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My Mommyology Loves: Maga’s Kitchen

It is women’s month after all, so why not honor the moms in our (my) life! 🙂

That's my mom! :)
That’s my mom! 🙂

Maga is my mom Lulu.

The name “Maga” came from Sam when she was learning how to read.  Sam would look at the word “gramma” and somehow she’d read it backwards.  My mom liked it so much the monicker stuck, and Maga it was.  She’d joke around with people, and say Maga was really short for maganda (in Filipino, “maah-gan-dah” means beautiful).   Well, isn’t it true? 😉  When Jamie was born, we just automatically taught her to say Maga and so now everyone just calls my mom that.

My mom has always loved food.  LOVES IT!  She’s passionate about it.  She brings new things for us to try and is always handing out food to my girls.  Our family grew up with a lot of parties in the house, and my Mama Mia would invite and showcase her cooking at these shindigs all the time! A lot of people raved about it a lot too, if you don’t mind me saying so (It’s okay, I didn’t inherit the cooking talent gene!).  Friends and family knew her for her signature lemon pie and would look forward to the Christmases when we’d give it away.  Otherwise they’d request for it.  My grandmother passed away three years ago, but occasionally the parties would still happen in the house and a few dishes would be still be served.

My mom however being the early riser that she is, decided that breakfast gatherings were easier on the digestive system than the usual heavy dinner feasts; and at one point, she decided to serve homemade tuyo (dried herring).  Normally, we buy this already bottled up and ready to serve, but my mom and her desire to try it at home (alongside the tools she had in the kitchen) decided to give it a go.  As it turned out, the visitors liked it a lot.  She served it at several more breakfast parties (to different people), and eventually she started getting order requests for it. 🙂

I first tried my mom’s homemade tuyo when she brought some bottles to Chapel Hill on a visit last year.  I had some friends over and she was in charge of breakfast that morning, so she served it with rice and scrambled egg.  The ravings were consistent; very tasty, with a slight hint of spice but nothing overpowering.  When she got back from the trip she and an uncle of ours decided to produce the bottled tuyo in larger quantities and distribute it locally.  By the time Christmas came around, my mom had produced and sold over 500 bottles!  Her darling cousins (over at Two Tots) were very supportive and they included the tuyo as part of the products they sold at their last open house.  They even designed a logo and printed a label to put on it!   I bought and gave away a few bottles myself, and received calls after that from recipients asking me where they could get more.  Many were pleasantly surprised that the gifts were made out of the kitchen in my mom’s home.

Somewhere in between, my mom would bring different other dishes to potluck lunches and dinners.  She’d bring old family favorites, such as callos, and homemade brownies (I remember smelling them all the time when I was growing up!) and yes, the occasional lemon pie.  To a few very good friends, she’d already accept orders for these other dishes as they wanted to serve it at their parties as well.  Being the food-lover that she is, she’d even experiment on other dishes that we’d discover on our food trips, and it was then when we (my mom’s children and child-in-law) seriously sat down and thought:  why don’t we make this a viable business?  It seemed to have all the right ingredients to begin with: a food lover at the helm and absolutely delectable food as the output.  All we needed was a name, a logo and of course a little marketing.

Things seemed to fall into place because my siblings, my husband and I filled the gaps quite nicely.  My sister (who made the super cute  My Mommyology logorevised the original Maga’s Kitchen logo (so that it was more versatile and could be used beyond dried herring) , my brother fixed the strategy, I put in the marketing, and my husband looked at it all from an operations perspective.

Tah-dah! :)
Tah-dah! 🙂

So that’s how Maga’s Kitchen came to be! So far, the underlying common thread between all the dishes that we serve, is the fact that we grew up with them as favorites in our home.  It’s simple really, but at least we know that it’s something we can share with much gusto.  Right now, it’s really just the tuyo that is in production (ready to be picked up or delivered to you in a day’s notice!).  We’ve been told though, that it tastes better if you let the tuyo sit for a week before popping it open.  A bottle goes for P195, which is fairly good value considering that it is jam-packed with rows of dried herring.

