the unnatural mother

embracing mother-ing and all its glory – from wet diapers, spit-ups, tantrums to first smiles, hug-a-bugs and sweet cuddles

Memory Books January 21, 2015

Filed under: Parenting — reeseyenko @ 1:15 pm

With 3 kids and a full time job, I no longer have the luxury of time to make scrapbooks or photobooks for my kids’ memories. Thus, I resorted to what I now call “Memory Books” – its just a fancy name for an album, really. They are:

  • SIMPLE – no frills, no design and no creativity needed 😀
  • QUICK – choose your picture, add it to your album and you’re done
  • EASY to MAINTAIN – as you create memories, it will be very easy to add on to your book.
Memory Book

Memory Book

So how do you start your Memory Book in this techy age of digital images??? Let’s face it, when the digital camera won over the heart of everyone, developing pictures became so “ancient”. But as hard drives got corrupted and social media network fads shifted (from Multiply to Facebook), people – especially mothers like me – realized the need to be able to ‘hold on’ to precious memories through pictures – hard, physical things like pictures.

  1. Have your images developed.
    • If you use several image capturing devices, you would need to download and collate in one place
    • If you would like to have your pictures in chronological order, I suggest renaming the picture using this syntax <Year>_<Month>_<Key>. It would look something like this “2012_Jan_1”. The key could be the date or anything to denote order – just so the file names aren’t correct. Why rename files? By the time they are developed, it would be very difficult to guess which came first just by looking at baby pictures (especially if you have 3 that look alike). Most good developing centers, print the filename at the back.
    • Choose your images. You cannot develop everything. I choose 1-2 pictures per event in the child’s life but I don’t include everything. And I don’t include every event. I include random silly pictures taken anywhere. If it has a memory attached to it then I include it. Also, it is essential to develop family pictures and birthdays because somebody will be asking for those for sure!

      Choose your pictures

      Choose your pictures

    • Choose a good developing center. Most places that offer cheap rates are most likely low quality. Do  a test print of 10 pictures (most place require minimum number of prints) — one that looks awesome in your PC, one that is a bit blurred, one that is portrait, one that is landscape, etc. You would want a place that develops sharp, vibrant pictures and does a little editing such that the developed pictures don’t have white spaces on the top or at the sides like this one:

      Some developing centers do their own re-sizing so that your pictures are developed without white spaces.

      Some developing centers do their own re-sizing so that your pictures are developed without white spaces.

  2. Choose and purchase your album. I chose this one from Muji because it is simple, functional and SLIP-ON! I don’t need to do any lay-out at all. Plus, I get to put duplicate copies in the same slot. You really want duplicates of your pictures because I assure, once or twice a year, one teacher would require the kids to bring a family picture as homework or for show-and-tell. By the way, I got this on sale at 20% OFF!

    Muji slip-on album for 4R pictures.

    Muji slip-on album for 4R pictures.

  3. Organize. I try to be chronological but not anal about it.
  4. Slip it on. Enough said.

Mid 2014 August 25, 2014

Filed under: Parenting — reeseyenko @ 9:04 pm

Well, its not exactly the middle of 2014 but it’s somewhere there.
I have been extremely busy to the point of not knowing where I had put myself in this chaos of raising 3 children and trying to make a living.

So where am I in the middle of 2014? I am in the middle of the sea of life drowning.

The 3 kids are going to school – 7.9 y/o, 4.3 y/o and 2.9 y/o. All of them bundles of energy and individually, their own person. Each one needs a different strategy but one thing remains, they don’t take orders – nothing is easy with these 3 kids. Yet, the most difficult to deal with is the eldest (bar his father). I have brought him to a neuro-developmental pedia to assess his behavior because, frankly, this whole 1st quarter of school was hell. His behavior progressing to the negative end of the spectrum and I, his supposed ‘gaurdian angel’, am at wits end and losing myself to a monster I did not know lived in me. He has to take 6 months of occupational therapy in the hopes of addressing his attention deficit. He also has to get his sleep apnea checked because, apparently, it affects behavior. Sigh. These are definitely not from me.

Meanwhile, we have plans – we’ve been working and spending money towards a goal I cannot yet reveal. And we are on the last step. Yet, it is in the hands of my husband. All up to him. If it were up to me, I would plunge into it but it’s not. And the crazy thing is, he is not willing to take the step. If we don’t take this step soon, we lose our chance. So much for putting your life and future in the hands of one person.

There is pressure to raise ‘good children’ – who wouldn’t want this? And so we have made steps to at least try – eating meal times together as a family, special dates with each child, praying together, reading books – just to name a few. But all these seems contrite and never really hitting the bullseye.

