Friday, February 28, 2014


A couple of months ago, Vince and I became first-time homeowners. Yay to adulthood, LOL! We were planning on buying the house we were renting -- we loved that house a lot -- later this year but God's timing meant for us to buy sooner and a different house. You can say we were sort of rushed into that decision but God's timing is always perfect. He has truly been faithful and His goodness is unceasing that we are very much thankful He lined up everything for us in buying our first home. His provision and sovereign was with us all through the way. Despite that: 1) We didn't have enough savings to pay the required 20% downpayment for a lower interest rate; and 2) Caring for Vonn Kaleb meant we could hardly get any housework done (so much more looking for and buying a house??), God sent good people and provided means along our way which helped and taught us a lot in the process.

This picture was taken by the previous owner before we bought the house.
We had the lawn maintained and the exterior of the house pressure washed since we owned it.
It's a given that there are so many associated costs into buying a house. Because we were trying to maximize our disposable savings so that we could put in as much as downpayment as we could to get low interest rate, we didn't hire an agent, which meant that we had to do our homework and research on the what-and-what-nots of buying a house, and deal and negotiate with the seller personally. This would have been easier if we weren't first-time buyers and if we didn't have a child to care for. Those circumstances made it somewhat challenging for us. I really admire my husband for his dedication to our family because I would say that 99% of the hard work into purchasing our home was his. He spent late nights reading online about the ins-and-outs of buying a house, squeezing phone calls in between his busy work schedule to arrange for viewing houses and speaking with mortgage loan specialists, negotiating with the seller, and basically doing all the paperwork needed from start to finish. He fed me all the info he gathered and all I had to do was review them and say my thoughts and if I had questions, he was the one who fired up the emails and made the phone calls to the respective persons. We seriously both had to do a lot of reading and researching and asking whatabouts because buying a house is a serious matter after all. Honestly, I learned so much in that experience that after it was through, I felt like I could be an agent. LOL! Bottom line is that one can buy a house even without paying for an agent's expertise ;) I should mention too that it helped us a lot that the seller of the house was one of Vince's colleagues who was moving his practice to a different location and was very eager to get the house off his back. He was in fact the one who told us that rather than us paying for an agent, we could just negotiate with him and his agent directly, and he'd discount the selling price for us, which he did. Thank God!

Pimped up on Vonn Kaleb's 1st birthday. Hehe!
So with that very long segue way above, you could probably tell how happy and proud I am about our home. Hehe! Well, to be true, Vince and I wasn't very much impressed with this house compared to the rental house which we really liked. There are some aesthetic and functional improvements that need to be done in this house to suit our taste and make it more efficient as we would like, but the enormous size (5-bedroom, 4-bathroom, 2-car attached garage, outdoor shed) (and the swimming pool of course!) of this house made it a better buy than the rental house. The main thing is that this is a well-built and structurally sound house (brick, baby, yeah!) according to the home inspection, so we don't have to worry about it falling apart on us anytime in the near future. Again, as Vince puts it, even if it wasn't our dream house, this is the house that the Lord provided for us, that's why we are to be thankful for it every day. We'll just work on it to make it the beautiful home sweet home we want it to be. In fact, we already started on beautifying it. We already had it pressured washed and lawn serviced, that even our neighbors noticed and told us the house looks better now than before. We already obtained several quotes from various builders and we're getting there. We just need to do it step by step and save up for more costly improvements like the master bathroom (which is kinda' tacky... hehe! Vince doesn't even use it... He said he couldn't stand the "pink and gold" fixtures. LOL!)

Can't wait to take a dip in our pool!
I intend to blog about our home every now and then to document our quest in making it as much as a "Valencia" household it could get. Home improvement suggestions and DIY tips are very much welcome. Until my next home sweet home blog post, ciao!

Thursday, February 27, 2014


In anticipation of my return to work next week, and because I haven't mustered enough courage (or more of I chose not to?) to entrust my son to a nanny who can provide care for him while I work at home, I bought a play yard. I know, right, that sounds kinda' lame... like what does a play yard have to do with me going back to work, but oh well, here's how his new play yard looks like.

