The Joy in Bedrest

I usually keep working while pregnant, and it is such a humbling experience to be asked to rest and take things slow. Perhaps my body needed to rest (not that my work is rigorous physically) but maybe it’s more of the moving here and there the past months that eventually took its toll on me. In a gist, I had strong, early contractions — too early and too strong for this stage in pregnancy — and had to reassess my current lifestyle from the hospital bed for three nights. Thankful for my very hands-on doctor, husband, and strong family support, I am now resting at home.


(Last out of town trip before the heavy contractions. A wedding in Batangas with my husband.)


I have a week and a half left before reaching full-term. I could give birth in two, three, or four weeks. Right now, however, what’s important is to keep resting. I didn’t know that it could be quite a jolt to change a usually faster daily pace to something that’s filled with bedrest, bedrest, and bedrest. In other words, many people, find bedrest completely boring. (Admittedly, I almost did too at the start when I was not allowed to have my phone in the delivery room for 24 hours, but I realized that boredom only happens in our heads)

Boredom, I believe, is one of those things that we can choose to have or not. Bedrest can be boring or it can be joyful. Yes, joyful.

The joy of resting, for those who are used to fast-paced lives, easily comes once the jolt is done. In my case, I find joy in being able to nap with Elijah everyday, spending more time bonding with him, seeing my husband happy that I am actually home when he gets home, exchanging Viber messages with my high school friends, and gratefully coordinating with my hardworking partners at work through calls, texts, and Viber messages.

And it hits me.  This joy is my personal joy, nothing really grand. Just the simple thought of being healthy, anticipating our second baby boy, and being blessed by good people around us.  As my dad said, in the next two weeks, I must take things slow.  No amount of work (or food tasting) will ever be equal to the peace of mind brought by the fact that I am able to keep our baby safe inside the womb. So the ra-ra-ra-always-on-the-go part of me had to take a backseat for now, and I am taking things slow until my 38th week.

photo(Food tasting in the Garden Cafe at Mateo’s. One of the perks of our work that I miss, but I could always go back to later on.)



The Garden Cafe at Mateo’s

A few months ago, I wrote about Mateo’s blooms, referring to flowers that surrounded the front wall of Mateo’s.  What I did not predict then would be how Mateo’s Restaurant Cafe would bloom into what it is now, literally sprouting a Garden Cafe surrounded by glass and beautiful plants.

Last Tuesday, August 18, we had an afternoon of Spanish Lessons and Sangrias at the new Garden Cafe. We were taught how to speak basic Spanish by Lolo Mateo’s grandson, Tito Benjie Valerio, who was visiting Manila during his break from work. He teaches Spanish and French in the prestigious La Guardia High School of Music, Arts, and Performing Arts in New York City. (Cool trivia: Nikki Minaj was once his student, and he also taught the children of Madonna! And yes Madonna would personally be there to meet him for PTC’s)


(Ongoing Spanish Class photo by Margaux Lucena)


The event was styled by Sarah Bautista-Abaño of With a Flourish. She prepared our Welcome Signage with table assignments, dessert buffet, sangria bar, and the table center pieces.


(Welcome Signage photo by Stella Pastores-Esquivias)




(Sangria Bar and Dessert Buffet Table photo by yours truly)


(Top view dessert spread photo by Sheryll Rose Ontimare)


(Tablescape photo by Stella Pastores-Esquivias)


Our food for the event was of course lovingly prepared by the kitchen headed by our talented Tita Grace Valerio.  We had bruschetta, Spinach Mushroom Quesadillas, Calamari, Gambas, and Spanish Paella.



(Top view photo of Spanish Paella, Blue Fish Seviche, and Gambas by Sheryll Rose Ontimare)


To all the special guests who attended, we hope you enjoyed as much as we did! Gracias!:)


(Gracias toppers prepared by my blogging partner, Issa Mijares-Ramos. Thank you for your support always, Issa!)

