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Posts in “Family”

Welcome to Galveston Island

Friday, September 8, 2017

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Last month a lot of things happened, from the birth of my third son, to Hurricane Harvey. The latter urged us to drive down to Dallas and move to our new place in Galveston sooner. If only my eyebags could talk, I think they would ask to take a break! But who am I to complain… My family and I are safe, and I have a handsome newborn. I am also thankful that my husband can spend more time with the boys, since we moved here to be closer to his work. Did I mention we are close by the beach?! It already feels like home. :-)

I’ve been to Galveston a lot, but when we went in the past, we would mostly go to the beach or The Strand. There is also a Filipino store and restaurant here called “El Pinoy.” I will be going back there to grab some Filipino ketchup and Mang Tomas sauce. 😉

Have you ever visited Galveston? What kind of fun things do you and your family love to do here?

Galveton island home

Baby wrap from Solly Baby Wrap. (It’s sold out but you can try these other pretty colors.) #partner

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Donate For Hurricane Harvey Victims

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

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Photo source: @lindseyjurica

My heart aches for what’s happening in my city, Houston. Six years ago, I came to Houston from the Philippines, so it was my first home in the United States. It was devastating to see what Hurricane Harvey did to my city. I’ve been through several situations with big typhoons and floods in the Philippines, ever since I was a kid. I know from experience how sad and chaotic it is for the families and everyone in Houston, affected by the flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey. My family is safe and I’m thankful that my husband urged me to leave Houston a day before the Hurricane arrived. I am also thankful that my mother-in-law is with us. She’s been helping us a lot ever since I gave birth to my third son. She drove us to her home in Dallas to take care of us, especially my boys. I can’t imagine how terrifying it is to experience flooding if you have kids and/or a newborn during this kind of calamity. Today, I shared some organizations you can help and share your blessings with for the victims of Hurricane Harvey in Houston, Texas.

Texas Diaper Bank – They are in need of cash and/or diaper donations since disaster relief agencies don’t provide diapers.

Impact Houston Church – This is the church that we attend. They are located in the inner city of Houston and always help the less fortunate, especially the homeless. Donations such as baby formula, diapers for babies, cases of water, non-perishable food items, hygiene items like toothbrushes and toothpaste, are all needed. See a full list of needs here. You can donate money as well. See the quick link on their website.

Hurricane Harvey Houston Relief Fund by Houston’s mayor.

Houston Food Bank – The best thing you can do to help the Houston Food bank is to make a donation of money designated for disaster relief.

Check out other shelters and organizations in Houston to learn how you can help, with either donating money and supplies, or volunteering.

If you know other organizations, let me know in the comments below!

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Road trip with toddlers and newborn

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

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Here he comes… (Birth Story)

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

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We finally came home with our new blessing! All of us have fallen in love with him, especially his older brothers. I’m excited to share today’s post about our newborn son’s birth, and a few helpful ways on how to get through the pain of labor and delivery. So let me begin before my baby wakes up. 😉

An appointment

Earlier this month, my doctor told me that she wanted to schedule an induction for me because I was expecting to have a big baby (much bigger than my two older sons). I had a bad experience with induction from my first pregnancy. I was given Pitocin, an induction medication, which caused me a lot of pain and discomfort. I also felt the staff were in a hurry when I was given it. That is why I asked about stripping membranes or membrane sweeping. This is what I had done with my second son. I’m thankful that my doctor was cool and respected my decision. On the morning of my child’s birth, around 9am, I had the membrane sweeping done. It caused me to have more Braxton Hicks contractions and spotting afterwards. I heard that sometimes this method doesn’t work too. That’s why I kept praying that the membrane stripping would lead to a strong contraction and I’d start going into labor.

The plan

I had been telling my husband for the past few months that I wanted to stay at home for most of my labor. In the afternoon, I felt such strong Braxton Hicks contractions that I needed to do some breathing to ease the discomfort. I was still hesitant if they were real or not, since I had experienced false labor over the weekend. I began timing the contractions, but felt I’d rather do something to distract myself, like laundry or chasing my kids. 😉 Around 4:30 pm, I texted my husband who was at work, about my strong Braxton Hicks contractions. He told me to tell him whenever I wanted him home, so I decided to time how many minutes apart my contractions were. At 5pm, I counted 7-8 minutes apart. Thirty minutes later, it became 3-4 minutes apart… This was when I felt I was getting sick, so Brent decided to leave work. I tried distracting myself between contractions by making dinner for my two toddlers. At 6pm, the contractions were 3 minutes apart. In my head, I was like, “Where are you Brent!?” lol I felt a little worried, but having the kids around distracted me from the pain. When Brent finally got home, I headed straight to a warm shower, which helped a lot during contractions. Around 7pm, we started prepping to head to the hospital. We contacted our good friend who picked up our kids to take care of them. She and her husband are amazing!

