Destination: Morgantown, West Virginia

Since living here in Muncie, Indiana, this would be the second time we’re driving out of state with two toddlers in tow. The first one was a few weeks back around St. Patricks Day weekend and we drove to Chicago, Illinois which was 4 hrs and 30 minutes away from us. Although that was the first ever state outside Indiana that Xavi’s been to I didn’t bother blogging about it since the entire weekend was more focused on family instead of sight-seeing. We actually met a few of Marco’s relatives that he hasn’t seen for years; I’ve never even met them so it was all family bonding and of course shout out to my Tito Jeff and Tita Malu ( The Climacos) for having us again and for always spoiling us and the kids especially with food, haha. Okay so enough about Chicago, this entry is about Morgantown.

Marco’s less-stress rotation was coming to an end and we thought of taking advantage of the long weekend (he had Friday off) so we were randomly checking the US map and thinking of other states we haven’t been to and he suggested WV because a very good friend of mine from way back ( friends since we were 5/6 ish, I’m not kidding) and one of my bridesmaid recently moved to Morgantown with her husband and we googled how far it was from our place and it was only a 5 hr and 30 minute drive so that’s how we ended up driving to Morgantown.

The drive in itself was pleasant, not too many stops considering that we had an almost-2-month old with us. I fed Xavi right before the drive and he slept good for almost 3 hours then we stopped for a gas/ potty break and decided to feed Xavi around the same time. We arrived around dinner time and the San Juans went all out to accommodate us (you know what I mean, dadz. Thank you so much for making sure we were very comfortable). We had towels, snacks, water bottles and toothbrushes ready and Aj cooked us legit Chicken Inasal (even the rice was legit).

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Since we’re here just for the weekend, our itinerary for the day was pretty extensive. Here are the places we visited while we were there for you guys who might be interested  in visiting or are visiting Morgantown, WV soon.

Forks of Cheat Winery

Address: 2811 Stewartstown Rd, Morgantown, WV 26508

We were blessed with beautiful weather that day and although the deck at the winery wasn’t officially open to public we figured we would still go because they had a bunch of award-winning wines that we wanted to check out. Might I add that the drive going to the winery is very scenic and pretty impressive, I’m sure its more beautiful when Spring is in full bloom.

I would advise you to go for the wine-tasting and if you end up buying something, which I’m sure you will, their Apple Pie Moonshine and their Blackberry Wine comes highly recommended.

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Good Counsel Friary

Address: 493 Tyrone Rd, Morgantown, WV 26508

This wonderfully constructed building is sadly not open to the public but we just had to see this historical structure for ourselves. We were told that its currently owned by the church and is being used as the priests living quarters so clearly #Notrespassing. We weren’t allowed to climb the deck but we took a lot of pictures and boomerang videos outside.

I hope they open this landmark to the public once more. It has a very interesting history which includes the 5-year construction of this castle in 1928 and finally completing it in 1933. It was originally Thoney Pietro’s home that he donated to the Franciscan brothers of the Catholic Church. I’m sure the interior is as interesting as its exterior.

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West Virginia Botanic Garden

 Address: 1061 Tyrone Rd, Morgantown, WV 26508

We hear this botanical garden looks amazing when the flowers are in full bloom during Spring but even without the flowers that place was a sight to see, just good ‘ol nature at its best. We weren’t expecting to go on a short hike but I’m glad that we did, it was surprisingly relaxing and Cassie walked the entire trail while holding her Ninang Karina’s hand. That hike was also a good way for us to work out an appetite for our late lunch.

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Ali Baba Restaurant

Address: 82 Hart Field Rd, Morgantown, WV 26505

Mediterranean food for lunch c/o the San Juans, the restaurant was literally inside the local airport and we were in a booth seated by the window. Our view was the airport hangar and it was entertaining seeing small planes fly in and out of the hangar during the duration of the meal. Good food, wonderful view, thanks for the treat out guys!

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Cheat Lake Park and Trail

Address: Cheat Lake Trail, Morgantown, WV 26508

Our last stop for the day, it would’ve been a wonderful place to explore but it was getting chilly so we stayed for a while and had Cassie play in the playground. We walked a bit and decided to call it a day. We’re definitely coming back.