Meal times are chaotic to say the least – 3 children, 2 nannies and 1 parent.  One child talking or singing rubbish while the 2 laugh. The other refusing to eat or spits out each bite. Another is under the table. Sometimes, one is throwing up or running around or making a car fly across the whole length of the table. Where is the other parent? Either sleeping, gaming or surfing the net and when that parent finally makes it to meal time, all he can do is reprimand and scold. It’s a scene right out of a parent’s horror movie.

If meal times are chaotic, play times are UFC events – all three kids are either shooting imaginary guns at each other OR wrestling each other – trying to be the first one to get another knocked down and crying.

Leaving the house which means getting ready for a trip out consists of flying clothes and shoes, an exhibition of private parts and a little bit wrestling and crying. And again, 2 nannies and 1 parent for the 3 kids – one for each kid to keep them apart. The car ride is as exciting as well – fast and wreckless to get to our destination on time.

In all these, I cannot say much of my husband. He is a true man – isolated and doesn’t adapt to anyone or anything, he does what he wants, when he wants, he is never at fault and you should never react to his driving because he loses focus. Your reactions are your responsibility and should never be accounted against him.

I cannot count the times I have walked out, locked myself in the bathroom, sat catatonic in front of the pc or shutdown completely.

But my religion has taught me to see the blessings in the storm – at least we have jobs and the kids are in school, we have the opportunity to diagnose problems and ‘try’ to address them, we have friends, we have help and we have a roof over our heads. Last but not the least, we are given new life each day to try and try again.


Lessons of an Atenista Mom: Grade 2 March 7, 2014

Filed under: Parenting — reeseyenko @ 10:45 am
Tags: , ,

Last year my son was in Prep. This year he was in Grade 2. Yes, he skipped a grade not because Ateneo Gradeschool accelerates their boys (i have not heard of anyone getting accelerated), but because of the K-12 system. However, since my son was at the lower limit of the age bracket when he entered Prep, he is now underage for 2nd grade. Be that the case, he still survived — Thank God Almighty.

Lessons learned this year:

  • You still need to label all his things. This year, I labeled each of his 16 crayons in the hope that it will last him more than a week. It did. But not more than 2.5 weeks.
  • Studying everyday is important – not that it wasn’t last year, but it is more important than ever because the topics are getting more complicated. It is important to review those that are noted for review and check for understanding through several question and answer. I am actually reading this book, “Helping our children do well in school” by Quenna N. Lee-Chua, Ph.D. and Ma. Isabel Sison-Dionisio, M.A. which has inspired me to help develop good study habits in my boy.
  • Practice makes perfect is the idea. Your boy will need to master addition and subtraction until 100. This will be tackled gradually in increasing complexity (i.e. addition and subtraction up to 20, up to 50, up to 100) so don’t worry. You only need to practice what is being given to your boy. You will need this when they learn about money in the 4th Quarter.
  • 3rd Quarter was and is always the shortest so be ready. 🙂
  • Ateneo Grade School teachers are dedicated, compassionate and loving. I’ve heard of horror stories of terrible teachers (in other schools) but not here in the Ateneo. Especially with my boy who is gifted with an extra dose of energy and curiosity everyday, no teacher has given up on him. I admire and salute his past and current adviser for always keeping me abreast of what he is doing in school and continuously and consistently coming up with different strategies to keep him in his seat.

The school year is coming to a close and I am a bit lonely to close another chapter in my boy’s life.  He will never be 2nd grade again. My boy is growing fast.


How gadgets can ruin your marriage December 17, 2013

Filed under: Parenting — reeseyenko @ 10:02 am
Tags: , ,

I’m an IT professional, which basically means, I work with computers. I work with software that is run on computers, mobile devices and the like. Yet,  I am not a ‘techie‘ person. I am not the one to get the latest gadget – phone, tablet or camera.  I am a woman but not the type who will go crazy over the latest designer bag or shoes. But don’t get me wrong – I do love shopping. But its the kind of shopping that searches for the best bargains, cool essentials and meaningful gifts. So you can say, I don’t like spending on things I have lived without for over 33 years and counting.

However, I do have a hubby and a father and a brother who are into those ‘techie’ stuff and though they can control their ‘techie-spending-sprees’, it’s the consequences I have to live with when hubby gets his hands on one ( – not so much concerned with how my father and brother uses their gadgets).

How can one simple toy ruin your marriage?

1. Time-buster. These gadgets eat away time – time that is supposed to be spent with quality with loved ones. Instead of talking about life and dreams when you’re in bed and about to meet Mr. Sandman, a husband can be out there playing with his newly acquired PS3, 4, 5 … 100 for all I care! The next thing you know, you’d be caught up in diaper changes, nighttime feedings and a screaming toddler that there is no more time for these quiet times for the 2 of you.

2. Preoccupation. Not too mention forgetfulness. When you’re thinking about the next ‘enemy’ you have to fight in the game on your phone, you are not focused. You tend to forget things.