My contractions became stronger, so my breathing made me sound like a cow! Haha! Brent said, “We need to go. That’s how you sounded like before.” However, I said to Brent that I could still handle it, and that I bet the contractions were only 4 cm. I started to lay down on my side on the bed, and grabbed Wilson, my tennis ball. I also grabbed one of the Bible verses I wrote on a piece of paper. When our friend arrived, it was time to say goodbye to my boys. I wanted to be emotional, but with so much pain, I didn’t have time to cry. lol

The drive-thru

Brent had been supportive of my decision to stay a little longer at home during labor, but I decided to go to the hospital since I felt he was getting worried seeing me in pain. It was dinner time and I knew it would be a long night for both of us, so I told  Brent we needed to get food as we hadn’t eaten dinner yet. It’s a good thing there was a Whataburger close to the hospital. We went into the drive thru, and ordered burgers and chocolate malts (malts are like shakes). When Brent was picking up the food at the window, I remember him telling the girl working there, “My wife is having a baby. She’s in labor.” I heard the girl was like, “And why are you picking up food?!” My husband answered, “Well, she wants to!” Yes, I totally did want to! Oh, boy! Drinking a cold, sweet chocolate malt powered up my body between contractions! That was the best decision we made that day! Sweets sometimes do good for the body, right? 😉

At last, we made it to the hospital and parked far from the entrance, so I needed to stop while walking a few times during my contractions. I was like, “Where’s the wheelchair??” Brent wanted to make sure the door was open so he left me for a few seconds to check. The strong contractions cams again… I wanted to lay down on the sidewalk, but there were a few people around and I didn’t want them to call 9-1-1 thinking I needed emergency care. Haha! Thankfully, Brent came back quickly.

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You got this far

It was around 8:30 pm when we reached the labor/delivery room. I was already on the bed having contractions continuously saying to Brent that I thought I was only at 5 cm, and that we were too early. Then, one of the nurses checked my cervix and saw how far along I was; 8 cm! The nurse asked me if I wanted an epidural, but before I answered, one of the other nurses (her name is Dyana and she took care of me all through night) suddenly said “You already got this far!” That made me feel confident and so I said “No, thank you” to the epidural. During the strong contraction, I knew that at anytime I could be pushing so I asked my husband to get a few things for me inside my hospital bag. I asked him to pick a Bible verse that says “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me,” and a couple pictures of my family. They really helped me mentally.

Here he comes

After just a few minutes, I could feel that I was ready to push… It was so painful and so I screamed, “Aray ko po!!!” I realized no one could understand the words I said because it was in Tagalog. I screamed again, “Ouch! It hurts!! I’m ready to push!” The doctor came in and the nurses became busier, preparing for me to deliver the baby. Brent was so helpful, staying beside me and guiding by breathing pattern. In the 5th contraction, I did the last push and finally, out came our precious son. All the pain was worth it when I held him!

birth story third baby 3 It is the best and most unforgettable feeling to experience giving birth to a baby. Even though this was my third time giving birth, it felt like it was my first. This was the first time that I didn’t ask for an epidural when I reached 8-9 cm. I often asked them in the end from my previous deliveries, but with the help of God, my supportive husband, and people who inspired me to do a natural birth (sister-in-laws and my Houston friends), I finally made it. I’m actually surprised how it was less painful than I thought it’d be. Maybe it’s because this was my third time, but I’m pretty sure it was less painful than taking Pitocin. I was also surprised how the recovery after delivery was not as hard as I thought. If you are an expecting mom or planning to give birth one day, here are the things that helped me get through the pain:

  1. Breathing – Brent was really good at teaching me how to breath the right way when I was in labor. He told me to take a deep breath, hold it for 4 seconds, and breathe out for a few seconds.
  2. Wilson – He wasn’t another man! Haha! Wilson is a tennis ball! I’ve been using it since I had my first son. I liked squeezing it as much as I could when my contractions came.
  3. Bible verses (find them here) – I have a good friend from church who lent me this book that talks about Bible verses for labor and delivery. She gave me the idea to write them down and bring them me to the hospital. I stuck the paper beside my bed and would read a Bible verse when a contraction came. I closed my eyes and kept saying the verses inside my mind. It really amazed me how God’s words are so powerful. Praying and reading Bible verses for this kind of situation really works! You can totally feel His power through these scriptures.
  4. Visualization – On the way to the hospital when I was having contractions, Brent told me to picture that I was by the ocean and seeing big waves. There were many times in the delivery room as well that I visualized that Christ was standing beside me wearing white clothing… I know it might sound weird to others,but it is truly effective to think about Jesus during painful times. There was a point when I thought about how Christ sacrificed himself and the pain to he went through for us. I also thought of someone I know who is in need and imagined that all the pain I experienced during labor was an offering to God, so that he would help that person repent, and change his heart.
  5. Labor at home – It’s good thing that we live only a few minutes away from the hospital so I could do most of my labor at home. There are a lot of things I could still do there, rather than staying in a hospital room. If I had been in Manila during labor, I don’t think I would’ve been able to stay at home longer or I’d end up giving birth in the middle of a traffic jam. 😉

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(Delivery/Nursing Robe from Pink Blush)

Thank you again to those who helped us out from the beginning of my pregnancy; family members, church friends, Brent’s co-workers, our Houston friends, Filipino friends, and mom bloggers I have met on social media. You all are blessings to us! Have a great weekend ahead! I’m now off to take a nap…

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Comfy pregnancy look + life being a mom of all boys

Friday, July 28, 2017

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It’s FRIDAY!! Happy mom here! Today, I want to share a glimpse of life being a mom of all boys. I think I’ve heard, “Oh boy! (with pity face..)” a hundred times after I started to share that my third baby is another boy. 😉 When people were asking me about what I’m having, most of them were supportive. Although, a few people were giving me weird comments like, “Why is it not a girl? It should be a girl!” These were coming from strangers in the grocery store. 😉 Being a mom of all boys can sound tiring, crazy, you name it, but I always believe it is how you discipline them. It is important to have a good relationship with your children because in the end, their gender will not matter. What will matter is how you mold them, so that they grow to be good people and followers of Christ.

After my second child was born, I thought my husband and I were done having children. However, after seeing my boys and how much they love to play and laugh together (And yes, arguing with each other, and then playing and laughing again… Oh boy…), I felt that I was not yet done. I told my husband I wanted another child, not just because I wanted to try for a girl, but because I really wanted to have at least 3 kids. Even though I would love to have a girl, I’m very thankful to God that he gave me another chance to get pregnant. It took a long time for me to convince my husband, which I totally understand, since we had a hard time with our son’s reflux before (and I’ve experienced depression which I think it was “D-MER“). However, I realized that I was missing the most important tool in my life. That’s why I stopped telling my husband that I wanted another child, and instead, I began to pray for it. And then it happened! God blessed us with another child!

So what’s the life of being a mom to 2 boys like so far? Let me tell you, they are rough, active, loud, you name it. They can also be the sweetest and greatest helpers as well! Here are a few other things about them!

  • They like heroes and dress-up, wearing capes, putting shirts around their faces to be like ninjas (their Tito Nicoy taught about it)
  • They love to jump everywhere, which is why it’s a good thing we have an indoor trampoline!
  • Creating mess is the most fun thing for them to do, but thankfully my husband and I trained them to clean up their own mess.
  • They are sweet to girls!
  • They like to pretend being a hero or a policeman chasing “bad people.”
  • They love books that show giant bears, heroes, construction trucks, and fire trucks
  • They are fascinated with garbage trucks.
  • They eat A LOT and always say they are hungry. People might think I’m starving them…

 

comfy pregnancy look + life being a mom of all boys (3)

I’m wearing a size XL top for my baby bump (when I was around 35 weeks) Similar top and maternity denim shorts from a good friend of mine. (Similar shorts). SHOP for these comfy sneakers.

Anyone else here the  mom/dad to all boys? What do you love about it?

Don’t forget to check my BLOG ANNIVERSARY GIVEAWAY!! Read here!

 

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What I’m bringing in my hospital bag

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

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I started to pack my hospital bag since I’m now 36 weeks pregnant. Hospitals usually provide what my baby and I will need such as a toothbrush, toothpaste, sanitary pads, underwear, diapers for the baby, and blankets (and I’m sure there’s still more that I missed!) So here are the things I’m bringing, aside from my wallet.