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Photo Credit: Karina San Juan

Coopers Rock State Forest

Address: 61 County Line Drive, Bruceton Mills, WV 26525

I was actually excited to see the infamous overlook at Cooper Rock especially on Easter Day. We were invited to an Easter/ Birthday shindig and I plan to hide Cassie’s eggs so she could do her Easter egg hunt there but it was extremely foggy to the point where we couldn’t see where we were going. With the fog came the rain then the chill so we were slightly cold and freezing, I figured we would have to come back some other time to visit the overlook and I also decided to hold off Cassie’s egg hunt and just do it at home.

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For a University Town, Morgantown had a lot to offer and we’re so glad we enjoyed exploring the area with the San Juans. Thanks so much for having us on short notice and for taking us all over the place, Dadz and Kuya Bey. We’re definitely coming back to visit.

So to those who are reading this and are wondering where Morgantown, West Virginia is and if there’s anything to do in there, well I hope this answers your question—there are TONS (and they’re pretty kid friendly too).

~Rhea

 

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Easter Basket Ideas 2017: Toddler Girl & Baby Boy

It’s a week before Easter and I’m not even done with my Easter basket for the kids, I usually take this time of the year to purchase from small handmade businesses to support them but since I’m out of time and handmade products usually take a week or more to ship I’ve resorted to our local Walmart and Amazon ( Prime FTW).

Fun Fact: When I asked my husband if it’s okay to get the kids Easter baskets (that was a rhetorical question) he said okay thinking they were going to be empty. I told him we have those already for the Easter egg hunt (He’s probably like..uhhh Xavi can’t even crawl yet), this one was going to be filled with goodies and little presents, apparently he didn’t know that was a thing.

My one last attempt to explain: “It’s like handing them Christmas gifts but on Easter.” Haha.

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1.Piggy Paint ||

Cassie knew she wanted to color her nails as soon as she saw me paint mine, I’m just glad theres a way to do that without exposing her to strong nail polish chemicals.

2.Disney Princess Royal Shimmer Doll ||

Who doesn’t love the Disney Princesses? I mean, c’mon. We started collecting these dolls last October when someone gave her 2 for her birthday, we still have quite a few more princesses to go but for Easter I decided to get her Mulan.

3. Melissa and Doug Water Wow ||

The best carry-on activity that keeps her busy at the doctor’s office, the church during mass and even on long road trips. I bought her second one just to switch ’em up so she doesn’t easily get bored, one more won’t hurt.

4. Petit Et Maman Kids’ Wooden Duck Plate ||

There actually was a cute bunny plate but she personally picked the duck one while we were looking at it online.

5. Natural Signature Beauty Trio||

Not only has she shown interest with nail polish, she also started going through my purse and my make up bag. I found this beauty trio at TjMaxx and it’s a lot cheaper than the one I found on Amazon, it has lippies and a roll-on perfume that’s kid friendly.

6. Easter Stickers ||

Just any stickers really, even the ones from the dollar store.

7. Little People Big Dreams Book ||

Two Words—Girl Power. We’re slowly building her Little People Big Dreams collection and this one is her 5th book from this series.

8. CraZArt Washable Kids’ Paint ||

Every mother knows how important the word ‘washable’ is, if its paint, it has to be washable.

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1.Wooden Toy Camera ||

2. Lil Libros book ||

3. Wooden Animal Teether ||

Just something I’ve been meaning to try with Cassie but never had the chance to. I just want to see if a wooden teether is better than the traditional one.

4. Bunny Romper ||

Bunnies + Babies = Easter cuteness overload

5. Braided Leather Pacifier Holder |

6. B. Toys B. One Two Squeeze Blocks||

It’s educational and colorful, something he’ll enjoy even when he’s a bit bigger.

7. Moccasins ||

The one I have up there is from Starry Knight Design, I can personally vouch for their quality and they’re not as expensive as the other handmade moccs but for the Easter bag, it’s totally up to you what footwear you want to get your baby— baby sneakers, maybe baby sandals for the summer. Filling up his Easter basket is just another good reason to get him a pair of shoes.

