Destination: Nashville, Tennessee

March 27 – 28, 2019

I know a day in Nashville is VERY limited as there are so many things to do there but we were really just dropping by before our main destination— Atlanta, GA. So after we visited the National Corvette Museum from the previous blogpost we drove to Nashville and I was surprised that it was only going to be roughly an hour and 45 minutes going there plus factor in a short stop over if needed. Of course our first stop in Nashville was going to be a food place so we found ourselves driving to Arnold’s Country Kitchen.

Arnold’s Country Kitchen

Address: 605 8th Ave S, Nashville, TN 37203

So if you haven’t been to Arnold’s the process over there is you fall in line, get your food and then look for a place to sit down and that place based on the reviews and from the looks of it is always packed. Now I walked in pushing a stroller and holding Cassie in one hand while I had Marco fall in line. I read the rules and figured, ‘rules are rules’ whether I have 5 kids with me or not so I was a little hesitant but I was going to brave the line. A woman approached me and told me I could sit down and I told her I didn’t want to grab someone else’s seat especially since we didn’t have our food yet, I jokingly mentioned something about not being a rule breaker and she laughed and said I could break them because she made those rules—yup, apparently she was the owner. She told the other employees not to tell me off and that I could sit down with my kids. In my head I was like—OK, I LOVE NASHVILLE, TN. That was honestly one of the nicest things a stranger has done for me in a while. 

Of course the food was SOUTHERN and PERFECT and it satisfied our current craving at that time plus it was cheap. Good food and good prices AND good people, now that’s a 5-star rating from us.

What Lifts You Wings Mural

Address: 302 11th Ave S, Nashville, TN 37203

So those who know me know that I appreciate taking photos with mural walls ANYWHERE in the world, so here in Nashville they have the infamous ‘Wings Mural’ by Kelsey Montague. She actually has a bunch of similar interactive art all over the US if I’m not mistaken. We checked the maps and it was like a 10-minute walk from Arnold’s, it was a beautiful day so we decided to go for it. We could easily spot the mural because there was a line to take photos and I was genuinely surprised but this is what we came for so we decided to fall in line and I’m glad we did.

Across the street, diagonal to it there’s another mural where the kids and I had fun taking pictures because it was so colorful and right across that mural was Milk and Honey

Milk and Honey

Address: 214 11th Ave S, Nashville, TN 37203

Milk and Honey Nashville is a popular local coffee shop (if I’m not mistaken) that had good ratings online so since it was right across from where we were, we decided to grab a gelato and coffee to go. I wish we had more time to try their food especially their baked goods but I can tell you the place has a nice ambiance, its beautifully set up inside and very instagrammable if you know what I mean.

The Parthenon

Address: 2500 West End Ave, Nashville, TN 37203

After grabbing a little snack our last stop for the day was Centennial Park, we figured it was a beautiful day outside might as well spend the rest of the day outdoors. I on the other hand was just interested in seeing the Parthenon, a replica of the greek former temple. It would be nice to see the ruins of the real Parthenon one day.

People were literally playing outside and having picnics and I wish we had more time to kill in that park but we literally just walked through it, walked to the Parthenon and found out that we needed to bring the double stroller up the stairs so we compromised—we took pictures outside and I gave in to the kids wanting to play in the playground, Marco did offer to stay with them outside while I go in and explore the Parthenon but this was a family vacation so to the playground we went.

Sleep Inn

Address: 3437 Percy Priest Dr. Nashville, TN 37214

We were totally pooped and decided that we were done with our little adventure so we headed to our hotel to check in. The check-in process took awhile since there was only one guy in the front desk and although he was courteous and everything another customer was giving him a hard time and they were having an ongoing misunderstanding so his hands were tired.  We had to wait for a good 30 minutes until they could sort things out, its a good thing the kids were just playing in the lobby while waiting. The rooms was of a decent size and it was overall clean, breakfast was nothing out of the ordinary but the staff serving breakfast was very helpful and polite.