The play yard set includes 8 panels and may be set up using 4, 6 or 8 panels.
It can be set up in various shapes such as octagon, pentagon, L,
rectangle or square.
It also came with decals but according to reviews, they peeled off easily and posed as choking hazards, so I didn't bother sticking those decals on.

Our house is not fully baby proof. We had put several corner foams on some of the furniture as well as on one of his toys, and some electrical outlet covers here and there but that's just about it. Other than those, there are furniture and appliances everywhere in our house which pose safety risk to my son, most especially now that he is already walking and running. That's why Vince and I have been on our feet a lot following him around making sure he is always safe.

The size of the play area may be increased or decreased by adding or reducing the panels.
For a really large play area, use two or more sets.
The play yard has suction cups at the bottom of each panel for when used on hardwood floors, laminate or tiles.
I placed it on carpet and it seemed sturdy enough and is holding well so far.
Supervision is recommended as for all child equipment and toys. Never leave child alone!

You'd think that because Vonn Kaleb has his own room, his parents would be wise enough to baby proof it. Of course, we weren't. We put a TV set there, a dresser, a glider and ottoman, a small coffee table... what were we thinking, right? So, thank goodness, the play yard somewhat baby proofs his nursery in that I can corral him and restrict his area of play away from those hazard potentials. Honestly, if only I had known this before, I would have bought this sooner, so that by now, he'd be very much used to it. I'm hoping and praying that he would love his play yard to bits, so that by next week and forward, I can sit in the corner with my laptops and get my work done while Vonn Kaleb entertains himself with his mine of toys inside his play yard. I had set it up yesterday afternoon as soon as FedEx delivered it, but Vonn Kaleb has not had the chance to fully break it in. He played in it for a short time and it seemed as he tolerated it fine. I'm really hoping that he gets used to it because, my gosh, this boy, oh boy, tsk tsk tsk...  I don't even know where to begin on how fussy, fidgety, naughty, bratty and ACTIVE this boy could be! He took his first steps at 11 months, and now he's already running and climbing up steps. I could follow him all around the house and guide him as he racks up his miles but with me going back to work FULL TIME next week, I don't think that's possible anymore :(

Entering the play yard through the door.
Anyway, when we got home from church yesterday evening, while I was preparing Vonn Kaleb's dinner, Vince taught Vonn Kaleb how to get in and out of the play yard through the door (which, by the way, I wasn't surprised that Vince did that. Between the two of us, he's the supportive parent in terms of Vonn Kaleb's explorations. Overly supportive, in my opinion, at times. In my defense, my limits to his explorations are reasonable. I am the Mom after all. Hehe!).

The proud Dad took pictures of the little boy getting in and out the door, and while I was looking at those pics, I thought to myself, "Uh oh... Now that Vonn Kaleb knows about that door, he will definitely want to go in and out again and again and over and over, and guess who has to suffer the consequences? Mommy. Yay?! ...and that's exactly why I didn't show Vonn Kaleb that door the first time! Ayayay!"  Oh dear! In fairness, I think the door made it more interesting for him to play there. Good job, Dad! :)

Exiting the play yard through the door.
I guess I'm gonna have to keep my fingers crossed and pray with all my might that this play yard save the day... and if not, I'm hoping that the second set of play yard I ordered will do the trick. Yes, you read that right, I went ahead and bought another set. These play yards better work or else I'll bang my head on the wall! I'm telling you, the baby products industry is making a fortune out of desperate, helpless, first time parents like me. LOL.
The little boy was in and out in no time!

Thursday, February 20, 2014


My dearest son,

You turned 1 year old a few days ago. Let me tell you how we celebrated this milestone in our lives.

