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Army wife 

First, let me give you the backstory: Jan enlisted in the Army to play basketball. It was ideal not to mention an honor to be working for the Army, and I naturally had no complaints. But then came October 30 when they were told they were getting shipped to Basic Military Training, which would last at least three months, and they had to leave the same night. Three months (and now it could actually be six freakin months) is a long time to spend away from your one-year-old daughter, and it all happened so sudden! You can just imagine what a mess I was that night, and I honestly haven’t been able to adjust to everything even up to now.

So I saw my husband for the first time today in two weeks since the Army trainees were in Manila for the week-long APEC festivities.

Spending the last two weeks in Basic Military Camp, I really didn’t know what to expect. For sure, he would lose weight and get a little darker, but probably not anything drastic. But when I saw him, I actually almost didn’t recognize him. He is three shades darker and about two sizes smaller; it was like he got sick. He had lost six kilos in the first week alone. His naturally high hairline can be seen in its full glory since he has gone bald.

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Celestine is loved

I’m thankful to have been given countless reminders this week of how much my daughter Celestine is loved.

From closest friends and family to Facebook friends (some I haven’t even met in person, some I haven’t talked to in years), they all found a way to send their regards to Elle on her first birthday.

Most of the people I wanted to see at Elle’s party today showed up, too! That was amazing. I admit I had been dreading the party because when I imagined how Elle’s first birthday would go, Jan was in everything. It never crossed my mind that I’d be doing this without him, so this was tough on my part. But seeing a room filled with people who went out of their way to celebrate with us, dragging their asses out of their beds on a Sunday morning, I found a lot of reasons to smile.

It’s such a blessing that Elle is growing up surrounded by such thoughtful people. I know I am not the most generous person, but my friends have never failed to shower Elle with love. I could say the same for my family, especially Elle’s lola, who have always been there with us in every way she could, every step of the way—no matter how bitchy I got (which is more than half of the time).

I am overwhelmed. 🙂 My apologies, I’m never this sappy. Haha! But it had been an emotionally draining week dealing with Jan leaving even as trying to stay positive for Elle, today was a welcome happy moment.

So, from the bottom of our hearts, thank you for making this week special!

Happy birthday, my love!

Happy birthday, my love!

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Celebrating Celestine’s special ‘daaay!’

Today was Celestine’s first birthday celebration here at home! Nothing fancy (not that we ever get fancy) since we have another party for her on Sunday. We just made sure there few dishes on table and of course, cake!

Naturally, “Happy Birthday” was sung a million times today, to which Elle always  chimed in with a loud “Daaaaay!” because that’s all she knows how to pronounce. (You have to hear her, it’s the most adorable thing.) “Happy Birthday” is actually one of those songs that would get her to stop crying no matter. It’s up there with “Twinkle Twinkle.”

Unfortunately, she was already too sleepy by the time we got to blow her candle, so there was no singing along. Although she was able to muster a smile. That smile!

Blowing her candle. Although mom really did the blowing. 🙂

She got her good mood back after a nap, so she was able to enjoy our birthday gift; a cute pink bike! Being a very transparent baby, it’s easy to figure out when Elle is enjoying or not, and I know for sure she loved that bike.  She even tries to mount it by herself.

We still need donbsp;to push her around because the pedal’s still too far for her to reach. But soon enough she’s going be zooming around on her own. (Yikes!)

Check out my new ride.

We just wanted to make sure that Elle felt as happy and loved as she could be on her special day. Special thanks to my mother, my siblings and other relatives for always giving their love to Elle. A phonecall from Jan would’ve been perfect, but we’re not complaining. I know he would’ve called if he could.

When everyone was busy tearing it up on the videoke downstairs, Elle and I retreated to our room and I put her to bed. Mommy sang and she dozed off. It was a perfect end to such memorable day in both of our lives.

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Fastest one year of my life

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One day old.

She came out of me weighing 3.5 kilos, now I’m lucky to be able to hold her for long even using both hands.

Dada and Elle.

Dada and Elle.

She used to look exactly like her dad—from the small eyes to her thin hair, now all most people see in her are her my features—from her long eyelashes to her killer smile.

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Chillin’ on mommy’s legs.

She used to just fit snuggly on my legs where she spent most of the time sitting and playing, now she’s already half as long as me.

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Favorite sleeping position.

She used to love me rocking her to sleep and she would always end up snoozing on my chest for hours on end, now all she needs is the bed and her favorite pillow and she’s all set.