3. Financial stress. Need I say more? These things cost a lot.

4. Harmony. When one is up to his/her neck in chores with a screaming 2 year old while the other is on the game console or even just the phone tapping away at a game,  what reaction do you expect to get? It doesn’t matter whose turn it is to do the dishes or the laundry or to get the kids to bed, there is too much work to keep a household going and I am sure you can think of something better to do while your other half is slaving away, right? I’d like to believe that marriage is about partnership and teamwork.

5. Your investment now is your future. People spend time and resources on what they think is important – that is why we spend money on our kids education because it is important; spend on healthy and quality food because our well-being is important. So when you spend your days and nights on a game – on digital ones and zeros, on electrical impulses running through plastic and chipboards, I am not sure what your future holds for you.

And so I can think of 5 major risks at this point – only 5, that when repeated consistently and all together, can and will destroy whatever strong foundation you have in your marriage.


The success of a parent July 8, 2013

Filed under: Breastfeeding,Parenting — reeseyenko @ 2:05 pm
Tags: , , , ,

I saw this post on Facebook by Pinky McKay.

separation anxiety

And I couldn’t help but be amazed at how breastfeeding has greatly shaped my parenting beliefs and style. From the instant and “snap” culture that we have to the downright slow, persevering and hardwork it takes to express milk, I no longer believe that children need to learn independence once they are born or to know the alphabet when they turn 1. That babies and children have their own learning and growth curve, that nobody – not your doctor, not scientists or researchers who make the charts, not advertisements – can dictate what your child should be doing at a certain age or how heavy or tall your child should be. Your child is YOURS – a sum of its parents, a sum of 2 very different people, a unique being that cannot be plotted in a chart or a curve or made to fit in a mold dictated by medical practitioners from across the globe. You know your child by touching her, feeding her and loving her which all requires time – lots and lots of time starting into each others eyes, kissing her forehead a hundred times a day while she lays on your lap, cheeks pressed against your skin and taking in your smell…even if you’ve had a long day.
Yet, as your child is YOURs, you are also HERS or HIS – you bear a responsibility to your child to see to her wellness and well-being, to provide security and a safe haven, to ensure that she is getting the best of everything and that she is developing at a rate that is comfortable to her and you. You owe it to her to present her with as much opportunities for her development and growth.

From believing that the success of a man or woman is measured by the notches he/she has climbed in the corporate ladder, I measure success by how happy and content their children are.


A Pumping Mom’s Day Out July 1, 2013

Filed under: Breastfeeding,Parenting — reeseyenko @ 2:02 pm

A few days ago was our 7th year wedding anniversary. We have 3 children now – 2 of which are going to school already and the third is a stay-at-home 1-yr old. We stopped going on vacations on our 3rd year. We were just too busy then to plan and be anywhere so since then, we just opted to take a leave from work and eat out or do something.

Now, on #7, still breastfeeding our 19-month old, here’s how my day went:

  • Brought our son to school and by 6am, he was there at the Ateneo Grade School
  • By 630am, we were at CBTL Technohub for our breakfast
  • Left at 730 am – pump in car
  • Play and feed baby her breakfast
  • After which, nurse baby while on facebook
  • Leave at 10am for Trinoma
  • Bought Chatime drinks
  • Went to cinema to buy tickets
  • Ate a light lunch at Bigoli
  • Went inside the cinema at 1130am
  • Came out at 130
  • Pumped at 2pm
  • Had lunch at 230
  • Went around the mall looking for shoes, clothes, etc
  • Bought hubby 2 polos on sale at Giordano
  • Looked for shoes. None that I liked
  • Bought lipstick
  • Go Home
  • Arrived home at 5pm
  • Started homework with my eldest at around 6 while fixing the things we bought, pumped milk, facebook, nursed baby
  • Ate a light dinner
  • Nursed baby to sleep
  • Take a bath
  • go on Facebook
  • then sleep

This isn’t my normal pumping schedule since IT is a special day. Yet, I do try to stick to it and still pump 3x a day and nurse in between pumping sessions if I know the interval is going to be long. I also try to multi-task to get everything done in the limited time I have.


Sacrifice of a Nursing Mother June 14, 2013

I have been breastfeeding for a cumulative of 32 months – 1 month for my 1st, 13 months for my 2nd and 18 months for my 3rd (and still going). There were many struggles and obstacles along the way and they weren’t easy to overcome. But more than those troubles is all the sacrifice I had to make for my LO. Sacrifice entails a giving of oneself… much like LOVE and thus, I could name this entry the ‘Love of a Nursing Mother’ because breastfeeding is pure LOVE.