8. Bandana Bibs ||

This one loves to spit up and we’re always scurrying for a napkin or the burp cloth when he does. Having him wear a bib just somewhat makes our lives easier so you have something to wipe him with instantly. The solution is to get a LOT and its a plus that it looks cute on.

 

~Rhea

Dressing up Postpartum

…3 Weeks postpartum to be exact.

It’s always been hard for me to get out of the house after giving birth even with Cassie, my first one. Other than the recovery pains, I had to deal with the problem of deciding what to wear. I’d find my body in that awkward middle stage—still big  but not overly large and definitely not pregnant. I’m also not a big fan of belly bands (although I have one lying around somewhere), I know I probably should be using it to quicken the postpartum belly shrinking process but it takes me awhile to start wearing it so today I’ll mention a few go-to pieces of mine, postpartum.

Black/ Dark Colors 

Oldest trick in the book, dark colors are supposedly slimming. Black it is!

Casual Robes/ Kimono Tops

Loose flowy tops are a go-to staple postpartum because it serves two purpose(s)— one is to hide those post pregnancy bulges, two is to cover my baby while he’s breastfeeding.

Tank Tops

One of the easiest pieces to wear for nursing along side button down tops. I’m pretty sure  it will make it extra easy if you have those nursing tank tops although what I have on is a regular one and it still is pretty convenient for nursing since its an easy pull-down.

Maternity Jeans

I’m talking about the ones that don’t go all the way over your tummy.  At this point your maternity jeans should still fit you since its only been 3 weeks, in fact it should fit comfortably with just the postpartum bump.

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(HAT: Brown felt floppy hat; Icing/ TOP: Black tank top; Forever 21/ ROBE: Black Velvet Casual Robe; Charlotte Russe/ JEANS: Light washed maternity jeans; Gap/ FOOTWEAR: Gold metallic slip on mules; TJ Maxx/ EARRINGS: Floral dangling earrings; Kulturang Pilipino)

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How about y’all? Tell me some of your favorite postpartum go-to pieces, would love to hear about them.

~Rhea

The Thing with Xavi

From his gender, to me not getting an epidural while giving birth, to having a newborn photoshoot done, to loud whiny cries—everything has been unexpected with this little guy.

We weren’t going to do a newborn photoshoot for Xavi, a lot has been going on and I didn’t even bother doing my research for local photographers just because our schedule (or Marco’s, rather) hasn’t been that flexible and that would definitely be an additional expense so I didn’t dwell on it.

In an unexpected turn of events, we ended up doing one for him and we were blessed enough to work with a very nice local photographer. Amanda Hakes of Betty and Bobby Photography was very professional and she handled Xavi wonderfully, she was very pleasant to work with and was very patient with him. When he wouldn’t cooperate anymore, she waited while I fed him until he was satisfied and there was no pressure in my part at all. Here are some photos of her beautiful work.

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 This boy looks like an angel when he’s asleep but he can cry LOUDLY when he’s hungry

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She got promoted to BIG SISTER

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I already know he’s going to be a Mama’s boy

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Of course daddy is the happiest, he has another player on his team

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With our little, handsome newborn

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I know you’re an Ate now but you will always be mommy’s baby

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Our latest family photo— Daddy Marco, Mommy Rhea, Ate/ Manang Cassie and Xavi.

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I decided to share these photos today as Xavi turns three weeks. He had his 2-week appointment a few days ago and we were a bit worried that he wouldn’t gain his birth weight back because we had that problem with Cassie. From 7 lbs. and 13 oz Xavi’s weight went down to 6 lbs and 11 oz on his first doctor’s visit and we’re happy to say that he gained his birth weight back and more, he’s currently 8 lbs and 11 oz. My little man feeds a lot, I don’t remember breast feeding Cassie this much but when he asks, mommy gives and believe me he asks a LOT.

Post partum recovery for me is a lot better this time around in both emotional and physical aspect. I’m more mobile and at three weeks I’m doing chores like I didn’t even give birth and I find that pretty amazing considering that I didn’t have an epidural during labor. I’ve lost 20 lbs. since giving birth and I need to lose 15-20 lbs more, so far so good. Cassie has adjusted pretty well with the presence of her little brother, of course she acted up the first few days when we brought him home but recently she’s asked to take part in taking care of him, throwing his dirty diapers and putting lotion on him. Hopefully in the next few weeks, we can fully adjust with the new baby in the house and establish a new norm for our growing family.

