Posts in “Family”

A Day in the Life: Toddler Schedules, Motherhood and Blogging!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017


Since Mother’s day is right around the corner, I thought to share a day in the life of being a stay-at-home mom with my kids. Some of my friends, and even my sister, wonder how I still manage to blog while taking care of my kids. With two little ones (soon to be three), I think one of the important habits that helps me greatly in doing these things, is planning and scheduling ahead of time. Knowing what I need to do for the next week or what I need to do (like cook) are such big helps. It makes things easier, especially since I have young kids that are unpredictable. I love to have a routine with my kids, which my husband likes as well. My husband, who is a psychologist, says that it’s okay to be organized, on schedule, and to plan things ahead of time, but that we should also be flexible when things don’t work the way we want (which happens). For the most part, here’s what our typical day looks like.


6:30 Wakey! Wakey!

They like to stay in bed for a few minutes and start a conversation with each other. Once I open their door, my boys are ready to play and say, “Mama” at least a hundred times.

6:45 Milk Time

Not only is this milk time, this is also potty time and when we change from diapers to big boy underwear. We also love to read short stories from the beginner’s Bible book.

7:00 Free Play

While they are busy playing, I make breakfast for everyone. I also put away the clean dishes from the sink. Sometimes I let my eldest son help me in putting away the utensils. He loves doing it, so I let him be.

7:30 Breakfast With Dada and Mama

My eldest son has learned to lead the prayer now. It’s so cute, “Thank you God for the blessing, for the egg, for bread, for damit (word for clothes in Tagalog)…” It’s a good start to the day. 😉

8:00 Free Play

They are full and ready to play again! So now I have time to clean the kitchen and dining area, check my email, and quickly freshen up. I feel like a better mom if I take time for myself, even if it’s just for a few minutes. It makes me feel better inside and out and it recharges my patience lol

9:00 Kids’ Activity

These activities usually consist of reading time and doing sensory activities. I also try to have a Filipino class at least once a week. There is also a day when we go to the library for storytime and borrowing books. Other activities we love to do include going to the playground or meeting up with other mommies for play dates. Mornings are the best time to be active! I also love to have one-on-one time with each of my boys, even if it’s just for a few minutes. For example, if my eldest son is busy with his legos, I like to play cars, cuddle, or read books with my youngest son. If the younger one is busy, I’ll do the same with my eldest.

10:00 Snack Time

I love to give them pretzels or goldfish with some fruits and raisins. Or if they have leftover from their breakfast, I let them finish it first before crackers.

11:00 Mama Preps for Lunch

We mostly eat leftover food from the previous night’s dinner. If we don’t have leftovers, I like to make a simple lunch like sandwiches with steamed broccoli or green beans. If they are getting bored from playing, but I need to make lunch for us, I use Pandora to play toddler songs. They love listening and dancing to it, which gives me time for meal prep.

11:30 Lunch Time With the Boys

Now, we eat!

12:00 Free Play

This free play time is when I try to clean up our lunch or talk to my family via video chat.

12:20 Playing With the Kids

They love to play legos or hang out on our balcony where they play with bubbles! After we play for a few minutes, I let them try to clean up some toys before getting ready for naptime. Before naptime, we read books, use the potty, and sing.

1:00 NAPTIME ( AKA Dancing Mama Time ;))

This is the time when I blog, take pictures, do tutorials, or edit in Photoshop. I also find this time to do household chores like laundry or cleaning the house. It’s such a good feeling when it’s quiet and the house is clean and organized. This is my relaxation time.

3:00 Waking Up From Naptime

Sometimes they sleep longer, depending on how tired they are. But if they wake up around 3:00 PM, all they want to do is eat snacks and drink milk. My boys are always hungry! They are growing so fast, that’s why!

3:30 Play / Errands

Depending on the weather and how my pregnancy makes me feel, I bring them outside to walk and to play with balls outside, or I do outdoor errands with them. Sometimes we’ll go window shopping like many moms love to do!