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She used  to spend all night, even at 3 in the morning, just rolling around because that was all she could do, now she’s either on all fours or on her two feet all day.

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Grumpy one.

She used to be one grumpy baby and it was impossible to make her smile, now not a day goes by when we don’t hear her infectious laugh.

She had gone through a lot of changes in past year, and there’s stopping her from going through some more. But there’s one thing that’s never going change—she will always be mommy’s baby.

My baby girl <3

My baby girl ❤

Happy first birthday, my baby long legs, my Celestine! ❤️

(Don’t grow up too fast!)

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Daddy’s Girl

My love Celestine,

I know you haven’t noticed Daddy hasn’t been home for four days. He hasn’t called too. Maybe it’s a good thing that you don’t know, so you won’t have to feel sad like mommy. Here’s the thing, that’s going to last for a while. I’m sorry but we won’t have daddy for 14 Sundays. He won’t be there on your first birthday, maybe even on Christmas or New Year too. We don’t know if he can call to greet you or if he can go out so he can spend the holidays with us. Actually babe, I don’t know a lot of things about this trip, but I know for sure he’s doing this for you.

Remember what I told you yesterday, while we were watching TV and I was stroking your hair while you were lying down on my chest? I really miss dada, babe. I don’t know how to survive the next three months without him. I know I’m going get help from Lola. I know I can provide you your needs. I promise you won’t lack the love and attention while he’s away. But I don’t know how to enjoy our Sundays without him. I have never been away from your daddy for more than a week, and I never imagined he’d ever be far away from you for three months. How do we walk around the mall without him carrying you? Only dada is strong enough to do that. Who’s going to change your nappies at 5am when mommy is still too sleepy to do so? You’re going to finally stop being afraid of walking on your own soon, and by the time he gets back, you won’t need to hold his hands anymore when we go on our strolls.

Daddy and Elle.

Daddy and Elle.

Do you think is mommy overreacting, babe? Is three months not a long time? But you’re growing up way too fast and everyday you show us something new. All I can think about is you won’t recognize Jan when he gets back, that you won’t call him “dada” anymore when you see him.

I’m writing you this so when you see photos of your birthday or your second Christmas and you wonder where daddy is, you will know that daddy is out on a great adventure just  for you. He shaved his head bald (Daddy does not look good bald), he endured not seeing you for a long time so he can provide for you. I don’t think he ever saw himself being in the middle of a gruelling military training in his lifetime, but he was willing to do it for you in a heartbeat.

Please stay a Daddy’s girl, baby. Mommy and Daddy love you so much.

Love,

Mommy

***

This morning, I showed Elle a photo of Jan on my phone. She grabbed my phone and started kissing the screen. I think she misses her dada too.

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A dream first birthday party gone wrong

We’re a week away from Elle’s birthday party and I feel like I haven’t gotten anything done. Not that there’s a lot to do; We scrapped plans for a relatively grand party (grand by our lowly standards) and we decided to have a simple get-together with our closest friends and family. Since Jan won’t even be here to celebrate with us, there is really no point on spending a fortune. But we still want everyone who cares about my baby to see her. (See you, guys!)

Of course, if I could, I would throw something grand for Elle. Anything fit for the princess that she is. But when you’re living on a smalltime writer’s paycheck, there’s no way that’s going to happen, at least for now.  So I had to let go of all my party envy, which I blame on Pinterest. (EVERYTHING JUST LOOKS SO PRETTY AND EASY ON PINTEREST).

My subconscious, though, wasn’t going to let me get away with it that easy. Of course, it said, let’s give this overthinking mother a glimpse of her dream party for Elle—only, everything that could go wrong, would go wrong! THE HORROR. It was actually the most vivid dream I’ve had in a long time, and I woke up feeling like I didn’t sleep a wink.

Here was how my nightmare went down:

It was such a perfect set up but nothing was going right!

Elle’s clothes for the party were all filthy but she had to wear them anyway. Less than half of the people I invited showed up on time!

The venue was not decorated and someone got Elle’s name seriously misspelled on all of the banners.

When it was time to eat, we started serving cans of sardines because there was no rice! (I mean, WHAT?)

No one served the dessert because it was buried under some random boxes! (WHAT IS PARTY WITHOUT DESSERT?)

When the all guests finally arrived (weirdly, they were all in ballgowns), there was no more food on the table and I didn’t have money to order some more.

