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“Mom, What If Jamie Wasn’t Born?”

Yes, those days do exist.  Squabbles, riffs, meltdowns, tears… drama.  It’s all part and parcel of sibling-hood.  Whether it happens more in families with siblings of the same gender because they like the same things, or with siblings of opposite genders because they play differently, it just HAPPENS.  And it can happen very frequently, such as it has been in our home these last few weeks.

For whatever reason:  age, climate change, fatigue and hormones, Sam and Jamie haven’t been getting along quite as well as they usually do.

Ate's face clearly shows how she feels about Jamie slurping down all the goodness.
Ate’s face clearly shows how she feels about Jamie slurping down all the goodness.

It has finally gotten to the point where my frustrated eldest child asked me one day, “Mom, what if Jamie wasn’t born?”

Almost instantly, the image that popped into my head was my grandmother.  I was a young child, standing in front of her in the rocking chair, and she was chiding me over something I said.  It might have been similar in context too (to my siblings, you know I love you! ;)).

It was more like a scolding because I said and thought such “taboo” things.  Why would we wish someone wasn’t born?  It’s unheard of.  The topic would then be dismissed as quickly as possible.  “Don’t think that, it’s not nice.”  The problem is, I already did!  “No, no, no, you don’t ask such things ever again,” she’d say.  But why, what’s wrong?  Is the nagging question that’s left unanswered.

I love my Mama Mia, God Bless her soul, and I don’t fault her for it.  I now understand: it was just what they were taught.  And you may come across it as well still during this day and age when you talk to the “young once”.

Yet ironically, years later, it’s those instances when I was told to dismiss my feelings that stick out the most today.  Maybe it’s the lack of closure, but I was definitely conscious about avoiding the same consequence with my own kids (funny how the past shapes the way you parent, ey!).

Thanks to DYC, I anchor on what is clear, and that’s knowing Sam loves her sister.  Unequivocally so!

Love love love.
Love love love.

When that question came up, I assumed Sam had no malice or ill-intent towards Jamie whatsoever.  She was just frustrated with everything going on.  I see them together everyday, I am so sure of it.

But I also know what it feels like as the eldest child, always giving in or compromising for the sake of the younger ones.  It’s tiring, frustrating, and frankly, it just gets old.  It’s easier to just be done with them and wish they weren’t there to “complicate” everyday growing up life (to my younger siblings, again — I love you! 😉 ).

Instead of the chiding and scolding I received, I sat Sam down and decided we’d process this together.  We used a one-on-one date as the  non-threatening setting for this discussion.

What if Jamie wasn’t born, Sam?  What would it be like, you think?”  I initiated the discussion.

Given her current state of emotions at the time, all her thoughts were towards the “pros” of being an only child.  “You and dad would carry me more.  I wouldn’t need to share, and I’d have all the toys to myself.  We could read more books that I choose,” she said thoughtfully, referring to our bedtime routine where she and Jamie each get to pick a book that we’d read together.  And the list went on.

I let her rattle off everything she thought would be great about a non-Jamie filled life.  All chocolate donuts and milkshakes, no vanilla or strawberry.  No need to take turns sleeping beside mom at night.  Colored baths of her choosing — all the time.

When they take bubble baths, they take turns choosing what color the water will be.
When they take bubble baths, they take turns choosing what color the water will be.

And I just listened.

When she was done, I said, “Well sweetheart.  You might not have as many toys as you do now if Jamie wasn’t there.”   When the Christmas gifts roll in, there’s usually one for each of them, so there’s a doubling of the amount of toys at a faster rate.  Birthdays happen twice in a year too, instead of once.  So there’s more cake, more celebration and of course, more gifts to go around and share.  “And when Mom or Dad can’t stay with you to sleep in the room because we still have chores to finish, if there was no Jamie, you’d have to sleep alone.”  To this day, Sam dislikes sleeping by herself.

I love moments like these!
I love moments like these!