5:00 Dinner Prep

This is the time of day when I get ready for dinner. Sometimes I start a little earlier depending what I cook. When Brent comes home, it’s his time to bond with the boys. Nerf guns are the new thing they love to play with together! And they love to shoot me…

5:45 Dinner With Dada and Mama

We talk about our day and how was Brent’s work. We have learned to avoid having cell phones on the table, unless we want to take picture of our kids. This is also a great time to share to my husband about the kids’ behaviour that day, and who was in trouble… Haha I feel thankful that I’m married to a child psychologist. It’s a great help for me to ask my husband about how I should react to certain behavior and what to do if they are in trouble.

6:30 Bonding Time With Dada

It’s the boys’ bonding time while I clean the kitchen and dining area. I mostly clean the kitchen, especially after we have dinner. I find this easy and relaxing, and when the kids are in bed Brent and I have more time to spend as a couple later at night.

6:50 Brent and Kids Clean Up the Toys

7:00 Ready for Bedtime

Brent is in charge of giving them a bath. The boys’ routine is brushing their teeth, reading bedtime stories, potty time, praying, and singing. Brent mostly sings Christian songs and a made-up song about how Cavan defeated a bear. If it’s my turn to sing for a night, I love to sing Filipino songs like “Bahay Kubo”, “Ako Ay May Lobo” and the Philippine national anthem, “Lupang Hinirang.” I need to work on memorizing Christian songs, I’m so bad with the lyrics!

7:45 Giving Our Boys a Sweet Dreams Goodnight Kiss

This is also time to tell them about good behavior they did. Brent reminds me that even they have consequences from wrong doing for a day, I must  praise them from their good behavior even just a small thing, like for example “Good job on picking up the toys” “That’s nice of you to stay quiet and not fussy”. This is good way to let them know that they are not bad and focus on the good part.

7:50 Sanitizing Our Kids’ Bathroom.

Since both of my boys learn how to to use the potty now, their bathroom can be dirty and messy too (If you are a mom of boys, you know why!). I always make sure that the seats are sanitized and wiped off the counter etc.

8:00 Me-time

Now it’s time for me to do some work if I have a client, or write for my blog. This is also a good time to just sit down and relax for me by reading some Bible scriptures from BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) notes and questionnaires.  Brent does some work too and he usually loves reading books or news articles.

9:00 Netflix time with Brent

Brent and I love watching Netflix while eating popcorn. We try to sleep before 10:30 PM, but sometimes we sleep later… Oops.


When it comes to blogging, I try to post twice a week because that’s how much I can manage right now. I really enjoy being a stay-at-home mom and being able to take care of my kids. I am thankful that I have a husband who supports us, and that God gave me the role of being a stay-at-home mom, taking care of my own children. That’s why I learned to give more time to them and to my marriage. This is my new duty right now and it is what God has planned for us.

Our schedule will definitely change once our new baby comes in the summer. I’ll update everyone with our new schedule for our 3 kids, once we get the right feel for it.


Enjoy your weekend and Happy Mother’s day to all moms out there! :-)



DIY Animal Silhouette Painting (For Mom & Kids to Make Together!)

Thursday, May 4, 2017

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I’m always excited whenever my kids and I do a painting activity together. As you may know, I graduated from a fine arts college and I used to do a lot of paintings before. There is quite a difference between my paintings now and the ones from college. The ones I paint today are colorful, fun and happy artworks compared to my college ones, which you can see some examples of here. My husband loves to tease me and says the reason for my darker art was that I was empty and depressed, until I met him. It is true. ; )

I saw cheaper canvases at Walmart and found 2 for just under $4. I thought were the perfect size to have for our first canvas painting activity. The challenging part of these activities for parents is cutting out the masking tape and following the animal shapes, but it is worth doing!

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First, cover the top of the canvas with masking tape. Leave only the center area clear where you think the sketch’s outlines won’t be. It’s better not to overlap the masking tape too much, so it won’t be too thick to cut. Start to sketch the animal shape of your choice for your child. I suggest to make the sketch simple to have a simple outline for cutting. Next, gently cut and follow the outline of the animal sketch. I used a box cutter to do this. Canvasses have a layer of primer paint, so it acted as a little bit of protection when I used the cutter to remove the masking tape. It helped when I put my other hand underneath to gauge if I was pressing too hard with the cutter on the canvas. If you have another technique on how to do this part, feel free to share in the comment box! :-)

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Once you are done with your animal sketch, prepare acrylic paint colors that you want to use for your kids. I let my kids explore by using different kinds of brushes and tools to paint.