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The Garden Cafe at Mateo’s is open for bookings and reservations for intimate events.  It can hold up to 40 pax.  Email or call (02) 696-3724 from 11am-10PM daily.







When Weaning is Everything

There was a point in time when I thought I wanted to write a book about breastfeeding and I would entitle it as “OMG, I’m BFG” (BFG being a shortcut for breastfeeding). As they say breastfeeding is difficult to establish at the start, but its rewards are amazing that one would want to do everything and anything to make breastfeeding work. I experienced exactly that. Hence, the idea of the book, as I miraculously breastfed my firstborn son then. The book is still an idea and life happened.

Fast forward to having my talkative two year old son with his molars growing, being pregnant with a second baby on second trimester, AND still breastfeeding. I was clueless as how to wean exactly so I researched online and also asked around how to wean from breastfeeding.  My father, who was a pro-breastfeeding physician, was telling me that weaning was not just about my son, but also about how I, as a mother, would be adjusting to something new. It was cutting off a special bonding moment more than cutting off a nutritional need at the age my son was in.  True to form, he asked me to research on it.

Before I go into my story, here’s a summary of my research. There were two schools of thought for weaning successfully. One was the sudden, cold turkey type of weaning, with the mother completely separating from the child for several days, which seemed to have worked for many mothers I knew and was also mentioned by one of my trusted doctors. Another was the gradual process with a few steps forward and backward, just like how making baby sleep usually goes if it’s not the “cry it out” process.

Mine was a bit of a countdown. Actually it was literally a countdown as I told Elijah we had three weeks left, then two weeks, then one, until it was March 28, a Saturday.  I did not intend for this to happen but it was Earth Hour that night, shutting off lights and electrical power for Mother Earth.  We slept in an indoor tent that night, and Elijah miraculously slept straight without waking up to breastfeed. I’m not sure if it was due to the novelty of sleeping in a tent, or perhaps due to an extra restful sleep in a dark, dark night, but I used it as a springboard.

I slept beside him that night.  He moved about and grunted every so often, but he did not breastfeed. The following morning, he woke up in a very good mood too. Hallelujah! That was Day 1 or Night 1, rather, of complete weaning.

The following night, we talked about it and I decided to spend extra time reading him books or singing songs with him to lull him to sleep.  The real challenge was the week following that springboard.  It’s like jumping off a cliff and in the middle of the free fall, you ask yourself, “what do I do next?”

Of course he still asked for breastfeeding two nights later but we talked about why we were weaning.  And he traded breastfeeding for singing invented animal songs with me.  There were meltdowns, but after a while, he did not ask for breastmilk anymore.

Another possible aid for me was his sudden liking for raisins around that time.  Yes, dried grapes.  It was new to him, and he liked it very much. In a way, it was another novel item introduced to him that seemed to give him enjoyment, which I think was better than chocolate or crackers.

* * *

 I did not imagine my Weaning Story to be like this.  I had my own share of breastfeeding woes and striving to overcome all those and would not even start to think about weaning before.  I just feel very grateful that it turned out well, and hoping this story could help other mothers wean too. When weaning is needed, how do we do it?

Generally, I think mine was a combination of a very slow process (the talks and countdowns) followed by a sudden novel event not related to breastfeeding (Earth Hour and sleeping in a tent) and lastly capped off by a gradual, patient process of substitution (reading more books, singing newly invented lullabies, playing more music, having good solid delicious food such as raisins, etc).

Just like with almost anything in life, what specifically works for me can be altered and tweaked for what works for another mother-infant or mother-toddler relationship.

Breastfeeding nourishes our child physically.  More than the physical nourishment, it brings us a lot of bonding time too.  Weaning is about having our child who is ready to rely on other nutritional food sources and to confidently enjoy other emotionally bonding activities.

