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

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