~Rhea

Hospital Bag Checklist: Mommy Edition

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#1. Classic Black Vera Bradley Microfiber Diaper Bag

In this aspect, I’ve learned through other mothers that the choice of what kind of hospital bag is really a matter of preference. I know of some moms who have brought hand carry luggage spinners, others use travel totes or oversized duffels while some moms-to-be use their baby’s diaper bags. It really depends what you decide to bring to the hospital.

In my case, I’m using the Classic Black Vera Bradley Microfiber Diaper Bag that I’ve converted into my maternity tote since we were also gifted with another diaper bag for the baby. I attended a church baby-items-exchange event where you bring your used baby items that you don’t want or need anymore and if you see something you like from the items the other mothers brought, you can go ahead and grab it; the rest are donated to a charity picked by the church. Although they’ve discontinued this particular style, the newer Vera Bradley diaper totes retail for $178 and I’m just pleased that I got mine for free.

#2. Secret Treasures Women’s Super Minky Plush Sleep Robe

During my first pregnancy in Texas, I opted to bring a thin light silk robe for the hospital but here in Indiana, I felt the need to get myself a thick plush robe for the winter and I was lucky enough to find a very comfortable one at our local Walmart on clearance for $15. They actually had a bunch of other designs that I wanted but I picked the plain white one to give me that warm comfy “hotel-feel”, you’d be surprised how a little bit of imagination can go a long way especially when you find yourself bound to a hospital bed.

#3. Ralph Lauren Button Down Pajamas

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I actually got both of these pajama pairs at Goodwill (of course I washed them and soaked them in warm water for a long time), each pair were priced at $3.99 instead of the usual $30 and up that it retails for and it even came out cheaper than the button down pajamas at Walmart that they were selling at $10/ pair, which wasn’t so bad either.

I usually go for a nightgown instead of pajamas but again its still winter in this side of town so I needed that extra warmth for my legs. The “button down” part is non-negotiable for me since I intend on breast feeding my baby as soon as he comes out, believe me any outfit with buttons and zippers in front tend to be a fashion staple for nursing moms. As for the color red, I think I unconsciously picked red pajamas because of the post-partum bleeding and the possibility of leaking, at least if I do stain my pajamas its not completely out there for everyone to see.

#4. Going Home Outfit

Some women, after giving birth, like to look cute and pretty and made up especially when they take their new bundle of joy home so they prepare a cute outfit, maybe a dress. Ideally, that would be nice but with my last pregnancy, I realized that I didn’t even care how I looked that time, I just wanted to be comfortable and I wanted to take my baby home.

I suggest going for comfort over aesthetics— yoga pants, loose tops, buttoned tops, nursing tanks, oversized sweaters, maybe even your plush robe, it’s totally up to you but hey, if you can look cute while being comfortable then why not. For shoes, I suggest nothing closed and tight since some women might still have swelling on their feet, closed shoes might just give you discomfort.

 

#5. Bright Personalized Toiletry Bag

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The reason why I emphasized “bright” and “personalized” on the toiletry bag is just so it could easily be found in an oversized hospital bag not only by you but also by anyone assisting you at the hospital during labor, may it be your husband, your sibling, your parent, your friend or even the nurse.

I actually got this 3-pc set (missing one in the photo) from my MIL and I love how it’s bright, personalized and transparent in the middle when you unbutton it. Sometimes we forget where we pack things especially with these “pregnancy brains” of ours and its nice to see whats inside our toiletry bags without the hassle of having to open it. I think these were made in the Philippines and I haven’t found anything online close to these particular ones but if I do, I’ll go ahead and update the blog with a link to that.

I am not going to discuss the type of toiletries you want to bring because we all differ in that aspect, other ladies use conditioners, others don’t, others prefer dry shampoo over the regular ones, others prefer body wash over soap, others wear makeup, others don’t but I think it’s definitely important to bring your deodorant, tooth brush and tooth paste…..or maybe not, haha, it’s all up to you.