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Let the artwork dry before peeling the masking tape. Once you are done, you can retouch the edges by using white acrylic paint. Use a thin paint brush (similar to a pointed eyeliner brush) to create a white outline like as shown in the pictures here.

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Any fun art activities that you and your kids love to do on Mother’s Day?


I hope all of my readers who are moms have a great time celebrating Mother’s Day. Motherhood is such a blessing from God. I am thankful that He gave me the role of being a mom!


Have a great week!


Hello baby bump #3

Thursday, April 20, 2017

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I’m finally excited to share with everyone that we are expecting our third child this year! We had told some people when I was in the Philippines (Brent and I decided to share the good news in-person first, then on social media), but I think now is a good time to officially share this blessing with everyone, and it’s my birthday week! I’ve been feeling great since I hit my second trimester. No morning sickness at all. Although, I still can’t stand the smell of coffee… Sorry, coffee lovers…

Was this planned or was it a surprise, you ask? I’ve been praying to God to bless us with another child to add to our family, so nope. It was not a surprise. Haha! Brent knows that two kids are little in number for me. 😉 Last year, was a challenging one with our second child because of his bad reflux, colic, and waking up before 6AM daily. It was also sometimes challenging to take care of a baby and toddler close in age, but it is true that these kind of challenging moments will disappear one day. When I try to look back and remember those moments, I honestly can’t remember the feeling. I know I was exhausted and I do remember it was so hard for Brent and me.  But here we go again, starting another chapter with a new addition to our family. It’s weird to me that I don’t feel anxious and nervous thinking about taking care of two toddlers and a newborn… Maybe I should be, but right now, I’m just too busy with my two boys and focusing on parenting them before the new baby comes. I also believe that all I can do is trust God and His plan for this new little one.

Happy weekend and happy birthday to me! I’ll be enjoying a piece of cake! Sorry, Baby!
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(Hello Baby book by Mem Fox / Motherhood Maternity Top (from a friend) / Jeans from thrift store but here’s the similar)

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” James 1:17


Ninja Turtle Inspired Birthday + Filipino Skewered Barbecue Recipe

Thursday, April 6, 2017

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My eldest son has been liking “ninjas” a lot.  I think he’s been a fan of them ever since he was an infant. My husband would lift him up and have him pretend to jump all over the house (walls, sofas, etc). This year for his birthday, he was the one who kept telling me that he would like ninjas for his birthday. That’s why I planned to use a touch of Ninja Turtles and a colorful theme for his special day. I saw some ninja turtle birthday ideas when it came to food. I tried to make the fruit tray and saw Ninja Turtle cookies in a grocery store. We also played “Pin the Mask” on the ninja, thanks to my friend Karla who led the game. We had a great time with our friends and their kids, who are close to my son’s heart. I thought to prepare Filipino dishes like lumpia and skewered pork barbecue, so our friends could taste some FIlipino dishes that we love. Here’s a recipe of Filipino skewered pork barbeque in case you guys want to try it. It’s actually a street food in the Philippines, which I loved to buy often when I lived there. It’s perfect if you dip it with spicy vinegar and eat it with rice!! YUM!


(Special thanks to my sister-in-law Suki for the birthday decor!)

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Filipino Skewered Pork Barbecue


2 lbs pork, sliced

½ cup soy sauce

½ ketchup

8-10 cloves garlic, minced (I used garlic pressed, similar to this)

3 tablespoons brown sugar

1 teaspoon ground pepper

2 teaspoons salt

1-2 teaspoons sriracha (optional, but it’s good!)

2 teaspoons of lemon juice (fresh or it can be from the bottle of concentrate)

1 cup (or more) of Sprite (Yep!)

Bamboo skewers – Soak a night or at least 20 minutes before you use it. It keeps the skewers from getting burnt during grilling.



Combine soy sauce, ketchup, minced garlic, brown sugar, pepper and salt, sriracha, and lemon into a flat container (I like to use a glass baking dish), stir it well with a fork. Place sliced pork onto the dish and mix together with the sauce. Pour the Sprite evenly over the pork. Cover it and refrigerate it to marinate overnight.