Last Saturday, your Dad and I threw a Super Why birthday party for you. We knew how much a big fan of Super Why you are, so we figured that that would be the most appropriate theme for your birthday bash. We could tell for sure that you were fascinated when you saw the Super Readers on your balloons, loot bags, banner, cake, piñata and other party supplies. You were supposed to wear a Super Why costume custom made but unfortunately the costume apparently never got done. No worries, my son, because you looked so charming anyway in the outfit you wore that day which your Dad and I picked for you ;)

Your Lolo G, Lola D and Auntie Ninang V flew from Canada, weathering the snowstorm, to celebrate with you as well.  The five of us joined forces in cooking, and decorating and preparing for your party. Your Dad arranged the catering service as well as the party chairs, tables, tent and bounce house rental. He also cooked veggie pasta salad. Your Lolo made spring rolls and pork garlic fried rice, which were the two most talked about items in the menu. Your Lola and Auntie Ninang made hotdogs with mallows and cheese on stick. I thought I'd let you know that I pulled an all-nighter to cook some meatballs and to make your birthday cake. It wasn't the prettiest or fanciest birthday cake but I'm proud to say that I put my best effort into it.

Although there were invited guests who confirmed to come yet no showed, overall, you had a good turn out. The kids had fun playing in the bounce house, so as the adults who played a game which they all enjoyed . The weather was a little bit on the chilly side but we were just thankful that the snowstorm was over then. Your Dad and I were very proud of you because you were so well behaved and good mannered during your party. There was no fussing, no tantrums, and no acting out from you. We were expecting otherwise knowing how crowds and other people make you feel uncomfortable and extra clingy to your Dad and I, but you did great, my son. You held up well throughout the party. One of my favorites was when we sang the birthday song and I blew the candle for you. It was just precious seeing you listen intently as we sang, and internalize that moment probably wondering what the heck was that commotion about. Hehe!

Your party ended but the celebration did not, especially that your actual birthday came two days after the party. The night before your birthday, we drove to St. Augustine, Florida. On your birthday, while your Lolo, Lola and Auntie Ninang explored the historic city, and while the two of us slept in at the hotel, your Dad went to the closeby Publix store and bought you a big cupcake and a candle. When you were finally awake and up, your Dad and I again sang you the birthday song (you were very much familiar with the song by that time), and we took pictures, and showered you with kisses and hugs. Later that afternoon, the six of us had a fancy dinner at Cap's by the beach. We had a nice family time together there. We obliged your grandparents and auntie to cap off the night with a trip to the outlet malls. Ssssshhhh... Hehe!

My son, you are now 1 year and a few days old. It seems like it was only yesterday when I became your Mom. You were just the size of your Dad's palm when we first took you home but now you've grown so much and has been walking and running around our house and anywhere. Life has never been the same since you came, and I want you to know that your Dad and I celebrate each second of every day because we have you in our life. Life has gotten better since you came, and the best has just begun. I'm looking forward to a beautiful lifetime that God will bless our family with. Your Dad and I love you very much.

All my love,


Tuesday, February 11, 2014


Since our family has grown (by two tiny feet), the full-sized bed we used to sleep in has become too crowded for three people. Vonn Kaleb sleeps in his crib in his own room for the most time, however, there are times when all three of us would like to cuddle and take a nap in the bed together. You could just imagine how cramped we were in that old full-sized bed! Vince and I are also expecting that as Vonn Kaleb becomes a toddler, some nights he will have bad dreams, nightmares and/or monsters under his bed that will send him barging in our room and will end up sleeping in our bed with us, so a bigger bed is definitely in order. That being said, we recently bought a new bedroom set, and I am soooo loving the king-sized sleigh bed we have now!

7 feet wide! Yeah, baby, yeah!
On a side note, I'm thinking of putting valances on the windows.
I just can't decide which color and style to get. Any suggestion?
Pardon my enthusiasm over a piece of furniture, but I just can't help it. Hehe! For the longest time, we slept in a full-sized bed which I bought in 2009 from way back in Toronto. I was never really bothered by the size of it until Vonn Kaleb came along. We initially thought of getting a queen instead of a king but then we realized that we're planning to add at least a couple more feet to our family, so might as well go big!