Hattie B’s Hot Chicken

Address: 5209 Charlotte Ave, Nashville, TN 37209

I understand this chain isn’t all over the US but if you find yourself close to one, I suggest you get in. The place was packed and there was a line but they had quick service and the food was WORTH it. My kids are usually picky eaters even with fried chicken (go figure) but both of them were digging in. Don’t forget to get their lemonade too, if you like ’em cold and fresh then this is where to get it even on a cold night.

The vibe inside had a modern industrial feel to it, I am not surprised a lot of millenials and hipsters hang out at this place. Good food, great vibe and again IG worthy, you’re getting a bang for your buck. No wonder this place averages 4.5 starts out of 5 online.

Grand Ole Opry

Address: 2804 Opryland Dr, Nashville, TN 37214

Before parking for the Grand Ole Opry, its nice to point out that right across it is Opry Mills, an outlet mall. If you are into shopping when you’re on vacation then you’ve come to the right place, plus right next to it the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center.

Every legendary country star has probably performed a concert right here in the Grand Ole Opry, the architecture is already interesting and I wouldn’t have minded doing the tour to learn about its history but we were on a tight schedule and Marco wasn’t really into country music so we had to skip it. We explored the outsides and there are a lot of photo-worthy spots like those two gigantic guitars at the entrance, its hard to miss. But if you are a BIG country music lover then you can’t miss this place.

Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center

Address: 2800 Opryland Dr, Nashville, TN 37214

Even if you’re not staying in this hotel, a lot of people still make a trip to the Gaylord Opryland Resort because of its picturesque hotel set-up where one atrium leads to another. I swear if you walk around, you’ll feel like you’re in paradise with all its greenery. If you’re into botanicals then you would appreciate this resort as it has labels to all its flowers and plants that are strategically arranged surrounding waterfalls and acclaimed restaurants (that are a bit pricey if I might add). Also from my understanding this is the largest hotel in the US that does not have a Casino. Did I mention that they have a boat ride inside? Again, we didn’t have time to do this but I’m saving this  along with the newly designed waterpark for the next trip here.

Do take note that if you want to park inside the resort they will charge you $25 even if you’re just there for 5-10 minutes. Now if you do eat at one of their restaurants then they do validate but other than that I would suggest parking outside the mall close to the cinemas and just walk to the resort. That’s what we did.

And that is it for our one-day trip to Nashville, now on to our final destination—Atlanta, GA.

~Rhea

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Meeting “Igby”: Xavi’s Birth Story

“…I was at 9.5 cm, and then she asks me if I wanted epidural, I said yes but I knew that was a trick question.”

Igby is the bump name/ fetus name (or whatever you call it) Marco gave our little boy. I don’t know why but he likes giving them weird, unconventional, unattractive names (Cassie’s was Spriki short for Sprikitik), I love him so I just roll with it and besides it’s only temporary until the baby comes out.

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Proud daddy Marco

With the successive change in our lives, I wasn’t surprised how different the two pregnancies were. This time around I found myself in Muncie, Indiana, blessed to have insurance coverage through Marco’s work (although we still have the deductible and of course eventually our share to pay) so at least we didn’t have to worry about that, an OBGYN referred by Marco’s physician uncle and a hospital close to home a.k.a Marco’s workplace. Another thing that I had to deal with was not having my family around, it’s a good thing my sister Pauline from Houston stayed after the holidays to help me during the last stage of my pregnancy.

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Cassie reading to her baby brother.

I had my last doctor’s appointment a week prior to giving birth and from the looks of it we could all tell that the baby dropped already but I was only 1.5 cm dilated and it stayed like that for a few more days. Fast forward to the day of the pregnancy, I was already feeling some pain in the morning but I still equated it to Braxton Hicks so I went along my merry way doing the usual cleaning the house. Yes, at this point I was still bending down and climbing on chairs (don’t worry they weren’t really high) even though my doctor and Marco already told me off. Pauline offered to help me out, she always does but I like being on the go, so I still bathed Cassie, cleaned her room, fixed our bed and even vacuumed the house. I was feeling pain all throughout the day but nothing I couldn’t handle, I was still convinced it was Braxton Hicks. Marco came home from work around 5pm, I already texted him earlier that I was feeling some pain but they weren’t consistent yet, he was pretty sure I wasn’t in labor yet so as soon as he got home, he changed and headed out to dinner. He was scheduled to take out the residency program applicants for a pre-interview dinner and it just so happened that his cousin was one of those applicants so I told him to go.

