Just Checking in…

It’s been almost two weeks since I last posted. How did that happen?! LOL!

It’s been a very busy month at work and it will get busier by next month. We are in the middle of transitions this month so there are quite a few turnovers and a lot more tasks at hand. At the same time, I’ve been cramming on planning Z’s 3rd birthday party. So, for the past couple of weeks, I have been juggling Z’s therapy sessions, being a Mom, employee responsibilities, and party planning. It’s a lot and quite overwhelming for this momma who is so much in need of a massage. Seriously.

Anyway, I have a few things lined up for posting in the next few weeks: my nanny diaries is still in the works, #bakerwannabe series is in the pipeline, Z’s party planning (including a few feedback regarding a couple of party providers) and a few more. I’m excited to share these stories with you so watch out for it.🙂

This is just a short note, actually. Nothing much to say for now since my brains may have already gone down the weekend drain. LOL!

This is me at this hour:

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panda eyes, crazy eyes… still awake at 2AM..😛

Oh well, goodnight y’all!🙂

 

 

Cooking with Liz: Cabbage Rolls in Tomato Sauce…

For the past couple of months, I have been trying to cook (and bake) during weekends. Like I previously mentioned, I am no good cook (in reference to my family and even to Z’s nanny) but I know the basics. Well, cooking is simple, really, right? Compared to baking, you can freestyle a lot of stuff in cooking.

I don’t really look for recipes to cook when I do. I saute meat and vegetables, mostly. I work with what I have in my fridge and try to pair ingredients that works well together based on my knowledge.

I’ve been buying cabbage recently and it is mostly added to soup dishes that Z’s nanny cooks. Then I remembered something that my parents used to cook when we were kids so I called my Mom and asked her how the cabbage rolls were done. I initially thought it was lettuce rolls. On the other hand, lettuce can be used for this, too.

Since I posted this photo in my Facebook wall, a few have already asked me for the recipe, so I thought of posting it here for anyone who’s interested to try. Measurement of ingredients included here are estimates so you can make your own adjustments.

There are actually a lot of ways to do this but this is my version. It’s an easy dish to cook, really.🙂

Cabbage Rolls in Tomato Sauce

  • Servings: 2-3
  • Time: 30 minutes (more or less)
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 250g ground pork
  • 4-5 cloves garlic
  • 2 medium sized onions
  • 1 medium carrot, grated (optional)
  • 1 large red bell pepper (optional)
  • Cabbage leaves (about 4-6 leaves, depending on the size)
  • Tomato sauce (you can use the canned or packed. If you can use fresh, all the better)

Directions

  1. Season ground pork with salt and pepper. Add finely chopped garlic and onion.
  2. Cut the bell pepper in half, set aside one half. Finely chop the other half and mix it to the meat mixture. Add the grated carrots. Mix well then set aside.
  3. Blanch cabbage leaves to make it easier to wrap.
  4. Scoop a spoonful of the meat mixture and wrap it in cabbage leaf. Secure with tooth pick. Set aside.
  5. Chop the remaining half of the bell pepper and saute it together with garlic and onions.
  6. Add tomato sauce, season with salt, pepper and dry or fresh herbs, simmer for about a minute or two. (For the one I made, I added a handful of grated carrots, excess of the one I used for the meat mixture. This is optional as well).
  7. Add cabbage rolls then simmer for another 10-15 minutes in low fire or until the meat is cooked.

There you go. A few notes to add:

  • Adding carrots and bell pepper to the meat mixture is optional. I have added this in the one I cooked because I didn’t use a lot of ground meat so the carrots became an extender. Another reason is that I wanted additional vegetable in the dish and it is what I have that I know will work well with tomato sauce.
  • If you are not fond of tomato sauce, you can actually not cook this in it. You can steam the cabbage rolls instead. However, it is advisable to pre-cook the meat mixture. Just saute it with garlic, onions and season it well before wrapping it in cabbage leaves. Then steam it for about several minutes. (I haven’t tried this yet so I’m not sure how long you are supposed to steam it).
  • If you want to use lettuce, you can do so.
  • If you have time to make fresh tomato sauce, that will be great. Unfortunately, I didn’t have tomatoes available so I used the packed one.

Enjoy!🙂

Z at 35 Months Old…

It’s been a while since I blogged about Z’s milestones. He’s turning 3 in less than a month’s time (man, where did time go?) and has been working hard to get where he is now. I’ve checked my old posts and the last one I posted about what Z can do was this January. Since then, Z has accomplished quite a lot, I would say.