I didn’t raise my voice.  And not once did I say Sam was wrong to feel that way or ask that question, if only because — there was really nothing wrong with asking the question to begin with.  Instead I followed her logic and used it to cite the benefits of having Jamie in her life.  “You and Jamie may have different likes, but doesn’t that make it more fun?  When we go to Disneyland for example.  You get to go and do things you wouldn’t have thought of seeing or doing. ”

We met all these new Disney Bunny characters because Jamie wanted to go and see them!  And Sam had a blast.
We met all these new Disney Bunny characters because Jamie wanted to go and see them! And Sam had a blast.

“…And remember, because Jamie loves Strawberries and we went on her field trip, you decided to try it.  Now you like them too!”

Thank goodness for this field trip!
Thank goodness for this field trip!

And as I went on, I could see that my highly rational, very mature six-year old Sam understood.

I actually think, Sam, that Jamie makes you a more considerate, more caring person.  Because you’re always thinking of her — even when you don’t need to.”   When we’re out and about and someone gives Sam a sticker, a balloon, or a treat, she won’t hesitate to ask if she can get a second one for her sister too.  And because Jamie sees that, she’s started doing it as well unprompted when Sam isn’t around.  “You show Jamie what it’s like to be a good sister.”

I acknowledged that her feelings were real and true, and there was nothing wrong with that.  Sometimes, it is hard to share and compromise, and to do it constantly (We adults know this!  Why should we expect kids to willingly do it when we can’t).  And it’s simply hard to wrestle with a sister (or a brother for that matter) who is different from yourself.  Would we rather the opposite was true?  Most definitely not.

As our date came to a close, Sam finally said, “Ya Mom.  I think it is better with Jamie after all.  I’m actually glad God gave her to us.” 

She’s such a smart girl.  I couldn’t agree more.

And we definitely, DEFINITELY, wouldn’t want it any other way. 🙂


A belated happy 4th birthday to our darling Jamie.  Our lives are infinitely better with you in it.

Such a Happy Little Birthday Girl.
We love you!

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Three Years of Jamie

It’s 3AM and I just finished cooking the spaghetti sauce for Jamie’s school party, happening in a few hours.

My culinary birthday concoctions.  Well, adaptation is better. ;)
My culinary birthday concoction… well, adaptation is better. 😉

The recipe called for wine, and so of course I helped myself to a little bit of it too. 😉

Cheers! (blurry picture -- how many have I had anyway?!)
Cheers! (blurry picture — how many have I had anyway?!)

When my husband found out I had plans of cooking after getting the girls to bed (amongst the other things I still need to finish), he suggested I just order food for the kids from the regular fast food chains.  And while I’ve every respect for the local and large fast food conglomerates of this country (I must not bite the hand that feeds the cradle, heehee!), I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.  My girls get them often enough on a regular basis, I just felt that I needed to do something a notch above that, especially on the day they came into this world.

In a way, the frantic late-night cooking (and yes, the glasses of wine), are a way to distract me from crying about the time that is flying by so fast.  Of course I am emotional — it is again, one of my kids’ birthday, and really this time, it’s my little baby who’s growing up.

Jamie is 3, I can’t believe it.  My baby is “a real toddler now”, she says.  Where did she get that phrase?  And where did all the time go…

The birth order concept they talk about is true though, that youngest children are often babied longer.  And they know it too!  It’s a good thing that Sam loves her sister so much and their relationship is one for the books.  I couldn’t ask for a better bond between those two, and it makes me genuinely happy to see the way they are with each other (despite their daily disputes!).

I love how they are with each other!
I love how they are with each other!

And while Sam can make me cry because her firsts are my firsts as a parent, the tears that come with Jamie’s firsts are because I know that they are my last.

I haven’t been able to come back and blog for a while.  As you recall, I fired my yaya at the beginning of the year, and two months later, I still don’t have a replacement for her.  I have a cleaning lady that comes in once or twice a week to get things in order, and my Mom’s trusted helper of 20 years also assists in shuttling the kids back and forth weekly.   No one stays in to pick up and clean and wash the dishes and do the laundry.  That’s all fallen on me, on top of everything else I’ve had to do.  I’ve never felt busier.  I can’t wrap my finger around why, but it is harder to be help-less in Manila than it was in Chapel Hill.  I’m fine with it though, because it gives me more time with the girls and adjusting to their schedules.