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Always the first one to change the baby’s diaper.

He left at 6pm and around 7pm I felt the contractions more consistent this time so I started timing it. They were still approximately every 7-8 minutes and they lasted for 25-30 seconds so I was thinking maybe I’ll end up giving birth early tomorrow. Nope. The contractions got stronger and so my sister texted Marco about it, he got home around 8pm and timed the contractions himself, they were every 4 minutes and they lasted for 40 seconds, I was in labor and we needed to head to the hospital ASAP. Every STOP sign was a pain in the a**, I literally asked him if he could break the law and not stop just coz it hurt every time he would. We got to the hospital around 8:30pm, Pauline dropped me, Marco and Cassie at the entrance as she parked the car and he wheeled me into the Labor and Delivery section. I was in pain alright, I’d make a face every time the contraction came but still managed to take an IG video/ snap while heading there.

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Cassie touching her brother’s head for the first time.

I walked in and they asked me the standard questions,I even managed to reach for my wallet and handed my insurance card (only to find out that I handed my car insurance card, hahaha). Name, Doctor, how far along, due date…I verbally answered them in between contractions while Marco filled up the remaining forms to fill. Finally, they had a nurse check to see how dilated my cervix was—I was at 9.5 cm, and then she asks me if I wanted epidural, I said yes but I knew that was a trick question.

They wheeled me into a room and had a LOT of nurses and that’s when I realized, “oh crap, the baby is probably going to come out any minute coz they’re all scurrying around like its an emergency”. My doctor walked in and she explained to me that it will take time for epidural to kick in and the baby will come out before it does so here we go— ALL NATURAL NO EPIDURAL BIRTH and I wasn’t ready. Oh well, C’est La Vie. They broke my water (which probably was the only thing that was stopping the baby from coming out) She told me to let her know when I start to feel the urge to push and I’m telling you in between the contractions you suddenly get that urge to let the baby out. My husband who was holding my hand had to ask me to let go mid-way coz I was crushing it, I guess you don’t really know your own strength until you push a baby out.

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I don’t know how I did it but I focused on my doctor’s voice and importantly followed her directions, when she tells you to push, no matter how  tired you are you give it your all and you PUSH. They were giving me updates like, “his head is coming out”, “oh, he has a lot of hair”, “you’re almost there”, you listen to those words and let it motivate you. Just when I thought I couldn’t push anymore coz I really felt exhausted, I gave it one LAST.LONG.PUSH to the point where I couldn’t breathe and then I heard it—I heard my baby’s cries, I finally get to hold my little Xavi They cleaned me up as they were cleaning him up, I felt them taking out something that felt like a big blob and then they stitched me down there. I think what I hated the most was when they pushed my tummy to check if blood was still coming out from wherever its supposed to come out (I’m pretty sure theres a medical term for that) but if you ask me what the whole process felt like, it felt like I released one BIG, GINORMOUS poop after a month of being constipated (sorry for being grossly graphic).

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At 10:03 pm, I gave birth to Jose Inigo Xavier. He weighed 7 lbs 13 oz and was 21 inches long. Thank you Lord for keeping me and Xavi safe.

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Our first family photo
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Taking him home for the first time. It was one cold night

 

~Rhea (now officially a mom of 2)

DIY Winter Maternity Shoot: 37 Weeks

Being pregnant can toy with your emotions and affect your self confidence especially when you’re used to being small most of your life. It’s like one day you wake up and look at the mirror and there it is…that big bump and that large behind. Based on my first pregnancy I already knew that I wasn’t one of those women who carry their babies small, it’s always my behind and my belly that go first; the arms, the face and the rest of me follow.