Last June, Z had his consultation with his Development-Pedia. We consult with him every 6 months to check and assess where Z is already in terms of his development. During his November 2015 consultation, at 2 years 3 months old, Z was said to be the equivalent of an 11-12 month old baby in terms of development. After 6-7 months, he progressed a bit. He’s now at 12-14 month old equivalent. Slow progress is still good progress in this case.

So, at 35 months old, Z is still non-verbal. He could run, but still lacking balance. He still needs help removing and putting on his clothes, he still needs help feeding himself, he is still not potty trained and could not tell us (in his own way) if he needs to pee or poop, he can’t drink from a cup by himself yet, he can’t go up or down the stairs on his own.

But, at 35 months old, he is not a picky eater. He eats vegetables, meat and fish (even ampalaya, he eats it, I swear!). He doesn’t eat junk food, processed food, sweets or even drink artificial juice drinks. He loves pasta. Red sauce, white sauce, as long as it’s pasta, he will eat it (with the exemption of spicy one).

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At 35 months old, he is now weaned from bottle feeding (using bottle teats). He mostly drinks milk and water from his training cup or sippy cup. On the rare days when his cups aren’t yet washed, he drinks milk from a bottle with a spout (which happens about twice in a week). I am now planning to transition him to using a regular cup and using a straw (drinking using a straw helps in muscle development in the mouth).

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At 35 months old, Z knows what the broom is for. He also almost always tries to get this from his nanny whenever she is sweeping the floor. Z wanted to do the sweeping instead.🙂 Well, at least, as early as now, he is learning that he needs a clean space. LOL!

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At 35 months old, Z is showing a love for cars. At first, I thought he was just going through the phase of preferring one toy over the other. But seeing Z’s curiosity grow about cars, well, I think this kid is a kid after my late Dad’s heart.🙂 My Dad would have definitely, without a doubt, loved watching Z’s fascination with cars grow. He would probably have taught Z to drive at a very young age. LOL! #likelolodaddylikegrandson

"my future car, eh?"

“my future car, eh?”

At 35 months old, apart from cars, Z is consistently showing a love for books. Everytime he sees one, he would get it, find a good spot to sit on, and turn the pages, as if he can read every word written. Even at home, when he sees one of his mutilated books, he would pick one up, and “read” it. He owns a few picture books and could identify a few of the things in it. For example, one of his mutilated books is all about cars. In one of the pages is a picture of a school bus. And everytime he sees it, he would do the actions to the song, “The Wheels on the Bus”.🙂 He has been practicing saying the word “car” as well. I think it is actually his very first word. There was one morning a few months ago when he pointed to the picture of a red car in his book and said, “ca”.🙂 He says it every now and then as well but not when you are asking him to say the word.

Reading a book while waiting for therapy to start

Reading a book while waiting for therapy to start

At 35 months, at his regular physical therapy sessions, he has been showing a lot of improvement. It was just March this year when he could barely climb any platform at first attempt. He could not complete an obstacle course comprising of different textured steps, low and elevated paths, or even run for that matter. Now, he can finish his obstacle courses with confidence (so long as he is not feeling lazy at the time), he climbs up the ladder of the slide, walk through what I call “the barracks” prior to sliding down.

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At 35 months, Z has also started working on writing (doodling, actually) on paper. He’s getting himself familiarized with how to hold a pen or a crayon, how to run the pen across the paper (or the floor, or his leg, for that matter). Even in his occupational therapy sessions, writing has also been introduced to him.

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His work doesn’t stop after therapy sessions. He works on his activities at home, too.

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At 35 months, he is starting to string together syllables, attempts to say a word, but will let you know in his own way what he wants. He knows when he is being scolded, he would cry and throw his toys around when he is mad or frustrated, he loves the sound of sizzling stuff being sauteed (he would walk to the kitchen and try to see what’s cooking), he can understand simple instructions (close the door, give [whatever he is holding at the moment], wipe the mouth, etc). He’s starting to associate time with the shows he regularly watch (he knows when it’s time for Hi5😀 ), he gets his towel when he knows it’s almost bath time or if he wants to take a bath and he goes straight to the room right after so he can put clean clothes on. He imitates actions (especially when watching Hi5 songs) and will follow actions to songs. We are now introducing one action song per week and still ensure that he will not forget the rest of the songs that he learned.

What am I trying to say here? Z can do a lot of things and can understand a lot of things that I think are not really being considered during medical assessments. While I am grateful that we have a very good doctor watching out for him, I truly believe that Z is developing in ways that can never be assessed by mere consultation alone. He is progressing the way that he should but that does not mean, too, that I start to ignore the recommendations in the medical field.