With my emotion-led Jamie — every day is a surprise.  You never know what you’re gonna get out of my little Dove.  There are a lot of factors that affect her mood and disposition on a daily basis, so I feel like I’m drawing a wildcard each time she wakes up.  She keeps me on my toes, and hopefully she will keep my young. 😉  In fact I catch glimpses of what our future days will be like when she is older, and a little bit more headstrong.  Ohhh boy!

One of her more adventurous moments.  She does love the water though.
One of her more adventurous moments. She does love the water though.

Looking back at the last three years, Jamie has grown so so very much.  I suppose the better term is blossomed.  She’s not as shy as she used to be.  It’s crazy listening to her own observations and perceptions of the world.  She’s always asking WHY.  And she has the sharpest memory — I’m genuinely impressed.  She’s become more independent and a tad bit braver, but also more confident in herself and her abilities.  I love how I still continue to discover new things about her and decipher what it is she needs to learn or loves to do.


And yet despite all these changes and nuances and variables thrown my way, I still love how she knows that she really still is — and will always be — our baby.

Even if she won’t remember me losing sleep because I cooked and fixed the house to make her birthday morning exciting (and in the end it probably wouldn’t matter to her if I went with the fast food option), I’d still do it this way anyway.

Happy 3rd birthday to my darling.  No matter how old, you’ll always be our awesome little princess. 

Life is sweeter with you in it!
Life is sweeter with you in it!
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Twelve Cupcakes and A Birthday Give-away!

My friend Maricris knows me (and my girls) well enough to send us a box of cupcakes from the latest Cupcake makers in town.

A pink box arrives at the door... it can only be good things! ;)
A pink box arrives at the door… it can only be good things! 😉

I haven’t been to Singapore in ages, but I did hear about Twelve Cupcakes from my cousin-in-law Tala who used to live there.  She said she’s a fan of their red velvet.  That peaked my interest because Sam is also a fan of red velvet (and chocolate.  Now it’s anything chocolate!)! 

And when I opened the box, there seemed to be a lot of interesting things going on inside…


Every cupcake has a different flavor!  Some are baked with fresh fruit, some are stuffed with goodies and some (gasp!) even have alcohol.  So cool for moms like me, we get our sweet treat AND our much-needed drink! 😉  They have a flavors like Strawberry champagne and Lychee martini.  If you’re a Bailey’s fan (attention, Missusbig!) also have a Bailey’s Chocolate!

Sam pretty much went for everything chocolate-based.  The Chocolate Chip, the Oreo, the Chocolate Vanilla…  They actually have more than 12 flavors to choose from!

So many flavors to choose from, it's impossible not to have one... or twelve. ;)
So many flavors to choose from, it’s impossible not to have one… or twelve. 😉

Twelve Cupcakes opened its doors in 2011 and has been expanding since across Asia.  They’ve finally made their way here to Manila with their first three locations:

  • SM BF:  G/F Sucat Road
  • Century Mall, Makati:  Lower Ground and
  • SM Mall of Asia:  Ground Floor Entertainment Mall

Their cupcakes are baked fresh daily, and go for approximately P85 each, or P100 for the special ones.  Not bad for a cupcake in our town.  And they’re quite moist and fluffy if I do say so myself, even days after the box arrived.  The base of the cupcakes is not too sweet, and so it’s nice to spread the icing around when you eat it as the combination of the two makes for that “just right” flavor.

And since it’s my birthday week, I thought we’d spread some of this handmade love with a sweet give-away!  I’ll be giving away  THREE sets of GCs!  Here we go!  Enter… rafflecopter!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

For more information about Twelve Cupcakes, visit their website: or email

Find them on social media:

Facebook:  Twelve Cupcakes Philippines

Twitter: 12cupcakesPH

Instagram:  twelvecupcakesph


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Nighttime with Jamie

Lately at night, with the lights out and the city sounds as our white noise; when only Jamie and myself are left awake and she’s done with the re-run of her day and her favorite songs.  After all the questions she had for me have been answered she suddenly gets quiet.  Usually her back is turned to me (it’s facing her favorite stuffed friends and the pillow) and I know she’s reaching the sleepy point, so I gently encourage her by patting her bum or rubbing her back.  I know that usually it’s best if they find a way to fall asleep themselves, but seeing as how I know I’m stuck there anyway, I figure the “damage” is minimal.  Plus — this is Jamie!  My sweet petite and adorable Jamie.  Of course I can’t help myself. 🙂

It’s then when she usually turns toward me and says, “Mommy to hug you”, several times.  It’s a question I ask her when I can see she can’t fall asleep or she looks like she needs some form of comfort.  I comply because I do want to snuggle up to her too.  Jamie has always been very clear about what she wants, when she wants it.  She is a little 2-yr old that says what she means, no beating around the bush.  I think that’s something that I should reward when I possibly can.