After it’s marinated, skewer the pork with the bamboo sticks. Keep the sauce aside. Ready the grill at medium heat. While waiting for the grill to be hot, cook the sauce from the marinated pork with a low heat and stir. Wait for it to bubble while cooking. When it’s cooked, I taste it and add some sprite, ketchup and brown sugar depending on how I want it to come out. For my son’s party, I found it a little spicy for our visitors who were kids, so I added these ingredients to adjust it. This cooked sauce will be used to brush onto the barbecue while on the grill so it’s juicy and moist. Put the barbeque pork on the preheated grill and start to brush the cooked sauce on each side of the pork. Grill 10-12 minutes per side. Keep rotating it and brushing the pork with the sauce keep it moist. Cooking takes about 25-30 minutes. I used a charcoal grill to cook this, but you may use a gas grill too.


Try serving it with spicy vinegar and rice! It’s totally delicious!


Anyone here tasted this skewered barbecued pork before?


Gift Ideas for 3 Year-Olds

Monday, March 27, 2017

My eldest son is turning 3 years old this month. Truly, time goes by so fast. He went from a baby to a big, sweet (and hyper) boy, who is also a good helper.  I still remember when I was pregnant with him. It was different than with my second child because I was actually pregnant not only with my eldest, but with another one as well. I also remember Brent’s facial expression when I shared the news with him. His jaw dropped and he couldn’t talk for a few seconds. Haha! I wasn’t familiar with the type of pregnancy I had until I experienced it myself. It was called Vanishing Twin Syndrome. Even though we went through that, God has always been good to Brent and to me. He is always there for us, helping raise our children. If you have met my eldest, he is sweet, although he can be very active (He has so much energy!). As some people say, boys will be boys. 😉 Here are a few gift ideas for 3 year-old toddlers that you will want to check out.


ONE Waterfall Discovery Wall

My kids totally love water! I think this is something we would like to consider getting him, especially now that winter is over, and he and his brother can play outside.

TWO Play-doh

My son loves to play with this together. He requests for us to make snakes or alligators, while his little brother only requests for a ball.

THREE Play-mags

Another cool thing to check out is this magnetic toy, where you can build towers and other structures. I saw this on a playdate with a friend and my son loves it.

FOUR Magnetic Letters and Numbers

They got this last year and I use this mostly when I’m trying to cook. I let them play with these on the fridge door while I cook.

FIVE Books (Harold and the purple crayon)

Books are always a great gift idea. My eldest loves storytime, which I’m so happy about because I’m not into books. 😉 Here’s a book he got from his cousin. He loves this book because of its creative story.

SIX Water Paint Reveal Pads 

No-mess painting for toddlers! I first heard about this from a friend who suggested I get it for my travel to the Philippines. I didn’t have the chance to get one, but it’s a good thing Korea Airlines offered a similar item for our kids in the plane. They totally LOVED it!

SEVEN Magnetic Wooden Block Set 

I think this is good toy to build their imaginations. I would like to have this for him!

EIGHT  Trampoline

My boys have this and they love it. It’s a good way for them to release their energy, and is better than having them from jumping on the bed and sofa 😉

Do you have any gift ideas you like to give for a toddler? I’d love to hear them. :)


Highlights Of Our Trip to the Philippines

Monday, March 13, 2017

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We finally made it back to Houston, and Brent and I are definitely missing the tropical life and good food from the Philippines. I actually felt that I got spoiled while I was there with my family. My mom and brother cooked food for us (all of them were yummy!) and my brother drove us around with the kids. The most amazing thing of all for me was that I got to rest whenever I wanted! This is because my family and relatives would help take care of my kids, and they loved doing it. 😉 It was my dream vacation. I thought to share some of the highlights that my family and I enjoyed while in the Philippines!

Tres Reyes Beach

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This beach is in my hometown of Marinduque, a small island province in the Philippines. We drove from my family’s house in Marinduque to the town of Gasan. From there, we rode a boat that took us to the island where Tres Reyes Beach is located. Brent really loves this place, and it was my kids’ first time going there. They were scared being in the boat, but once they were on the beach, they immediately started playing with the kids who lived there. If you are planning to go there, we found a “bangkero” or boat driver that you can inquire about. We paid 1,000 Pesos or $20 USD round trip.