Lots of room for Vonn Kaleb to roll and tumble over. LOL!
Because we love matching furniture, we prefer buying collection or sets than piece by piece. We had previously bought the formal dining room set (which I will feature in a separate post) from the same North Shore collection as the bedroom set. The entertainment center in the North Shore living room collection was unfortunately too small for our TV, so we instead bought from a different collection. Also, we didn't buy the chaise and bench because we thought they are a little bit huge and I don't want to jam pack our bedroom with bulky furniture, but honest-to-goodness, I really think the bench does look nice by the foot of the sleigh bed, so I think I'm buying that in the future. Hehe! What we bought with the king bed from the bedroom collection though were the nightstand, chest and dresser... and here they are, tadaaaahhh!

I love the traditional style of this furniture collection.
So classic, charming and elegant looking.
And finally, the dresser, which is somewhat tall for me...
but of course, at 5 feet 1 inch, I'm vertically challenged,
so there are a lot of things in this world that are just too tall for me.
So there you go. Thanks for allowing me to share our new loot. Hehe! If you recall, I blogged a similar post to this and shared pictures of the living room set Vince and I bought when we were just starting as married couple back in Lebanon, Pennsylvania. You can find that post here: WE'VE ONLY JUST BEGUN. We recently bought our first house and so aside from parenthood duties we've been really busy putting ourselves into our new home, decorating and trying our best to make it a pleasing, comfortable and cozy abode as much as we can. For posterity's sake, I hope to blog and share more pictures of our new home as we try to enhance it aesthetically. Until then!

Monday, February 10, 2014


My maternity leave days are soon over. Gosh, where did time go?

When I started my maternity leave, I made it a point to shove the thought of returning to work down in the deepest, darkest corner of my brain with the intention of keeping it there until the final moments of my leave. I purposely did not formulate a game plan as to how I can and will reintegrate myself back into my stressful job and at the same time perform excellently in being a mom to my beloved son, as I wanted to devote the days that I am off work to taking care of my son and focusing on him and my husband by, as much as I could, not allowing any return-to-work related thoughts disrupt me. Well, time has caught up on me now, and whether I like it or not, I have to face the reality that my year off work is ending in three weeks. What a bummer!

I'm still currently off work but I'm already missing my son BIG TIME and I'm already longing for the mommy-baby times I'll lose over work! Our early mornings when I take him from his room to lay on the bed beside me after Vince leaves for work... sleeping in until noon cuddling each other... soft tickles, hearty laughter... taking our time together as I feed him homemade baby food made with love by yours truly... watching cartoons together... rocking him for the longest time because he just loves being held and rocked, and also when he's tired and ready for a nap while singing lullabies and Sunday school songs to him... reading him a book... playing with him... napping together on the bed... He has grown so much on me, it breaks my heart to think that we won't be able to do all those things anymore when I go back to work :( Oh dear!

My little boy loves to be held and rocked. Mommy doesn't mind it at all!
Come to think of it, when I go back to work, I'll do it from home, so technically, I'm not even going to be physically separated from my son. However, my time and attention will surely be divided between my work and him. It also means that cuddle times and rocking times may need to be shortened to make time for reports I need to proof. Sigh! Why can't I have my cake and eat it too?

Torn as I am right now, the goodness of the Lord is in my family in that financial wise, I am not obliged to earn to support our needs as a family. God has been so good and has been blessing us in tremendous ways. He has always been faithful to us in His provisions. True to that, my husband has been urging and persuading me to resign from my work since day 1 and more so now because he knows I'm having withdrawal blues from our son. I told him that this is something I'd like to give a shot before calling quits. The important thing is that I know my family is my priority, and God's grace has always been sufficient for us. I may need a superhero cape (is there such? where can I get one? ebay? amazon? etsy?) to boost me as I juggle work and motherhood but I think I'll mostly need that cape to wipe off a tear or two when I get sentimental and nostalgic over my son.

Tsk, tsk. Look at me, I'm simply contemplating on going back to work and yet I'm full of drama already. Haha! I wonder how much more when Vonn Kaleb starts schooling, goes away to college, leaves home, finds a wife?! Oh jeez. I can't go there. Not just yet.