Then she inches closer until her nose touches mine and I can feel her breathing.  My eyes are often closed (because I’m really sleepy already too from waiting for her to fall asleep!), but occasionally I keep them open and I just look at her angelic face.  It really is angelic (considering I see the opposite of it when she’s not in the mood to be angelic!)  and I can’t help but smile.  Sometimes, she’ll open her eyes and say, “Mom?” as if she’s checking to see if I’m still awake.  She doesn’t stop asking until I respond.  When I do, she quiets down and closes her eyes again and she eventually falls asleep.  Sometimes the last of the days’ memories come crawling through her mind for one last hurrah, but her sentences are soft and they usually trail off.

It’s at that point when I think about everything that happened during that day.  Actually I think about a lot of things and how so much of it has changed for Jamie in the two years she’s been on this planet.  More and more I realize that I really am a different parent to Jamie.  It’s partly circumstance, partly birth order, and of course mostly it’s her personality and her strengths, but it is different just the same.   I feel guilty often that I don’t (can’t?) spend as much time with her as I’d like to, and I didn’t focus on her as much as I did with Sam.  But on the other hand, she also amazes me with how much she already knows and comprehends.  Maybe it’s a coping skill?  She could have picked it up from her sister?  I don’t know.  I’m glad she is able to keep up though and that’s a relief.

The little firecracker that she is, Jamie makes me go through a roller coaster of emotions on a regular basis and at the end I’m just filled with a lot of wonder… and exhaustion!  It’s like we go through this swinging pendulum of extreme feelings, and that’s all new to me!  For such a little person, she has a big, very independent and strong personality, and yet at times she is timid and clingy and needs constant reassurance that I’m there.  I know it’s all supposed to be normal for a 2-yr old, but she is teaching me a lot.  With every child, there’s always something that you learn for the first time.

For all the ups and downs, the changes, and the unpredictable days I’ve had with Jamie in these first two years of her life, the end of our everyday is always a relief.  I’ve come to love this last quiet moment the most.  It feels like forever before we finally make it to this point (because it also takes forever!), but I’ve come to look forward to it.  The pillow talk that happens before it is the special time we have, which I can see us doing even as she gets older and sleeps in her own room.   It’s also how I feel we can stay connected and close despite how “at odds” we can be.  I like to think of it as our little thing.  So now that she’s officially two, my birthday wish is that I hope Jamie won’t ever get tired of asking me to hug her to sleep.  I hope she’ll always inch her nose closer to mine as she closes her eyes, because it is one of the best, most heartwarming feelings in the world.

Happy Birthday to my sweet little Jamie-boo. I am so lucky to be your mommy. 🙂

Thanks to Shiela Catilo for capturing this moment!
Thanks to Shiela Catilo for capturing this moment!


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The Funny Thing About January 29

January 29 is my New Year. :)
January 29 is my New Year. 🙂

Generally people use the turn of the new year to start fresh.  New Year’s resolutions, goal-setting, the plans for the next 12 months – it all starts after the fireworks at 12:01 of January 1.

That’s never really worked out for me.  I mentioned in the past that I’ve never been really good at keeping New Year’s resolutions.  Somehow, the more “significant” goal-setting date has been towards the end of January – twenty nine-days into the new year, to be exact.

For those that know me personally, January 29 is my birthday.  I was told that one’s birthday is a good time to reflect on the year that was, and the year that could be.  In a way it is a personal new year, and I’ve always felt it to be more meaningful.

As I became a mom, January 29 has been the date I’d set for the girls and I to achieve certain milestones.  Admittedly, it was easier to remember that my birthday was also “D-Day” for these goals (with the mom mush brain, date efficiency is key!).