Duyay River

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It’s a simple river that has a man-made pool, which overflows like a mini-waterfall. I like how they made small cottages for visitors where you rest, hangout with the family, and have a lunch or snack. The water is pretty cool, but once you are in it, it feels good to swim in! There are a couple of families there who still wash their clothes in the river and dry them on the big rocks by the water. We paid 30 Pesos (less than a dollar) per person to get there.


Filipino Food

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This is Miki, my kids and my husband love it!
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Halo-halo “mixed together” – a Filipino dessert

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(Grilled Milkfish – this photo was taken few years ago when my mom was here and made it for my husband’s family)

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“Ginataang Crab” (crab with coconut milk)

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Sweet and Sour Fish

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Fresh Shrimp

My mom is a good cook, especially when it comes to Filipino foods; most of the moms in the Philippines are! I loved when she made us “Ginataang Crab” (crab with coconut milk) and grilled milkfish (a boneless fish with delicious stuffing inside). This is something that visitors should try when in the Philippines! Brent also loved to eat fresh fish like “Blue Marlin” or other fishes that my mom bought directly from the fisherman near where we lived. There is also a restaurant in the town of Boac that serves delicious Filipino foods. It is located in the Boac Hotel in Marinduque. Unfortunately, there are no good Western foods in this province,  but if you are in the capital city of the Philippines, Manila, there are plenty of Western and other types of food that you can choose from.

Filipino Bathtime

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My kids totally loved the experience of taking a bath in a “palanggana” outside or or “timba” (basin) if they are in the bathroom. It brought joy and laughter to their faces. It was such a good feeling for me to see that they were able to share in this experience from my childhood.

Lunch at Bahay Kubo (Nipa Hut)

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My grandparents who passed away, have land in a small place called Duyay (still in the province of Marinduque). We went there to bring the kids to see the more country-side life with the coconut tree areas and to have lunch in a bahay kubo (nipa hut). It was great to have a simple meal with my family together with chickens, pigs, and dogs around us… Maybe a snake as well. 😉

My Eldest Son Attending A Filipino School

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(my youngest son looking for his big brother)

My eldest son had the chance to join a daycare class where my family lives in Boac, Marinduque. He was always excited to go to school and be around the kids ever since I mentioned the school to him. Even though my kids’ father is American, I always try to speak to and teach them my native language Tagalog. I also teach them Filipino songs and about Filipino culture ever since they were very young. Even though the classes were short, I think it was a good experience for him to interact with other Filipino kids and teachers. I’m also glad to have met fellow moms in the classroom and make friends with them. They were very sweet to my son.

Filipino playtime
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One of the items on my agenda for my kids, was to for them to play some Filipino games  with the kids there like “jackpot / rubberband game”, chinese garter, “tumbang preso” and running in the field. My eldest son was also able to have an early 3rd Birthday celebration. It was a simple gathering, but we all wanted him to experience celebrating his birthday with Filipino kids and food that we normally prepare for birthdays there.

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( NOT happy about our ride 😉 )

Being able to visit my hometown again was something that my husband and I are so grateful for. We realized just how fortunate and blessed we are to have a good place to live, food, and the things we have here in America. It was also a great for my kids to see a different part of the world to witness the culture and lifestyle of the Philippines, a third world culture.

Have you ever been to the Philippines? What activities and food do you want to try there, and where would you like to visit there?

P.S. We are still in jetlagged! Since it’s a big time difference, my kids have been waking in the middle of the night and have been having a hard time going back to sleep. Hopefully they will be back on their normal schedule soon!


Flying With the Toddlers (Philippines here we come!)

Monday, January 9, 2017



I’m SO excited that we are going to the Philippines soon! I’ve been waiting for this moment for so long, to finally bring my kids to my hometown. They’ll be able to meet my family and friends there, eat the best mangoes, hear more Filipino words for them to learn, see beautiful coral and white sand beaches, and see… traffic. Haha! I am worried about a lot of stuff though, like with transportation. Normally, we use public transportation in the Philippines, but they don’t have car seats or seat belts (except for taxis unless the seatbelt is not broken). Anyway, I’ve been busy lately trying to finish a list of what things I must bring and plans for when we are inside plane for more than 15 hours! Here are some of the most important items on my list.