At times, I'd rock him for an hour or so, and he'd just stay there on my lap,
very calm and peacefully listening to me sing lullabies to him.
If only I could freeze those moments and just rock him forever.

Monday, February 3, 2014


Wow, it has really been a while since I last blogged. Let's see if I still know how to do this...

I gave birth almost a year ago. Yes, I've jumped in to the motherhood bandwagon! Hence, you may ignore the blog header implying a pregnant woman, as I've long been over that phase. As to when I can find the time to edit my header, I guess, we just have to wait for now. Having said that, it's understandable why my blog has been dormant for so long except for that one copy/paste post which I managed to squeeze in between mommy duties. I do miss blogging -- not just writing in my blog, but most especially interacting with my blogging buddies and reading updates in their blogs. So, here I am in the wee (and unholy you may say) hours taking the chance to update this blog while my soon-to-be 1-year-old son sleeps in his room and my husband beside me dozing deeply and most likely in the abyss of dreamland currently.

So what does motherhood have in store for me?

1. Love at first sight. Imagine being in a relationship with someone whom you basically did everything with together for nine months -- eating, taking a bath, working, shopping -- not a single thing you did that you weren't with that person, you even breathed together! He was so close to you he heard every heartbeat of yours. You were so attached to him, you felt his every move, even his hiccups! Nine months and yet neither of you have seen each other during that time. Then one day, you finally got to see his face... and you finally got to hold him, kiss him, hear his cry, talk to him and look him in the eyes... and seeing him turn his head as he recognized your voice -- the voice he had heard for nine months that he was inside the womb. The feeling is amazing.

2. My love for my husband grows more and more each day. Each ache and pain that accompanied my pregnancy, from sciatica to burning gastritis all the way through contractions and post partum soreness, he was always there with me and for me and our son. From the first breastfeeding until the most recent diaper change and the back-breaking bath times and all the unlimited supply of tantrums and unexplainable colicky fussing in between, he was there. A lot of times I was literally at my wit's end tearing my hair but my husband's love and devotion to me and our son kept me sane. Parenthood could get so hectic crazy, and for us who has no extended family around readily available to lend us a hand, Vince and I have learned to value and love each other more as we in tandem raise our son. I'm thankful for that because it defines our relationship more.

3. It is life changing. I understand that not having a child is the way that some people choose to go and I have no negative thing to say about that (unless of course it's intentional abortion, then I have a different view on that), but there really are wonderful things I only came to fully realize and understand when I became a parent. Emotions and fears I thought I knew? I only truly felt them once I became a mom. Now I can proudly say that I know better because I really do. Parenthood is a hashtag-feather-in-a-cap kind of thing. Some of my perspectives have changed simply for the fact that I now have a child who is so precious to my heart and whose life depends on me. It is life changing also in the aspect that date nights for Vince and me now meant grocery shopping and dinner out together as a family, traveling light meant umbrella stroller and booster chair versus bulky stroller and high chair, movie marathon meant Super Why marathon, mini van versus car, takeouts instead of fine dining sit-in, double bed replaced by a king bed (ooohlala!), Coach versus Carter's... yeah, I'm sure you TOTALLY get what I mean, IF you're a parent *wink wink*. It is challenging most of the time for Vince and me (and probably for Vonn Kaleb too, yikes!) but at the end of the day, we lay in our bed with full and perky hearts because there is just a certain je ne sais quoi bliss that parenthood brings.

Well, I'm positive that what I have in my list is nothing but short compared to what veteran moms may have in theirs. I'm only at my first year of motherhood yet I can attest already that it entails so much emotion, so much effort, so much strength, so much courage, so much everything that it's not possible to capture in one blog post what it has in store for one. As I grow into motherhood each day, I'm expecting to discover more new things, new fears, and new feelings. If there's anything that motherhood had already taught me, I have learned that owning a child gives new meaning to life. It's upping life to a different level of wonderful and awesome. Now I understand why having a child (or more) is truly one of the greatest blessings one can have, and that every child is a gift from God.

Well, well, well. What do you know, after the long hiatus, I still know how to blog :)


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