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?

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! 😂

#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!

Familiar Yet Different

“What has changed here?” Adrian implored one time. It has been 16 years since I had left La Trinidad for college, then for work, then for marriage. Since 2004, I don’t think I have spent more than a week in my hometown. Now, Adrian, Marikit, and I have passed our fifth month here.

“A lot,” I replied. “That drugstore wasn’t always there. There used to be a bakery nearby that marked the boundary between KM5 and KM6 for jeepneys bound for Buyagan.”

I think I could have gone on and on about the ways the years have caused La Trinidad to change. Even sleepy towns like ours are not exempt from urbanization. But I guess the biggest thing that has made our town more different – just like everywhere else in the world – was COVID-19.

If things were different, it would have been lovely to come back to the familiar viridian town where you were sure to meet at least one person you knew while taking a stroll outside. It would have been wonderful to return to the place where you could easily crisscross between a city and a slower-moving municipality (Yes, I’m talking to you, KM4 traffic). Yet the La Trinidad we have come back to only has handfuls of masked people who’re likely to be strangers walking about; the La Trinidad we have come back to now has border restrictions that constantly divide Baguio and the surrounding towns, making me think that La Trinidad has already become like North Korea and Baguio the more open South.

Well, there are also certain changes that have been a big plus for us. We now have Grab Food and Foodpanda here in addition to various errand and delivery services. There are also fiber Internet providers making our work-from-home set-up much easier. Shopee and Lazada delivery fees are also not that high thus much of the items we have bought were actually only a few clicks or swipes away.

If there was something though that I would have wanted to remain the same but didn’t, it would have been the ability to meet up with my high school friends. Were it not for COVID-19, we would probably have had several coffee meet-ups already, several mini-reunions during special events. But this is our situation now – most of our interactions have just been online.

I apologize if this is yet again a melancholy post. But though it has been sunny here, you can’t help but feel that there are still notes of sadness in the air.

Well, there is a time and season for everything, as Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 says:

3 There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:

2 a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
6 a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
8 a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.

Our hope and prayer is that this season will pass soon enough.


La Trinidad Summers

It’s starting to get hotter here. The other day, it was around 27 C and in the coming days it might reach 30 C. A friend of ours living in Metro Manila said, “Nakakahiya sa 40 C dito!” (How embarrassing for our 40 C here!)

Quite true. At night, we still wear jackets when we go outside. Our bedroom still feels like the air conditioning is turned on 24/7. But Marikit can now wear sundresses and I can take ice water baths at night without complaining about the cold. (We don’t have a shower – we go by the tabo system in our new home).

“Do people look forward to summers here?” Adrian asked me one time.

“Hmm… I don’t think people look forward to the warm weather in particular… I remember looking forward to summer when I was a kid though because it meant not going to school…” was my hazy reply. To be honest, I don’t think I looked forward to the heat because – prior to living in Los Baños, then Malaysia, then Metro Manila – I avoided hot weather as much as I could. But when I left home, it was an everyday part of life.

I remember summers though when we would make ice candy using Milo, melon, and buko juice. I think we were also able to have avocado flavored ones one time and that was a treat! It also got hot enough for us to crave for the halo-halo our neighbors sold only during the warm season. It got to a point when we would eat halo-halo everyday.

I still remember summers more though for what we did rather than for how high the temperature went. Daily Vacation Bible Schools when I was young. School-schoolan with my cousins wherein I got to be a student, and then eventually a teacher, then a principal at some point as the years passed. Ten days fieldwork as an initiation to high school. Violin lessons and voice lessons. And finally, UPCAT reviews and then eventually graduation parties.

Now it’s Marikit playing with her cousins at the compound pointing at bugs, butterflies, birds, lizards, and frogs. It’s supervising them running around, throwing mini-tantrums every now and then.

If the heat wouldn’t give way to the rain and to the cold yet again in the next few months, it would somehow feel like an endless summer here. Everyday I feel I am experiencing the summer of childhood with work sandwiched in between.

It’s a pity we can’t take Marikit to the beach like our parents would take us at least once each summer when we were young. And that GCQ has kept us from parks nearby. But she’s happy with our yard, with the compound, and with our parents house. I guess that will have to do for now.

Summers bring me back to simpler days. I guess the three of us are lucky we can enjoy these simple days here. For what it’s worth, with all the chaos happening in this world, it still pays to pause for a moment to look for and be thankful for uncomplicated things like these…

Oh to be a child enjoying the summer life.