FOR ME

Balls – I’ll be bringing a few, small toy balls from my kids’ toy box. I brought one soft one and a tennis ball too for when my second child was born. During my first time going into labor, Brent  was beside me holding my hands when I was having contractions. I squeezed Brent’s hands so hard that his hands must have been hurting. 😉 That’s why I brought a small toy ball to use as a stress ball when I had my second son.

Socks – The hospital provided me with socks before, but I’m more comfortable using my own because their sizes are too big for my feet.

Nursing Tops – I’m bringing 2 nursing tops (similar to this), in case I decide to change out of my hospital gowns. Even though hospital gowns aren’t that nice to wear sometimes (and not cute in pictures lol), it’s very easy to put on and remove during breastfeeding, and when I’m skin-to-skin with the little one.

Light Cardigan (similar) – This is to help me cover up and keep me warm inside the hospital room.

Makeup Pouch – Inside are concealer, an eyebrow pencil, cream blush (I can use it for my lips as well), lip balm, hairpins and an elastic band. Do I need to explain why I’m bringing these?? 😉

Attire for Going Home – I’m just planning to bring a loose skirt with a comfortable waistband, and then wear one of the nursing tops when I am headed home.

Phone/Charger

Lasinoh Cream – The first few days of breastfeeding can make me sore, which is why I’m going to bring this cream. It helps soothe the soreness, and will help in case I need to stay in the hospital longer.

Baby Oil – I’m bringing a small bottle of baby oil. During labor, you may experience a very bad backache, so I asked Brent to massage my back sometimes while I am in labor. I actually forwarded a Youtube video to him on how to give a massage during labor. (Hopefully he watches it beforehand…)

Contacts / Eyeglasses – I like to wear my eyeglasses, but this time I will also bring contacts. From my experience (during labor), the room can sometimes get warm and my eyeglasses tend to get foggy. If it does, I’ll try to wear contacts.

DSLR Camera

Facial Wash – Who doesn’t like a fresh face after delivery? :)

Laptop – so our family can videochat with us to see our new baby!

Bag  – I found this bag from the thrift store, but you can check out a couple of cute bags like this large travel tote bag from Longchamp, or this cute pineapple duffle bag. I like to use a bag that is large and opens wide, so my husband can easily find things that I need.

 

FOR THE BABY

Receiving blanket

Outfit for going home – Most of my kids’ clothes are hand-me-downs or from the thrift store, but I’ve liked getting new attire for the baby’s first time going home. The clothes will be something I keep as a memory. :)

Hats

Socks

Mittens

Onesies – Some hospitals provide white onesies, but I’ll bring a couple of newborn sleep attire, just in case he needs warmer clothes.

Small bag – It’s helpful to have a separate small bag for baby’s clothes. It’s convenient for Dad too so that he can find it easily. I am just using a mesh bag with a zipper. You may also use a laundry bag too!

I’m bringing a blanket for Brent too since the hospital can be cold. Aside from my hospital bag, I’m done packing bags for my 2 toddlers. They’ll be staying with a good friend of ours, who will take care of them, while my mother-in-law is driving down to Houston.

I’d love to hear from you! Any other helpful essentials you want to share for a hospital bag?

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Baby Shower for Baby Boy #3

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

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When I moved to Houston from the Philippines in 2011, I found my very first friends at Impact Church of Christ. This was the church Brent and I attended while he was in grad school. Brent and I love this church so much, not only because of the wonderful, diverse people, but also because their main objective is to help people who are less fortunate. Impact helps everyone, from children to the elderly.

Over the weekend, some ladies from Impact threw a baby shower for me and my baby boy #3. Brent and I already have a name for him, but we’d like to wait after he’s born to share it. Even though the weather was so hot outside, they pampered me with sweet treats (good thing Brent was not around…*wink) and delicious foods! Here are some photos from the shower and some of the sweetest gifts that my baby boy received.

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(Photos from my good friend, Karla.)

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This is Caroline, one of the hosts of my shower. I loved this game. It’s called “Baby Match Game.” You pick two numbers and see if they have the same words written on the back of the post-it. For example, let’s say #3 and #19 both have the words “Twin Boys.”  If you choose both those numbers back-to-back, you’ll get candies that correspond with the words. For “twin boys” the candy was “Mike and Ike”. Memorization is the key to find the matching words and win candy! baby shower for baby 3 d

How cute is this?! These are customized shirts made by my good friend Ashli, who owns Christian Grace Embroidery. Thanks, girl! I can’t wait to take photos of my boys wearing these! baby shower for baby 3 b

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My boys got this handmade step stool too! How talented is Susan?! Having 3 boys will be a BIG adventure that awaits us. 😉 baby shower for baby 3 a