At the end of the day, Z at 35 months is being as he should be – a happy, very perceptive toddler that is working hard to achieve greater things. I’ve seen how he has grown and at times, I wish time would slow down a bit so I can enjoy longer time with him as a toddler. But come to think of it, time has already slowed down and I am already enjoying longer time with him. That’s how exactly I see it.🙂

 

 

Li’l Brave Hearts…

One of the common conditions that children with Down syndrome have is heart issues. Even my little Z has been diagnosed to have ASD or Atrial Septal Defect. You can read more about it here.

His last check up with a pediatric cardiologist was last year wherein it was found that Z still has a small hole in his heart. Though no medication was given, he was to have another cardiologist consult a year after to check if the hole will close on its own. I was not able to schedule Z for his check up this month but we should be able to visit the good doctor next month.

I am grateful that Z didn’t need surgery or anything else to fix his heart. And I am hopeful that the hole has now closed, too. But there are cases wherein babies with Ds need to have heart surgery the soonest time possible so as to avoid further complications along the way.

Talking with other parents of children with Down syndrome, I have learned that there are babies and toddlers out there that are in need of immediate financial assistance due to urgent need to undergo surgery to correct the heart problem of their kids. Here are some of their stories:

This is Carl Angelo Cristobal, 2 years old. He has Tetralogy of Fallot and is scheduled for open heart surgery by September or October of this year. He is currently on medication to make the veins in the heart thinner which would make it safer for him during surgery.

Carl Angelo Cristobal, 2 years old

Carl Angelo Cristobal, 2 years old

This is Ashley Oreiro, 1 year old and has been diagnosed to have PDA or Patent Ductus Arteriosus. Doctors suggested for open heart surgery at PGH this coming August.

Ashley Oreiro, 1 year old

Ashley Oreiro, 1 year old

This is Johnrey Bonaobra, 1 month old. from Bataan. He has an imperforate anus, with PDA & PFO or Patent Foramen Ovale. He has already undergone 2 FAILED operations for colostomy. Has has gone through a third operation on July 23, 2016, and is currently in ICU for close monitoring and observation. As of date, Johnrey has already gone through his third colostomy but already out of immediate danger. He is still confined and under observation.

Johnrey Bonaobra, 1 month old

Johnrey Bonaobra, 1 month old

Johnrey Bonaobra, 1 month old

Johnrey Bonaobra, 1 month old

Jaden Lopez, 9 months old, has AVSD or Atrioventricular Septal Defect and has undergone cardiac catheterization but still on oxygen because of hypertension. Given that the case is high risk, doctors are still assessing if they will proceed with surgery.

Jaden Lopez, 9 months old

Jaden Lopez, 9 months old

Jaden Lopez, 9 months old

Jaden Lopez, 9 months old

Cardio consults plus lab tests are expensive. Imagine the cost for surgery as well as maintenance medicines afterwards. Depending on the hospital, 2D-echo test would cost around Php3,000 to almost Php 7,000 already.  There are a whole lot more tests that these kids go through and it is draining emotionally, physically, spiritually and financially.

These stories really break my heart. And it has broken the hearts of the other parents in our Facebook chat group. And these stories have been the trigger to create Li’l Brave Hearts.

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Li’l Brave Hearts is a store created by several parents of kids with Down syndrome to raise funds to help finance the initial hospital downpayment for the surgeries of these kids as well as to purchase immediate medication required. The idea to come up with a fundraiser came from one of the mommies, which got the ball rolling. A few other parents followed suit, providing their time, effort and resources to fund the project.

As of date, the store was able to raise funds which were used to purchase medicines for the recipients as well as other medical expenses needed. We still have a long way to go to raise more funds to be able to give these wonderful warriors, as well as a lot of other children who are in need of medical attention, a chance to live a comfortable life.

Should you, my readers, want to purchase T-shirts to support this cause, please do like the page and send them a message. Each shirt cost Php 450 each. The sale goes to the funds for medical needs of these kids.  You may contact the following for more details:

Sheila Ann Gimeno
Mobile: 09178666725
Email: sajgbiz12@gmail.com

Sheryl Soriano
Mobile: 0922-2926902
Email: sherylcsoriano@gmail.com

Donations are also accepted and should you wish to donate financially, please contact Sheila Ann or Sheryl on how to proceed.

Also, don’t forget to  visit the Li’l Brave Hearts’ Facebook page for updates on these little warriors.

 

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Note: photos posted are used with permission from the parents. 

