this pregnancy and the hundreds of unidentified emotions that come with it to write about anything.

Also, Jan and I are exhausted. We barely have time to do all things we used to do pre-parenting days. We do not have a household help or a nanny (because trust issues + pandemic). While we get some help from both our moms (mostly during weekends), we do everything ourselves. 

Picture this:

• Jan works full-time. Since he works remotely with people coming from different time zones, his working hours are flexible and spread out. He can work as early as 6am and end with a 2-hour meeting at midnight. In between, he does ALL the household chores because I am not allowed to lift objects heavier than our fat cat or do anything that is physically draining (even breathing has become a workout for me).

• I do not have a job right now but I accept web development and blogging projects from time to time (because the world can stop, but not our bills). I also help our 7th-grader with his school modules the whole day all the while keeping a toddler fed, bathed, and entertained. 

• Jan and I take turns with the toddler who can turn the house upside down like a tornado in a matter of seconds and just after we tidied up. 

• We both do not get enough rest. Our little boy wakes up in the middle of the night (at least twice) so Jan puts him back to sleep. And our little girl loves throwing a fetal rage at 2 in the morning. Those tiny jabs and squirming limbs coming from all directions do not exactly feel delightful especially when she hits my kidneys, bladder, liver, or ribs. But of course, I am not complaining because I expect to have that every day. 

Before anybody thinks we've been doing a great job for staying sane despite all these, let me tell you that we have also prepared ourselves to embrace judgment from others because we have not subscribed to the super mom/dad ideals. We acknowledge our limits, and so, we gave in to screen time and fast food deliveries (and we've been doing it so often) to lighten our daily load because, well...

Exhaustion is an understatement and burnout is real.

And that's only having two. It gets trickier when there will be three (I wonder how parents with five children with one-year age gap did it). 

Pero ginusto namin 'to eh.

Moments like this though. ❤️ ❤️ ❤️
This is going to be my third time as a parent and I'm still trying to figure things out. If only parenting comes with an instruction manual, this would have been a lot easier. But we all know it doesn't. And even if it did, it still wouldn't work that way because every child is different. 

But heck, we're already here. There is no getting out of this and the best we can do is just wing it.

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2021 took so many twists and turns. But despite the grey skies that have been looming since 2020 that honestly seems like a hundred years ago, there have been those little ray of lights that seeped through from time to time. And as this year comes to a close, I would like to express my gratitude to all the people and the small wins that helped me get where I currently am: happy and contented.

I am and will always grateful for having a loving family (including my in-laws), my maka-ugtas but adorable sons (plus our baby girl on the way), supportive friends, and the selfless frontliners among others. But for this post, I am giving the spotlight to the husband, Jan.

I know, I know. If I write about him one more time, makasuka na. But I cannot help it. Taking care of a toddler while pregnant, losing my passion, unable to travel and destress, and having no job to keep me preoccupied during this pandemic would make me lose my shit. But I didn't. And that's mostly because of him.

So here are 21 reasons why I am grateful to the husband who makes my life happier, easier, and sweeter:

1. He chose me. He always chooses me first. And I know he would choose me over anything or anyone over and over again.

2. He makes situations a little harder on himself in hopes that it makes them easier for me. Like how he gets up in the middle of the night to put our baby back to sleep and drags himself to work the next day. Or how he does the laundry, washes the dishes, or cleans the house just so I can rest (and without complaints at that).

3. He is so protective of our family. I mean, not just physically. I feel secured and sheltered from verbal attacks, criticisms, and judgment from other people, should there be any. He's the type who would avoid conflicts at any cost but I have seen him bravely speak up when the situation calls for it.

4. He patiently puts up with things that I like that do not interest him. Books I have read, Harry Potter, football, and even Pinoy showbiz. Likewise, I pretend to understand stuff he can't stop yapping about. Boxing/MMA, NBA, DotA2, or Astrophysics. 😁

5. He is a very good provider. He works hard. But even so, he can make time to take me out on a date even if it means just doing errands together or eating takeout at a parking lot.

Nevermind his butas-butas shirt.

6. He makes me the best sunny-side up. He makes me coffee (pre-prego days) and sandwich every morning. He always has something for me every time he comes home. He gives me the last bite, the best part, or sometimes, the whole thing.

7. He is my #1 fan. There had been multiple occasions whenever I meet his friends for the first time and I get surprised how much they already knew about me, my blog and achievements, my job, my skills and talents, and places we've been to because he had spoken highly of me. I know he is proud that I am his wife as I am proud to be his wife.

8. He is a man of his word. He has always kept his promises. He is true to his vows.

And yes, I have no doubts to hold on to this. 😊

9. He pays attention to all the things I say and do. He can easily figure me out that even without dropping a hint, he knows what I am thinking, what I want, what I need, and what would make me happy.

10. He makes me laugh. I know a lot of people will have reservations about him being hilarious, but I swear, he can pry my mind open and he knows where it tickles.

11. He has never insulted nor raised his voice at me. Whenever I get overly dramatic (which usually escalates into a fight he is unaware of 😅😅😅), he chooses his words carefully and pens heartfelt letters so as not to hurt my feelings brought about by hormonal overdrive.

And I love reading them.

12. He has a ginormous amount of patience. He has never been seriously angry with me. At all. Ever.

13. He doesn't like those cheesy Backstreet Boys, Westlife, and other boyband songs but he plays them while he is working or during long drives, and even sings with me because he knows I love them.

14. He gives me kisses, hugs from behind, and relaxing massages randomly. And I love it!

15. I know EVERYBODY who knew him will agree how selfless and kind-hearted he is (I'm 100% on this). Imagine being close to someone like that, much more being a wife.

16. He supports all my dreams and ambitions no matter how absurd they all seem to be. He believes in me more than I believe in myself. And he pushes me to be better. In fact, I began getting all those recognitions and achievements when we started being together. He is both my critic and inspiration.

17. He is a doting dad.

18. He shows the best example for our children. I can already see the kind of husband our sons will become and I don't have to worry what kind of husband our daughter will marry. He sets the bar high for them.

19. When I am frustrated with my tasks or when motherhood gets the best of me or when shit happens, he comforts me even if all he could do is throw his arms around me and keep me close to his chest. He is my sanctuary.

20. He is never good at fault-finding. He never really did. I know I have a lot of shortcomings, but he has never brought it up during our conflicts and arguments. He corrects but he never counts. He is so forgiving. 

21. He loves me for me! Even if I look like a terrier, a raccoon, a porcupine, or a shriveled grape.

I thought the best moment of my life was when we tied the knot. But now, I realized the best ones are these moments I spend with him every day. There is far more to thank him for. I want him to know that all the small and big things he does do not go unnoticed. But more than that, I thank him for being him. His loyalty and dedication define him and I could not be more grateful to be able to spend the rest of my life with that kind of man.

2022 may not be any different from 2020 or 2021. But with him by my side, I can confidently say... BRING IT ON!

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 If there is one positive influence I have on Jan, it has got to be this.

This is his second time to summit the Philippines' highest mountain. His first climb without me (yep, partially bummed because I couldn't go) and probably his worst hiking experience by far—with plans almost scrapped, major major delays, torrential downpour, and becoming a guide for the first time in an unfamiliar trail real quick because he's the only experienced mountaineer in the group. 

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