At 37 weeks I knew I didn’t want my pictures taken because I was scared to see a planet in the photos plus its been snowing here in Indiana and all I wanted to do was stay warm indoors but my sister Pauline convinced me to do them, nothing fancy just some DIY project that we both could work on. And it just so happened that it was her birthday that day and she suggested that we could do my pregnancy photos, how could you say “No” to the birthday girl, right? So I took out my brand new portable makeup train case with the light-up mirror that Marco gave me for Christmas and had Pauline do my makeup.

I didn’t have anything to wear since this was an impromptu thing but having a theater background assured me that I could scrounge up some things I could use for the photos. I’d have to admit it’s not the best but I think it’s pretty okay considering that I didn’t have a lot of winter-apt stuff, I barely could fit any of my old clothes and we were chasing good lighting a.k.a Mr. Sun.

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So here’s what I came up with: my DIY Flower crown from years ago, Tassel earrings on sale at Walmart for $2, my thrifted fur find from a garage sale in 2007, a plain white tank top that barely fits me, a knitted sweater I thrifted from Goodwill, a tulle maxi skirt from the Philippines that doesn’t fit me at all. (unzipped skirt clearly not in photos,haha) and Zara nude flats that I risked in the snow (btw, they survived).

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…And we were lucky enough to have light snowfall while we were taking pictures.

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I’m sharing some of my raw and unedited photos just to continuously remind myself how beautiful and wonderful pregnancy is no matter how ugly I feel inside and out and after I give birth I’m going to make sure that I wear my ‘battle scars’ (aka stretch marks) with pride.

They say the biggest blessings come in small packages, I guess this little one is an exception because this tummy of mine ain’t nothing like a small package. Haha. I can’t wait to meet you my little Xavi.

~Mommy Rhea

Holiday Gift Guide 2017: Toddler Girl

I know it’s only a week before Christmas and this gift guide might be too late but the main reason why I’m blogging about these gift ideas is because I wanted to share some of the things we’re personally getting Cassie for the holidays and besides I know there’s a bunch of last minute shoppers out there so if you’re one of those, then this gift guide is for you.

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#1. Lil Libros Books

Not all parents may agree with me but I feel like Bilingualism is a key that opens more doors and offers a lot of opportunities for growth in different aspects of a persons life. Although Marco and I are both Filipinos and are blessed enough to have learned the English language at a young age we still feel the need to learn Spanish, the second language that is most spoken in this world (next to Chinese and its dialects). We figured it would be helpful in the line of work we’re in which is the medical field and it would be a lot easier for us to pick up since based on Philippine history, we’ve already incorporated some of those words (and even practices) into our lives.

Now they say, kids are like sponges, they absorb things quickly so I feel like now would be a best time to start introducing them to a different language. Lil Libros is the perfect series that caters to that, its a fun venue to introduce Spanish through colorful pictures and reading. In fact they’ve already started announcing their books for 2018 which includes Selena, Evita and Tres Reyes Magos (Three Wise Men) perfect for Christmas next year.

#2. ALDI Wooden Beauty Toy Set

As you can see based on this list, I’m a sucker for wooden toys and I’ve noticed that they’re specifically pricier than plastic ones probably because they last longer so it came as a pleasant surprise when Aldi launched an affordable line of wooden toys for the holidays. It’s too bad  we don’t have the entire collection here in the US but we’re lucky enough to get at least some of them.

The set comes with a tin can vanity bag where you can put your wooden brush, wooden mirror and the other accessories that come with it.

#3. Melissa and Doug Let’s Play House- Dust, Sweep, Mop

I think my daughter has picked up on my OC tendencies and she knows mommy “has to” clean up all the time so she’s been wanting to grab the broom, the mop or whatever she sees to help me clean up.

This set is a fun way to introduce your toddler to the idea of “cleaning up” , it also allows her to “help” you without having her compete over the real thing.