 

Prepping for a House Party…

Three Sundays ago, I hosted my very first house party. The guests were my friends so I didn’t need to exert a lot of effort to please them.🙂 Well, Z’s nanny and I cleaned the house, and hid the clutter to have more space. That was good enough.😛

When I was a kid, house parties back home was when food (pancit or spaghetti, barbeque and all that) was prepared at home and the cake was store-bought. This time around, my house party consisted of food bought from the store and the cake homemade.😛

I was able to find a simple yet very good chocolate cake recipe and I was happy with the results when I first tested it. That was the reason why I had the guts to offer to make the cake in the first place. LOL! The first batch I did came out nicely but it was just about an inch thick. I wanted a taller cake so I made a second batch.

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first batch: with parchment paper; second batch: without parchment paper. I like the second one better

Cooling...

Cooling…

My problem though was the frosting. While the one on the recipe was quite good, I was looking for something else. So, I tried making chocolate ganache instead. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a weighing scale that time so I had to rely on estimates after browsing on a few ganache recipes online, looking for the ratio of ingredients that I can work with.

I was in the middle of heating up the cream for the ganache when Z suddenly woke up and came to find me in the kitchen. Since he wanted to be carried and wanted to watch what I was doing at the same time, I had to babywear him so I can still work. (Yes, at almost 15 kilos, I still babywear my son.🙂 ). I had to work fast because the chocolate needs to melt while the cream is still hot. And I had to put the little boy to sleep again.

When I was ready to assemble the cake, only then did I realize that I need a serrated knife so I can level the cakes to make it easier to frost. The cakes came out a bit domed and I feared that the top layer would slide off. Fortunately, it did not. Another problem I realized was that I didn’t know how to ganache a cake properly. LOL! By the way, that was a 9×13″ pan I used. I didn’t even have a cake board so I used my cookie sheet instead. I had to trim the cake for it to fit. It worked out fine. My work was sloppy but it was the best I could do given that it was my first time to make this big a cake. Anybody who’s got great recipe for frosting that I can use? I’ll bake you a cake for it.🙂

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My sloppy looking, yummy tasting chocolate cake #bakerwannabe

I still have a lot of things to improve on to get that perfectly baked chocolate cake but I guess I am already off to a good start, eh?

Come Sunday, we attended church in the morning then came back home right after so we could prepare for the afternoon party. I prepared a deconstructed nachos (I got this idea from my cousin since she almost always have these when she throws a house party), then thought of making cheese sticks. Because, what’s a house party without anything wrapped in spring-roll wrapper, right? I burned the first batch, hahaha! I think I got excited I didn’t give the oil enough time to reach that certain temperature (or whatever).

cheese sticks

cheese sticks

And here’s my version of deconstructed nachos:

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deconstructed nachos

The only thing I cooked there was the ground beef. I grated the cheese, diced the tomatoes and chopped the lettuce. I didn’t have time to make cheese sauce (and I was not able to find a real good recipe for it, too) so I opted for grated cheese instead. I forgot the onions but it was okay.

The bowls are pretty, aren’t they? I bought them in Ikea Singapore the last time I went there and it was the first time that I got to use these 4. The other two of the bowls are being used for Z’s food. Good thing I remembered having these else I would have used microwavable containers to serve the toppings. LOL!

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store bought food and homemade cake

For a party consisting of 7 adults and 2 toddlers, we have way too much food. After eating and packing the take-aways, too much was still left so I asked Z’s nanny to bring most of the left over food to the guards at the parking area of our place. I hope they enjoyed it. I forgot to ask.🙂

For a first-timer, I think I did good, don’t you think? But really, I enjoyed preparing this for my friends. A little more practice on my homemaking skills though to have that awesome experience. LOL!

Chicdriven Women Empowerment Expo…

Last Saturday afternoon, we checked out the even happening in Glorietta. I saw the poster in Facebook and was interested with the seminars they have scheduled. I was particularly interested in the Financial Wellness discussion as well as the Be Your Own Boss sessions, however, these were scheduled for Sunday and I was not available by then. (See previous post for the reason).

Anyway, the registration was free and prior to entering the event area, attendees were asked to register and a “passport” was provided wherein we need to visit each and every booth and have them signed the card. Once every booth has signed, we can proceed to the exit where they gave from freebies. Apart from that, they took the corner of the passport issued for the raffle that will happen on day 2.

My passport. Completely signed!

My passport. Completely signed!

We were just in time for the seminar on Active You. It was a set of discussions regarding staying active and healthy. The passport only required one seminar but we stayed and listened to 2 speakers.🙂 They both shared their life story on how they got started being and staying active.

