Lunchbox Diet

“When you eat mindfully, by paying attention to what you eat, you get more pleasure with fewer calories.” ~ Dean Ornish

With the smorgasbord of restaurants offering all the cuisines you can think of, today’s adults are tempted to try all that’s new and visually instagrammable. With the rise of tasty options, there has also been a clamor for delicious yet healthy meal solutions. But because of busy schedules, the healthy options often take the back seat in lieu of fastfood, ready-to-go meals. Enter meal preparations. 
Meal preparation plans have been the fad for the past couple of years, and several suppliers have ridden on this bandwagon. The meals are already portioned to the desired calorie per day, and even delivered to your doorstep — easy, hassle-free, and healthy! These have appealed to yuppies and millennials who want to stay healthy but are too busy to shop, cook and prepare their own baons. This includes us, working parents.

So we decided to try LunchBox Diet. We got the 1500 cal plan for two weeks, consisting of breakfast, lunch, dinner and 1-2 snacks or tea and coffee. The meals are delivered to our house the night before. On the day, we just reheat the food in the microwave and we’re good to go! The food is actually delicious. Most days we have brown rice, fish, chicken breast, wheat bread, and a featured item from sponsors every Wednesday. Our favorites are pasta nights, and fruit-based  M desserts. 


After two weeks of Lunchbox meals, I was able to lose 6lbs! Not bad. More importantly, my appetite was not as strong as before. I can easily curb my cravings for junk food (my favorite cheat day snack!) and even desserts. Most of the time, I eat less during dinner as well.

The relapse is usually the hardest after finishing the meal replacement plans. So my husband and I have to rely on each other, so we can stay away from temptation and still maintain healthy food choices later on.

My Kid is Weird

“We’re all a little weird. And life is weird. And when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall into mutually satisfying weirdness—and call it love—true love.” – Dr. Seuss


Is your child weird

Does she display habits that are out of the ordinary?

My daughter is a classic example:

1. She likes to rub and touch my elbows while breastfeeding. It helps to put her to sleep. She kisses my elbows first when greeting me, before kissing my cheeks.

2. She doesn’t like stamps on her hands, so the teacher gives her cut out stars instead for great job in school work.

3. She likes to put shoes on her left foot first, before the right foot.

4. She says “No Kiss”, then proceeds to kiss all her stuffed toys and miniatures.

5. When she makes number two, she finds a corner, squats down and does her business. And no one should talk to her while she’s busy. (Good luck with our toilet training!)

No matter what her quirks are, I don’t think it makes Sofie any less different. I know I have mine too. I guess knowing these little things makes her funny and endearing all the more. And it makes her personality so unique and much more colorful. 

So here’s to discovering more weird and quirky sides to my daughter. This means I can spend more time bonding and discovering these together with her. 

Montessori Mode

“The goal of early childhood education should be to activate the child’s own natural desire to learn.” – Maria Montessori 


As my daughter turned three this year, I knew I had to look for preparatory schools soon. Her age was ripe for nursery, and the challenge was to find a good place that would build a solid foundation for her elementary school.

As we shopped for schools, there are so many factors we had to consider:

1. Location

Traffic in Manila is really tiring and time consuming. So we wanted to find a place that was nearby so that Sofie won’t spend hours on the road just to get to school. Also, being nearby is an advantage to the yaya and Lola who will bring her to school, as they can easily go back home and do other things, then just come back for her during dismissal time. The proximity would also help us go to her quickly in case of emergencies.

2. Transportation 

For working parents, transportation is a big factor to consider. We needed to find a school that would be near enough to transport our daughter by walking or by tricycle, as we cannot bring her to and fetch her from school all the time. The nearer the school, the lower the cost as well for service fees.

3. Classroom and School Size

Do you want a big school or a small school? How many students are in one class? What is the teacher- student ratio? A smaller class is better for us, as teachers can give more attention to toddlers who might be easily distracted by toys or play time. Teacher aides are also a plus, especially for toilet emergencies.

4. School hours

What time are her classes? How many hours will she be in class? This would help us work around prep time (breakfast, bath time, rush hour, nap time, etc) and ensure that our daughter is alert, active and ready to learn in class.