Choose Aisle Seats – I like to choose aisles, so it’s easy to get out if I need to go to the restroom or walk a little bit with kids.

Bring A Copy of Birth Certificate – They always ask for this in the airport so I’ll be sure to bring this along.

Use the Ergo Baby Carrier – At first, I thought this was only for babies, but turns out I can use this for my eldest son too! But for this trip, I’ll use this for my youngest son.  It keeps him close to me and prevents him from wandering or getting lost. This is SO helpful during travel especially if everything around me is getting busy.

Avoid Long Earrings and Necklaces – These are a big no-no around my kids! They might play with them and pull them. That’s why I just prefer to wear a watch around them, and that’s all!

Wear Easy On/Off Shoes (Similar shoes) – I would love to use flip flops, but it’s going to be cold in the airport and plane, so I better wear slip-on shoes that are easy to remove and put on.

Separate Snack Bags – My eldest son has a small backpack where I’ll put snacks in since they’re light enough for him to carry. I love to use ziplocks to separate snacks like cheerios, craisins, and fish crackers.

Bring Random Toys – I looked for random small stuff to bring for my toddlers so that I can distract the kids inside the plane. It really works a lot. I’m also planning to get new cheap toys (like $1) so they will get excited. Surprisingly, cheap toys are more entertaining for my kids.

Bring a Laptop/Tablet and Download Family Videos or Cartoons – Brent and I don’t let our kids watch TV or anything with a screen often, only for emergencies or for something special. However, since sitting inside a plane can be boring and tiring, I’m using our old family videos to show my kids if they are acting out of control. I also downloaded music videos and cartoons and fun games.

Bring a Bib – Bibs not only help avoid stains on my kids’ clothes, I use them to hold their snacks so they are hands-free. Brent and I LOVE this plastic bib that we have (similar to here), and have been using it ever since my kids were only 5 month old babies! 

Bring an Empty Water Bottle (with hook) – I always like to bring an empty bottle and hook it onto my backpack. I fill it up after the security check since they don’t allow a lot of water before security check.

Feed the Baby on the Way Up and Down – I’d like to save snacks for the times the plane takes off and lands since that’s time that my kids feel uncomfortable and scared.

Bring Favorite Stuffed Toys – I definitely cannot forget these! My kids love their OWL and FROGGIE. They make them feel secure and help them to fall asleep when they are holding them. I know what you’re thinking. Am I not enough? Haha kidding!

Bring a Toddler Neck Pillow (similar travel pillow)- My eldest son will have his own seat for the first time, so I thought I’d bring a neck pillow for him since it will be a long flight.


This picture is from the time I flew alone with them going to LA last year. It was tough, but not more crazy than I expected. Good thing this time, we’ll be flying with my mom, so she can assist me with our 15+ hour trip!


Any other things I should bring? Any advice and tips? Let me know. :)


Welcome 2017!

Monday, January 2, 2017

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(Another year to force my husband to take pictures with me. Thanks for the patience, Brent. 😉 )


(My kids with their Tito/Uncle. Yep, he looks like Brent!)


(Egg rolls rolled our night!)


(Filipino Leche Flan)


(Two of the beautiful ladies in my life. Mother-in-law and Mama)

Happy 2017 to all! Here are some of our photos from New Year’s Eve and the first day of 2017. My husband’s family drove down to celebrate with us. We had a simple dinner with egg rolls that my mom and I made. They were rolled with a lettuce (Vietnamese style) and my mom made a delicious homemade sauce to go to it! Spaghetti was my request this year, even though my husband is not really a fan of it. But to be fair, I made two kinds of spaghetti sauces: one was Filipino style (a sweeter sauce with meatballs and hot dogs – I know it might sounds weird to others, BUT I’m Filipino! ;)) and the other a normal sauce is just with meatballs. “Zzzz” Haha kidding! Oh, we also had Filipino leche flan with strawberries on top! Yumm!!

Happy New Year and may our lives this year focus on love, faith and hope with God!


Hello Island Mama is a makeup, DIY, design, and lifestyle blog by Em Smith. She is the mother of two boys and a wife, who loves to inspire and encourage others through her works and stories. Originally from the Philippines.

"I can do all things through him who strengthens me." Philippians 4:13

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