On Self-Care

The past months have been a whirlwind. Work has been particularly demanding, Marikit has been extra makulit, but thankfully Adrian has been very helpful and accommodating.

I had received an award as outstanding faculty at the start of they year (thank You, Lord!) but I guess with great recognition (my version) also comes great responsibility (whew). I have been assigned as our Faculty’s Mental Health focal person, Quality Assurance representative, IJODeL Special Issue guest editor, and ICODeL 2021 Technical Subcommittee co-chairperson on top of being the DCS Program Chair. I’ve also been involved in one of our MOOCs for flexible learning. Thankfully most of these happened during the midyear (for the most part) so my usual teaching load didn’t make things crazier.

I am looking forward to take a five-day reenergizing leave this November though we will just probably stay at home because of the pandemic and strict traveling protocols in Benguet. Might as well just continue watching Blues Clues with Marikit (lol).

But seriously, that week would be a good time for some self-care. Earlier this year I attended a training as mental health focal person. One session emphasized the importance of taking time for self-care. (The context for that was that, if you are a mental health first aider and you yourself have been lacking in self-care, it would be difficult to care for others as well.) There was some sharing on how the participants kept themselves mentally healthy. Most mentioned going on walks outside while enjoying fresh air and nature. Meanwhile, mine involved diffusing oils, watching Netflix, and ordering through Grab Food or Foodpanda! Ahh look what the city did to me (I still miss it terribly). But other than those, let me share what self-care has looked like for me recently. Here are some I shared in Instastory/My Day/My Story a while back following a prompt from Miss Rica Peralejo-Bonifacio:

I love spending time (especially under the sunshine) with Adrian and Marikit! This is one of the perks of province life. In Makati we might only be able to have outings like these once a month. I’m also taking the time to read more for leisure. Good food (now often in moderation) always make my days happier and regular strength training with dance workouts have kept me from gaining too much weight again. In fact, I’ve lost weight and am back to my (still big) pre-pregnancy weight. Part of self-care is loving the body I am in right now, though. Still overweight but I can now see some muscle definition and I definitely feel stronger than I was even pre-Marikit. Prayer and devotion is also of course part of the list. As holistic beings, we also need to be holistic in our self-care (spirit, soul, and body).

I’ll probably do more of those things come November, but I hope we can still do something special though. But I had timed it with Adrian’s second vaccine dose (yes, that’s how slow the rollout is here) so we’ll see, we’ll see.

How about you? What does self-care look like for you?

Terrific Twos

Dear Marikit,

You are now two. You’re no longer as little as you were and we can see that you now have a mind of your own. You don’t like changing diapers. Sometimes you don’t like wearing them. What used to be your favorite food sometimes gets an, “Ew, yuckers!” from your end.

But when you do eat, boy, do you eat! You don’t like being spoon-fed except for times you are being extra lambing.

You love music. You sing to yourself while playing. You even break out into song while breastfeeding! When Daddy plays demos of songs he has composed, you belt out the tune and dance along, proving you are his number one fan.

You have an eclectic taste in TV shows. We’ve watched “Gabby’s Dollhouse”, “Number Blocks”, “Cleo and Cuquin”, “Simon”, and “PJ Mask” among many others. But your favorites have always been the ones with lots of songs.

You also like books and exercising! You keep asking us to read to you but, when we don’t, you are also happy to read to yourself. As for exercising, Mommy exercises a lot so you follow along, too!

You are a people person. You say hi when we run into little kids on the street or at the park. I’m sure you didn’t get that extra friendliness from me! But you love your family the most and you are extra happy when you are playing with your Ate Mayya and Kuya Lucian.

You love your Lolo Joel and Lola Ychu. You often say, “apan na Lolo an Lola?” (your version of “Let’s go to Lolo and Lola?”). Why, that’s Ilocano, anak! I’m glad you’re picking up some of the language but I am even more glad you enjoy spending time with them.

You are fond of animals but you’re afraid when they come too close to you. One time, we took some stray kittens in because it had been raining nonstop and we were afraid they would die of cold. You wanted to see them but kept running away when they managed to escape from their box.