5. Tuition Fee

Enrollment fees today are no joke, and they do take up a major chunk of your income and savings so the fees is a big factor to consider. Miscellaneous fees such as books, uniforms, school supplies, field trips should also be added to the total enrollment fund, so parents are better prepared.

Payment schemes also come into play. Of course, paying in full is encouraged by the school as it means cheaper fees, but installment mode of payment would also be comfortable enough for the parents to financially fulfill, weighed in with all other daily expenses and investments.

6. Security

Is the school located on a busy street? Are there gates in place? Is there a guard at he entrance? We need to ensure that our daughter will be safe in her school grounds, especially from strangers.

7. School type and curriculum

Would you want a traditional, progressive or Montessori type?

I knew at the onset that I was looking for a Montessori— a school that would help kids learn about ABCs in a more intearactive environment, and also teach them basic life skills and independence. Most of my mommy friends were products of Montessori themselves, and their testimonials only pushed me to look for a similar school curriculum for my daughter.

And so look for a Montessori we did. Lo and behold, there was a nearby school near our village, about ten minutes away: Montessori at Work. The school is near the house, so we can worked arrangements with a neighbor tricycle driver so he could bring Sofie to school and fetch Lola and Yaya as well when class is over.


Classes are from 1030 am to 1230 pm, not too early and just enough for traffic to pass after rush hour. Her nap time would also be right after class, so the schedule is just right. Grounds are secure enough as there are gates and glass doors so only authorized fetchers will be allowed in the premises, and only during fetching time.

Fees are not too expensive, and already covers uniforms and school supplies. For tuition fee, we chose the middle ground – semestral payment. This would help us save enough for the next payment, with the least amount of installment add ons. The time would also help us to evaluate if Sofie would adjust well to her new school enviroment.


Sofie has been enjoying her stay at Montessori. She has two teachers in a class of seven, together with a teacher aide. The school uses didactic objects to facilitate both learning and play. Books are converted to drill sheets, so teachers can assess and personalize exercises based on the child’s readiness and grasp of the lesson. Plus the environment and faculty are supportive and encouraging. (Sometimes, a mother’s intuition or vibe, though unfounded, is usually accurate!)

Hope Sofie would learn a lot from Montessori at Work. Here’s to the start of our schooling adventure!

The “Hair Tie” Technique

“You can learn many things from children. How much patience you have, for instance.” ~ Franklin P. Jones

Everyday, our lil toddlers wake up bursting with energy. Working moms like us might not have the same energy to keep up all the time, so we end up stressed whenever there are tantrums or misplaced toys or attention-seeking behavior from our children. 
Ideally, we want to stay patient amidst the chaos, and avoid as much as possible to yell at our children. Sometimes, this effort is futile and we end up giving in to our emotions and end up hurting our children with words. 

Kelly Holmes of the Idealist Mom, devised a way to be more conscious of our mood and non-responsive with our quick reactions to children’s behavior— the hair tie technique.  Each day, we start with 5 hair ties in one wrist (ideally in your writing hand so it’s more visible). Every time we yell at our children or respond negatively to their actions, we move one tie to the other wrist, and do 5 loving actions to counter our negative reaction. The goal is to practice more patience so we end the day having all the hair ties in the same wrist.


Click here to learn more.

Kindermusik

“At Kindermusik, our passions are children and music. So we put the two together to create a music and movement program for young children. Our mission is to reach every child through music.”


I first learned about Kindermusik from my boss, who enrolled her then two-year old daughter to the program and sang praises about it. Her once timid girl blossomed into a confident young toddler. I knew then that I wanted to also bring Sofie to Kindermusik. As an only child, these play schools are supposed to teach basic socialization, but I knew that Kindermusik can develop so much more for Sofie. She was already turning two, and I wanted to expose her to more learning and creative environments suited for her age.

We searched their website and found Saturday morning schedules to be ideal, so we can also join her during classes. After going to potential venues, we finally found a fit at Kindermusik at CTEC Greenhills with Teacher Dang. Her class would be Wiggle and Grow, for toddlers her age.

The first day was surprising for all of us. Sofie was overwhelmed by the new environment and kept her eyes closed the whole time! There were tears and tantrums, but Teacher Dang assured us that this is normal behavior, and we should acknowledge Sofie’s feelings and let her adjust to her new surroundings. We kept our faith and crossed our fingers that the next days would be better.