Bonding can be done through conversations, reading books, walking at the park, singing songs, going on vacations, and spending quality time in any alternative activity that suits the parent and child.  To parents who would not want to leave their child to other people at night for weaning, the good news is that it can be done in this  process:

1) slow process of debriefing (as preparation to complete weaning)

2) sudden novel event

3) follow through bonding process (to ease complete weaning)

This may sound like a tongue twister, but I believe this process I stumbled upon is a win-win worry-free weaning for worried mothers when weaning is everything.

Mateo’s Blooms

Mateo’s Restaurant Cafe will re-open somewhere along N Domingo Avenue, Quezon City this mid-April. While it’s still within Quezon City, it will also be nearer Greenhills, San Juan. 🙂

I will post more soon about our exact location, but for now, I will just leave these blooms for clues. They will be part of our al fresco area.


Have a wonderful Thursday!


Mateo’s Restaurant Cafe – Finding a New Home

Perhaps each one of us has experienced moving houses at least once in this lifetime.  To put all memories in boxes, which will later on be re-opened in a new home, is easier said than done.  The apprehensions, the thoughts of what-was-left-behind, along with the exciting dreams of what-lies-ahead, are all there in the air surrounding the personal items and physical objects we have packed in boxes.

It was just a month ago that I started this blog with Issa, pushing ourselves to put to life the ideas we have talked about, when I suddenly had to move homes.  Well, it’s not me moving houses personally, but the resto cafe my business partners and I conceptualized for almost as long as its soft opening.

We closed Mateo’s Restaurant Cafe at Malakas Street and is in the process of relocation.


If anything, Mateo’s had a pretty good run. From Spanish lessons, Crochet  and Inking workshops,  Engagement Proposals to an actual intimate wedding reception, baby showers, bridal shower, baptisms, birthdays, and Halloween parties, we are thankful for all those who celebrated milestones and special events with us. To all our dear families, friends, and guests who have at one point dined and celebrated a special occasion at Mateo’s, here is a BIG and heartfelt THANK YOU.


If you missed to try Mateo’s before, do check out the features it had from various online sources the past months:

Mateo’s Restaurant Cafe on SPOT PH

Mateo’s Restaurant Cafe – Featured by FoodBitesPH

Mateo’s Restaurant Cafe – Featured by Wander Twins – traveling all the way from the South

As they said, the food is great, and the story behind Mateo’s lives on.   At the moment, Mateo’s Resto Cafe is hidden like a treasure chest, boxed and tucked away, and waiting, no, clamoring, to be re-opened. It is in the process of finalizing a new home, which will take a few more months perhaps.  Announcements will be made online through Instagram (IG: @mateosph) and Facebook (

Please do watch out for updates and announcements on our re-opening!:)

Our Very Hungry Caterpillar

With all the existing beliefs about how first birthdays should be and my easily-swayed personality, I had a hard time finalizing Elijah’s first birthday.  At the end of it all (or at the start, rather), I set my foot down and decided based on three important points (which I did not necessarily think about then, but only on hindsight).

These three points were 1) what Elijah loved, 2) the resources we had, and 3) the call of the time.

First: What Elijah Loved

Ultimately, my husband and I believed that it was a celebration of Elijah being ONE. With the birth scare that he gave us, and the problem in weight loss that we encountered at the start of his infancy, he was pretty much literally A Very Hungry Caterpillar in his own way. And we wanted to celebrate his little transition with a theme most appropriate — his favorite storybook at that point in time written by Eric Carle.


With all the many venue choices, we chose The Cocoon Boutique Hotel. Aside from its name being Cocoon, (which was perfect with the theme), I was rooting for it mainly because it was considered a Green Hotel.  What is a Green Hotel? All the wood they used to build the hotel, were old and recycled, taking an extra five years to collect before actual building time. The function rooms’ chandeliers were rehashed from the Old Peninsula Hotel, and the bulbs changed to LED. Cost-wise, we adjusted the kids’ and adults’ menu very well to accommodate our guests’ needs and our budget. We were very warmly assisted by one of their personnel, Camela Valencia, all throughout the process from planning, ingress, and egress.