You are the sweetest thing. You love kissing Mommy and Daddy. When you see us sitting together, you immediately snuggle up in between shouting, “-getherness!” Oh how we wish you will stay as sweet as you are even when you grow older.

Marikit, these days are a challenge because your favorite words are “no!” and “not yet!” Daddy and I seem to take turns being impatient with you but God is continuously teaching us to be patient and kind.

We love you so much, Anak, and we love seeing you grow. Be a good girl as we navigate through your terrific twos. ❤️

Choosing Progress

Mabuhay! It has been two months of remote training and I am happy to say that I have lost around 4kgs since my initial sign up (*crossing my fingers for Thursday’s weigh in since Marikit has been rejecting her meals leaving me to eat them*). No longer in the obese range and now “only” overweight. Slowly but surely as the now-two-year-old still isn’t showing any signs of weaning.

I think this deserves a mirror selfie. So, anneyong to you all!

In sporty leggings most days!

More than the kgs lost, I have been feeling stronger and more energetic since being more intentional with working out and being more mindful with my portions and food intake. I can now lift our water jug off the floor and into our dispenser stand! And exercising is no longer a chore. It really is true what they say – if you find a form of exercise that works for you (running, walking, jumping, lifting, cycling), it can really be fun and addicting! For me, it’s strength training coupled with some Low Intensity Training (LIT). These work for me because I don’t need too much sports equipment to be able to work out, I can do them at home while supervising the little one who can have her screen time, and I can do them rain or shine (a big plus since last month it kept on raining nonstop!).

Hello biceps! 😂

I’m very happy with how things are going so far. The truth is, I will probably gain all the weight back once we go for a second baby. But I hope to start off from a healthier pre-pregnancy weight (although my pregnancy with Marikit was actually very easy). I’m almost back to my pre-Marikit weight and I hope to be back to my pre-Marriage weight by 2022.

My 2015 self says hi as a fitspiration though I know my body will never become the same as it was before (hello, CS cut).

Beach body?

Lessons learned from this fitness journey so far:

1. If you find that pocket of time when you can be active, take advantage of it. For me it’s some time after breakfast, before the hustle starts. Thank God for flexible work hours! And for a now cooperative, only-a-little-bit-less-clingy toddler!

2. Portioning is actually not that complicated. In the metro, I relied on our food provider to count my calories for me. Here, we don’t have calorie-counted meals but my coaches re-taught me how to portion my meals using the size of my hand. I’m very lazy at counting calories and at weighing food so the eyeball method works for me.

3. As mentioned, when you find an activity that works for you, working out changes from being a chore and becomes a craving instead. I honestly can’t wait till my next workout and I look forward when the sets change as well.

4. Choose progress no matter how slow or fast. I have friends on fitness journeys who have been quickly losing weight and I applaud them! I’m on a slower route but I’m fine with that, especially considering my milk supply. Other friends are still starting out or needing a greater push so I am also here cheering them on. What matters is that we choose progress and that we choose to live healthier lifestyles.

My husband keeps joking that I am now a fitness guru. I laugh because I am far from it. But if I can inspire you to live more healthily, then I would be very happy.

So, here’s to good health for everyone!

Marikit joining my progress shots! 😂

Still Eating for Two

Hello – I am Mari Anjeli, 23 months postpartum and still eating for two. “Facebook Memories” is a traitor because all my thin pictures keep popping up. Right now, I can’t do anything much about it except eat more healthily and put in a little more exercise. I’ve shed kgs before. But since Marikit and I are still breastfeeding, I have to be more careful when it comes to my postpartum weight loss journey.

I was very big during my pregnancy. Marikit was quite small when she came out (I think we would have been able to push for a normal delivery – but that’s another story). I think 90% of what I ate as a pregnant woman still went to me and only a little bit went to my still petite baby. Yes, our little girl has a small frame (I’m pretty sure she got it from her dad). But she’s very healthy, gets sick only rarely, so her weight shouldn’t be much of a concern for us.