A sample of our first label!
A sample of our first label!

Maga’s Kitchen does take orders for callos (half-gallon per order) as well.  Please be sure to give us ample time to make it (as mom believes, it’s much better when freshly made).  Other dishes are in the works, and we’ll definitely let you know when they’re ready for orders.

I’m actually quite pleased with our little project.  And to think it started as a discussion over food (It’s not surprising, Filipinos always gather and build ideas when there is food!).  Somehow I feel like we really can’t go wrong, if only because there’s a lot of love that’s going around for this venture of ours.  Everyone loves my mom (she is very lovable after all – and that is a fact!) and they know that she serves quality food.  This entire endeavor is also a labor of love for us children for our mom too.  It’s sort of our way of saying “thanks for taking care of us, and now it’s our turn to take care of you!”  Hopefully, it’s something my girls can grow up with and appreciate too.  After all, they did give my mom her brand name! 🙂

Follow Maga’s Kitchen on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram (@magaskitchen). 

You'll find us at the SoMoms booth! :)
You’ll find us at the SoMoms’ booth! 🙂

Maga’s Kitchen will be at the upcoming Mommy Mundo ExpoMom Bazaar.  We’ll bring bottles of tuyo and we’ll also take orders for Callos, and possibly some other dishes and desserts too, so see you there!

Mommy Miscellaneous

Taking Care of Mom

I heard this phrase three times this week, all said by different unrelated human beings.  All said to me.

The first was at my dental check-up when my hygienist Terry gave my teeth and gums a thorough cleaning, and thereby a thorough “beating”.  I am to blame of course, for not coming back when I should have.  Plus the fact that I had just given birth and am nursing, my mouth was still recovering from all the hormones making it extra sensitive and sore.  Terry left me with strict instructions on proper brushing and flossing (As if I hadn’t heard it before) as well as a gentle reprimand of “We gotta take care o’ mom too.”

My Mommyology Dr Chas Chiropractor
Visit to schedule an appointment!

Yesterday I went in for a check-up with a local Chiropractor, Dr. Chas Gaertner.  Again I hadn’t been to one in years and my back has been killing me (for years).  After my adjustments and massage (which felt oh soooo goood…), he gave me a set of stretching exercises to do repeatedly, at home.  “It’s to strengthen the muscles”, he says and catches me off-guard by following it up with, “just the little things to help take care of mom, ya know?”

Then today at Jamie’s two-month check-up (side info:  she is a nice, healthy 13lbs 12oz, as I had somewhat predicted in my previous post), her pediatrician Dr. Minozzi says to me when I ask if it’s too soon for her to miss feedings in the wee hours of the morning and instead let her sleep for 5-6 hours straight,  “Don’t worry if she’s not eating at that time.  You need the rest.  Take care of yourself!”

I wonder if God is trying to tell me something.

Or maybe — it’s actually a message for my husband! 😉  heehee!

My Mommyology take care of mom
Suggestions that dad can "surprise" me with. Subtle enough you think?
ExperiMOMent Mommy Lessons (on Parenting)

The Sleep-Training Series (Part 2)

My Mommyology Pat on the Back
This is my EXACT smile.

As I ended so abruptly in the first part of this series, there has been progress.  To be honest I’m actually quite afraid to talk about it because it hasn’t been so consistent yet.  I never knew sleep training would come with a lot of ups and downs (and to think this is just sleep-training!  Don’t talk to me about potty training.  I’m not ready…).  Nonetheless progress is progress, right?  So let me give myself a shameless pat on the back.  Heck, I’ll give myself three —  Pat pat pat.


I had as my end-goal a bedtime routine that would allow me to close the lights, say goodnight, walk out the room and watch her fall asleep using our trusty monitor.

I never thought I’d get there, but on some nights, I have! (Pat pat pat again!)

