Monday, November 28, 2011

Mama La Vida Lanka: How Would You Know If Its Time?

photo borrowed from

This week we enter into that phase of “any day now baby!”  The constant question, just like an impatient child on a road trip is “Are we there yet?”  “Is today going to be the day?”  As you might know, I am a control freak.  I am even surprised at myself that I am really gung-ho at having a normal delivery.  I would have been more comfortable with the predictability of a caesarean birth.  But this is pregnancy – not all would be experiencing it – it is a gift to me and for some masochistic reason, I actually want to experience the whole shebang, labor and all.  Sometimes, or more like everyday I ask our daughter, “when are you going out?  I’m not rushing you, but I just want to know.”  Haha!  How we wish they would answer back right?  I made a code between the two of us: kick me in the middle if it’s on the due date, to the right if it’s before the due date and to the left if it is after the due date.  And my husband was like: “My wifey!  What are you doing?”  Of course Luna kicked me in the middle, then to the right, then to the left.  So much for codes with babies in the womb! 

So here we are, in the precious moment of waiting.  Which brings me to an essay I have received way back: The Sacrament of Waiting by Fr. James Donelan, S.J.  He says, “We cannot remove this waiting from our lives. It is part of the tapestry of living—the fabric in which the threads are woven that tell the story of our lives.” 

And waiting mostly comes with love.  “All we know is that growth—the budding, the flowering of love needs patient waiting. We have to give each other time to grow. There is no way we can make someone else truly love us or we love them, except through time. So we give each other that mysterious gift of waiting—of being present without making demands or asking rewards. There is nothing harder to do than this. It tests the depth and sincerity of our love. But there is life in the gift we give.” 

Which is but timely because as we enter the season of Advent, we are at the end of the day entering the season of waiting.  The gift I give to our dear daughter is to wait.  Which for me, is A LOT.  But “think of all the great love stories of history and literature. Isn’t it of their very essence that they are filled with the strange but common mystery—that waiting is part of the substance, the basic fabric—against which the story of that true love is written?”

So here we are, in the season of Advent, in the sacrament of waiting.  Noo ni noo ni noo...

Oh and while we wait, let’s have a little fun!  Join the Birthing Game!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Let’s Play The Birthing Game!

photo borrowed from

Pregnancy and giving birth away from home could be a lonesome experience.  Imagine, for our VERY FIRST BABY we couldn’t even share the pregnancy journey to our family and friends.  We didn’t even do any of the baby shower traditions!  But thank God for today’s technology, somehow, even virtually we are able to share this wonderful milestone with all of you.

However, we want to further make our baby’s birth a community affair!  Inspired by MyMommyology, we would like to invite all of you our dear family and friends to join us in our BIRTHING GAME!

The objective is simple, you just have to correctly guess the following items:
  • When will our baby be born? DATE, DAY, TIME.
  • How long will the labor be? Please be kind to me and call out to the universe a quick one!  This is a tie-breaker question.

The person who correctly guesses (or the closest) will win a special gift from La Lanka!

Here are a few clues to help you:
  • I have 3 “due dates” (No Joke!):
    • Scan Due Date is on December 11
    • Due Date from the OB’s “Due Date Wheel Codigo” is on December 16
    • Computation based on a book I read is on December 16
  • They say baby is full term +/- 2 weeks from the due date.
  • Hubby’s birthday is on December 22 – together with his lolo and cousin.  He is secretly dreaming Luna’s birthday will be on the same day (what’s up with that?).
Some guidelines to keep things orderly:
  • You may enter a MAXIMUM of 5 entries!  If you enter more than 5, only your FIRST 5 entries will be considered.
  • You may start sending your entries NOW and voting will close on December 10, 11:59pm Colombo Time (this is at +5:30 GMT or -2.5 hours vis a vis Manila) or just before we leave for the hospital – whichever comes first!
  • Post your entries as a COMMENT on this post or e-mail me.

So it’s that easy!  Katuwaan lang!  So what are you waiting for?  Send in your guesses now!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Mama La Vida Lanka: Sonic Massage

photo borrowed from valentina powers on flickr

I first encountered “Sonic Massage” from a former colleague and good friend, K.  He is a trained Physical Therapist and I was kidding him to massage my head when I had a headache.  He put his hand on my head with a little bit of pressure and was kidding me that it was what you call a “Sonic Massage.”  I encountered the term again while I was at child birth class as the material discussed it.  It was totally not what K told me, haha!  Rather it was more about sounds babies feel in the womb.  They say that mid-way through pregnancy, babies would “hear” their mother’s voice through the amniotic fluid.  As babies reach 24 weeks they can even recognize music and can even remember pre-natal music once they are born.  What is more surprising is that babies not only hear their mother’s voice but can FEEL it as sounds reverberate in the womb and produces waves.  But not all kinds of sounds “massages” the baby.  The material also discusses that “MMM” sounds or humming sounds reflect a particular kind of energy that energizes and soothes. 