Me and my big belly.
Us and our teeny baby. 😅

My weight, however, has been my perpetual postpartum concern. Whenever Adrian asks me on how I’m doing, I usually reply, “I’m frustrated with how big I still am.” I tell him how the people I’m following on Instagram are already back to their pre-pregnancy weight and he says, “Mommy, artista naman kasi sila. Trabaho nila yun.” Good point, Daddy. Still, I can’t help but feel a bit down sometimes whenever I look in the mirror.

Almost 6 months postpartum.

In all fairness to myself, I did lose 5kgs at the start of 2020, allowing me to fit into some of my old dress pants. But that was also the time that Marikit’s weight plateaued – the mom guilt in me wonders if my weight loss had anything to do with it. The little one is now gaining steadily again, as did I (*laughs and cringes*). She gets her nutrition primarily from solid food, she drinks her water, and takes one bottle of chocolate milk when she feels like it. But, since her liquid is still primarily her momma’s milk, her momma has to make a lot of it. And breastfeeding makes this momma hungry. Very hungry. Yet, even if I weren’t that hungry, there are still leftovers to eat when she picks at her food. So there goes my weight loss goals.

But I had recently signed up for a remote training program that encourages me to be more disciplined with exercising and lets me be more mindful of my eating. After an initial assessment, I was given work out sets personalized for my lifestyle and body type. The program offered nutrition advice, too! So far I have lost some Benguet-quarantine weight. More than that, I also feel stronger and happier after each exercise session.

Stronger and happier!

I do feel that this works for me, so far, and something I can sustain in the long run. And I have to remind myself over and over to be kind to myself and my body because it housed a human being and still continues to nurture one. It is beautiful no matter what form but I do press on for a healthier one.

With that, wish me luck with this fitness journey! Still eating for two but making sure it’s all healthy and that I am exercising too. 🏋🏻‍♀️💙


#LoveTeamForever (Year 4)

We were finally able to go out for a lunch date and a quick mall run for our fourth anniversary. It was a simple yet meaningful time.

Adrian and I left Marikit with the grandparents and had our fill at one of our favorite Baguio City restaurants, Hill Station. Hill Station is actually where we had our wedding ceremony and reception four years ago. We chose to go there instead of trying somewhere new because: 1) ventilation was good; 2) food was good; and 3) memories were good.

How it was vs how it was going. Yes, somebody needs to get back on track with her fitness goals.

It was a welcome break to have time to talk without having a sweet but clingy toddler constantly interrupting us. (In truth, we couldn’t help but have her still make her way into our anniversary conversations.) As we drank our chocolate and coffee, Adrian asked me what I had learned for Year 4. I told him I learned that I had to be even more patient! He was having some health issues and Marikit was, well, becoming a toddler. For the past year I learned to ask God for grace, upon grace, upon grace so I would not snap too much. I think this is just the beginning as I/we will probably need more grace when Marikit approaches her teens!

But let’s focus on Year 4. I wasn’t able to tell Adrian this, but, one other thing the past year has taught me is how important it is to learn how to adapt. I had to adapt of course to the constantly changing temperaments of the two people I love the most. But we also had to adapt to the shift in how the world turned because of COVID-19.

During our fourth year, we spent five months in Makati and seven months in LTB. Almost 50-50. We arrived at the decision to move closer to my family I think just a few weeks after Marikit turned one. We threw her a Zoom Birthday and Dedication celebration. But though that was fun, we couldn’t help but ache for the things she could experience if we moved away from the city and back to the province.

Just us three in our 1BR home.
Our guests joined us via Zoom!
We took advantage of technology and went all out with our creativity.

Thus the big uproot. I’ve already written about this in few of my blog posts before. But I haven’t written about the challenges we have had month after month since 2021 began. June has been good to us so far but let me just say we already had our share of hospital visits, police reports, symptom-monitoring, and self-isolations. Because of the things that happened, we were reminded about the importance of having our house blessed and dedicated to the Lord. We were also reminded to step out to also be a blessing because God has already blessed us greatly.

So yes, those were a few other major things I learned for Year 4, another turning point in our life.

I guess with each year God adds, more big rocks are also added to our ever growing altar of remembrance. As we begin Year 5, I look forward to going through those milestones with the one my soul loves. ♥️

Cheers from our La Trinidad home!