True enough, Sofie did do so much better in the next classes. Little by little, she began to recite familiar animals and animal sounds during story book time, played with rhythm sticks, and even did cooperative play with classmates. She especially loves parachute play, lining up blocks and sticks, story time, and “massage” time with mommy. She has learned to pack away toys and wait for her turn. At home, Sofie and I would read books from Kindermusik and look at videos from the website, and she would remember her modules from her classes. Her development was amazing, and we are thankful to Teacher Dang and Kindemusik for helping Sofie to develop all these, and enjoy bonding time as a family too. 


As we enroll Sofie in a new school, we would forever be grateful for the foundation given to her by Kindermusik. She now sings nursery rhymes all the time, dances to familiar songs during car rides, and has better appreciation of music. No more eyes closed! We have appreciated the opportunity given to us to learn together with Sofie, and she has learned to trust the support she can get from her parents. More importantly, she has gained the confidence to face new schools and new challenges in the world ahead. 

Listology

“No wise pilot, no matter how great his talent and experience, fails to use his checklist. ” ~ Charlie Munger


When there’s a big event or special occasion or an out-of-town vacation coming up, I find myself restless the night before. Sleep eludes me, because my mind is rattling off an imaginary checklist of things to do, to bring, to prepare, and to buy along the way. The curse of the moms, I realize now, is having to think of everything and everyone.

So when stress becomes my constant companion, I turn to lists and checklists to calm my frazzled nerves. Writing everything that I need to do and prepare gives me the assurance that I won’t forget anything. 

When doing my lists, I follow tried and tested tricks:

1. Make the List and Check it Twice

Sometimes, when the trip is short, I don’t make lists anymore and just tick things off the top of my head. However, I find that I always forget something to do or leave something behind that I was supposed to bring. So it really pays to make the list, and double check everything before you step out the door. 

2. Imagine your Day

What is it like, a day in your life? Picture all the activities and things you use in your day-to-day. Or you can walk through your whole event. This will help you imagine all the details needed to be accomplished in real life.

3. Sound off with a teammate or travel buddy

I usually show my list to another person (usually my husband) so he can double check if I missed anything that may not be on this list. 

4.  Leave Behind 

It’s not always what your bring with you; sometimes, it’s the stuff you leave behind that is most forgotten. Always remember to keep your house in order (Have you paid bills? Have you checked all utilities before leaving the house? Etc) before attending to commitments. 

5. Use your smartphone alerts

Today, a lot of smartphones are already capable of apps that have built in lists with times, alarms and reminder systems. So if you’re the digital type, maximize these platforms to help you plan the details better.

6. Ask for Help

Don’t hesitate to ask for others’ help to remind you about important things to bring or do. Choose wisely though, that the person you asked help from has a better memory than you!

 Lists should not be limited to daily tasks, as these may also be applied to the greater aspects of life, or what is commonly known as your personal “bucket lists”. Whether short-term or long-term, the important habit to learn is to write these lists down, so that it imprints not just in your memory, but also commits it to heart. 

Birthday Week

“Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is youer than you.” – Dr. Seuss


Today is my husband’s birthday. (Happy birthday Ling!) And while he decided to celebrate at home since it’s a weeknight, he also proposed to celebrate his birthday thrice— three celebrations in three days. Today is for office lunch celebration and in-laws dinner, tomorrow is date with the wifey, and the day after is a swimming picnic with his brood. A birthday week celebration.

It’s becoming a tradition for us, celebrating birthdays and special occassions in multiple days. With to-do’s at work and at home, sometimes a full day of celebration is not anymore feasible. Plus, with our in-laws and extended families, our birthdays become extended too.

It’s actually a better set-up for me. Last January, my birthday month, I also celebrated for one whole week: different days to shop, watch movies alone, enjoy pasta and wine, relax in a spa, and have a staycation with my husband and daughter. Birthday bucket list fulfilled, even if it took many mini-buckets to fulfill them.

Having a birthday week seems to be a better set-up for us: we still get to celebrate our hearts’ desires, but we manage expectations that one day alone cannot fulfill. We have more cakes and more time to celebrate with the people who have made the past year memorable.

Looking forward to continuing this tradition in the next years!