#6. Generic Furry Babba Soft Furry Critter Slipper/ Flipflops

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I got these slippers for my last pregnancy from Walmart for less than $10, I checked online recently and they no longer have this pair in stock but a lot of stores are selling  something similar. I love these bedroom slippers just coz they’re not bulky and they’re very easy to pack. They’re kinda like socks, they’re soft, they cover my entire feet, they’re cozy and they keep my feet warm but they have the bedroom slippers’ non-skid soles which makes it okay to use in the bathroom.

#7. Maternity Non-Skid Socks

If your pair of bedroom slippers isn’t enough to keep your feet warm, you can throw on a cute pair of maternity socks with “pun-ny” labor-related quotes made with that non-skid material that you can get from Amazon for cheap or order personalized ones from Etsy.

#8. Loose Comfortable Underwear a.k.a Granny Panties

You just gave birth and as much as you’d want to get back to your nice cute undies you might want to wait awhile for the sake of comfort. Give your ‘down there’ some time to relax and breathe and give it time to heal, besides I don’t think you’d want to ruin your nice underwear by getting some blood stains on it.

#9. Loving Moments by Leading Lady Maternity Wirefree Softcup Nursing Bra with Full Sling, 2-Pack

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For the first few weeks, your breasts are going to be sensitive and tender especially while waiting for the milk to come in, I personally opted for wire free bras just so I don’t feel too constricted in that area and the lace detail, I think, is just a cute bonus.

#10. Important Cards

Nowadays pre-registration is something that’s processed a few days or maybe weeks before the expected date of delivery so you don’t have to worry about anything other than the process of labor . I’m pretty sure most of us at 30+weeks have picked a hospital or even toured it but pregnancies being unpredictable can have you giving birth at an any place at an unexpected time. It’s always best to have your Driver’s License and Insurance card ready at all times. To those who have birth plans, make sure to keep a copy in your maternity bag.

#11. Comfort Snacks

Adding the word “comfort” to snacks is such a crucial thing because after going through the process of giving birth, the word “comfort” is all that matters. Other moms-to-be advice to bring “healthy” snacks but seriously if you aren’t a health nut to begin with, eating those snacks after labor will probably just make you feel worse so go for those feel-good foods but don’t pig out, just snack in moderation.

P.S: I also suggest bringing CASH or LOOSE CHANGE just in case you want to grab something from the vendo machine.

#12. Post Natal Care Items

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Earth Mama Angel Baby Natural Nipple Butter – my  cousin referred this little baby during my last pregnancy and it was literally my best friend. It took care of any dryness, pain and cracking by keeping the nipple area moisturized. Its also baby friendly, you can apply it anytime even before feeding. The only thing you might have to watch out for is the smell, its a bit funky and not everyone finds it pleasant although personally it didn’t bother me.

Earth Mama Angel Baby New Mama Bottom Spray- although I haven’t used this yet, I’ve heard good reviews about this product and would trust it because of its the same brand as my trusted nipple cream. During my last pregnancy, I got two bottles of sprays that helped me numb ‘my down there’ from the hospital and it did wonders relieving me of my perineal pain.

Lansinoh Disposable Nursing Pads- very convenient to have, they have two adhesives in the back so you could attach it directly to your shirt but advisably on your bra. Its comfortable to wear and prevents any leaking accidents; yay to NO MILK STAINS.

Always Discreet Incontinence Underwear- one of the best things on this list, EVER. I don’t know how I missed this during my first pregnancy but after I ran out of those gigantic pads that the hospital made me use for my postpartum bleeding, I started using these and they literally are like underwear and pads combined, its very convenient, can be easily disposed and the best part is you don’t have to be washing any blood stained underwear.

#13. Electronics

Phones-the most basic thing to have for whatever reason—to communicate with family members and friends, for documentation, taking videos and photos, baby announcement, etc.

Phone Charger– make sure to bring those 6ft long ones, you don’t know how far the sockets are from your bed

Cameras (Canon, Nikon, GoPro, Instax, etc.) – to document your baby’s first moments

 

To all expectant moms out there, I hope this list somewhat helps you decide what to pack in you maternity bag and if you feel like I missed out on some “must-haves” , please let me know so I can update this list for (future) baby #3.

Hope y’all have a safe and uneventful pregnancy, Happy Pushing!

~Rhea