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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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

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

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