#4. ALDI Wooden Coffee Toy Set

I love my coffee and even now that I’m currently pregnant I still try to get it decaf. Now Cassie knows that this is a “big people” drink and people won’t normally consider this set as a good gift idea as it is promoting “coffee-drinking” which isn’t necessarily good but my daughter likes preparing my pretend-tea and my pretend-coffee and I just thought this set would be perfect for her to do that, a wooden toy version of my Keurig.

#5. Backyard Discovery Timberlake Cedar Wooden Playhouse

This play house had good reviews online and its not extremely pricey compared to the other wooden houses on the market. We got this for Cassie as her “big present” for Christmas and we specifically opted for this one because it was the cheapest one we could find, it also gives out that cozy, cabin-feel that I’ve been wanting from the start. Oh yeah, this gift is gender neutral perfect for boys or girls.

I’m thinking of painting the wooden house white some time in the future to give it that shabby chic cottage look but with this baby boy coming out soon, I don’t think Marco will be too pleased if I let him play in a shabby chic playhouse, maybe rustic but definitely not shabby chic. I guess I’ll have to play it by ear.

#6. Stainless Steel Cooking Play Set

Another perfect play set for pretend-cooking. As I mentioned earlier I love wooden toys and I know there are cute wooden cooking sets out there but wood being heavy, I feel like Cassie would be getting an “owie” if she dropped them on her foot or something. Besides the stainless steel cooking set just looks like the real thing only smaller and its light to carry around.

#7. ALDI Wooden Dollhouse

I’m not going to lie, I actually fell in love with another doll house that was recently launched by target. It is the Hearth and Hand with Magnolia Doll house , not only does it function as a toy but its the perfect decoration for your daughters room, seriously classy. It retails for $129 and can go lower if theres a sale or if you have a bunch of coupons from target. Honestly, I wouldn’t mind paying that amount for this beautiful doll house but since we’ve opted for the wooden playhouse as Cassie’s “big present” for this year that dollhouse was out of the picture.

Now this dollhouse from ALDI is not necessarily classy like the earlier one I mentioned but it is classic. It has a cute pink and white front of the house which I like because I’m not really a fan of crazy colors when it comes to doll houses and if I;m not mistaken it comes with a bunch of furniture. The best part is they’re only selling it for $39.99, how can you beat that?

#8. Little People Big Dreams Book Series

I’ve been stashing a couple of these books waiting for the perfect time t give it  to her and now that she’s a little bit over 2 and has taken a lot of interest in books, I figured Christmas would be the perfect time to give it to her. I just love the idea of this series and  its motivation for kids to dream big, I’ve also noticed that these books feature women who made differences in our society and in a sense it sends them that message of “girl power”. Start ’em young.

#9. ALDI Wooden Baking Toy Set

The last of the wooden toy set series from ALDI that I wanted to share is the baking toy set. I’ve introduced Cassie to baking a few months ago and of course she had so much fun mixing and arranging the cookie dough on the cooking sheet , since then she’s been asking me if we could bake cookies for daddy again.

In the mean time, I’m hoping this toy set would keep her distracted until the holidays are over and I can actually find time to bake with her again, for now pretend cookies it is.

#10. Babylit Books

Last but not the least is our personal favorite— books from Babylit. This is probably the first time we’re mentioning this series here on the blog but we’ve definitely talked about it on Facebook and Instagram.

This a fun way of introducing the classics to your little ones like Les Miserables, The Wizard of Oz, Alice in Wonderland, etc. through shapes, colors and counting and for Christmas you guys should check out the Nutcracker and Christmas Carol (what Cassie;s holding on the cover photo of this entry). Just recently they’ve launched their series of classic story books to cater to the older kids so click on the link to check them out. These books are definitely must-haves.

 

How about y’all? What are you getting your kids this year? I haven’t got a lot to say about boy kids just yet but hopefully next year when this little one is out, I can make a boy-gift guide as well. Hope this list somewhat helps you last minute shoppers out there.

Happy Holidays!

~Rhea