Top: Ms. Ruby Gan (Powerlifting champion and businesswoman) Bottom: Hilary Isaac (TV host and bikini athlete)

Top: Ms. Ruby Gan (Powerlifting champion and businesswoman)
Bottom: Hilary Isaac (TV host and bikini athlete)

After the two speakers, there was a mini raffle held and surprisingly, my name was called.🙂 I won these from The Parenting Emporium:

I won a raffle :)

I won a raffle🙂

After the talks, we roamed around the area, visiting each booth, checking out what they have. Some sponsors just signed the passport, others gave a free item and a few of them had an activity prepared before they sign and give a freebie. Here are a few of them:

Priva’s activity was to simulate walking for 4 poses so they can play a short gif clip with Toni Gonzaga (endorser of Priva) walking on the red carpet. Here’s the photo they printed out for me.😛 It was actually funny doing this activity because the simulation was quite exaggerated. Who walks with their arms swinging right in front you? LOL!

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#privawalk

Shell was one of the sponsors who prepared a couple of activities before they sign the passport. First, you have to have your photo taken wearing some of their costumes. Then you have to play a short game in the laptop provided. Their photo printing took a while since they had a lot of backlogs due to slow printer so we had to return to the booth after we had our snack. Here’s my photo with Z, wearing a scarf and a hat.🙂

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#domorewithshellfuelsave

Foilacar wanted to have a photo taken with their display car, post in Facebook and tag them. I was able to post the photo in FB, unfortunately, I was not able to tag them (technical issues, it seems). They  still signed my passport in the end.🙂

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Foilacar

Mazda was another sponsor but they didn’t have any activities prepared. Just show them your passport and they will sign it. But then, who can resist not having a photo taken with the car, right?🙂

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Smile!🙂

Here’s my loot from the event:

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Loot!🙂

It was indeed a fun afternoon. Z charmed some of the people there, too. Yeah, I’ve got a little charmer. LOL! I just love free events, don’t you?🙂

Visit their website for more information about Chicdriven at: http://www.chicdriven.com/

 

A Year and A Decade… Times Three…

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I turned another year older. And it was raining on my birthday.😛 It’s already the rainy season so that’s expected. I was even born on a rainy morning years ago said my Mom. LOL! Well, I consider rain as showers of blessings so it’s fine.

Last Thursday, I woke up late and not feeling well. I have been having fits of cough for the whole week. I guess it has something to do with the weather. And the air conditioning at work. Good thing I already filed for leave for the next two days, as well.  It was a good thing, too, that Z didn’t have a scheduled therapy that day so I was able to rest a bit. With the rain still falling, we went to the mall in the afternoon for an early birthday dinner and to do some grocery shopping, too (Thank God for Grab). Yep, that’s how I celebrated my natal day – grocery shopping. LOL!

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BYO pizza and mushroom and bacon alfredo at Project Pie with Z and Z’s nanny, Ate Lhen

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Selfie with the Little Z🙂

Given that my birthday falls on a weekday this year, I planned to have a small celebration with the closest of friends I have on a weekend. It was actually my first time to host a house party – a wholesome one at that!🙂 It’s actually a very, very different way for me to celebrate my birthday (compared to years ago). I guess it comes with the added years. Hahaha!

I baked the cake the night before (yep, an ambitious attempt that was somehow successful) and cooked cheese sticks and prepared the topics for the nachos. I’ll make a separate post about the cake and the food preparation.🙂

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colorful isn’t it?🙂 Bowls bought from Ikea a couple of years ago🙂

My friends sponsored the rest of the food – pancit, barbeque and pichi-pichi.🙂 My bestfriend even bough candles for the cake! LOL!

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Afternoon foodie galore!

And I was made to have that compulsory birthday photo beside the food, and blow the candle, too.🙂

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#thatmandatorybirthdayphotowiththefood😛 #ootd pre-loved dress from Curvylish Petite

And what’s a birthday party without presents, right?🙂 Yep, I got presents from my friends, too.

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Left: additional tools for my hobby Right: #adulting stuff😛

But here’s the thing: more than the bountiful food (enough to feed more than the adults present at my house earlier) and more than the presents, I am blessed to have these friends; actually, more like family now. I am grateful to have known and been friends with these people since high school and college – going on almost two decades of friendship. They were witnesses to a lot of my ups and downs, to my struggles and successes, they have been my support system, they have been my cheerleaders. There’s actually nothing more that I can say apart from I love these people. And I know that our friendship will go a long, long way. We are already tied to each other’s sides. LOL! With friends like these people, what more can I ask for?🙂

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Friends for life❤

This year may have been quite a struggle for me but turning a year older isn’t that bad. Not at all. I am just so grateful to have another year to conquer the battles that are thrown my way and to emerge victorious from the ordeals. Another year to celebrate life, another year to count the blessings, another year to be better.

Happy birthday to me!🙂