We felt so showered with love from you all! From Brent and I, thank you! :-)

 

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6 Things you can do while waiting for a new baby’s arrival

Thursday, July 6, 2017
  • This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #HappierFirstMoments #ForBetterBeginnings #CollectiveBias

Things you can do while waiting for a new baby’s arrival (4)

As I’m waiting for our third son this coming August, I’ve been doing something to keep myself busy and help me prepare for the newest member of the family. I want to share a few ideas on things a first time mom (or an expectant mom like me) do while waiting for the new baby. I also partnered today with Playtex Baby™ VentAire® at Target , who offers a unique bottom vent and angled bottle design to help prevent reflux (which I’ve experienced from my older son!).

1) ORGANIZING A BABY PHOTO ALBUM

I love taking photos! This is a great time to prepare a photo album for a new baby. Whether you do it digitally or traditionally (which I prefer), you are able to treasure these moments for years and look back on how your precious little one has grown.

Things you can do while waiting for a new baby’s arrival (3)

2) SEARCHING FOR EASY MEALS

Something I’m trying to finish up is to find easy meals to make. I want to prepare for the time when I have two toddlers and a newborn, but still have to make dinner.. It’s unpredictable when you have newborn: you don’t know if he will get fussy or fall asleep during cooking time. That’s why having easy meal ideas prepared, like using a slow cooker or a one pot recipe, is a great way to make dinner planning easy. Here are some of my favorite easy meals [Beef Stew Slow Cooker, Chicken Adobo, Slow Cooker Baby Back Ribs]

Things you can do while waiting for a new baby’s arrival (10)

3) PREPARING WHAT BABY NEEDS

Since I’m having my third son, I have most of things I need for him already. However, there are a few items  I’m preparing, including newborn diapers, new onesies, finding him an animal stuffed toy (all of my boys have their favorite animal stuffed toy, like a frog and an owl), and preparing milk bottles. As I have mentioned in past posts, our second child had very bad reflux and we are hoping this doesn’t happen again. Even though I’m still going to breastfeed our new baby, it is good to have milk bottles like Playtex Baby™ VentAire® to help  comfort the baby’s tummy, and which are designed to reduce reflux in feeding. My husband Brent also helps with feeding so I can catch up on sleep, so having milk bottles is at the top of list. Having dad feed the baby from time to time is also a great bonding experience.

Things you can do while waiting for a new baby’s arrival (12) Things you can do while waiting for a new baby’s arrival (6)

4) STORING WISDOM AND STRENGTH

What I have learned from being a mom is that you should be preparing not only material stuff but also preparing yourself mentally and spiritually. Pregnancy can be overwhelming, especially if you are a first timer or have older kids already. Reading inspiring articles or books about motherhood, as well as reading Bible verses (like Psalm 28:7, Matthew 6:34, Philippians 4:6), can make you feel positive and build strength mentally and spiritually. Reading is also a great way to relax your mind and have some quiet time for yourself.

Things you can do while waiting for a new baby’s arrival (9) Things you can do while waiting for a new baby’s arrival (8)

5) SPEND MORE TIME WITH OLDER KIDS

If you have older kids like I do, this is a good opportunity to spend more time with them before another child comes. My boys and I love to read books together, play hide-and-seek, and swordfight with foam swords (welcome to my life as a mom of boys) These are great bonding times which result in wonderful memories for you and your kids. This is also a good time to talk to your kids about the upcoming new baby, and how they need to be careful and gentle to him 😉

Things you can do while waiting for a new baby’s arrival (5)

6) KEEP ACTIVE

As much as I just want to sleep and eat, having toddlers makes my pregnancy active, even in spite of the hot weather in Texas and my heavy baby bump. I stay active by walking with my family in the evening, stretching or doing yoga at home (check out this great yoga video on Youtube I use), and swimming with the kids in the pool. One fun thing about keeping active is that the kids can often stay active with me, which is both fun for them and helps them stay healthy. For example, they love to try to do yoga with me.

Things you can do while waiting for a new baby’s arrival (7)

Things you can do while waiting for a new baby’s arrival (11) Buy 2, 3-packs of Playtex Baby Bottles (Nurser or VentAire), and receive a $5 Target GiftCard, valid 7/1 – 7/14

Things you can do while waiting for a new baby’s arrival (1)

 

 

You may click the image above to shop and discover this amazing bottle for your baby.

Are you expecting this year? What are the things you are doing/preparing while waiting for your little one?

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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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