I don’t quite remember the significant milestone I’d set for January 29, 2009.  Sam was only two months old then, and my sleep-wake patterns were still very much a blur.  What I do remember is that it was along the lines of trying to get her to sleep for longer than 3 hour-intervals.  I’m quite sure that didn’t happen (Or maybe it did… but not very consistently) because I have a faint memory of dancing around the entire apartment like a crazy person in the wee hours of the morning with a baby in my arms, when daylight savings hit later that April.  I know because I had to do it for an hour longer than usual.

The year after was the date I said I’d wean Sam from breastmilk.  Back then I was under the impression that if you wanted to try for a second child, you had to wean them off completely (Incidentally, this is not the case and so in retrospect, I was misinformed).  She had been mixed feeding fresh milk and breastmilk since her first birthday, and we had just finished our major trip back to the Philippines, so there were no more big reasons to delay it any further.  I remember very clearly that I was successful in doing so sometime within that week, and she took a full bottle of fresh milk (FINALLY!)with no protest.

For 2011, I was in the middle of sleep-training Sam and the significance of that date revolved around this.  I remember it was a long, frustrating process but I did feel some relief around the time of my birthday when she started showing signs of being able to do it consistently.  It’s in another blog post – January 12 was the first sign of hope; I will never forget that day either.

In 2012, January 29 was the date I said I’d take Jamie on more stroller rides as exercise.  I think I did for a while, but it was so cold we gave up on that idea quite quickly and resumed over the hotter summer months instead.

For this year’s January 29 date, I thought to give us a break after reflecting back on the last few years.  After all, we’d just made the big move back to Manila, and even I’m still getting the hang of it.  Secretly though, I was hoping to sleep train Jamie because it’s quite restricting to be tied to her physically during nap time.  She habitually nurses until she’s fast asleep, and would otherwise fuss and screech and cry.  I knew that if I was to relieve any stress on the schedule juggling (and consequently alleviate the guilty feelings), I’d have to wean her off the breast sooner than later.

I didn’t see it happening at all.  I was more successful about the night-time disengagement (and I’ll say more about that next time), but the naps didn’t look too promising.  She was also teething on a very major scale (four teeth cutting through at once, my poor girl), so her naps were becoming very erratic.

Then, two days after, I was rushing off to a meeting and I couldn’t finish putting her to sleep.  I had no choice, so I looked her in the eye and said I’d leave already, and that she had to go to sleep.  She looked straight at me and said, “Okay mom.”  I asked her if she wanted my mom to stay with her and she said no.  Then she rolled to her side and shut her eyes tight.  Well — I had to follow through!  So I stood to leave, and then I prayed and prayed and prayed.  When I called 15 minutes later, my mom said that according to our trusty video monitor, she had indeed fallen asleep by herself.  Oh!!!!  The wave of relief and joy that washed over me (you can feel it all the way through this blog).

It’s been about a week since then and she’s been quite consistent about taking a nap on her own without my milk (I hope I don’t jinx it by talking about it now!).  She even tells me to go outside.  I don’t what clicked, but I am grateful for it.  There was no crying, no protesting, and no looking for “Mommy’s milk”.  It was the smoothest sleep-training transition I’d ever gone through.

As much as the girls at their age have no concrete concept of dates and times, I like to think that they can sense it is a period around my birthday.  While  I don’t hold it against any of us when things don’t go as planned, I leap for joy when I see we have made some form of progress.  I think to myself:  maybe it’s the girls’ gift to me.  After all, what is more meaningful to a mother than signs that your children are showing  a little bit more independence, or giving you a little more sleep and a little less stress.  Whether or not it’s really true or it’s just been coincidence all these years — I’ll take it!

The funny thing about January 29 (give or take a few days), is that while it is my birthday, motherhood has somehow made me turn it into a day about my kids.  I think about my year in terms of their milestones and while I am happy to see them, I also get nostalgic at how fast time flies.  Every year as a goal is (subconsciously) set and another milestone achieved and these are all causes for celebration.  But I can’t help but feel a tad bit sad, because it’s also when I realize that my babies aren’t babies anymore.  It’s on my birthday when I begin to miss them a little bit more each year.