When it came to the parlor games, I apparently had forgotten to buy prizes. I decided to go out to get some from the nearest conveniences store, but when I got back, the party was over!

THANK GOD IT WAS JUST A DREAM.

This just really proves one thing, my brain has too many tabs open. WAY TOO MANY. Well yeah, I still had to do even just a little planning for Elle’s thing. I just feel like I still want her to have a perfect celebration, though it’s nowhere near what I really wanted for her . However small or simple, I’d still want it to go off without a hitch.

I know that’s never going to happen, though. As with all parties (I learned the hard way with my self-organizes wedding and Elle’s Christening), it’s never going to be perfect. For starters, not everyone you’re going to invite is going to respond to your invite let alone attend the actual thing  (and you have to prepare not to get disappointed). Another is not a lot of people are going to remember the little things you did. Most won’t even remember what kind of table centerpiece, which you probably spent tons on, you had.

Despite know all these things, I can’t believe I’m still obsessing. Though I admit it’s totally me to overthink everything, up to the tiniest detail even of such a small get together. I’m not even a good, creative planner! I’m just totally a momzilla. Thanks for reminding me, subconscious!

What I should remind myself is that Celestine is going to turn one (and so on) and it’s going to be the best thing to happen to me every year—no matter how we celebrate it.

One things for sure though, we won’t be serving sardines to any of her parties…ever!

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Celestine’s first Halloween 🍓

I don’t know when it happened, but apparently Halloween is a big deal. 

That I didn’t know because I can’t recall ever getting spruced up for Halloween as a kid. My best memory was when I dressed up as a “white lady,” smudged lipstick all over my face and went trick or treating around the village with friends sometime in the early 2000s. 

Determined to let Elle experience everything I didn’t growing up, I thought dressing her up for Halloween would be nice start. And talk about perfect timing—I had been wanting to take her to the office quite awhile now (and pretty much everyone I see in the building has asked me to) and what better time to introduce the superstar of my social accounts to everyone than the first-ever Trick or Treat event at INQUIRER.net. 

Juicy! Can I bite you boo? 🙂

Elle looked absolutely freakin’ adorable in red (and I’m not just saying that because she’s my daughter) as a juicy strawberry 🍓🍓🍓! I was lucky to find this costume in her size at Toy Kingdom for a price that didn’t make me cry.  I just had to get her some green tights from the department store to finish off the look.

Everyone at the office swooned (or so I think) over her. Too bad, Elle tends to keep quiet when she gets curious and when she’s in that zone, it’s hard to snap her out of it. So she didn’t get charm everyone’s socks off with the killer smile she’s known for, a usual attraction in all her photos.

She did show off her big baby girl skills by walking around in the office hand in hand with mommy and by being the bravest baby girl when most of the kids got spooked by the decorations in the third floor.  

Holding hands with my mom as we go around getting treats.

Waiting for the trick-or-treating to start!

We got so much treats! It’s funny because her pumpkin pail overflowed with chocolates, candies, jellies, gummies and other snacks (we had to get another container just to be able to bring the goodies home), but all she is really allowed to eat is a pack of boring Bread Sticks. Sorry, babe! Maybe next year when you’re not too young for sweets! (I’m gonna have to say sorry to my thighs too, because when I’m done with all these sweets, that’s where everything will go.)  

Baby long legs chomping on her loot.

Elle’s older cousin Rion, who went trick or treating with us at the office, also rocked that Lion costume! Everyone was gushing over him and people were stopping to take photos. Can you blame them? He’s got the full mane and all! 🦁

Cousins. ❤️

It was exhausting lugging all 11+ kilos of Elle around and having to walk flights of stairs to get to the offices amid all the chaos, but seeing her all so happy and excited for something she absolutely doesn’t understand, I’d be willing to do that again any day in a heartbeat. (That’s saying a lot considering that I hate walking up the stairs and my arms nearly fell off because Elle is heavy as heck.) I know what a happy Elle looks like, and the entire afternoon she really was. 

Now, Halloween is my new favorite holiday. I’m already thinking about what Elle is going wear next year! 

***

I can’t wait to tell Jan all about Elle’s first Halloween. I refused to let his immediate departure Thursday night put a damper on such a joyous afternoon, but after Elle had left for home and my adrenaline had crashed, that was when it hit me that this was just the first of the countless meaningful events Jan’s going to miss while he’s away for basic military training. Three months may seem such a short time, but not when you have a one year old. Any distance feels like eternity.