#LoveTeamForever (Year 3)

Let’s talk about our third year as Mr. and Mrs. Crisanto. Year 3 was marked by the last leg of my pregnancy and… the birth of our baby!

I think the eighth and ninth months of my pregnancy went by like a blur as we were filled with so much anticipation for the arrival of our little one. I only remember being really big and waddling like a duck during church events and at last-minute shopping ventures. Adrian was a real sport, lovingly giving me a foot massage every night.

I started laboring early on August 7. I remember that I had just came from my doctor’s appointment the day before. “We’re so excited to meet you soon!” we had told Baby Milktea. Apparently, she was excited to see us, too!

It was 10 days earlier than our expected due date and my original OB-GYNE was out of the country. But as soon as I felt the pain, I began timing between contractions like I was instructed to. Adrian still went to work but, once he arrived home that night, I told him it was time to go.

We continued to labor till the early morning of the following day. I asked for an epidural when I reached 5cm dilation (shouldn’t have asked for the epidural!). The pain went away but, to our panic, the doctors couldn’t find Marikit’s heartbeat after and – when they did – it was very low. We immediately went for an emergency C-section. To the tune of “… Baby one more time” as later narrated by my husband. Lol.

I kept praying throughout the operation and immediately felt relief when the doctors said, “Baby out!” I was so tired and sleepy. After our first family picture, I was finally able to rest.

But, like anyone with a baby will know, the months to come would be filled with very little rest. Groggy days were up ahead but we cherished (and still do cherish) every minute of it.

The reason for our sleeplessness!

How do I sum up our life with a baby? Well, we breastfed exclusively so where I went, Marikit went. We didn’t have a helper (still don’t) so most of our chores were done (and are still done) by Adrian. We’re into attachment parenting so Marikit sleeps with us until now and takes up at least 50% of our bed.

Our conversations mostly revolve around her and her milestones and we make sure to always put her best interest first. We’ve sacrificed many things before but it was only during Year 3 that we understood the sacrifice it took to be good parents.

But every sacrifice is worth it. This little human has brought so much joy and color to our world.

And what about #LoveTeamForever Year 4 when we suddenly had to face big decisions when it came to raising a child in the middle of a pandemic? I’ll be writing about that in my next post.

See you there!

So much joy and color! A pre-pandemic family outing.

#LoveTeamForever (Year 2)

We’re celebrating our fourth anniversary soon. No plans yet, what with the MECQ (again) in Benguet. Last year, we ordered in and had an LED-lit dinner at home. Let’s see what we’ll do this year.

In the meantime, it’s been nice going through this trip down memory lane in our journey as husband and wife. I know four years are nothing yet compared to the years veteran couples have had together (shout out to my parents who already celebrated their 35th!) but these past few years are still worth reminiscing.

So let’s talk about Year 2. Our second year was marked by #TTC (trying to conceive) and our pregnancy journey.

Lovers in KL, a few weeks after our first anniversary. 🥰

We decided to try having a baby – doing away with contraception – six months into our marriage. We had been forewarned that it could take time and it might not be as easy as it was for others. Still, a part of me was hopeful that we would be pregnant on the first, second, or third try.

We didn’t. It took us 11 months. 11 period cycles of me feeling deep sadness for at least a day before I eventually moved forward armed with new research and new ovulation kits. What a realization! You don’t just do it once and then boom, you have a baby! Sure, that happened to some people. But that really didn’t happen to us.

That said, I now have deep respect for couples who spent years in the waiting. My heart also goes out to those who are waiting until now. But, truly, God’s timing is perfect and we will be in awe when we see how He can glorify Himself in the way things work out.

For us, our perfect time was when we began our Sabbath for 2018. I tagged Adrian along with me in an academic conference in Taiwan. Little did we know would bring home a delightful souvenir – Baby Milktea.

Lovers in Taiwan. For some reason, we mostly had solo pics. We had very few pictures together there.

People think we dubbed my bump “Milktea” because I had the drink as my major pregnancy craving. (I didn’t. I constantly craved for breaded fried chicken with gravy.) However, we called Marikit “Milktea” then because, just like boba, our little one was made in Taiwan.