Progress was slow at first — baby steps literally.  I managed to make it all the way to the floor of the bedroom door with a book reading by the bathroom light.  We got stuck there for months and at one point, I convinced myself that’s as far as we get.  For as long as I was in the room (bathroom, in the closet, under the table, whatever), she was okay with that.  I hoped that this out of sight presence would remind her that it was okay for her not to see me and she would fall asleep.  It wasn’t always the case.  Sometimes I’d find her standing outside the bathroom door waiting.  Sometimes, she’ll crawl to the edge of the bed every other minute to continuously check if I was still there.  On other nights, the delaying tactics would never end.

I was resigned to being stuck in the room for an hour every night, so I started formulating multitasking plans in my head — maybe I could pump milk quietly?  Or fold laundry?  Or keep Jamie outside with one hand while keeping myself inside?


My Mommyology Sleep Training
It was so beautiful, I had to take a picture.

Then, one miraculous naptime, my resolve was re-charged.  I will never forget it: January 12, 2011.  Sam heard the pressure cooker whizzing in the kitchen as I was putting her to sleep and she said, “Mommy’s cooking Sinigang! (traditional Filipino broth), a dish she loves.  So I told her to go to sleep and when she’d wake up she’d have some to eat.  Just like that she lay down, let me out the door, and in 15 minutes she was asleep.  That was the happiest cooking experience in my life.

After that, it was a few more weeks of sitting outside the door with the door open to “cook”.  The naps were easier to shift because she could clearly see me in the daytime, and I could call in a loud voice to her that I could see her getting out of bed via the monitor.  So she knew I was watching.  At night though, she would still insist I stay inside, especially since she could hear her Daddy in the living area moving about.  It would be an excuse to get up again.

Finally a few weeks ago with my deadline drawing closer (and those who know me will laugh), I kicked Daddy out of the house at night.  I told him to switch up his schedule such that he would be at the gym while I put Sam to sleep.  So he’d go and the whole house would be dark; the bedroom door would be open and I’d be outside “cooking”, as per Sam’s logic.

In a couple of days, it became routine.  Sam would get all her bed friends beside her, and then would say as she lay down, “Mommy will take a bath, and then Mommy will sit on the floor.  No…. Mommy will go outside and cook, and Mommy will leave the door open.  Bye Mom!”  I would do exactly that, and for as long as she didn’t hear the door click shut (I swear she has super baby hearing powers!), she could lie down in the dark and would fall asleep within minutes.

Yes — It CAN be done!  It’s not yet something that I can count on to happen consistently on a daily basis, especially on nights when she pulls out the Daddy Drama (“Want Daddy to sleep with you”, whimper whimper — and Daddy looks at me like he can’t say no!) but I’ll take what I can get.  I’m crossing my fingers that this “trend” continues even after Jamie is born (well then maybe that will be part 3 of the series when it happens!), because you never know what a new sibling will do to their self-confidence.  I did notice though, that when Dad is in the room, then it takes her much longer to settle down (although of course, Dad won’t believe me as he thinks it’s a ploy to keep him out of the room, but it’s the truth, so shows the monitor!).


I am still learning.  The setbacks I admit are very discouraging.  There are nights when I still get stuck in the room and the crying starts up again (since we’ve let Dad stay at home at night again, and we know how he feels about crying, I do end up staying in the room).  It’s a constant test of patience and willpower.

With Sam I’ve learned that I have to mean what I say (well, in life isn’t that what we’re supposed to do?), because she hangs on every word.  If I say I’m going to be in the bathroom, then she won’t make a fuss for as long as I’m really in there.  If I try to sneak out, she can sense it and she gets up more often to check.  Building trust takes baby steps, literally speaking.

The other thing is gauging when delaying tactics are just that, or if they’re is something more.  If she’s sick I’m a little more lenient, but at the same time I’ve to be extra careful we don’t overdo it.

I should be happy with where we are.  It counts as an accomplishment, right?  I have regained some aspect of my evenings back and have hopefully planned enough ahead  that I can manage the sleep routines of two children, on top of everything else I have to do (I’m still hoping Jamie is an easier sleeper — that would be a bonus!).