And what is The Very Hungry Caterpillar without the desserts, which he gobbled up on a Saturday? So yes, we had a dessert table (co-conceptualized with and completely designed by Issa).  I literally drew my idea of Elijah’s cake and Karla Ilacad of Gypsy Girl Dessert turned it into life. I added mini cupcakes in line with the theme (colorful circles found on the book) which came from my talented Tita, Tina Diaz of Taza Platito/Food Magazine.  My sister, Nikki and her husband, Franco, gave us mint M&Ms, which were all green and matched the caterpillar theme. The rest was from local grocery in low prices 😉 Issa’s magical hands put all of these together and voila! We had our dessert table for Elijah.


Second: What our Resources Allowed

Styling with friends.  With the venue and food booked, we cut down on everything else, which was whipped up my superwoman friend, Issa, who was the queen of incredible tipid tactics and who possessed magical hands.  Elijah’s first birthday party would not have been what it was without Issa and her husband, KC, and their good friend, Carlo.  They were the brains, hands, and driving forces behind the idea. (Please refer to Issa’s post.)


Making own movie. I made Elijah’s video using iMovie, which did not cost a thing except for electricity and time.

Teachers are the best hosts. The host was a good friend from graduate school, Rain De Leon, who did an amazing job not just in keeping the children’s attention, but also the adults’. She was after all, a teacher and radio jock rolled into one. My other good friends, Rinna Puno and Cara Tizon, who were also my co-teachers hosted the most highlighted game of the day — families in a relay race to wrap gifts/loot bags of art/school materials for survivors of Yolanda (which brings us to the third point: the call of the time).

IMG_1534 IMG_1535

Third: The Call of the Time

Elijah turned one in January 2014. It was also a month and a half after Yolanda’s wrath left many Filipinos struggling emotionally and financially. I was close to deciding not to have a grand celebration, until I thought of turning the grandness of it into a Giving Opportunity.  This was done with the great help of kind-hearted individuals — my sister-in-law, Anna Veloso Tuazon, whose hometown was Tacloban, and my friend Lia Manalac-Del Castillo, founder of Diksyonaryo Atbp, as well as some of our thoughtful family and friends who opted to donate. We asked our guests to donate in lieu of gifts and to join a packing relief bags/writing messages for those affected by Yolanda as a family relay game.  Lastly, Elijah donated storybooks in behalf of the guests (which served as their souvenir) through the help of Diksyonaryo Atbp.


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Looking back, what made Elijah’s first birthday special was the meaning behind everything.  It was a lot of hard work and support. (Thank you to my husband, Franco, for supporting my ideas, and thank you to Issa for choreographing them into what they became.)

I also believe that when Elijah grows up, he will look back at this, and realize how special his birthday was — filled with family and friends who celebrated him and with him, and how beautiful the butterfly effect was, of his turning one, to other Filipino folks as well.


Photos by Deneb Villanueva

Author’s Note:

I am a fan of late posts, and Elijah has already turned two the other day.  His second birthday was much simpler than the first, but that belongs to another post in the future. 🙂

Yes to Books and Real Life, Not Yet to Gadgets

I am a proponent of reading early to babies, and even as early as reading to them inside our wombs.

Believing that my son, Elijah, has listened to me tell the entire story of James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl, while he was in utero, I partially attribute his current passion for books to his advantageous exposure to them, while I worked as a very pregnant teacher.