And so this ushered in a new season for us in our second year of marriage. We told our accountability couple and our best man and his wife about our positive pregnancy test in December so that they could pray for us and so that we can be referred to their OB-GYNE. We told my family as a Christmas gift and Adrian’s as a New Year’s surprise. We finally made an announcement to our friends once our first trimester was through.

Our lemony Milktea says hello!

We enjoyed the pregnancy journey greatly. Physically, I mostly went through mild nausea, tiredness, heartburn, breathlessness, swollen feet, and massive (but healthy) weight gain. I nested constantly, buying things online and hoarding at practically every mommy expo. And to prepare ourselves mentally and emotionally, Adrian and I also attended different seminars and classes on pregnancy, birthing, and newborn care.

What did we learn then for #LoveTeamForever Year 2? Well, we learned to trust in God’s timing. We also learned that our Emotional Quotients were quite low! But we did learn to be patient and we did learn to value rest as Marikit was formed during a season of rest.

For couples trying to conceive, I pray for the strength, grace, and joy to go through the season of waiting. For those currently pregnant, I pray for protection for the mom and the little one, and for God’s fathering spirit to grow in the soon-to-be dad.

We surely needed those for those two seasons. They also prepared us greatly for the little human that would bring drastic changes in our lives! But I will write more about that in #LoveTeamForever Year 3.

For now, here is a picture of us during our baby shower and gender reveal (and my 31st birthday!). See you in the next post!

Last birthday before we were officially three!

#LoveTeamForever (Year 1)

I’ve been missing Makati lately. The tall buildings. The busy malls. The coffee shops, the restaurants – our usual Mondate venues. I miss our friends and churchmates. I miss the hussle, bussle, and yes – even the crazy traffic. I guess I miss these a lot because these were the things that marked the first three years of my marriage with Adrian, year one specifically.

We began our wedded journey in a small studio unit in a condo inside Makati’s central business district. It was a 20-minute walk from Adrian’s workplace. It became my home-office since, even before the pandemic, I worked mostly from home. We chose the place because of its convenience. We didn’t have to worry about traffic when it came to the daily commute, there was a grocery store downstairs, the only downsides were the size and the price. But it was good enough for us since we were just starting out anyway.

Ayala Ave, Makati Ave, Kalayaan Ave, and JP Rizal Ave were our usual Grab routes. I mentioned Mondates and I should explain that we made it a point to set aside Mondays for our marriage night. We would go out on dates – have dinner out, drink coffee somewhere, or watch a movie – and then talk about us and our marriage. Every Monday, yes, and for us that was sacred.

Marriage time! (Photo from Adrian)

Setting aside time specifically for our marriage was an advice we took to heart from the pre-marriage and marriage courses we took. Marriage time helped us a lot since I also went on many trips during our first year together – work trips to Los Baños, Cebu, Baguio City, Hong Kong, Jogjakarta, and Kaohsiung. Yep, I was a jet-setter back in the day. Many times, we needed to just spend time and regroup.

After presenting at a conference in Jogjakarta, Indonesia

Our first year of marriage was fun. Happily enough, we didn’t fight too much. We didn’t have to adjust a lot because I think we went through the growing pains during our time as girlfriend and boyfriend. The first year (well, the first six months, at least) was also really the time we made it a point to just enjoy each other’s company and not yet try to have a baby. We knew there would be a world of changes once we had our third (and then fourth, fifth, sixth…) wheel.

“Trying” deserves a whole other post and I will write about this when I get to #LoveTeamForever Year 2. But, for now, I will leave you with my biggest lesson from Year 1 and that is to really cherish the one-on-one moments with your partner and not take them for granted just because you tied the knot and they are already forever there. Cries of “Mama!” and “Dadddd!” will change your dynamics and will make you miss those times you can go for a weekend getaway without having to worry about who will take care of the kids.

Not that having Marikit around makes me unhappy (on the contrary, she makes every day happy!). I guess what I’m trying to say is that if and when you have a season that kids are not yet on your mind or tugging on your hands – treasure it. You’ll look back at it with fondness and nostalgia as I do now. <3

That’s it right now for Year 1. Stay tuned for Year 2!

Year 1! (Photo from Adrian)