It was a wonderful discovery because since the start of my pregnancy I’ve been chanting as part of my Yoga practice!  NNN --- AAAA --- YUUU --- MAAA.  So all these weeks I’ve actually been massaging our baby!  Waaay cool!  I thought baby would be very active whenever I exercise, however I discovered that she’s pretty still when I do yoga except when I’m in Savasana (I don’t know why though), and meditating on my heart chakra, warmth and love overflowing to my womb enveloping our baby or when I draw in the Universe’s Prana breathing into my womb – baby seem to excited with all of these good vibes!  Sonic massage was the reason why!  Baby gets relaxed!

Birthing Class Module of Mrs. Mohanie Ahangama
Pulse Beat Pre & Post Natal Center
185/10 Havelock Road, Colombo 5
Telephone: 4514866 / 2595932

If you want to do some chanting, whether preggy or not, check out Aurora Yoga Studio


Saturday, November 19, 2011

Treats from Down Under!

What I’ve experienced living in Sri Lanka is my world expanding and also getting more connected.  The proverbial e-mail, Facebook and Skype have helped made this big world more accessible but so has the good old registered mail. 

You’ll just get surprised what you get in the mail really. 

One day I got maternity treats from Tita A from Australia!  Belly Belts and Bando are life savers for a growing belly and a shrinking budget?  Haha!
More goodies from Tita A came!  This time for baby – some funky dresses care of baby’s Tita C and one of the most high-tech thermometers I’ve ever seen. 
For the goodies – Thank You, Thank You, Thank You!!!

What do you know, you get something else.  A nice Gustav Klimt postcard from baby’s Ninong A, my brother the Film Maker. 

In this day and age of technological breakthroughs, don’t discount what you get from the old school registered mail.  Because it just might be what you need, wrapped in love!

Mama La Vida Lanka: Baby Shopping La Vida Lanka Part 2

Armed with a comprehensive list and a budget to keep you from going astray, you’re now ready to Baby Shop La Vida Lanka!

These are the shops we have discovered and those that have recommended to us.  Enjoy!

If you want lovely linens, go to Elegant Smockers.  The pictures will just make you swoon.  For a time there I wanted to live in their store!  Thanks to M, my workmate who suggested this place.

You may have your whole nursery and smockers for baby (clothes in non-Brit English speak) customized!  Aside from the wonderful design (so absent from La Lanka unfortunately), they also have excellent customer service.  Their manager, Ms. Ksharma is lovely, lovely, lovely! 

Elegant Smockers Contact Details
25 Pamankada Road
Colombo 6

To get a wide array of Philips Avent products, check out MILK.  The owner I believe is the official distributor of Philips Avent in Sri Lanka so they have a good selection in the store.  They also have linens, toys and a huge selection of books!  If you want to take a break from your shopping, they have a vegan cafe that serves really nice pastries!

MILK Contact Details
12 Barnes Place, Colombo 7
(011) 2696286
Mondays - Saturdays, 10am - 630pm 

For general baby product needs, you have Bambino, Baby Mart and Kids Unlimited.

Bambino and Baby Mart would have more aesthetically appealing options as they mostly import from abroad.  They have a wide selection of Mothercare products.  Even Baby Mart has a nice selection of organic products such as organic top-to-toe wash and wipes.

We bought most of our stuff from Kids Unlimited because it was the first place that we saw.  It’s more “mass market” so the stuff are not exactly “nice.”  But you’ll manage.   