The irony of it all would be if I lose more sleep trying to keep it all together!

We will revisit the Sleep-Training in a couple of months for Part 3, when I’ve somehow got a semblance of how life is with two children!  Who knows what will happen then!

ExperiMOMent For Expectant Mommies Mommy Lessons (on Parenting)

The Sleep-Training Series (Part 1)

I feel I have a lot to say about sleep-training since it is one of our biggest challenges, so this may have to come in 2 (or even 3!) parts.


“Sleep-training” in the strictest definition is generally a foreign concept to most Filipino parents like me.  For one, it’s typical Filipino (or is it Asian?) culture to allow our children, however many they may be, to co-sleep… until they’re 30 years old (Seriously, we generally let them decide when they can move out of the room and into their own space, praying that their age is still within the single digits). They don’t sleep in a separate room from the get-go, as is common here.

Secondly, because of the presence of extended famiy members, yayas and other warm bodies, babies never really have to “self soothe” or “cry it out” since there’s always someone that is there for them.  Again I speak in general terms — I know of some of my contemporaries who have done sleep-training by the book desspite of all these other people around.  Yet I feel it is safe to say, independent sleep for babies and toddlers is not something we’re very strict about.  Even some of my Filipina friends here, like Mommy Virginia-Boston, only really sleep-trained her eldest daughter during her 3rd trimester with her 2nd child (more on this as we go along).

On the contrary, most of my American friends have Sam’s playmates in a separate room from about 3 months old and up.  Again I can understand why too — here it’s generally just you and your child, and so you’ll go nuts if you were at their mercy every night and nap.  I suppose you also really have to have the drive to get it done, and I would have to admit even if I tried, I couldn’t see it through.

We were never really strict about sleep training Sam to begin with.  Especially since my husband absolutely could not and would not hear of her crying for over two minutes.  In his defense, I hear that is typical behavior of first-time fathers, particularly of girls.

Hence, my days were so much shorter because I’d spend so much time getting Sam to sleep (both naptime and nighttime).  She’s also a very light sleeper, so any single noise or change in body temperature, such as me leaving the room eventually, she’d wake up.


My Mommyology Bed Friends
This was taken last Dec '10. Before Christmas. Our bed friends have grown in number since then.

Pre-sleep training days, our nighttime routine would consist of a bath, some books, and two hours’ worth of delaying tactics between me and her dad before she’d finally doze off.  I’d have to be in on the bed within reach too.  More often than not, it was so exhausting that I’d fall asleep and I wouldn’t be able to get much done on the off-chance I’d still wake up after.  She has all these “bed friends” too who come to sleep with her every night and would take up space.

Of course I realized that this so-called routine could not go on with baby #2 on the way, and so I made the firm decision that after she turned 2, then we would start to train her to go to bed independently.  Anyway the Sleep Easy Solution book  that I read said it would take about 3-5 days if we were consistent about it.  Lesson #1:  NEVER BELIEVE IT!

I will tell you about a book that I did like though: the 90-minute Sleep Program by Dr Polly Moore.  The basic premise of this book was to follow your child’s basic rest and alert cycles, or BRAC for short, which generally lasted in increments of 90-mins, up until a little after a year.  After that, then they go by the clock.  That was generally what Sam was like as a baby and I’d have to say this book helped keep me sane.

Okay, sorry to veer slightly off-topic.  Anyway, after she turned two last December, it’s been sleep-training zone in our apartment.  It’s now three months later — and before I tell you where we are in terms of progress, let me give you a few scenarios as to why I don’t believe it will take only 3-5 days to get it right.

It’s hard to be hardcore consistent. First of all, with any kind of sleep training, crying will definitely be involved.  I realized later on that they cry because they’re protesting the change (Who likes change anyway?), and because they’re obviously not getting what they want.  So depending on your tolerance level, then it might be hard to listen to for long periods of time.