Before the age of eight months, he would sit still and listen to five storybooks in a row. (Okay perhaps my first job as a preschool teacher was another advantage, but still he listened very well.)  Now that he is almost two years old and has been unavoidably semi-exposed to television, iPhones, and iPads, he still remains very much interested in books, often asking to be read to, in the morning when he wakes up or at night before going to sleep, or anytime in between.  He would recite words or sentences from his books, and would sometimes speak in complete sentences entirely his own, “Mama, I want a banana.” He usually forgets the “please” and I would remind him to say it, and he would repeat the request — “Mama, I want a banana please”. (Okay sometimes I push it, “May I have a banana please, Mama?” He would attempt to say it, twisting his tongue at “may I have”, but he does it. On a daily basis though, his sentence is usually “Mama, I want ___ insert bread, guyabano, etc.) He would usually say the very easy, complete sentences.  They are complete sentences, nonetheless. (“Where’s Papa?” or “I don’t know” and “It’s traffic. I don’t like traffic.”).


I reviewed my books in Developmental Psychology (the famous Life-Span Development by Santrock) and found that children would usually string two words together at 18- 24 months, say full sentences at three.  But, I’ve met some children, not just Elijah, who could say more words or say complete sentences before the age of two, and also some who would say less words at the same age (someone like me!!!). Before we start judging and comparing our children, please take note of my next paragraph.

All children are different.  Verbal skills, motor skills, spatial skills — they all develop differently for each child, but can we all help our children enhance their verbal skills as much as their motor skills? I believe that as parents we can. Hopefully we push them to develop these skills to their best potential, and not for any other reason.

Experience-wise, I cannot speak as confidently for motor and spatial skills as I can for verbal skills, so that’s what I will share about.

Here’s my answer to parents who would ask me what I did:  Early on, Elijah was not allowed to watch television, touch iPhones or iPads, a decision fully supported by my husband, which made the task a little bit easier despite the over-accessibility of such. He had books, books, and more books.  We spoke a lot with him, in both English and Filipino.  He knows that Nanay is Mama/Mommy and Tatay is Papa/Daddy. He sings “Moon River” as much as “Bahay Kubo”.  And aside from books, we engaged him in play and conversations.  He had very high stranger anxiety before and after the age of one (and even sometimes up to this day), but he recognized relationships of people, and he recognized and labeled people’s faces including the Pope!  It was a chicken and egg issue here for us  — whether he remembered more people because we explained their relationships, or we explained more about the people because he was good at remembering and connecting them.  Without knowing where it started, a fact was that he had a knack for identifying relationships, and so the more we introduced people to him through their relationships. He was able to connect that even Lolos have brothers and sisters, and even Mama has a Mama who is his Lola (grandma), and even Lola has a mama who is another Lola (great grandma), and there are many friends, aunts, uncles, Titos, Titas, and cousins out there in the world.  Looking back at all these, his own relationships grew, because everyone enjoyed having their names called out by this little boy who was less than two.

For new parents or grandparents, who want to give this a shot, here are some verbal language development tips:

1. Expose your child to verbal language, both through reading books and actual conversations. (everyday from prenatal to post-natal)

2. Connect real life items and people with those seen in books. (as much as possible and as early as you can after giving birth)

3. Cite relationships of real people with other people and places. (as much as you can, especially as your child grows older, meets more people, and sees new places)

4. Avoid television and gadgets before the age of two. If television and gadgets cannot be avoided, speak and explain as much as you can to your child.

5.  As Pope Francis said, “Be quiet”. In this context, allow your child to explore and play on his/her own at certain times of the day. Listen.


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Here are some links that can help parents decide to promote reading books, instead of using videos and television.  In a gist, the world moves differently, and comparably-slow-paced, than the things we see on screen. Let’s allow our children to see, smell, taste, hear, and feel the world as it truly is, especially in the first two years of their lives.

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Fairies and Folks

This is the haven of two women who both decided that it is time to share their passions to the world — may it be dance, theater, crafts, workshops, wife-hood, motherhood, books, travel, or documenting everyday stories of Filipino folks.

Authored by Issa Mijares – Ramos and Lala Jara – Tuazon, who bonded over their passion for performing arts and their love for breathing life into ideas.