Bambino Contact Details
83 Galle Road
Bambalapitya, Colombo 4
0771 319 613

Baby Mart Contact Details
6 1/1 Visaka Road
Colombo 4
011 2500004; 011 4517765

Kids Unlimited Contact Details
Their biggest store is in Kohuwala but they also have an outlet along Duplication Road
75B Dutugemunu Street
011 4202824

Unfortunately you really can’t find everything here.  But fortunately, we were able to find a way!  Some are blessings literally as these were gifts.  Like the digital ear thermometers!  Thank you to Tita A for sending over some cute baby clothes together with the Braun Ear Thermometer.  My dad also offered to give us a nice stroller – the brands here are pretty limited or brandless.  We had a hard time finding a Medela Breastpump (we eventually found one in Bambino but it was not the one we wanted) so I contacted Medela Moms and Beng was so nice to answer my queries and helped when my dad made the purchase (thank God for involved Grandpapi’s!).    It’s also hard to find Diaper Covers but luckily I chanced upon Sunshine Babies and will be ordering from there.  There are no “decent” baby carriers here as well so we ordered from One Love Baby Carriers (a Filipina based in Thailand owns it!) and will have it delivered to Manila.  Luckily my mom’s coming over so she can bring these stuff for us.  Thank god for an involved and excited Lola!

At first when we started shopping, I felt a bit “depressed” as we couldn't seem to have a lot of options here.  But eventually we found these different places and realized you just need to look closer.  Some really will not be available locally but if it’s really critical, you will find a way to purchase it!

Shopping Baby La Vida Lanka was all about creativity and discovery! Enjoy! 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Mama La Vida Lanka: Baby Shopping La Vida Lanka Part 1

photo borrowed from

Mr. and Mrs. O have been Baby Shopping since hitting the start of the third trimester.  Well actually except for the crib which we purchased waaaay before because it was such a bargain!  A second-hand small crib from one of my co-Mums in Colombo members (an Ikea one I think!) for around Php2,000!  Hubby and I are happy with our loot!  So this post comes in 2 parts: first is all about the process in coming up with the Baby Shopping List and the List itself; and the second talks about where you could actually buy stuff in La Lanka!  Hopefully both will be helpful to you – if you’re also contemplating on a baby shopping list or thinking of where to do your baby shopping in La Lanka!  So let’s start...

First, as I mentioned in Mama La Vida Lanka Book Review: What To Expect Series, What To Expect The First Year offers a good run down of what you should include in your shopping list.  I used that as the primary basis for my baby shopping list.

Then I had to check some items with my mommy friends regarding which were critical.  You see our assignment here did not come with shipping allowance (don’t ask me why) and I wanted to be my practical self.  I got some great tips and awesome feedback.  Like, you really don’t need those food processors!  Car seat – well they said not really but hubby and I decided that it would be safer to put baby in one.  Plus Baby L’s Ninang A gave us her list so we also have a good reference. 

With those inputs we came up with our list.  It was also useful to assign a budget for each item.  Since we did not have any idea on the pricing, I checked out for benchmark prices then entered that into our Excel Sheet.

We then scheduled our shopping days – one day in September, one day in October and one day in November.  The reasons are for practicality.  It’s hard to shop for everything in one day!  Then you have to clean the stuff you bought.  Or some you have to customize – we customized some beautiful linens.  So you have to factor in some waiting time there.  Plus since these are major purchases, you have to be wary of your cash flow as well.  One smart tip is since you have 9 months to prepare, as soon as you know you’re expecting, might as well start saving up for it!  That’s what hubby and I did.  Because there’s no such thing as Baby Wal-Mart or Baby SM here, you really have to search for shops here and there and you can’t just do it in a day.  Along the way we also met people who gave us “leads” as to what and where these baby shops are!  Then there are those that are totally unavailable in La Lanka, so I had to make advanced arrangements for these to be bought elsewhere (mostly in Manila, for my mom to bring over when she comes).

So here is a snapshot of our list – which is by now almost complete!  If you want to check out our pending items, check out our Amazon Baby Registry.

The list below contains the basic stuff we need.  Different families would have different needs.  Hopefully these will help though!  But a word of wisdom, just like Becky Brandon (nee Bloomwood) of Shopaholic and Baby, Baby Shopping can get addictive.  Too many cute stuff!  So shop with a purpose and start with a list tied to a budget!

Happy baby shopping La Vida Lanka!

Diapers (both disposable and cloth)
Nappy Liners
Mittens, hats, bonnets
Shorts, shirts, dresses
Diaper pins
Socks / booties
Pjs / Sleepers / Gowns
Baptismal Attire

Car Seat
Baby Bag

Crib Bumper (use with caution!)
Changing Pad
Baby Tub
Mackintosh (rubber mat)
Nappy Bin
Play Gym
Mosquito Nets
Baby Toys
Trash Cans

Jar of Hope
Jar of Love
Shoo Fly Don’t Bother Me
Ear Thermometer
Nursery Care Kit (Nasal Aspirator, Medicine Dispenser)