As mentioned previously, Daddy has a negative tolerance.  So the first month we were up and down.  On some days he would just walk out and drown himself in the TV, and on some days, when I would try to run into the bathroom for a shower in an attempt to give Sam her “space” but still be in the room, she would wait until I’d close the bathroom door, and then run out of bed and bang on the bedroom door to get her daddy in.  So by the time I’d come out of the shower, he would be playing with her again and nothing would happen with our initial attempts.

Other times, we would work it out such that Sam and I would go for days detaching and getting through the crying (it does stop after 3 days, I’ll give them that), but then something happens, like a telecon I’d have to attend for work, then the progress is put to a halt because it’s not me putting her to sleep.

Also, at least in our case, dummies really don’t work.  Some books said to give her a companion to “replace you”, but as you can see from above, we just end up sleeping with the zoo and then some.

Mind you, as I was doing this, I was (am) also pregnant and hormonal, and my patience could only take me so far.  There were nights when I’d just really give in because I was so frustrated and think that it will all work itself out later on. It was that or, we would learn the hard way.  And when this would come to mind, my resolve would come back in full force to try again.  Therefore, I concluded early on that sleep-training was (is!) an emotional roller coaster of a ride!

So it took a while.  A looong while, but eventually, I did get some sort of a result. 🙂 

Watch out for it in Part 2!

ExperiMOMent Mommy Lessons (on Parenting)

The Discipline Experiment

My Mommyology Dennis the Menace
Really, how terrible is terrible?!

After the Baby Bully incident I am re-thinking my disciplinary tactics for Sam.  We’ve entered the  “terrible two’s” phase and I did notice a more outspoken, strong-willed attitude (Side note:  Can I just say, I don’t like the phrase terrible two’s.  It isn’t so terrible really — or am I speaking too soon?). It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it’s just gotten a tad bit challenging.

I’ve looked up disciplining methods for toddlers, read the recommendations from our favorite source, the Baby Whisperer, and talked to friends about their techniques.  I know that there is no right or wrong way and as a parent you do what you feel is best for each child.

Spanking, and physical discipline for instance, is always up for debate.  Some parents I know and respect believe in it in extreme cases and it works for them, but Daddy wants us to avoid it as much as possible.  He says that it teaches her an eye for an eye, and other studies have shown it can lead to bullying.

Standing in the corner? Timeouts?  I haven’t tried it seriously, but some say she’s too young and really won’t hold still in a corner for long.  Actually, I end up putting myself in the corner in my frustration for not knowing what to do next. 🙂

My Mommyology Clean up the mess
My mom says it's child labor, but I say, it's never too young to start!

I try to show her extreme patience (which is not easy), understanding that she is pushing her limits and testing authority.  Instead of raising my voice or punishing her,  I teach her that there are consequences to her actions.  For instance, if she writes on wall or spills on the carpet, then I make her stop whatever she’s doing to wipe it up.  Or when she throws her toys in frustration, I make her pick them up and pack them away.  Of course, there is a lot of explaining which I hope and pray she understands.  I try to be as matter-of-fact as possible, but I am only human and sometimes hints of frustration come out in my tone (that’s not so bad, right?).

When Sam is in the mood to throw a tantrum, I just let her (for as long as she doesn’t hurt herself) until she tires herself out.  She will not get what she wants until she stops, which generally takes longer than I would hope.

So far so good I think.  I’m hoping it teaches her that “mistakes” are a part of life, and that she can still do something to “correct” it.  On her not-so-good days, then she knows she can release and vent all she wants and I will just wait for her to finish.  At the very least, she knows throwing a tantrum will not get her what she wants.  Thankfully, she is not one of those children who will hurt others.  In fact for as long as she knows who she’s playing with, she is very much willing to share or let the other child play with what she is holding.

I’d have to say it takes a whole lot of willpower and perseverance, but hopefully it will pay off and we can avoid developing negative attention-grabbing habits in the long run.  Well here’s hoping!

If you know of any way you feel has worked for you, please share it with me!  I’d love to hear it!