The number ONE sacrifice I had to make was going out. I’m a girl and I love shopping – plain and simple. In the first 2 months of my baby’s life, I refrained from going out not because I was recuperating  (that’s the least of my concern at that point) but because I felt it was unsafe for baby’s health. I live in the Philippines where there is people everywhere – the malls are packed even on a simple weekday – and I just didn’t want exposing my LO to all the germs around (germophobe in me typing).

TWO, close to number one, I had to give up going to the movies… frequently. It was and still is such a struggle for me to find time for movies because a) I’m a working mom and spend 9 hours at work, 3 hours commuting and 8 hours sleeping (not without waking, I must say) which leaves me with only 4 hours to spend a day for my 3 children; and b) weekends are for errands like grocery shopping, gift shopping for all the birthday parties we are invited to, actually attending those birthday parties, hearing mass and seeing relatives ; and c) I’m dead tired when I have the time to be tired so I would just like to be alone. So this is more like a sacrifice of having a family but here is the breastfeeding part…Going to the movies entails expressing milk before and after the movie which means bringing my pump bag and cooler all around the mall. I am not the kind of mother who expresses a lot or much at all so I would rather directly nurse my baby than pump.

THREE is giving up the convenience of medicines or the euphoria of caffeine. I put this two together because they are both drugs. Yes, caffeine is a DRUG and must be taken in moderation. Speaking of moderation, a lot of sites would say that Coffee is SAFE for the breastfeeding mom and baby when taken in moderation which means, 1 standard cup a day is fine. Yet, I am not taking any chances, considering that I am asthmatic and I have a maintenance medicine of salbutamol already – that’s 1 drug regularly in my system, that I need to LIVE. Other drugs for cough or colds, I tend to avoid as well.

I believe anything we put into our mouths or our bodies finds its way to our bloodstream and into baby’s breastmilk. The effects may not manifest in the amount of milk we produce or immediately in baby’s behavior. Even if they are ‘approved’ by our doctors, most often than not it only means that ‘there is inconclusive studies/results or no studies at all were made on the effects on baby for lactating women’. Some of these drugs, though BFDA approved, are new and the effects on babies whose mothers breastfed them may only be documented in the last 5 years or so. What if there are long-term effects that will manifest when child is already 10 years old,  15 or 25? Yes, i am paranoid but weighing my child’s health & safety vs. my convenience, I choose my child.

Having said all these, my life may look dull, lifeless, difficult and you may think ‘breastfeeding is drag‘, but on the contrary, breastfeeding has taught me a lot about the more important things in life – things that this fast-paced world has ignored and set aside just to keep moving with the tide.

It has taught me to prioritize and organize my life around things that matter – God, Health, Family, Self and lastly, work or money. I take care of myself before family because if I am sick, no one will take of my children. They need me to be at my tip-top shape in order for me to be their MOTHER. I take my vitamins, eat healthy and avoid fastfoods and junk food (I said, ‘avoid’ not remove… take note. Its good to enjoy comforts once in awhile 🙂 ). I spend and devote the time I have at home for my children – playing ‘zombie hunter’ with them even while I pump my breastmilk, reading books to them and even to my 18th month old who just likes flipping through the pages and using my finger to point and waiting for me to identify the object (beats any V-tech toy!) and just cuddling in the morning when everyone is just bleary-eyed and fresh from a good night’s rest

It makes my life simpler. Breastfed babies under 1 year old don’t need water, don’t need vitamins and don’t need much food. They just need mother’s milk to sustain them for the first year of life and complement solid foods after that . They just need to cuddle when they are hurt or nursing an ‘ouchie’ . They just need to be nursed to sleep  and given the boobie when waking up a night – no fuss, no mess. Thus, I’ve realized that I, too, don’t need new shoes every month or new nail polish for the season or the latest Apple gadget to complete my day. Less wants, less needs, less fuss, less ado about nothing.

It has taught me to FOCUS – be it at work, while pumping or reviewing my older child. I need to finish my work on time so I can leave on time and be with my kids. I need to leave office concerns at my desk while I pump milk  – I even used to imagine my child during pumping sessions to trigger the milk ejection reflex. And when I study with my older child, I can’t be thinking about something else.

But even with all this focus, I also learned to multi-task and plan ahead. I love crocheting and it keeps me stable and sane –  I do this on the commute from and to work.  I pump in the car when I am too busy at work. I think about the kids’ snack and lunch while I am walking, eating lunch or using the bathroom!

Having a baby is a life-changing event and this goes for all those new parents, second-time parents, third- time parents – its different with each one – breastfeeding or not. Please don’t expect that it all goes back to ‘normal’ – whatever that is – when the child learns to feed, talk, walk,  poop, wash itself. It doesn’t. It’s a lifelong trek of adjustment and of course, LOVE.

Sure, going out on movie dates is fun but grocery-shopping dates are ‘fun-er’ – it combines shopping and exercise in one activity – nothing beats that for a woman!