Crib Linen
Bath Towels (with hood / without)
Baby Blankets
Receiving / Swaddling Blankets
Burping Towel


Home Care
Bottle Cleaner
Baby Laundry Soap

Brush / Comb
Nail Scissors / Clippers
Baby cologne, cream, soap
Sleep Like A  Baby
Cotton Balls
Baby Lotion
Baby Shampoo

Breastpump Set
Electronic Steam Sterilizer
Starter Bottle Gift Set
Feeding Pillow
Boncho (Breastfeeding Poncho)
Bottles with Teats
Nursing Pads (disposable and washable)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Help Management 101 La Vida Lanka!

photo borrowed from

After my post on Help La Vida Lanka, an e-mail comment from my mom and a discussion with Diplo Wife, I decided to write about a few learnings from this experience.  As I previously mentioned, help management is an area I am not accustomed to.  Leave that for the “adults” to handle!  And now that I am one of the adults in our home, then this is now one of my responsibilities.  As I am just a novice at help management, I had to go through the learning curve the hard way.  Here are some of the initial learnings I have and I hope it will help you, my dear readers in some way:

1)   Be thankful for help!  I know that when you take a cross-section of the world, not even half of the households would be in a position to hire help – whether full-time or part-time for that matter.  Especially in countries where help is expensive or even looked down upon, managing a home is more challenging.  Of course there are trade-offs (more technology to help you around the house like dishwasher, etc.), having help (the right one for that matter) is still a big convenience.  People say “can’t live without them, can’t live with them” – at least for now, with a growing family, I would rather make it work to “live with them.”

2)   They need constant monitoring and management.  It doesn’t mean that when the orientation phase is over, they will work like a well-oiled machine from then on.  They need constant guidance especially for things that are new (such as my new yoga pants).  Be directive if you must because most of them really do need to be given specific and direct instructions.  My mom said not to give them the space for initiative or even to think for themselves – at least not when they have not yet proven that they can.  I mean even at the workplace we don’t give too many decision-making responsibilities to fresh graduates or new employees in certain levels unless they have proven that they can.  To do that constant monitoring and management, you have to have an opportunity to observe them in action.  I went into this set-up because I would rather do something else (like work of course!) so the cleaner was left with a list of things to do as our constant interaction.  She would then “write back” with the list of things for me to buy (cleaning items that have run out).  But it doesn’t work that way.  Virtual reporting relationships doesn’t work with home cleaning.  So I had to make sure that we at least have a day where I am home and can give her direct instructions / corrections, etc.

3)   Recognition is also vital.  I make it a point to reinforce the things that they were able to do well – as immediately as I can.  I’m a bit particular with the cleanliness in the car and asked my driver to clean the trunk.  Once, when I opened it and I was actually surprised it was sooo clean!  I immediately praised him and the smile on his face was just indescribable.

4)   I also saw my mom taking care of our help especially when they are sick.  First, we give them medicine.  At least the first aid kind.  Second, we actually encourage them to rest when they are sick.  One so they could recuperate easily and two so they also won’t spread the virus! At least the “salaried” ones (e.g. driver), when he calls sick, we give that as “paid leave.”  Third, we also try to give them freebies.  When I was in Manila, I used to get free product allocation from the company I worked for.  Some of it we share with our help and even with the guards in our village.  Now, I don’t have freebies but we can get discounted products and we take advantage of that.  On a regular basis we give our help bulk powder and when there are special products on sale, we share the blessing too with people in our condo – security guards and building office folks.  These small things really go a long way – they see you’re taking care of them, and they will also “take care” of you too. 

5)   Things will not flow smoothly all the time.  No matter how you’ve established rules and routines and whatnots, sometimes things will really just get lost in translation, or people will falter (both you and them!).  In times like those, depending on the situation of course but for those that fall under the “normal” range, take it with a grain of salt, correct immediately or apologize immediately as well, sometimes you just have to bite the bullet and charge it to experience and take time out to reflect on the experience – what went wrong, why, how could it not happen again and what was your contribution to the situation.

6)   Hire for “aura” as well.  Now I understand why my mom doesn’t like it when our help is always frowning.  “Bawal ang nakasimangot dito” (frowning is prohibited here) would be an apt slogan in our house.  You don’t want any negativity in your home right?  Trust your instincts when hiring help – in as much as they are capable, since it’s a very personal relationship, it should feel right as well.

7)   Adjust to their strengths and weaknesses too.  Let me borrow another cliché, “nobody is perfect.”  But you have to work with what they are good at and adjust your expectations on what they are weak on.  It saves you the frustration and gets you the results in the end.  I know one of our drivers really move slow (as in drives slowly, etc.) so I always tell him what time I need to get to this place and what is the importance of getting there on time.  I find him adjusting and exerting effort.  When he gets us there (alive) and on time, I refer to #3 and praise him.     

So what happened after Help La Vida Lanka?  Well, it did not work with our cleaner.  She was failing not only on the yoga pants front but in many aspects as well.  I did ask her to pay but she kind of went AWOL after that so I guess good riddance.  Based on #6, her “aura’s” kind of negative and I wouldn’t want her to be around my baby if she’s like that.  Her negativity was what was affecting her work as well and I guess it was all for the best.  I was able to find another maid right away.  She’s awesome.  Not perfect but a lot better than the last and I always make it a point to apply the above learnings in “managing” her.  She has a nice aura as well – very positive and works well.  However she got sick (she had a heart surgery before) and now I’m back on the hunt!  Our drivers are both quite stable.  Both are competent and are doing their jobs well.  When I stop work, one will take on another role (naks!) in a government agency that pays well.  Good for him!

The chapter on help is not yet over for me (more on this later!).  But I hope my humble learnings will help you dear readers in Help Management 101!       

Monday, November 14, 2011

Mama La Vida Lanka: Baby Kicks

Whoa!  Photo borrowed from

One of the most surreal things about being pregnant is feeling baby’s movements.  It’s weird because sometimes I don’t “feel pregnant” at all!  But when baby kicks or moves then you definitely know somebody is there inside of you that is alive and kicking, pardon the pun.  I like having hubby touch my tummy when this happens because it’s something he’ll never experience himself and I just want to share the wonder.  And boy does it amaze hubby every time!  What’s not to be amazed about?  Together we have created a life, it is growing inside of me and you can actually feel it!  It’s real!  Hubby, out of his concern asks if it is painful.  Actually it is not.  It’s just that sometimes when the kicks and movements get wild it surprises you out of your wits and distracts you from what you’re doing!  But I relish those moments because I know when baby’s kicking, she’s a-ok!  

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Thirty La Vida Lanka

As K, one of my greatest friends reminded me, this year, my 30th brought me excitement or anxiety – depending on where I was in life.  It brought me anxiety because I had my “timelines” or rather “deadlines” that by 30 I should be like this and that.  Excitement because at the end of the day, my “by 30” list was completed even before that and more. 

Turning 30, where I am now is quite bittersweet. 

Hubby and I on my birthday!
My 30th eco escape, The Ark at Matugama

One, I never thought I’d celebrate it away from my family and life long friends.  But I did say that I wanted to get married by 30.  I (surprisingly) did by 28.  And celebrated my 30th year with my man – the calming presence in my life, he who has made me happiest I’ve ever been in my life.  My husband.  Of course my mom woke me up with a call.  Just like home!

Me and my big fat belly with hubby and mates from work who came down to La Lanka

Two, I never thought I’d celebrate it pregnant!  I wanted to get married by 30 so I could get pregnant around that time.  They say the chances of getting pregnant go downhill from there.  I got pregnant at 29.  I will give birth at 30.  Why didn’t I think it would be a possibility?  Silly me!  It is an awesome birthday gift I swear.

The invite designed by hubby

Three, I never thought I’d celebrate it with a party, more so in Sri Lanka and around new friends.  I take it as a symbolic act of sorts.  Instead of feeling homesick and looking back on my birthday, I embraced that which is home (place and people) now.  But hubby brought both together – with a lovingly crafted scrapbook of birthday wishes from family and friends from the Philippines and beyond.  It was as if I celebrated it with family and friends after all!

The scrapbook cover

With lovely notes from friends


And of course hubby

K asked me how does it feel to be thirty?  I said, when I turned thirty, it’s like “ok lang.”  It just felt weird when I had to say I’m thirty to the nurse in the hospital (I had to get checked for extreme mosquito bites from our birthday eco-escape).  Imagine, for 10 years I’ve been saying “twenty-something,” now I start with a different number altogether.  It has arrived. 

But really, how does it feel?  Honestly, I’m 30, preggy and very much happy.  What more could I ask for?  A healthy and happy baby in a few weeks!    

Hubby brought me to The Ark at Matugama for a chillax birthday eco-retreat.  Check it out at 

Awesome Thai food was served during my birthday by Dao Sihanam, a Thai chef based in Sri Lanka.  Contact her at +94722165593 or +94779603760.
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